Now known as Isla Solarte, this island which is part of the Bocas del Toro archipel, was called Nancy’s Cay for centuries as English-speaking pirates, traders, and settlers came to the region. This name could have come from the nances (a small yellow fruit) rather than from anyone named Nancy. The far west of Isla Solarte is named Hospital Point because of its history as the site of the region’s primary hospital compound. This hospital was built by the United Fruit Company in 1900. It was also the headquarters of the Colombian Conservative forces during the War of a Thousand Days as they launched raids on the Liberals’ base on Bastimentos Island in 1901 and 1902.
Visitors might be interested in visiting Solarte to get into some of Bocas del Toro’s best snorkeling and scuba diving spots. The sea wall at Hospital Point offers divers and snorkelers a real richness of sea life as the turtle grass and lettuce coral in the shallows make way for a wall that drops 12 to 15 meters along which you might sea lobsters, morey eels, invasive lionfish, trumpet fish, and deeper water corals and sponges. In the evenings schools of sardines cluster together and needlefish zip around the surface of the water. Further east on both sides of Isla Solarte the coast is covered by mangroves that all types of sea life use as a nursery for small or juvenile animals to hide from barracudas and larger predators.
This small island also has a small public pre-and primary school with about 70 pupils. It is a very romantic place to volunteer. You can live on the main island where you stay in a comfortable hostel right in the center of town. The little town is a very popular tourist spot and has a very well developped nightlife.
When you go to ‘work’ you leave the main island by boat at 7.30AM with the other school teachers and after a 10 minutes trip you will arrive at the lush island and the school is right there. Normally this trip costs U$3, but for teachers and volunteers the boatmen only charge U$2 per person.
The public school has about 70 pupils ages 3-12, all local children from the poor local families. The principal is a very passionate and wonderful lady who is also the English teacher. Volunteers are very apreciated by the children and staff.
As the school is very used to having volunteers, as a volunteer you get introduced smoothly and soon get the responsibility of English classes. English classes are being offered per class, but for all ages. The English teacher will tell the goals of each lessons and what materials you can use for this, but it is up to you to further prepare the lessons.
min. time there is 2 weeks and you should dress comfortable, but decent. So clean cloths that cover shoulders and upperlegs. Also shoes that cover your toes.