Friday, January 29, 2010

Islas, Wind, and Water

It’s always a good day when it begins with putting on a bathing suit under my exterior outfit. Yesterday I dressed the same way in preparation of a kayak trip with Nina and her friends Kay and Mary from Alaska. Today, I went with Leslie (who has that great house in the Villa section of Las Olas), her sister Kim and 4 year old son Liam, her sister Dina and 7 year old daughter Becca on a boat trip to Isla Gámez. The protected area (Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park) is well-known as the archipelago of the Páridas and includes the islands Parida (the greater of all), Paridita, Santa Catalina, Pulgoso, Gámez, Tintorera, Obispo, Obispone, Los Pargos, Ahogado, Icacos, Corral de Piedra, Bolaños, Berraco, Bolañitos, San José, Linarte, Saíno, Sainitos, Iglesia Mayor, Carey Macho and Carey Hembra. The boat was named Mr. Bean (maybe beans made the Panamanian owner rich?) and captained by Tomito. The weather: perfect; Isla Gámez: a lovely white sand beach; the ocean: full of tropical fish. This was my forth trip to Gámez and first time I had seen so many fish there. I was especially lucky and saw a huge (5’ across) spotted eagle ray (no, I did not take the above picture). I was only a few feet away and thought about Steve Irwin and his deadly encounter with sting rays. Cool fish included: Golden Jack, Panama Graysby, Green Jack, Cortez Rainbow Wrasse, Panamic Sergeant Major, Giant Hawkfish, Panamic NIghtsergeant, Spotted Porcupinefish, and King Angelfish (no, I didn’t take that picture either… let me know if you want to contribute to an underwater camera). We left Gámez at exactly the wrong time. As it turns out, the North Wind is at its fiercest between noon and 4:00 p.m. Of course we had to get back, so we took off. At first it was fun, bouncing in the whitecaps. But as the waves broke over the front deck, we all gladly moved to the back of the boat, huddling together like refugees from a foreign war. We had a reprieve when we stopped at Boca Brava to look for howler monkeys (which we found in trees above the water). Glad to return safely to my truck parked in Pedregal, I’ll think twice about boating in the north wind months of January through March.

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