Monday, April 7, 2008

Golfo Dulce - The Sweet Gulf

You know how sometimes a day can feel like a week has passed? Usually it's because something bad has happened or things just aren't going as expected so as far as you are concerned time can't move fast enough.

This morning when I woke up it felt as if we had been on this trip for a couple of weeks already. I thought about it and realized that it was because of what we had done so far. In just a matter of a few days we had seen more wildlife, exotic plants and locations and met more interesting people then we had in the last couple of years and all of it was positive.

The only time this has happened from my point of view in the past was a 2 week vacation our family took to Mexico several years ago that we were all sad to see end. The only thing that could have made this cruise better would have been to have our kids with us because they would have loved every minute of it. Well, too late for that now.

This morning brought on another revelation I should mention as well. In the evenings we started noticing the occasional camera hanging from the rails outside the rooms and our initial thought had been that maybe someone left the camera on a table or chair and another guest hung it there for them to find when they returned to their room.

It turns out the reason for this is what led to the foggy picture on the top of this page. This morning, when I looked out our window I was greeted to a beautiful view of the beach we would be landing on after breakfast and naturally wanted a picture of it. The difference between what you see above and what I saw this morning was the fog. There wasn't any. The air conditioned room meant our camera was cool and moisture free, but as soon as I opened the window for that picture that all changed. It was a pretty nice effect, but definitely not the picture I had wanted.

Needless to say, we finally figured out that the other guests weren't absent minded and were instead thinking ahead to the next days camera use and followed suit. This brings up another difference in the mindset of the people on this cruise. Any other place I have gone, everything I own would be locked in the room safe or behind the locked door of our cabin. On this cruise the only locking is of your room door when you are in it. There are no room keys or safes in the closet and after the initial strangeness, no feeling they are needed.

We would see laptops left on the table on the sun deck with no owner in sight or any apparent concern for it coming up missing. After the first few days this seemed natural. This mindset also frees you up to really enjoy yourself because when the dolphins started appearing later in the cruise no one needed to worry about their belongings and could instead focus on the moment.

Anyway, on to our day.

After filling up on coffee and breakfast it was time to go ashore and visit the Casa Orquideas Botanical Gardens. Now generally speaking I am not a flower enthusiast (just ask my wife how many times she has received flowers from me. On second thought, just take my word for it) but the efforts over the years by Ron and Trudy McAllister were pretty amazing.

Again, my photos can't really do justice to what we saw today, but hopefully you will get an idea. The gardens are the result of 25+ years of effort by the McAllisters and a steady supply of volunteers, which by the way they are always looking for. We offered, but the 2 kids, 2 cats and a dog we would bring along seemed to be a deal breaker. Sigh...

Unless otherwise noted, all the pictures on this page are from these gardens.
A couple of the critters we saw running around. The second picture is a crab on a flower drinking the water collected in it. I believe they referred to the flower as a shampoo flower. When our naturalist squeezed the flower water poured out as if from a wet sponge and was sudsy when rubbed between his fingers. Pretty neat.

This next was taken for my daughter.

And the next because we both like purple.
A couple more.

This last picture is of the beach as we were going back to the ship for lunch.
When we got back to the ship there were a few people swimming off the back so we decided to change clothes and join them. This is where I have to say how sorry I am we didn't have a water proof camera, because if we did you could have seen some amazing shots.

For example, Dani could have taken some shots of me doing a double back flip off of the Sun Deck, or doing a perfect Swan Dive into the waters below. Yeah, too bad.

Since we didn't have that camera, I took this picture of the others just before we all got back on board to eat lunch and head on to the Saladero Lodge. Besides, Dani says that if you had actually seen those pictures, they would have more accurately been described as a balding 30 something wearing a life jacket. What does she know?
After lunch we went ashore to visit the Saladero Lodge and look around for some more birds. I didn't get too many more pictures but we did see a toucan and took a shot of the Lodge from the ship.
This toucan shot is another that was taken through the magical digital viewfinder.

Then it was all aboard for social hour, daily recap and dinner before getting ready for another day. We were lucky today too. We got our first glimpse of the dolphins I mentioned earlier and since we didn't have to worry about our things we ran up front to get some pictures. Unfortunately we just weren't quick enough to get good pictures but we did get this one shot of them coming towards us.
Well, now it is off to bed and time to rest up for tomorrow.

We are headed to the Coiba National Park and some snorkeling off the Granito de Oro or Little Grain of Gold.

See you in the morning.

Photos taken with Canon Powershot A570is

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