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Two Fried Eggs; A Tale of Service in Bocas del Toro

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Written by Editor   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 15:00
During Carnival 2007 in Panama, two of my close friends from California were traveling all the way from the “first world” to visit me in “I know it has a canal” country. Therefore, I felt as though I had to plan something worthy of a possible once-in-a-lifetime trip to Panama. I decided to escape the madness of Panama City and Las Tablas (imagine blasting regaetton mixed with lots of water), and instead visit Bocas del Toro. Over my 19 some odd months of living in Panama, I have managed to visit Bocas del Toro about five times. Obviously, I thoroughly enjoy my stay in “Bocas” each time. Quick background on Bocas: Bocas del Toro is a province located in north western Panama, bordering Costa Rica to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the north. The culture of Bocas is very distinct from those found in other parts of Panama. Bocas represents Panama's Caribbean side, including the multitude of beautiful islands with white sandy beaches being sipped up by the clear blue waters. Bocas' locals and overall way-of-thinking is much more reminiscent of the Caribbean than of the typical Panamanian culture. Concurrent with “island living,” Bocatorenos are laid back and are never in much of a hurry, so the patron can hardly expect service comparable to that in North America. No problem! We are on vacation, right? Well, during my trip over Carnivales, I had to tie a knot at the end of the rope and hang on for dear life.

Every time I go to Bocas, I always remember to leave the red carpet at home. Bocas is frequented by a lot of backpackers, surfers and travelers that are generally not looking in their guide books for the nearest Ritz Carlton or five star New York steakhouse (I have a feeling the majority are vegetarians anyway). It is full of young people with great energy looking to have a fabulous time living the islander lifestyle, if only for a few short days. However, the islander lifestyle began to get a little too islander.

Our first morning in Bocas, our group of ten (we are already asking for it given our sheer size) decided to get breakfast at Flip Flops before going out for the day on a catamaran. We arrived, the waitress promptly took our order and then all activity came to a screeching, bizarre halt. An hour after placing our orders, we started to wonder, “Where the hell is our food!” After minimal investigation, we realized that the cook had not begun making our food, and we were the only customers! I wasn't terribly upset because I had ordered an omelet, and what I really wanted was fried eggs, sunny side up. So, we jumped ship, and quickly ran to Crazy Charlie's two doors down. Their menu was incredible, fried eggs and all! However, I wouldn't know what it tasted like since we had to board the catamaran right then and there or we would be left behind. The first time the fried eggs were so close, yet so far away. As my stomach grumbled, the desire only grew.

The next morning we went to eat at Pirate's. They had fried eggs! However, since I was so hungry, I decided to order an omelet as well. My omelet arrived, and looked rather tasty, so I began to eat. As time went on, plate after plate of food arrived for the rest of my party, but the fried eggs were nowhere to be found. It soon became clear that they had forgotten my fried eggs. I would have ordered another round, given that we did not have an anxious captain ready to sail the high seas, but the omelet had filled me up. So, once again, no fried eggs for Mona.

Our last morning we opted to eat breakfast at El Limbo, one of the nicest hotels on Isla Colon, the main island. Once again, we moved tables and shifted seats so that all ten could fit comfortably at the breakfast table. I scanned the menu quickly for what had come to be the “forbidden fruit” of Bocas, fried eggs. They had them! I felt confident that my insatiable urge to feast upon such a simple meal would finally be realized. The waitress came and it was soon obvious that she was an amateur and flustered by the large group of gringos. We began to give her our orders, but she did not have a pen or paper. So, we asked, “Do you need to write this down?” She left, returned with a note pad, but was determined to leave the pages blank. I started to become nervous about my soon-to-be breakfast. After some minutes of chaotic chatter, the orders were in. One by one, plates were being delivered, but mine was nowhere to be found. Finally, I asked, “And my order?” The waitress replied, “We don't have bacon.” Since a couple of insignificant slices of bacon came with “Desayuno #4” and there was no bacon, they decided to completely cancel my order without informing me. So, I did what any normal person would do and invested my money towards Atlas beer.

As much as I love Bocas, the service during the weekend of Carnival was beyond horrific. The upside is that I see the service of Panama City in a whole new light. I mean, at least my food comes! In the end, I went to the Executive Hotel the first chance I could and had a spectacular breakfast of fried eggs and bacon. Mission accomplished.

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Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 22:39
 
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