I‘ve met Panamanians who talk about Contadora Island as if it were a relative they lost, like a favourite uncle from childhood they adored. I spoke to a Dutch ex-pat sailor who is convinced there is a curse over Panama’s Pearl islands. “There’s always something mysterious that happens to big resorts on these islands. They never last. Take that huge abandoned resort on Contadora. It’s like something out of a movie.” The next day, I was boarding a boat to the island.