Since I’ve been here I’ve asked loads of people where the best place for reggae/dancehall music is, and all of them have told me there’s only one reggae/dancehall night (they just call it all reggae here) and it’s on Isla Bastimentos on Fridays in a hostel called Yemanja.
The past two Fridays no one wanted to come with me (mainly because it’s known to be a dangerous island) so I was determined to go last night because I was really starting to miss partying/dancing to the music I love. On Fridays there are free drinks in the hostel so everyone congregates downstairs and after a lot of rum punch, I managed to persuade 3 girls to come to Yemanja.
We got a water taxi at about 10 which cost $5. I wasn’t sure if this was a rip-off or not because I only knew the daytime price ($3) and I knew it increases in the night but I didn’t know by how much. I took the driver’s number and asked him about 10 times if he was sure he’d be awake a few hours later to bring us back when I call him. He promised he would be.
A couple of local guys came in the boat as well, and it was pitch black and so quiet in the sea. The $5 was definitely worth it even if it wasn’t going to take us to a reggae night! It was just so cool flying through the giant sea in a tiny boat in complete darkness/silence.
The boat pulled up at Bar Blue (I think that’s what it’s called) in Bastimentos after about 15 minutes in the sea. Bar Blue was playing reggaeton/salsa/reggae and there were a few people there but it seemed like more of a relaxing bar where people play pool/snooker rather than a dancing place. We had no idea where to go but a random guy said he’d take us cos he was also going to the reggae night.
It was a couple of minutes’ walk up a really thin path up a hill, but I could not believe it… when we arrived there was NO ONE there except the two girls working behind the bar!!! I felt so bad for persuading the other girls to come. They’re not even particularly into reggae.
I was happy because the DJ was playing dancehall and I was drunk so I just danced anyway, but he obviously likes to make assumptions about people due to the colour of their skin because as soon as he saw us, he changed the music to American pop!!! This made me very angry because if it’s a reggae night we obviously came to hear reggae, so play reggae! What an idiot. I immediately went to give him a lecture telling him not to make assumptions etc etc, and he was quite surprised and switched it back to reggae.
A couple more people turned up as the night went on but they were all guys, no girls, which was a bit weird. I spoke to one of the bar girls called Lamar, and she explained that the reason it wasn’t busy was because everyone was watching the Panama football game. She was really friendly and gave me her number and said I can go there in the day to chill or whatever because she’s always working there.
The other girls got bored after about an hour so we went back in a water-taxi with a guy who was also at Yemanja who only charged us $4, so now I know next time not to go for $5.
The bar is kind of outside but it has a roof and it’s right next to the sea. Spirit/mixers are $2.50. Fridays are their only party night so I definitely want to go every week and I’m sure there’ll be more people next time. If you’re in Bocas on a Friday you should go too!