Who said that the government of our enlightened money laundering supermarket king, Ricardo Martinelli, doesn't listen to the people? Tourists called for a Panama/Bocas del Toro boycott and just weeks later the authorities step in and make the dream come through!
Friday at about 4 PM, heavily armed police escorted officials from the Maritime Authority and closed down the two ferry services (actually the two water taxi services) that connect Isla Colón with Almirante on the mainland, Bananama Republic has learned. Official reason: security. The ferries are apparently unsafe. That in itself wouldn't surprise us, because unsafe transport is the norm here in Panama and a couple of years ago the ferry to Taboga sank and the captain was drunk. Not to mention the buses.
However, now there is no ferry in Bocas only the la palanga ferry is running. People who work on the islands but live in Almirante or Changuinola can't go home. Tourists are trapped. And it will be like that the whole weekend, because the authorities are only open on weekdays. So who needs to cross the water will have to do so in even unsafer launches and canoes.
Bystanders noted that the police behaved as if they were on to some big drug bust instead of rickety Panama boats, and one remarked that, "they weren't up to the cholitos in Changuinola so now they're trying to screw over the negritos from the islands....."
Does all this trashing of Bocas del Toro look like a "pump and dump" scheme to you too? To us it does. Drive prices down again, make people leave, sell cheap to millionaire friends and make a quick buck. No wonder our tourism clown Shamah is so quiet.
UPDATE: And as if ferry trouble isn't enough, an Aeroperlas plane coming from Bocas got in trouble because of faulty landing gear, tires exploded and all air traffic had to be diverted from Albrook. We're telling you; Bocas is just CURSED!
UPDATE 2: We clarified some issues, what has been closed down are the two main water taxi services. The big ferry is running. Others have taken over the water taxi service and now charge more.
UPDATE 21/8: Well, this ain't over yet. Friday there was apparently a protest, which didn't help much. The two affected companies are Taxi 25 and Bocas Marine Tours, plus the ferry Mantarraya. Population stuck. Tourists miss international flights. El cambio esta en marcha!