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Sea Kayaking Through the Mangroves and the Beach
Rivers, Jungles, Beaches and Bats

Pacuare River raftingPacuare River rafting (Stephen Smith)
I woke up at 6:30am for a 7:30am breakfast. Today was breakfast tacos with eggs, bacon and juice and coffee. I can sum up the experience by noting that Jim popped out on the deck as I drank my coffee and chatted with his incredibly well behaved son. He asks, “Steve? Would you like your bacon in the taco with the eggs, or on the side?” Yes, this is officially the happiest place on Earth for me, right here and now.

After telling Jim my life story at breakfast, the two of us headed off for the dock for some sea kayaking. Along the way we saw a mommy three-toed sloth hanging upside down in the trees, belly up towards the sun, looking down. On that belly, was a baby, also looking peacefully down at us. What a perfect treat to start the day! Of course, knowing I was going in the ocean, I didn’t bring my very new, very expensive, very non-waterproof camera. Figures.

The water was as smooth as glass, as we paddled peacefully along the mangrove coast, observing birds, a barracuda, brain coral, funnel-like tube sponges, starfish, countless fish, a few stingrays, crabs on the mangrove roots, and several jellyfish. The ride was relaxing and effortless, as we engaged in good conversation mixed with glorious silence.

The Beach

We returned by 11:30am, and had lunch at 12:00pm. For lunch we had personal pizzas with the toppings of our choice (chicken for me). A few other families showed up at this point. One from Idaho (I think) and another from New York. After lunch we all got on the boat, along with kayaks, snorkeling equipment, chairs and coolers, and headed off to a beautiful beach in the Zapatilla Cayes, a nearby set of islands.

After a 15 minute boat ride we arrived at the island, and Jim and Ramon unloaded the kayaks, coolers, and other equipment. On the island was a park ranger station, and the straw hut home of Ramon. Ramon is a Spanish biologist who tends to the turtles that frequent the island. During the no-turtle months (like now), he lives and works at Tranquilo Bay as a guide and all around staff member.

My sunscreen was running low so Ramon let me borrow his. Regardless, I got pretty burnt in no time, swimming around and sipping a beer at the waters edge. So I spent the rest of the time sitting in a chair in the shade, watching the ocean, the people, and the frigate birds living on a tiny island offshore (more like a big rock with a cluster of trees on top). Some people snorkeled, others kayaked around, and still others went on a long walk around the entire island with Ramon (about 3 miles). I sat in the shade and relaxed, engaging in more conversation with Jim and the other guests.

We returned at 6:30pm with just enough time for a quick sun burnt shower before the 7:00pm dinner. When I returned to my room I had a pleasant surprise: hanging on my door knob was a laundry bag containing all my dirty clothes, now clean and folded. I never asked for this, but I guess they saw the big trash bag full of dirty laundry with my otherwise tidy bags and just did it anyway. Did I mention how much I love this place?

The appetizer was a platter of fluffy flatbread like biscuits (if flatbread could be fluffy!) with hummus, veggie sticks and dip. Dinner was salad, pork chops with baked mac & cheese and veggies, and an incredible fudge brownie with coconut/vanilla ice cream in a martini glass! The brownie was made with local chocolate (one of the excursions here is to a local farm where a retired couple grows and produces chocolate, and gives tours). I sat with the NJ family again, and then watched them play a game of Blokus after dinner.

After every one left for the evening, Ramon asked if I wanted to go wandering around in the dark and see what we might find. He grabbed his headlamp and we walked the grounds. We saw a possum and countless spider eyes in the grass and trees. Ramon seems to like hanging out with me, since I’m alone and appear very interested in what he has to say. And I am! I could wander with him for hours, absorbing all his knowledge of the islands and its wildlife. Tomorrow’s activity is going to be a bat-cave hike, followed by a nature hike with Ramon in the afternoon. Sounds awesome! I went to bed around 11:00pm, but woke again at 11:30pm to the sound of a massive downpour. Since I had the A/C off and the windows open, it sounded impressive. I drifted back to sleep, and don’t know when the rain stopped.

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