Finally Some Paddling

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of Panama  , Colón,
Friday, October 7, 2011

Portobelo is where two worlds about as different as can be peacefully collide.   On the one hand the native population comprises mostly descendants of former slaves.   On the other Portobelo hosts a continuous stream of adventerous people heading out to Colombia via boats through the San Blas Islands.  

My ride looks likely to set sail around the 11th give or take, and for now I am doing something I hope everyone experiences soon...chilling out on the water doing nothing.   My only care in the world right now is what my next meal is and what kind of beer best matches it.   The laid back atmosphere here makes it so easy for travelers to meet and hang together.   Just walking down the street I find myself in multiple conversations with people I've never met.   I'm not one to normally strike up casual conversations out on the street but in Portobelo it just can't be helped.  I love it.

Since a lot of us are just killing time, decent recreation such as nearby beaches and kayaking easily fill the days.   The kayak trip that never came to be on Holbox Island was a little disappointing but something better came along here in Portobelo and best of all no mosquitos like in Mexico.  This morning I set out with other adventure minded people on an 11 mile paddle through the bay and then mangrove swamps.   This kayak was a completely different kind than the sturdy ocean going one from Lake Superior, but the end result was the same...a great time and a good workout.

The trip was a fascinating upclose look at the natural wildlife albeit hot and sweaty.  Having been through two oppressively hot Hanoi summers, my body seems to be very much adapted to this climate.   When others are bitching about the sauna conditions, I am thinking what sauna?   Yes, I get hot but most of the time I don't even notice any temperature in the air.   Thank you Hanoi for one good byproduct of your most crappy climate. 

The distant hooting of howler monkeys filled the jungle and some good luck provided us with an upclose view of one high in a tree right on a channel way.  I've looked for them in Belize and Costa Rica with no luck and today paid off.  Normally they travel in groups but this one was somehow alone and on a side of the channel not usually known for the monkeys.   If anyone is into birding this would be the place as well with herons, egrets, kingfishers, toucans and more.

A few days here seem to be shaping into a nice unexpected surprise of just what I need from this relaxation and unplugging from the usual grind.

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