If I can, Toucan.

On Thursday, Grace took an “office day,” which means no marching in the jungle, and no organized activities planned for me. So I decided to try my hand with the island’s one kayak. I spied the kayak under one of the docks, and spent ten or so minutes trying to figure out how to get to it without jumping in the water or the mud. Eventually I gave up and hopped off a dock into knee deep mud. I floundered for a bit and then decided to spread my weight and crawl to the kayak so I wouldn’t sink deeper. Just as I’m up to my elbows in mud, I hear Afka, a sweet Dutch scientist who researches fig wasps, call out to me and point out the easy, mud-free, solid ground path leading straight to the kayak. Totally unhelpful in my current predicament. I finally made it to the kayak after sinking several times up to my upper thighs and having to dive down the holes my legs made to retrieve a stuck chaco. I clamored into the kayak and spent a wonderful hour and a half exploring the little coves around the island. Sitting on the lake is extremely pieceful. Instead of being totally surrounding by the incessant buzzing, squawking, and yelping of the jungle, you get to enjoy the sounds from a nice distance and actually feel a cool lake breeze instead of it getting blocked by a million giant trees. Surprisingly, I saw no crocodiles and was able to successfully rinse off most of the mud while maintaining possession of both hands. I crawled back up the muddy bank to the path, only to realize all the construction workers (who are building a new office for the guardabosques (forest guards)) were laughing hysterically at my muddy misfortune. It wasn’t until later when I shaved my legs for the first time here that I realized the thousands of tiny little clams embedded in the mud had left small little scratches all over my body.


When you’re walking through the jungle, conversation drifts to all sorts of things. The highlight from this week was when I mentioned to Lucia that Grace hasn’t cut the check for my salary yet. In response to Grace’s protests about being “poor” Lucia offered the idea that Grace could marry an Arabian man and be his sixth wife. Because if a man can have six wives, that man can pay my salary.
The falcon that stays under monkeys to catch insects as they fall.
Other highlights of the week include seeing maintenance workers using leaf blowers to clear the pathways. The rainforest is basically only leaves and thousands of leaves fall with every tiny breeze and miniscule raindrop. Not really sure what they were trying to accomplish here. I also really enjoyed watching a third bodily fluid come out of a Capuchin. Just as I was focusing my camera on a nicely posed monkey, she started vomiting. And just kept vomiting. I think it was a ploy to make me not take the picture. But don’t worry, this event was thoroughly documented. 
Monkey vomit.
I’ve been waiting all month to see toucans, one of my favorite jungle creatures. I saw them from afar while kayaking, but not really close enough to fully appreciate. Then one day while following the monkeys, I looked up and came face to face with a toucan, just a few feet away. 
On Tuesday, we went into the City again. Grace and I walked into a frozen yogurt place to enjoy their AC, and were accosted by the owner who gave us more than an earful about her “cookie crumbs imported from New York” and “yogurt transported on velvet-lined ships.” Basically we were held hostage until we bought yogurt. I normally am not a fan of froyo in the US because it’s too expensive and ice cream is always next door, so spending $7 on a cup of yogurt was not fun. 
Ruins of a church in Casco Viejo (Old City).
To make up for it, we went to a bar that had swings and again spent too much money on two mojitos. The evening ended with the usual trip to the grocery store to buy Cuba Libre in a can. One of the worst and best drink options out there. Steve, my favorite person on the island and some sort of scientist who is here from England to research bird nesting behaviors, proceeded to show us the assorted contents of his shopping bag. He purchased six or seven bottles of wine for his four days left and all snacks that he thought looked so bizarre they must be good.
Swing bar.
Some of the things I learned this week include that fig wasps can fly up to 15 km in one day (the world record is 160 km – which how someone tracked a fig wasp (the size of my smallest mole) that far is beyond me), and that sometimes if you stick your head inside a hollow tree trunk, you’ll find a nest full of bats! Bats make up more than half the mammal species on BCI, and I get to say hello to three bats every morning on our way to the office. 
Anteater in Gamboa.
A moth hiding a gecko, larger than my hand.
The newest horror of the jungle is tick bombs. I had heard tremblings of them, but was told they mostly exist in the dry season. Until today. When I was innocently marching through the jungle. Suddenly, I looked down and saw literally hundreds of tiny ticks speeding all over my feet and legs. I spent the next twenty minutes rolling duct tape all over my body and the next four hours in the jungle thoroughly traumatized. Thankfully, not a single tick made its way through my clothing armor and I still have yet to pull an embedded tick off my skin. 
Post Tick Bomb.
 For the weekend escape, Grace and I decided we hadn’t had enough of island living and made our way to Isla Taboga (different than Trinidad and Tobago, but just as much Calypso). We took a boat from our island to Gamboa, waited for two hours, took a Red Devil (bus) towards Panama City, panicked because the bus was so late, took a taxi up the Amador Causeway, took a Ferry to the island, and finally a small golf cart up a steep hill to our “hotel.” Although our book recommended the hotel, I think I dialed the wrong number and instead reached Morgan Freeman and his daughter. They were extremely kind and friendly, offering me free beer and pointing out all the restaurants and umbrella salesman they were related to. They even went so far as to let Grace and I stay in a luxurious room that I think also doubled as their oven. The upside is, the room was so hot no way a bed bug could survive and it had a glorious view of the beach and hillside. 
View from our Hotel in Isla Taboga.
The island was full of broiling hot sun, perfect sand, beautiful water, smallish fish for snorkeling, and some of the best fried whole corvina (white fish) that I’ve ever had. 48 hours of sun, sand, and shrimp is all you need to prepare you for another week on BCI.

Grace on the boat.
Boat passing in the Canal.
Sunrise on BCI.

Our froggie pet.

Another monkey species that squeeks at you like a bird.

Mimi and Pilar, two adult females from Capuchin group FC

The entrance to a small beehive.

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