Monday, September 26, 2005

Sun & Sand

Tropical Paradise

Not much to report here; I've spent the past two days enjoying the water. Yesterday I followed a trail to a beach on Bastimentos Island...a trail which turned out to be completely muddy and slippery after the mid-day rain. I had to take off my flip-flops and go it barefoot, holding on to whatever branches and roots were available to keep from falling. But the beach was beautiful and the water is so warm!! I enjoyed myself for a few hours, reading, swimming, lying in the sun, and watching other tourists emerge sweating from the woods to rinse off their mud-caked feet. Luckily, a boat came to take us back.

Today I took a boat tour to some of the islands' most picturesque sites. We had a bit of a rough start when our boat stalled in the middle of the bay and wouldn't start for five minutes or so. We went to Dolphin Bay, where we watched (surprise!) dolphins play and jump in our boat's wake. I was tempted to jump in and swim with them until I saw the reason they were there--the water was teeming with big pink jellyfish! Then we did some snorkeling around the reef at the site you see above, and later went to Red Frog Beach, to swim and hunt in the trees trying to see the tiny and elusive (surprise!) red frogs.

Tomorrow I leave the Caribbean coast behind: I'm off to Panama City to check out the canal and other area attractions, and from then on I'll be moving north along the Pacific coast.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Caribbean Life

For the past five days I´ve been experiencing the heat and humidity of the Caribbean coast. On Tuesday morning I left San José for Tortuguero, a long trip which involved two bus rides through the thick tropical forests, and a ride in a small boat from which we saw lots of birds, iguanas and CROCODILES! Big ones with scary looking jaws! We even saw a crocodile stalking a group of flamingoes, but our boat´s motor scared him off before we got to witness a National Geographic-style crocodile attack. Tortuguero is a tiny town of about 1000 people, with no cars and only one main street, on a little strip of land between the jungle canals and the coast. I took a canoe ride in the canals and got a closeup view of three different kinds of monkeys and other tropical animals. But the main point of Tortuguero is the turtles (tortugas, hence the name). At night, I took a tour with a nature guide to watch a female green turtle laying eggs. We waited and waited for the signal from the Park Ranger, and then were able to approach the turtle, who was about three feet long, and watch her laying egg after egg into a hole she had dug in the ground. It was an amazing sight to see.

After Tortuguero I spent two nights in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, at the far Eastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It´s gringo heaven there, with lots of Americans and Europeans who stayed and set up shops or restaurants, and live the relaxed Caribbean life alongside the locals. And there, finally I got to a beach, and went swimming and snorkeling in the warm waters of the Sea. Today I crossed into Panama to the Bocas del Toro islands, another gringo magnet, and expect to spend another couple of days in the water, trying to escape from the oppressive heat and humidity!

The interesting thing about the Caribbean coast of these countries is that a lot of the residents are English-speakers who came from the West Indies. It´s hard to get over the idea that people are speaking English to me because it´s their first language, not because they think I don´t speak Spanish. Life is very tranquilo here, and reggae is the music of choice. Viva Bob Marley, mon!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Rainy Season

I arrived in San Jose this morning and was greeted by typical Latin American rainy season weather: heat and humidity in the morning, thunderstorms with torrential rain in the afternoon! I left my hostel unprepared and wound up getting completely soaked on the walk back. And according to the weather report, this is what I have to look forward to in the next month at least!

San Jose isn´t very interesting, although it is surrounded by lush forests and has a more tropical feel than the South American cities I visited. So tomorrow I´m off to Tortuguero National Park to watch some turtles laying eggs and hopefully see some monkeys!

And in a non Latin American aside, Congratulations to Alison and Basil on the birth of their baby boy, Henry Jacob!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Distant Wanderings News Flash!

Hello faithful readers (as you would have to be faithful to still be checking in after nearly a month's hiatus). Well, it's been a month since I arrived home from South America. I have had a great time at two weddings, visited my family in Pennsylvania and made a day trip to New York to visit Alison and the bump on her belly which is now SIX days overdue. However, I am not ready to work again,'s time for more Wandering!

What is the plan? Well, I'm flying to San Jose, Costa Rica on Monday (yes, that's right, this coming Monday!) and will meander my way around Central America for a couple of months. The plan is so totally unformed as to be basically non-existent at this point, so you'll just have to stay tuned to Distant Wanderings to find out what I am up to.

Anyway, you can check out my photos to see what I've been doing with myself over the past few weeks. Here's's a sideways look at my new passport photos. I can't believe how blond I look. Will I have to get highlights for the next 10 years to avoid airport interrogations? And below that, take a look at my favorite photo from my trip to Jolly Old England.

Passport photos

My Favorite Sign