It's been raining heavily these past days here in Bocas. Gave us a glimpse of what the rainy season can be like. After a couple days staying home, we just decided to go about our business, getting soaked or no. Yesterday, we joined Cori and Jeff on Isla Bastiementos catching frogs. Cori is doing post-doctoral research on the red, green and yellow frogs of this area. Different islands have different colored frogs, and she's looking to find out why.
We made dinner that night as an ocean liner parked itself outside our front door, and an enormous moth took up residence on our kitchen window. The geckos think it looks like a good meal and chase to eat it.
Today, it was cloudy, but not much rain, and we dropped Lila at school a bit earlier than usual this morning. This means she was only ten minutes late and off Noah and I went to Starfleet Scuba. My first post certification dive. An enormous drum fish floated on the bottom in the reef. We also saw a spotted moray eel, trumpet fish, lobsters, crabs, parrotfish and lots of fish I didn't know.
Tomorrow, when I go into Bocas Town to run errands, I'll swing by Starfleet to thumb through some of their fish books. I'm also printing a story, called Sweet Cold of Pistachio to send for possible publication.
See how dawn caresses each piece of furniture rousing the objects of this place. A frying pan, thick with grease, remains in the sink. Moving along, you find a living room adorned with a drab green but comfy couch. Rumpled sketchbooks litter the floor in front of a large but very broken television. You can still see bits of glass in the carpet. On the fireplace mantel, a frameless black and white picture rests. It is of a young man, playfully grasping the waist of a beautiful young woman. She is small with curly hair and straight white teeth. She looks outward, and if you could see the color of her eyes, they would be green. He sees only she.
At the other end of the living room, stairs lead to a short hallway with four doors. Behind the first, a bed holds wrinkled rainbow sheets. The room’s occupant left a hairdryer on the bed when she ran out. Probably late for school. “Mom, Dad,” you almost hear her shout, “I’m spending the night at a friend’s.” A typical teenager. She doesn’t care if you’ve heard her or not. Your eye soon catches on the duvet cover in the room across the hall. Where have you seen that before? Feel sun stream across the soft skin of the young face on the pillow. No, you cannot brush your hand across her cheek. It is time to enter the room at the end of the hall. The master bedroom. See the master snore gently in his bedroom.
This used to be the opening chapter of the novel I've been writing. This story, though, is much changed from its original incarnation. As for that novel, I've decided that I'm going to remove a bunch of chapters, keep only the ones that come in one particular character's voice and start sending that out. I'm done with this thing.
But I digress...
After that, we picked up Lila from school and went to get pizza at Golden Grill on the main street. There, Lila ran back and forth, holding hands with a 3 year old girl named Oceania; we chatted with her parents. We got home. I worked and Lila napped with Noah. While we sat there, Giovanni, a friend of Lila's from school, rode by on a bike with someone I didn't know. "Lila. Lila. Lila," he called after her.
Then this evening, Time stopped by. "I've got some sushi in my pocket," he said. I'm not kidding. A tuna he caught while out fishing today, something apparently he promised Noah one of the nights they sat on the front porch chatting (about things I can't write here) and drinking gin.
Then Tim sliced it thinly; we mixed wasabi with soy sauce and sliced some ginger, and we all ate it raw. Even Lila liked it, and how couldn't she?
Now, Noah's not feeling well. So I guess it's not all perfect, but he is curled up on the couch under a blanket watching A History of Violence.
Tomorrow, we may go kayaking. It depends on how Noah feels. Either way, I'll try to get some work done. Still working on, So I Looked Up From My Terazzo and Fell In Love. There are some Bocas based stories to be told as well, but in time. All in time.
It was July 21, 2005. Lila was 15 months old.
I went to DSW Shoes in Atlantic Center Mall, looking for wedding shoes, because that's the only reason I would have dragged Lila on the bus with stroller and all the other baby accoutrements in order to find a pair of heels. The elevator light hurt my eyes. I was so thirsty, but we were running out of water, so I just had a sip. When the doors opened to the lower level, I had already decided this would be a very short shopping trip.
