Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad y La Playa es Tuya Cuidala

In case you are wondering what the title says in English, my translation is "Merry Christmas and The Beach is In Your Care". This morning's beach walk was the best Christmas present ever! From this perfect sunrise to Mr. Mangrove Hawk perched on the "La Playa es Tuya Cuidala" sign, God's gift was signed, sealed & delivered perfectly to me. I feel incredibly blessed and hope that all of you can share this early morning beach walk experience with me sometime in your life. The first picture shows the mangrove hawk standing on the Turtle Preserve sign. The second picture is yesterday's sunrise and the third picture is today's sunrise.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Swimming in the Mangrove Lagoon

Here are some pictures from yesterday's trip with Tammy (from Tasmania who has a condo here), her friend Nancy (retired & living near Bend, OR) and Beth (who lives in a great house on the beach about a mile from me). Beth suggested we jump in the water to cool down. I sat there for a few minutes before I started thinking about leaches and spectacled cayman. Being attacked by neither, I will live to kayak another day. As you can see, Beth was proud to get 5 kayaks in her truck.
Richard (from a previous blog) just put together a really cool website with loads of pictures of my homeland (Playa la Barqueta). Go to and you may see pictures of yourself (secretly taking by Richard).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Beautiful Sunrise

Opps... I forgot to include this cool sunrise picture (I took 2 mornings ago) in the last blog. Also, I forgot to mention several interesting websites to check out. Go to and click on Panama or Playa la Barqueta Info at the bottom of the page (nice catalog of Richard & Nina's trip in November). Also check out and

Full Moon

In case you didn't notice, last night's full moon was the closest to earth it has been in 15 years. If you missed it, your next chance to see the moon this big will be November 14, 2016. It was 14 % bigger and 30% brighter than normal. Hence, it was a fabulous night to walk the beach. Plus the tide was extremely low when Pauline Jones and I set out for our walk around 8:00 p.m. Within 5 minutes of walking, we saw a huge comet streak across the sky. Wow!! Imagine walking on an endless beach (here at Playa la Barqueta you can walk 8 miles in either direction before encountering a river), with warm temperatures (80 degrees at night), and a plethora of stars (a few shooting). We returned to the condos after 9:45 p.m. so the walk was a respectable distance. Fishing boats anchored up for the night were so close we thought we could swim out to them (of course who would want to with sea snakes hunting in the dark ocean waters).
In case you are wondering... no, I didn't take the comet picture (although this is a close-up of what it looked like). I did take the green iguana picture. He was waiting for lunch in a palm tree next to my condo lanai (or porch).
Another great day today filled with a morning beach walk (the bright moon was still up), mid-morning mangrove kayak trip with friends (we saw osprey, mangrove black hawks, multiple species of kingfishers, herons and on the drive back we saw the forked tail & the less common scissor-tailed flycatcher), all topped off with a nice bicycle ride.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Magic Leatherbacks

The dry season is here. So until further notice, I start my beachwalks at 5:45 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. to take advantace of cool morning temperatures. Everyday is an adventure, of course, and today was no exception. As the sands grew lighter, I noticed baby turtles at my feet... magic turtles with big front flippers. I followed their tracks to the nest where I saw just a few turtles emerging. Marciele (benevolent keeper of the Las Olas turtles & marathon runner) was on his usual beach run, making an abrupt right turn toward me when he saw the turtles. He dug them up, and we spend the next few minutes taking batches of them closer to the incoming tide. What a delight! I saw my first (& only) leatherback turtle in Costa Rica near Tamarindo many years ago. Now I live on a turtle beach!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Whirl-Wind Month with Nina & Richard

What can I say! Nina & Richard from Alaska would have to agree that the past few weeks in Panama have been pretty exciting. I didn't keep a log (& yes, I've been delinquent keeping up with this blog), but here are some snippets of our adventures...
We were witness to several Olive Ridley turtle releases (natural & human-assisted). Believe it or not, the turtle releases have become political and filled with intrigue. The person in charge (who works for ANAM - Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, the Panama park system) of the nearby Turtle Refuge may be harvesting eggs for profit. Under his direction, several turtle releases have occurred at 9:00 a.m. in the bright sun (much to the delight of frigate birds) because he doesn't want Las Olas Resort gaining monetarily by advertising evening turtle releases followed by Happy Hours or discounted overnight stays.
Nina & Richard fit right in to the relaxed life of Playa la Barqueta. Within a week, Richard became king of beach bike rides, often bicycling 18 miles at low tide. Before long, he was buying tools and servicing the Las Olas Resort rental bikes. He rode my mountain-type bike on most roads going inland from the condo & became friends with many of the locals. Meanwhile, Nina & I walked several miles each morning on the beach. She has adopted my habit of picking up sea beans & sand dollars.
Also within the first week Nina & Richard were introduced to the rich kayaking opportunities within a few miles of my condo. Our first trip was into the mangrove lagoon system (which I've talked about on a previous blog). They paddled the two recreational kayaks (a Perception Sundance & Old Town Loon) I recently purchased from fellow Rotarian Jerry while I paddled the 5-pound Alpacka Raft. Our second trip was the brainchild of neighbors Beth & John. We ended up with a grand floatilla of 9 Playa la Barquetains on the Rio Chico between the towns of Alanje and Querevalo. The big excitement before we even put on the river was John trying to feed a huge green iguana. Thinking they were vegetarians, he tried to feed one some bread & the iguana bit (hard) into 2 fingers. Nina patched him up with her first-aid kit and John was able to complete the trip.
We got to know Salsa Dancing neighbors Hector and Nivia. One Saturday night we followed them into David and had a great time Salsa dancing for several hours (until the music got too loud). Now that I know where to go, I'm sure I'll return & practice moves I've learned on Dancing with the Stars!
Needless to say, after so much fun in such a short period of time, Nina & Richard decided to buy a condo in my complex (Las Brisas Del Mar). I have Unit 101 (1st floor, end unit on the east side) and they purchased Unit 704 (1st floor, end unit on the west side). In just 2 weeks, they have totally furnished their condo & plan to rent it through (look under Panama - Playa Barqueta if you are interested in renting this great condo from them).
I had already planned a 4-day trip to Boquete before the purchase, so we got to Boquete just in time to experience Panama's largest earthquake (6.2), followed by Boquete's biggest flood. If you go to you can see some of the Rio Caldera flood pictures. I had purchased lodging at Boquete for 4 nights, but we returned home a day early because we missed the wonderful Playa Barqueta sunshine.
On Wednesday, we'll fly to Panama City for our 2 last days together (eating, dancing, visiting the Canal visitor center, shopping for beach bikes). I'm already looking forward to their return next November (4 months this time). With our dancing/Alaskan background, we meshed well together.