Thursday, January 11, 2007

Boats as Beds

In Panama, we often had the opportunity to explore our surroundings via boat. Our first trip was from the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, where we were staying, to a part of the Panama Canal via the Chagres River. While on the Canal, we sped alongside giant freighters and looked toward the lush riversides, home to many birds, sloths and monkeys. Some of the coast was littered with the rusty carcasses of mammoth pipes and old dredging equipment, camouflaged against the soil in identical shades of brick red and terracotta. We could also spot the occasional thatch roof, representing a meeting hut for the local Indian population. Besides our own desire to be on the famed Panama Canal, we also signed up for these excursions in the hope that the wildlife would interest Stella. She has always shown an enthusiastic interest in dogs, what will her reaction be to monkeys?? With anticipation and a curious interest in Stella's take on the adventure, we forced her to don a too-big life jacket, and boarded our little vessel. Within minutes of bouncing along the Chagres, the motor humming in our ears, Stella was in a deep slumber. Here we had hoped to tease shrieks of glee out of our little one, at the sight of wild animals, and I could not even shake her awake.

White-faced monkeys literally leaped from the trees onto our boat, and grabbed bananas and apples right out of our hands. They were chattering above us, unafraid and playful, while Stella lay oblivious in my arms, mouth agape.
Turtles swam by in the green waters, and lazy sloths hung from the highest tree branches, and she missed it all.

A couple of days later we were in Bocas Del Toro, an Island on the far North, Caribbean side, near the Costa Rican border. Here, the small brightly colored township fringed the waters edge with wooden buildings built on stilts. Most of the roads were not paved, and motor traffic was minimal. Much of the transportation was via the sea, on water taxis from small islas to white sand beaches to tourist hotels to private abodes. Each sunny afternoon, we would find a local boatman to take us to our desired location, and Stella would inevitably curl up in our arms and nod off.
On one day, we planned an all day trip to the stunning Cayo Zapatillos, a white sand tropical island that is part of a National Marine park reserve, that had provided B footage for the Survivor Panama show. Along the way we visited a bay that was full of dolphins (and tourboats!) leaping along side our small but sturdy craft. Stella once again missed the whole spectacle as she slept in my tired arms. A combination of water and beaches lent itself to some blissed out naps (for us all), but boats were most definitely one of the best sleeping aids we have ever encountered.

To see all our trip photos, you can go to:


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