The light in DSW was painfully bright as well. And it just glowed brighter and brighter, so much so that I donned my sunglasses.They were dirty, must have been, because I couldn't see through the lenses anymore.
When I took them off to clean them, I realized everything was shaky, like I was seeing through running water, and that's when I realized a migraine was coming. "Shit. Don't panic. Don't panic," I told myself. Because panic was not going to get us safely home. I picked up my phone and called Noah.
"I'm stuck in Atlantic Center with Lila, and I have a migraine." That's all I had to say to him. "Where should I meet you?" he asked. "Corner of Atlantic and Henry," I replied. Obviously not thinking how long a walk that would be.
I hung up and left. Well, first I took the Imitrex prescribed for me by my neurologist. A woman who told me numerous times that if I continued to allow my migraines to happen, I would end up with brain damage. Just what everyone wants to hear. And, by the way, something that is patently untrue about migraines. I have no idea what was wrong with this woman.She is perhaps the most well-known migraine specialist in NYC. Everyone refers me to her, still.
So yes, I was leaving.
By that time, my vision was worse. I could only see shapes of the most intense color and shadow. Thankfully, Lila still slept in the stroller, so I had some time to navigate us through the mall maze to the street. But try as I might, I could not find the exit. I felt my way along to wall to the direction that seemed right, but I couldn't be sure. Finally, I after what must have been half an hour, I realized I needed help.
Who I asked, I don't know. What she thought of me, I'll never know. My face felt heavy; my mouth could not move properly, and my hands and face began to feel numb. The words came out finally as something along the lines of "Where?" Then a few seconds later. "Out." Slow forced words that may not have been what I intended. Again, I'll never know.
The broken shapes that made up what must have been this woman's arm pointed in a direction, so I followed. Ended up walking around in circles, still following the wall until I could finally escape those piercing flourescent lights.
Another half an hour must have passed when LIla woke up. She screamed. I wanted to pick her up, but my arms were too numb. There was a good chance I would drop her. She was on her own. I guess I'm glad I wasn;t able to see the nasty stares I most likely received, because my baby was wailing, and I was ignoring her. Just racing my way, literally blind, through Atlantic Center.
Finally, out on the street, relief, until another complication arose. Right there by this exit, four of the busiest streets in Brooklyn intersect. Not simple to navigate at the best of times. The only way home led me straight across those streets.
But luck was with me, my medicine kicked in. The world stopped shaking and splitting. My hands and mouth became mine again, and I could see enough to pass. I was also spared the agonizing headache that normally followed. The best way to explain this pain for those who have never felt it is to say that giving birth was nothing in comparison, was a breeze.
Why am I writing about all of this? Well, this day at the mall scared the shit out of me. I couldn't see or talk, and there I was with my Lila. I couldn't talk to her or comfort her. I couldn't parent her. What if something had happened to us? I was thankful the medication worked that particular day, because after that one time, it stopped working. Instead, I started getting migraine after migraine. It went on for weeks, truncating my life in every possible way. I lost sight, speech, all tactile feeling. Each time one hit, it would take up to a month for me to begin speaking normally again.Words elluded me, and made my work, writing, almost impossible. The most frightening of all, though, was synesthesia. At one point, I could literally see sound. A young boy calling his mom appeared to me as droplets of white paint on a green bubbly background. What made that more horrifying is my sensitivity to sound was profound. I heard everything. Could block out nothing.
I've had CAT scans, MRIs, ECTs and more. (All was normal!) I've tried different medications, taken herbs, figured out my triggers, learned to detect the signs of a migraine weeks before it arrives. I read, researched and compared notes with others who also get them. I've talked to three neurologists, massage therapists, an herbalist, a homeopath, a chiropractor and anyone else who could possibly help.
