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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bahia San Telmo, Isla del Rey

18 January 2009

In my haste to get the Isla San Jose blog posted I neglected to mention the most memorable event of John's birthday. We had arranged via email to rendezvous with friends via HF radio, setting two times and frequencies to try. Both the morning and evening schedules worked perfectly and we were able to chat with Roy and Marlene of Damiana (formerly of Jellybean) and their guest, Tammy (formerly of Secret o' Life). Three years ago in Mexico John and Terry Bingham learned that they shared their birthday, and Marlene was quick to rally the cruisers anchored in Santiago Bay to a restaurant meal in honor of the coincidence. This year Tammy and her friend Holly joined Damiana in Belize where they scattered a portion of Terry's ashes at Rendezvous Cay (NE of Placencia) after which we joined them via radio for a birthday toast in memory of Terry. It's a connection we are proud to honor.

We departed ISJ earlier than planned Saturday morning after a report from Dale on Parrot Bay (on his way to San Lorenzo, Honduras) that conditions were excellent for sailing. A good north breeze with only a foot of wind chop made for a boisterous sail east across the channel to Isla del Rey. John had the fishing lines out and released a few skipjack before finally getting something worth keeping. I'm calling it a red snapper since it was very red and John thinks it was a type of snapper. As usual we were momentarily joined by dolphins taking advantage of our bow wave, and then conditions calmed as we neared the island. We rounded the southern tip of IdR to turn north but didn't make much headway against the ebb tide so we motored for half an hour to clear the worst of the current. Then it was smooth sailing up big Bahia San Telmo where we anchored under sail off the beach at Rio Cacique.

We can see the village of Esmeralda off in the distance (which means more people out and about in pangas), and the first thing I noticed was a man and two dogs working the brush line at the top of the beach. I figured he was just looking for treasures amongst the plastic trash, or was gathering something or other. Five hours later two boys with a dog paddled up in their small wood canoes. Since I was in my bathing suit I let John go up to answer their repeated shouts of "Hola!" while I listened in to the conversation from down below. Amongst other chit-chat was their question as to whether Ziggy was for us to eat; did we want to buy a small iguana for $5; and that they used the dog to hunt iguanas which they then take home to eat. By then the man from the beach was passing by in his large panga and the boys quickly shoved off from Nakia yelling at him for a ride back to town. He slowed to pick them up - canoes, dog, and all - and raised a large iguana for John to see. I find it disconcerting that the idea of killing iguanas for food bothers me since I'm certainly no vegetarian, but this is one type of cultural exchange that I would rather do without.

I finally finished reading "The Path Between the Seas" by David McCullough, an excellent history of the Panama Canal, and a must read for anyone going through it or spending time in Panama. Among more important things, it also helps explain why we haven't seen any mosquitos here. In fact the only problem we've had was with no-see-ums at Isla Cana. Unless we're on shore after dark we really haven't been bitten anywhere else. I forgot to mention that we found a few ticks after our hike on ISJ. We were careful to strip down on the beach and shake out our clothes to prevent taking any ticks back to Ziggy, but we had to pick one off of John while we were still riding around in the dinghy.

Ziggy is doing well and getting fat from eating too much fish. We recently switched from clay litter to clumping which is a much finer type of "sand." It's great in that it has eliminated all odor but he tracks it everywhere and we are constantly sweeping up after him. He's a crack-up at night when he eats dinner, takes care of business, and then bolts from his box like a race horse out of the gate, ready to do some sprints with his feather toy. In lieu of his grass, he's been munching on pineapple tops when we have them aboard. So we finally gathered up every pet store and SolMate grass seed starter kit and tossed them over a bag of potting soil in the old plastic dish pan. John covered it all with a net to keep Z. out until it fills in, but some has sprouted and is already pushing up against the net. I saw an ad for a nursery in the city so I predict we'll eventually dump this and buy something hardier that will stand up to his abuse better than spindlely wheat grass.

Linda and John