Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Coiba National Park

We woke up this morning anticipating a leisurely breakfast in the dining room with plenty of coffee followed by snorkeling and perhaps some kayaking off the beach of Granito de Oro or Little Grain of Gold (Note: picture above is practically actual size).

When we looked out the window and saw how cloudy and rainy it was though, we thought for sure the days activities would be canceled and we would instead motor on to the next port on our journey. We decided there wasn't much we could do about the weather though and went to breakfast with our fingers crossed waiting for the call over the intercom letting us know the news.

The good news came in the form of seeing the first zodiac being lowered into the water through the picture windows of the dining room so spirits lifted, we finished breakfast and went to coat ourselves in suntan lotion for the days activities. We had been warned that due to the strength of the sun so near the equator a burn can be had even on cloudy days. Since my idea of a successful day at the beach includes returning as pasty white as I left I was taking no chances.

When we got on shore the rain had let up so we geared up and went in to see how the water was. I am not sure of the actual temperature but I believe I mentioned bathwater previously and I wasn't disappointed this time either.

If you haven't snorkeled before you may not know just how easy it is even for those of us who don't like to swim in water where we can't easily see the bottom. I mention this because if you are not a strong swimmer you may think you need to pass on this activity and you would miss out on a lot of fun. For myself, I can swim ok in a pool. Put me in water where I can't see the bottom and you may as well be suspending me over a cliff as far as my mind is concerned. No amount of talk is going to get my brain to wrap itself around the idea that depth of water has no bearing on my ability to stay afloat in it. Period.

I did however give it a shot before returning to the beach for a life jacket so I could actually enjoy floating around with my face in the water looking at all the amazing fish and coral. It is a good thing I did because aside from the fish I have no names for, I saw a pretty large assortment of puffer fish, some sort of stick or knife fish and even an octopus burying itself in the sand on the bottom. This was over the course of about 20 minutes before it started raining again and we considered getting out.

After a few minutes we realized that getting out of the water to sit in the rain was a bit silly so we stayed in and continued enjoying the underwater attractions.

Then the lightning came.

It wasn't too bad at first so we ignored it a while, but soon the flashes became pretty frequent so we decided to go back to the beach and wait it out. Now I don't know about you, but by this point I was wondering if it really mattered where we were. I mean, where are you in more danger? Sitting on the beach in the rain, or submersed in the water? Photo on right from Our Bear Cares CD

Fortunately this was something we didn't have to concern ourselves with much because it was quickly determined the safest place for everyone was back aboard the Explorer. So it was back to the ship and my one good chance for a rain tan was over before I knew it.

To be honest, by this time I had worked up quite an appetite so going back and getting ready for lunch was ok with me. I was also able to catch up on some reading which reminds me of another feature of this ship.

In the front of the boat is an observation lounge with couches, chairs and coffee tables available so you can comfortably view the sea in an air conditioned environment away from the weather. It also has a variety of games and a selection of books to choose from if you happen to need something to read. The nice thing is that other then the obvious reference books, you are free to trade your finished book for one of the books left by a previous guest. This means you do not have to worry about enough time to finish the book and can take it with you for the flight home, or simply leave your book behind so you do not have to haul it back in your luggage.

After lunch we were back on the sun deck enjoying a good book (by this time the rain had stopped but it was already time to head to our next destination) and looking out for more sea life.

Today we were lucky and saw more dolphin, sea turtles and a bunch of schools of tuna jumping in the distance. The picture here was our best shot of the dolphin for this trip.

Basically the rest of today was spent reading, talking, playing games (or in my case, the all important task of spinning the pointer for Twister) and watching for more wildlife as we motored on to our next destination.

That's ok because tomorrow is looking to be one of our biggest days yet. When we arrive in the morning, we will be visiting the Darien Jungle and the village of the Embera.

After this mornings snorkeling and the exertion of officiating as the spinner for Twister, I can use the rest. See you in the morning.

Photos taken with Canon Powershot A570is

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