The weekend before last was the first Directed Research outing for the social science team in Bocas. During the last month in Panama our DR group is studying the impacts of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) on tourists, local communities, and businesses. We began our day by boating down a quebrada (creek) surrounded by mangroves, but our adventure really started when we saw a sloth at eye level coming down the tree to go to the bathroom (they only do this once a week so it was pretty rad)!
Our destination for the day was an indigenous community near the MPA. Our guide, Delfino, who is a member of the community told us the history of the property and the community and then we started on our walk through the forest. The path that we walked on had just been cleared the day before to prepare for our arrival because the community had not had visitors, other than a select few, in ten years. Delfino taught us about medicinal plants that grow naturally on the island and we learned about the rabbits that live inside of the caves near the path.
When we got back to Delfino’s house they had our lunch prepared for us, which included coconut rice, a dumpling, dasheen, a traditional root dish, and fish for the meat eaters (it was all delicious). After lunch, we learned how they make rice and even got to try it out ourselves. One of the kids noticed that I was petting a cat and brought out four tiny kittens. This definitely made my day. To finish off a great day we saw a large caiman on the way back down the quebrada and just about fell out of the boat trying to get some good pictures. This trip made us even more excited for the adventures to come during the remainder of our time here in Bocas del Toro.