Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht

This book on boat racing started out confusing for me. Listing too many crewmen to keep track of while adding things about boats that I still haven't learned about. Then, a few chapters in the story really takes over. I read the most of the book on a windy boat ride to and from town and found it riveting. I hope I never have to experience 1998 Hobart weather conditions, the likes of which Australia had never seen in summer. Boats flipped, boats sank, sailors died, and few made it to the finish line. The Hobart is a race in Australia that starts in Sydney harbor. I am now very intrigued to see a boat race. It's been suggested to me that I start off learning sailing by being a dead weight on racing boats. Sometimes racing boats need crew just to sit on different sides to add weight on the boat to help with the wind. I'll be sure to start with small races though, no overnight Hobart types for me just yet.I'm sure the marina in Toronto will be seeing a lot of me when I come back home. Great recommendation from Carl, Thanks!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Trip to Zaps

These photos are from the small island called Zapatillas. It was once a coconut plantation and now is a good spot to go on a day trip, swim, and snorkel nearby reefs. In about an hour you can walk slowly through and circle around this little island.

Tree on Zaps 2 extending over the water

Trees growing out of fallen trees. Almost all the tree systems look like that.

Dried coconut husks

Boardwalk through the island

Driftwood on the beach

Monday, October 22, 2012

Coming home for realsies!

I'll be coming home Jan 10th, 2013. To buy my plane ticket I put my residence as Canadian, my passport as Canadian but my card as French with a French address that's linked to my Spanish passport while buying in American dollars... I though I had fritzed the system because it refreshed three times to tell me it was changing currency and did I approve? Then took me to a page that didn't seem quite like a confirmation. A few hours later I got the ticket delivered to my inbox so it's really true. Bitter sweet but coming and going always is.

October 2nd was the first time I ever cancelled a plane ticket. I was to fly from Panama City to Florida and figure out where to go from there. On cancelling my ticket I got half back. The ticket was less than $200 to begin with so it wasn't a big loss considering I get to stay in paradise. I learned recently that paradise came from 'walled garden' or 'enclosed park', also referred to as a limbo then finally as idyllic place. I would agree to all of the above.

This year I've been on more planes then I could remember so I've made an effort to track them. It's been a hell of a year:
Toronto to Paris (Train to Spain)
Malaga to Paris
Paris to Barcelona
Barcelona to Ibiza
Ibiza to Barcelona
Barcelona to Paris
Paris to Calvi (Train to Paris)
Paris to Toronto
Toronto to Miami to Panama City

A quick search on Goolge of "make a map of your plane trips" allowed me to make this map:

Fun Facts since my plane trip from Toronto to Paris on September 24, 201l:
Approximate time spent in flight: 28hrs
Miles covered by Plane: 12,749
Kilometers covered by Plane: 20,518

Friday, October 19, 2012

If you asked me a few months ago

Sunset in September from porch in Panama
If you had told me I'd be walking through the jungle with a dog as my guide, the moon as my light, and a bird call as my warning... I would have thought you crazy... but that was my life a month ago.

If you had told me I'd be living on a boat with a pitbull, snorkeling in secret spots, sitting top deck at night to better count shooting stars... I would have thought you crazy... but that was my life a few weeks ago.

If you had told me I'd be navigating my own little boat through mangroves in the dark, having my next door neighbor an island away, sitting at thanksgiving dinner a continent away via skype and a laptop... I would have thought you crazy... but that was my life a week ago.

If you had told me I'd be all taken care of while taking care of two bulldogs at a resort, learning how to paddle board and taking long walks on a white sandy beach... I would have thought you crazy... but that is my life these next coming weeks. 

'The Aquarium' snorkel spot, early in the morning
I'll just keep saying thanks, and thanks, and thanks again...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I enjoyed reading this book. It's a well researched story that brings you back to Paris is it's most romantic time. It parallels the time frame of A Moveable Feast. The narrative is from the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. One of my favorite quotes from the book is in a letter from Ernest:
"No one you love is every truly lost"
The book club I was part of (before I left Toronto) had it on their list and I've been eager to pick it up. I've savored it although the last chapters the author does a great job of making you feel the pain that Hadley feels. It's a book that leaves room for discussion and if you're looking for a romance read this flows very nicely. It was a pleasure to read.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Professor and the madman by Simon Winchester

It took me a while to make my way through this national bestseller 'a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.' As I closed it's final pages I imagined the day I have a serious library and a complete Oxford English Dictionary will be a worthwhile addition. The story is an interesting one but in all honesty I didn't care for the writing. The tid-bits I found most fascinating can be compiled into a page of notes. There are many run on sentences, sentences that begin with 'and' along with repetition of the same speculations. I like to be told something once but as I put the book down so frequently, I guess it was good to be reminded. Reading about lexicography I have a profound desire to play Scrabble. Hopefully one of my new neighbors is also enamored with words...

