Saturday, August 09, 2008
We're leaving Puerto Viejo Monday. We expect to be back home Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Ciao!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Rolf had us over to his place for a barbecue at his place last Saturday. Before dinner I noticed a couple of chestnut mandibled (the largest, but not the most colorful, of the 3 toucan species seen here) in tree in the front yard a couple hundred feet away. Rolf got his scope out. I put our camera to the scope eyepiece and shot this before the second of the two flew away. People in the U.S. have forgotten what meat tastes like. Animals that spend a few years wandering around eating whatever is in season, taste much different than factory produced meat raised on feed (corn, fish meat & meal) that they never were evolved to eat. The night ended with Juana getting us up to dance Salsa & Tumba.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
What I like about Puerto Viejo is some things never change here. I seem the same people year after year: the guy calling "patty patty" (pahtee, pahtee) from his bike with his cooler full of warm freshly made pattys--a spicy Carribean sort of empanada type thing, the old man selling coconuts on the park/beach front, the girl doing trencitas (hair braids) on the street, the guy selling fruit on the corner, the same guys sitting around from time to time. I recognize them & now they recognize me with a "hello" or "buenas." This place is also a magnet it seems for tall lanky European twenty-something blondes, who stroll the beach alone or in pairs by day, & sit in threes or fours at Chili Rojo, or E-Z Times at night, or sit with a Rasta who they are obviously buying dinner & whatever for.
We swim at Playa Negro (Black Beach). The water is calm but good for body surfing. Most tourists prefer Playa Cocles a little east of town with it's wide white sand beach. The ocean is rough there though, & there are rip currents--not good for swimming IMHO. Playa Negro is usually pretty empty, and less than a five minute bike-ride from our hotel. There are pictures of it in earlier years psot on this blog.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Booby (El Pato):
Within minutes of arriving on Uktuptupu we noticed this bird. When we had the chance we asked Alberto our Kuna guide/boat driver what the name of the bird was. He said he didn't know, but explained to us in Spanish (which I actually understood) about the story of the bird. the Kuna speak their own language to each other but many also speak Spanish. Alberto seemed intent on teaching me Kuna. Every time I spoke to him in my very limited Spanish he would tell me howto say it in Kuna. The next day I asked the 73 year old owner of the hotel, a Kuna named Juan Garcia, about the bird. He's one of the few Kuna who speak English. He didn't know the name of the bird either, but here's my recollection of what he told me in English:
"This bird every year he come and fly (making motions with his hands indicating a a flock of birds flying to the north) he no live here. He live somewhere. This bird (makes diving motion with his hand) in water. He eat fish. The fish big and (makes hand motion to throat) he choke. They find him in canoe and bring him here. My son-in-law take the fish out of bird and he stay. Every day he come to cocina (kitchen) and get three, four fish."
Around Ukuptupu the call the bird "el pato"--the duck.BTW-Ukuptupu is an island of about 20 by 30 meters of sand ringed with stones. All the buildings are on piers surrounding the sand.
When we arrived at Rolf's in P.V. he looked at the picture on our camera and said it's a booby. He got his Birds of Costa Rica and decided it was a brown booby. Mystery solved.
Mariscos (Sea Food):
I believe the last itme I ate a lobster was over forty years ago on a vacation trip to Maine with my dad and it was somehow obligatory. On Uktuptupu meals were included with our stay. At our first day's lunch, which was conch, we were informed we'd be eating lobster for dinner. The lobster here are a different (clawless) species than those that live in the cold north, & they grow much faster. Richard, the young English gentleman who was one of our companions on the island, informed our hosts he didn't want lobster. Towards the end of that afternoon's excursion to Dog Island, Alberto said he was taking the canoe out to check other nearby Kuna canoes for fish. Shar & I asked if we could accompany him & he agreed. He went to three different boats around Dog Island calling out in Kuna, "Oohah Ooah" (Fish fish!). The canoes held catches of huge crabs & lobster but no fish. On the way back to Uktuptupu, he shouted to other canoes & islands we past, "Oohah Ooah." Folks just shook their heads. No fish. Richard was forced to eat lobster for dinner. During the meal Shar asked if he was allergic to shellfish. He replied no, he just understood that lobster was overfished & being depleted, and "I wanted to do the right thing--I didn't realize it was going to cause such a problem!" Shellfish appear to be plentiful here at present. I hope the fishery doesn't get overexploited. I'm currently reading Carl Safina's Voyage of the Turtle, which is an excellent overview of the current problems of ocean fisheries.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Steve told me he thought the picture he posted of me looking at Molas made me look big. Hard not to look big next to those tiny women. You really can see the workmanship if you click on the photo.
The day after this was taken, our community trip for the day was to go watch the visiting basketball team from the neighboring island get trounced by the 8-10 year olds from Wichub Huala. Looked like the whole town had come out to watch the game. We're thinking these kids have Olympic potential.
If you don't get a personal email from me, it is because I seem to have lost my list of addresses I sent, so can only respond.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The Kuna women are constantly sewing on the molas they sell from their houses and even out on these tiny islands. I always appreciate purchasing crafts and artwork from the makers and artists so this was a real treat for me.
The place we stayed, Ukuptupu, included our meals. We had conch twice, octopus, crab and lobster twice. Oh darn, lobster again for dinner? These were all more plentiful than fish.
I'm sure I`ll never be anywhere like this in the world. We enjoyed it thoroughly and are so glad we made the trip out there. It made our whole Panama leg of the trip worth it. Pictures will follow later.
We met interesting folks from England, Denmark, Israel, France etc. too. It seems most of the folks we run into are travel writers of one sort or another--working for guidebooks, magazines or whatever. They must all be writing about each other. I certainly hope I don't make it into any of their pages.
While waiting for our next plane we went to see Miraflores locks. We had had no intention of doing so, but several Panamanians told us that if we saw NOTHING else in Panama, we MUST see the locks. (Seems they're quite proud of it.) So since we had 5 hours to kill we caught a cab, & checked it out. It is an amazing feat of engineering. We're waitng to catch another plane to Bocas del Toro. (Another archipelago just east of the Costa Rican border on the Caribbean.) We'll spend a day or two there--then we'll take a water taxi up the Rio Changuinola to where we can walk across an old railroad bridge over Rio Sixaola into Costa Rica, & catch a bus to Puerto Viejo on the Carribean. Ciao!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
We spent a day in Santa Clara. I am sorry to say that place seemed to combine some of the worst of Latino & American culture. The beach had weekend ATV types using people on foot as markers for an obstacle course. There were also jetskis which I´ve never seen in C.A. The funky hotel we stayed at blared music till late hours, the people in the next room to us (which was open to us above the sheet of 1/16 in. plywood separating the two rooms) blared cartoons on the TV all night. On the neighboring beach, guys with those rigs with 150,000 watt sound systems and 36 in. bass speakers in the trunks had a competition of booming reggae-tone. Some sort of cultural experience. We left and found digs a few miles to the east at Playa Palmar Surf Camp. Cheaper and infinitely nicer. Beautiful place, nice folks. The locals (or whoever they were--I never figured it out) sat around with us last night singing and passing guitars around. They wanted blues & 70s American & English rock & roll! I come here to do latin music! One more casualty of US imperialism. The oldest of the guys there explained to me that he learned all this music from "Zonians," US guys he used to surf with when the canal was the US.