Souvenir kiosks at the north end of Calle 3 have some cheap jewelry, molas , and a few other knick-knacks. there are few Ngöbe-Buglé crafts there. Other souvenir stands are around the town park, mostly around Hostel Heike .
Organic chocolate bars made by local companies are sold at a few spots around town, including Super Gourmet and Starfish Coffee. They cost about US$3 for a 100-gram bar. The chocolate is intense, crumbly, and delicious, though more like brownies than a typical chocolate bar. They can make for nice little gifts for folks back home, as long as they don’t get too hot and you get home quickly enough; they have no preservatives, so they only last about a week in transit. Those made by the Caribbean Chocolate Company (www.caribbean-chocolate-company.com ) are wrapped in paper and resemble cigars.
Pure Tree Natural Body Products (cell 6607-8962 and 6570-8277, www.upinthehill.com ) are made by a couple who use plants and fruit grown on their farm in Bastimentos. (They welcome visitors to their farm/shop, which is called Up in the Hill and is in Isla Bastimentos ) They make all kinds of delicious-smelling oils, balms, salves, and skin-care products in attractive bottles. Three will be of special interest to Bocas visitors at war with the chitras: Cococitronella and Fight the Bite to ward them off, and Stop Scratchin’ to control the maddening itch.
On my latest trip to Bocas , I did an experiment: I coated the left side of my body with Fight the Bite (which has natural ingredients including citronella and lemongrass) and the right side of my body with toxic DEET. It wasn’t particularly buggy while I was there, so it wasn’t an ideal test, but both seemed to do an equally good job of keeping biting nasties away.
Fight the Bite needs to be reapplied regularly, though, since it comes off in the rain or on sweaty skin. From previous experience, I also know that Stop Scratchin’ works wonderfully. Again, you have to reapply it from time to time, but it does a great job of soothing my Bocas battle scars. It’s easy to find Pure Tree products around Bocas. In Bocas town, try Super Gourmet, Starfish Coffee, and Lili’s Café.
Bocas Book Store (Avenida E near the airport, cell 6452-5905 or 6739-0693, 9 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) is the first true bookstore on the islands. It was just getting started on my most recent visit, so I hope it makes it. It aims to stock thousands of books, mostly used and mostly in English. It’s in a house opposite the airport terminal.
Artesanías Bri-Bri Emanuel (Calle 3 between Avenida B and Avenida C, tel. 757-9652, 10 A.M.–8 P.M. Mon.–Sat.), right across the street from Bocas Marine and Tours, seems to carry more Guatemalan souvenirs than Panamanian ones, but it does have a few things, such as devil masks and traditional Ngöbe-Buglé dresses and handbags. It also sells a variety of T-shirts, trinkets, and figurines.