Awesome Book

My aunt posted a link to this book on facebook and it really is Awesome. It's worth a read and since the author is just excited to share his idea you can read it free: Awesomebook

Friday, October 12, 2012

Move-in Day

I'm having my good-morning coffee with a different kind of monkey. When I woke up this morning there was a family of white faced monkeys waiting to welcome me to the neighbourhood. They ran off more quickly then the howlers I'm used to but I was happy to see the new face.

Bocas Town view from the dock
Chickens wandering around Bocas town
Yesterday I said goodbye to dolphin bay. Obviously I'll be back. Actually I'll be back as soon as Sunday for the restaurant Rana Azul's Octoberfest party. It will be a steady separation from a place that feels very much like home. I'm about an hour away by boat but the environment is so different it almost feels like a whole other planet. There are white sandy beaches here, two different species of monkeys, red frogs, iguanas and jesus lizards. Not to mention a whole different set of characters.

Off main street towards the fire station, beside La Union is Michael's
Yesterday afternoon I got picked up and went into town where I had a few hours to walk around and get anything I needed. I decided since I was going to be around more people the hole-y wardrobe needed an update. I went on a big shopping spree in town and spent a whopping $22.65. I spent $15 at a second hand shop named Michaels beside the hidden upstairs Tom #2 restaurant, beside la Union. Then at Union I spent $5.15 on new guitar strings, embroidery thread and razors. La Union is the place to get most everything but the sales lady at the counter has a favourite saying "no we don't have that" or rather the Spanish "no hay" even if you just bought it. To top off a 'full day' of shopping (in Bocas even your full grocery list wont take more than an hour) needs a treat. I got a $0.75 empanada at John's Bakery a regular check point for the early morning shopper and spent $1.75 for a double scoop of ice cream at Golden Grill. As traveling by boat in the heat is not conducive to ice cream and it's one of my favourite food groups I try to get some in town when I think of it.

The New Wardrobe: 3 t-shirts, 3 tank tops, 2 long sleeve shirts, 1 linen pants
Then it was a boat ride to Casa Cayuco. I have been looking forward to this for weeks and it's a place I instantly feel comfortable. We arrived in the dark through a sea full of bio luminescence and I hadn't even made it to my cabin when everyone stopped to look at night monkeys with big huge eyes, furry tails and little ears. A rare glimpse and heart melting cute, especially the baby. Then it was a wonderful meal prepared by Sue, a night swim and great sleep.

My computer even matches the chair, it was meant to be!
I'm onto my second coffee and ready for a day of learning with Lloyd and Sue. This is one of those arrangements where I'm not quite sure who's happier. I feel so appreciated for taking this on and so grateful for having this as my new home. If it's possible to be in love with a place this jungle certainly has my heart.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Snake Charmer by Jamie James

After caring for my neighbors non venomous snake for a few days, catching geckos as food and handling the snake with care I was loaned this book, The Snake Charmer.

This book could not come with a better real life ending, finding a poisonous snake in the jungle! It wasn't me who found it, it was the Herpatologist Carl who lent me the book. When I came up for drinks he had just caught a new snake and we all huddled around at a safe distance to help identify. It ended up being a pit viper and is now safely in the freezer.

The Snake Charmer is an true story of boy interested in snakes who grows up to be one of the leading experts in the world on venomous snakes. Each chapter starts with a blurb on a different snake and throughout the chapter Joe Slowinski usually has some interaction with it.

I loved learning about all the snake facts and getting a glimpse of a world I knew nothing about; someone who turns his passion of catching snakes into a career as a scientist who goes on field expeditions and discovers new spices. I found it fascinating how different snake venom's target different systems. The Russell's viper, most dangerous, actually attacks the pituitary glad and causes it's victim to reverse puberty! The book also goes into the bad wrap snakes get and how it's sad that so many people have ophidiophobia, an abnormal fear of snakes.