It was torture. Six months later, things were better, but every month, another migraine would errupt. A year later, I began to believe I would never again live a normal life. Began to even slightly accept that I would always feel confused, dizzy and in pain at best. At worst, I would be entirely incapacitated.
So yes, back to the reason for the existence of this post. Well, as of the beginning of this month, more than six months have passed without a single migraine. Not one. That has not happened in over a decade. I still feel that I'm recovering from that period of my life, but i have hope that I will last another six months, and another year and then those two years of my life, two years that I lost, that they will become a distant memory.
(For more information on migraines, check out Oliver Sack's website.He is best known for his book Awakenings and the Robin Williams movie based on it. He has also written a book called simply Migraine, which gives the most comprehensive discussion of this neurological disorder I have seen. And for anyone who wants to know what finally worked, what finally helped me move past all of this, send me an e-mail. I'd be glad to share.)
There's a bottled water here called Boquete Springs or some such thing. The bottle boasts a picture of a mountain with a rainbow in front of it. It caught my eye because of it's high cheese factor, but thought nothing more of it.
Until the bus from David drove into the edge of the city. We saw this.
I wish I had a better picture of it. Jen has one. I'll have to get a better one. One where it's not just one small piece of one rainbow but an entire arc through the sky or even two rainbows.
We stayed an extra day so we could go on a Jeep tour of the mountain with Boquete Mountain Safari Tours lead by the indomitable John. We drove through the town into Volcan Baru National Park to the Sendero de los Quetzeles, going through fields of potatoes, carrots and other vegetables. Oh, and of course, through the coffee plantations Boquete is known for. We visited Cafe Ruiz and passed Mi Jardin es Su Jardin, a private garden opened to the public by the owners. The Rio Caldera runs through this town and there are daily tours that take you to the Caldera hot springs we visited back in January when we first drove up through Chiriqui to Almirante.
John kept us entertained with his endless stories of all sorts of things. A veritable database of information pertaining to all things factual and personal.
Personal? You ask. Read on. I'll get to it.
He told us Kroger's, you know, the giant supermarket chain is planning to buy it's vegetables from Boquete. He told us about coffee that costs $500 a pound. Black Gold! He took us to Devil's Peak, where it is always cloudy because it's so high up in the mountains. He pointed out the hills where supposedly vast amounts of marijuana grow. He showed us how he stands on the back of the Jeep drags his feet on the ground while in motion and apparently can do so at speeds of 40 miles an hour. He used to live in Tennessee where he was married and had a kid but found out the kid wasn't his. There were also two women who joined us on the tour who he said were training to be guides. Maybe. Perhaps. And I'm pretty sure one of them is dating Raoul, the driver, also John's brother, from another father. Their mother practices herbal medicine, and he lived in Nashville the last 18 years. He stopped the Jeep and pulled a couple Valerian plants for me. They're known to be a nervine tonic and are also found in the United States and many other areas. And finally, he picked a couple of Angel Trumpet flowers, explaining how if you make them into a tea, you can get high, baby, yeah, real high.
And by the end of the day, our heads were spinning with information. I looked up the Angel Trumpet and it is indeed a very powerful hallucinogenic. In fact, the entire plant, leaves, flower, stem and roots, is highly poisonous.
The vervain he gave me, however, is nothing like any form of vervain I've ever seen before. Not in the northeast US woodlands and not in any field guide of seen of plants, including a Panamanian guide to plants Noah found at STRI.
Who knows how much he told us is true? Who cares? We were infinitely entertained the entire five hours of this trip, and at the end, he treated us all to strawberry milkshakes and ice cream at a Fresas Cafe.
After Boquete, Jen and I took a bus to Panama City where we had one full lovely day together to walk around. We visited Casco Viejo and all the museums around Plaza de la Independencia. The Emerald Museum. The Interoceanic Museum and the Cathedral. We then walked from there up Avenida Central to Calidonia.
This is the exact walk Noah and I took our first day exploring Panama. Of course, then, we were lost and had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. I think we were also half asleep from traveling and dazed by suddenly landing in a new country, another new country.
Then Jen went to the airport, and Melissa drove me to Allbrook bus station (and may I add, she got me there faster and through areas of the city I bet most cab drivers don't know) where I made it just in time to make the bus nocturno back to Bocas.
Yesterday was the first day of spring, and I swear, it's like someone flipped a switch from the All-Time-Sunshine button to the Now-It-Must-Rain, because it's been raining pretty much non-stop every since.
It did stop just long enough for us to get into town last night for a party. Trevor and I have the same birthday, and we were invited to the party. We took Lila because we don't know any babysitters. I can't tell you her disappointment when we walked in to find a darkened restaurant full of adults and a table of food and alcohol.
"What the hell is this?" she asked.
Georgina offered to have Lila spend the evening with her son Sam. Sam and Lila both go to the Tangerine school. And my Lila, who until relatively recently would have always preferred to stay with Mama and Daddy, left in two seconds.
We met some new people, but really knew just about everyone there. It was all the people from the dive shop, many of the parents from Lila's school. The woman, Mary, who Noah will be working with at the Smithsonian (where he will be looking at the chalk bass, an hermaphroditic fish, and I don't know if he's kidding, but will be dissecting fish gonads.)
Note: Anyone who knows Noah well will not be surprised to hear him cheer the following. GO NADS! GO NADS!
But I digress.
I spent quite a while chatting with Tenille and Melissa. It's a small town, and there seem to be some rivalries about. No specifics, but let's say they seem to be divided by real estate office. The REMAX people tend to stick together and make the occasional comment about the ProBocas people. And vice versa.
This, I want to stay out of. And yet, I also want to hear more.
Aside from that, I am struck with how helpful and open people are. Georgina having Lila over last night at a moment's notice. Melissa suggesting that Lila go with her daughter Ava after school with Ava's sitter so the two little girls can spend more time together and Lila can learn more Spanish. Tenille taking my number to call today and give me details about a mom and kids party at (another) Melissa's house on Saturday afternoon.
If this place is like NYC, Tenille will not call. Just as I told Georgina a few weeks ago that I'd love to get together with her some time. Then Jen came to town. We went to Boquete (which I have to write about). We went to Panama City. Then I got sick. And somehow time passes.
But I think it's a very NYC sort of thing to tell people you'll get together, and really mean it, but time just goes. I don't know how that translates here.
In fact, I am surprised at how uncomfortable I am with people being so helpful with their offers of babysitters, time, getting together, inviting to parties and even invitations to other people's parties. In Brooklyn, I always found there to be walls. You never just stopped by someone's place to say hi. Playdates are arranged well in advance. Even meeting at the park is a specific event entirely devoid of chance or kismet.
This is one of the reasons I wanted to leave Brooklyn. I wanted so much to be in a place where people can just stop by, say hello, invite you to stay for dinner or a drink and just hang out. Of all things, who would have thought this is one of the most difficult things for me to get used to? It's like I don't know how to be part of it.
Perhaps it's because it's really just been the three of us so much of the time. Lila is rarely out of our sight. The last time she was left with anyone (aside from school) was with her Granny and Grandpa in Atlanta. And we've found many ways to fill the time. Collecting shells from the ocean and then painting them. Baking lots of cookies. Dress up. She's been very into wearing make-up these days, and she's surprisingly adept at applying even eyeliner. We read together, watch TV, play house and build forts.There are pillow fights and building sandmen on the beach.
But it's clear that Lila wants to spend time with other kids. When she plays, she suddenly completely and utterly loses her desire to stand behind me clutching onto my leg shyly. She needs it. I mean, look into those sweet brown eyes.
It was still dark when I woke this morning to the sound of heavy downpour. Noah rolled over and hugged me with a "Happy Birthday, birthday girl" and fell asleep again. Was there a better way to start this day?
Happy Birthday! