Happy New Year
We spent New Years Eve, 2008, at the
Playa Mango Resort, about 2 miles
from Bocas Town. The resort is about 3 miles from town, by car,
or about 1 mile by boat, from the main town of Bocas. It sits on a very
pretty little stretch of beach across the big bay on the north side of
the island. English Bill had booked us a gig at the resort. They in
turn would give us dinner and drinks and pay us a bit to play.
We pondered how we would get to the resort and back, especially
carrying music equipment. Remember that we're at the marina, about 1 mile
from town, on the other side, by water. The marina runs a water taxi
service during the day, but not at night. We usually take our dinghy
into town, but the extra distance, dressed nicely, along with
two guitars, two amps, a gig bag, and a backpack would
make the 3 mile dinghy ride a bit much. We knew we could get a water
taxi to the resort, but weren't sure we could get one back at 3:00 am
after the party. So we decided to take a room for the night in the resort,
then come back on New Years day, when, presumably, the water taxis would
be running again.
We called a water taxi to pick us up at 6:00 p.m. or so. They stopped
at the dock right next to RHAPSODY and we loaded the equipment in and
made our way over to the resort. It's kind of neat to always be moving
to and fro in small boats, at least when it's not raining. It was a nice
evening, and as we passed the main town, we could see people milling in
the streets and that the restaurants and bars were already getting busy.
We arrived at the resort and disembarked the equipment at the dock
by the beach bar, built about 100 feet out over the water on a pier with
a walkway to the mainland. As we arrived they were just finishing
a diving lesson, from the 10-12 people in wetsuits and full dive gear
in the swimming pool. Bill and Andy hadn't arrived yet and we didn't
know anyone, so we went up to the bar, ordered cocktails,
and chatted with the people there.
I, thinking about the gig and what songs we were going to play,
ever concerned about the fact that I play mostly Grateful Dead
covers, was pleased when the first guy we struck up a conversation
was into the band. He had heard that we would be coming over
and was very encouraging about the gig and party. A few minutes
later the manager, Mike, came by and, in a whirlwind, showed
us the resort. I mentioned to him that we were thinking of renting
a room for the night, but Mike would hear nothing of it. He insisted
on comping us a room, and in fact, after hollering to one of the workers
on an upstairs balcony about availability, quickly walked us over to a
beach front room, opened the door, and told us it was ours. Well, thank you
very much! The room was very nicely done with fresh flowers on the
table, TVs and air conditioners and nice furniture.
We didn't have much time to linger, though, as soon thereafter
Andy and Bill arrived. They had slogged over the muddy road
in a 4WD and were unloading equipment when we got back
to the dining area. We set the equipment up on an
open patio, next the main outdoor dining area where the party
would be taking place. We hooked up all the equipment, set the
levels, and played a few tunes, as a sound check.
By now it was 7:00 and people were starting to arrive. The small
kitchen had a sumptuous menu lined up, but as the evening went on,
seemed to fall further and further behind in keeping up with the demand.
Organization did not seem to be the high point of the event!
The bartender was keeping up well enough, though, and everyone was
having a pretty good time when we started to play at 8:00 or so.
And, wouldn't you know it, as soon as we started to play, it started
to sprinkle, portending a harder rainfall. Note to self: Never setup
musical equipment outdoors without cover in Bocas Del Toro. So, we
quickly began to tear down and move the P.A., amps, and everything, a
task complicated by the fact that the only place we could move to
was the covered dining area. We moved a few tables around, and after
a bit were finally able to set up out of the direct rainfall. It
never rained really hard, but it rained off and on for much of the
Nonetheless, it was a very fun gig. We played a set of my stuff to
start, with Bill on bass, then he did a set of his stuff, with me on bass.
As we were doing the sets we were also trying to coordinate getting a bite
to eat, drinks, and so on, but as I said before the overworked staff
was barely able to keep up. We ended up taking a fairly long break
to have a frantic few bites of the delicious food and soon had to play
another set. I got the honors of doing the midnight set. The small dense crowd
seemed to be enjoying the music. We were vamping on "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
for the minutes leading up to midnight. It was really fun to count
down the New Year. Right after midnight we broke into "Dancing
In the Streets" and people were shouting and dancing and having
a good old time. The resort let off a bunch of fireworks about
then, capping off a pretty nice New Years Eve.
We played till about 1:00 a.m. and then tapered off. Andy and
I sat for about an hour at the unused, deserted beach bar and
chatted about life, sailing, and the pursuit of happiness in the
New Year, as the people in the resort slowly filtered back to their
rooms. I use the word "chatted" here, but really, I talked
and Andy nodded or squeaked or croaked. During the evening he had
been feeling worse and worse, coming down with a fever and
losing his voice with laryngitis-like symptoms. But he was
still in good spirits, and wanted to sit and lounge with us
and "chat". It has been pretty nice making a friend like Andy.
As we were sitting there, a few patrons caught the one or two
water taxis that came up to the dock, right in front of us, at
about 2:30 a.m. We didn't think much of it at the time.
Mike had also given Andy a room, and so finally we all said
goodnight and went back into the resort. Second Note to Self:
When in islands, take available transportation
The next morning, I was like the first person awake in the resort.
It must have been about 8:30 when I woke up . I like
to have a cup of coffee in the morning, so I got out of bed and
went over to the kitchenette. Hmmm... no coffee maker. No problem
I'll go up to the restaurant.
When I went outside, I realized pretty quickly that the restaurant
was not open. No one was stirring, as they say, not even a mouse.
It was a pretty morning, waking up right on the beach, and so I
walked around for a bit checking things out. All over the resort
there were the signs of a happy party the night before. Really
wanting some coffee, I made my way back to the kitchen, which I
found to be unlocked. I didn't think Mike would mind, so I went
in the kitchen and looked for some coffee to brew. About then
Mike came in, bleary eyed himself, and showed me where the coffee
was. He grabbed a few things and left, presumably back to his own
rooms for a repast.
So, I brewed and poured a cup of coffee for myself.
Walking around, I ran into Andy, who was still not feeling well (not talking),
but in good spirits. We sat around a bit, and by 10:00 or so,
a few other people in the resort started stirring. Presumably
they had coffee makers, cuz no one was hovering near the kitchen
like I had been.
Mike popped his head out, came into the courtyard, and addressed
us and the few people on the balconies, saying that the staff had
decided not to come in today, and that for all effective purposes,
the resort was closed for the day. He basically then went back
to his room, probably to lay down :-)
A few people were calling land-taxis so I decided to call the
water taxi for us. I had thoughtfully programmed three of them into
my cell phone. The first one did not answer. The second was
an answering machine in Spanish, not my best language, and when
I called the third one, a woman answered who would only say "no boats"
in response to any question. I wanted to explain to her that the
boats were probably there, it was just the drivers that were missing,
but I thought better of it and decided to try again later.
So we went back to the room, gathered
our stuff, and went back out with Andy to the dock to wait and
call the water taxi again. As we were trying, to no avail, to
call the water taxi, occasionally, every half hour or so, we would see a few patrons,
2 or 3 people, leave the resort by land-cab, across the courtyard by the street.
Andy was complaining that he was really hungry, so I went in the kitchen
and grabbed some bread, cheese, drinks, and what looked to be the chicken
for the nights entree (which would never happen), piled them up on a plate
and brought them out to the dock where we had our first
meal of the New Year. Finally, after trying the water-taxis for the
upteenth time, at 1:00 p.m. or so, we caved in and called a land-taxi
to come and pick us up. Should have done it sooner. The guy arrived
about 15 minutes later, picked us up and drove us back to Bocas Town.
Of course, once in Bocas Town we still had to get back to the marina.
We ended up shlepping the equipment a block or two to one of the water
taxi stands where we finally found one guy tending a panga who was willing
to take us back to the marina. A short ride later we were back on RHAPSODY,
in the marina, for the New Year.
Woo Hoo! Happy New Years!