Almost dragged there by an avid scuba diver friend, I succeeded to Santa Catalina, last onshore surfers’ hangout before boarding for Coiba National Park. During the past century, Panamanian dictators Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega exploited the main archipelago’s island as a political penal colony, forcefully devising it unappealing for non inmates.
My arrival to the Marine Preserve was followed by briefings and introductions from the scuba community. Iglesia and Bajo Canales were the designated immersion spots, and in between, stopovers at Granito de Oro island for a picnic and at Estacion Biologica to spot Tito. The latter attempt was regretfully not accomplished.
Eager to disregard an encounter with the former Yugoslavian dictator, mainly because unlike “Elvis is alive” urban myth, this Tito would be one hundred and twenty one years old by now, and if in hideout plausibly to be found in Croatia‘s Brijuni Islands, my curiosity invigorated. I focused then on my so far foremost diving experience ever. Guitar and white tip sharks, hawksbill turtles, spotted rays, and a choreographic yellow frog fish trio-motion made me increase the passion for sea submersion.
Still hyper after the dives we convened for dinner at Pinguino Cafe, a front beach Sardinian owned restaurant serving delicious lobster with pasta. Between “balboas” I shifted the conversation to Tito, my mysterious Coiba inhabitant, to finally learn that the referred individual is four metres long and possibly migrated from mainland to the island where it settled secure at the Estacion Biologica lagoon: Tito, the saltwater crocodile!