Funny Bastimentos Experience

After an afternoon at Red Frog beach on Isla Bastimentos, we decided not to go back to Isla Colon straight away but to take a detour to Old Bank, the main village of Bastimentos, to have dinner, then go home from there. Bastimentos is quite big so the water-taxi guys at Red Frog told us it would cost $4 from there to Old Bank and then another $4 from Old Bank back to Isla Colon. We decided that was too much money to spend on water-taxis for one day but then one man offered us a deal – $5 for the whole thing. He was able to do this because he already had to make those trips with certain tourist groups who had kind of booked him as their driver for the day, so he wouldn’t lose any money by taking us as well, but it meant we had to stick to his timings. We waited at Red Frog for his people for about half an hour, arrived at Old Bank at 4.50pm and he told us we had to be back on the dock at 6.10pm.

Last time we were in Old Bank, we went to a restaurant called BushMan’s Kitchen which doesn’t serve food in the afternoon until 5pm, so last time we only got a drink, but it was fun in there because we had silly conversations with the waiter and some local guys. I’d heard that it supposedly serves the best pizza in Bocas Del Toro, so we went back there intent on eating one of these nice pizzas.

The door was shut but unlocked, so we went in and there was absolutely no one there, not even in the kitchen. We commented on how we could easily have gone into the kitchen and stolen food/money, but decided that wasn’t a very good idea so we sat in the outside part (kind of like a balcony, higher up than the “road”/little path). Some guys down on the road shouted to us that the chef will come at 5, which is what we were expecting.

However at about 5.15pm there was still no sign of anyone in the restaurant, and our pizza cravings were increasing by the minute. I’d seen on the menu they had a pesto pizza which is basically a dream come true for me. Soon after, someone else down on the road told us that actually, the chef had gone to Isla Colon to sort some stuff out and would be back around 6. We wanted to cry!!! This meant that we wouldn’t be able to get pizza because we had to be on the dock at 6.10 for the water-taxi. I hoped they were chatting rubbish and we decided to wait there and be optimistic that he might come back earlier. We’d also told the guys on the road about our giant pizza cravings.

At about 6.30, a kind of scruffy-looking local guy who must have been about 18 appeared by our table. It was a bit weird because he didn’t really say anything, just looked as us expectantly. I said “so is the restaurant open now?” and he said “yeah”. I figured I was supposed to tell him what I wanted to eat, so we asked for our pizzas and he said “ok” and walked away. We both burst out laughing because of the strangeness of the situation. He didn’t even bring us a menu or ask if we wanted a drink, and then we noticed him walking away along the path, so he wasn’t even in the kitchen making the pizzas. We were convinced he wasn’t actually the waiter and this was some kind of practical joke or something. We joked about how he was probably going to his house to make the pizza and then bring it to us and charge us the restaurant price for it.

Sure enough he came back about 10 minutes later, but he was empty handed. He came back to our table and awkwardly said something like “ok I have something to admit. I don’t actually work here but someone told me you wanted pizzas so I decided I could try and make them for you. My cousin works here normally but he’s on Isla Colon right now. When I went to the kitchen to try and make them, some of the ingredients weren’t there so I can’t actually do it, sorry…”

We found this hilarious and upsetting (because of the lack of pizza) at the same time. What a weird thing to do!!!!

Anyway that’s the funny part of the story over. We were really hungry by this point so went to the nearest restaurant which was called Roots. There was only one vegetarian thing on the menu, which was very informatively listed as “vegetarian” with no further details as to what it contained. For all we knew it could have been pizza, pasta, rice, curry or absolutely anything.

It came quickly so I guess they made it earlier in the day and re-heated it. It was rice and peas (coconut rice and kidney beans), salad and a little pile of curry veg. It didn’t particularly fill me up but it tasted alright and was only $6. The water was young and grumpy – he literally didn’t say a word to us the whole time, so I doubt I’ll go back there. We still want to eat pizza in BushMan’s Kitchen so we’ll go back this week in the hope that the chef will be there.

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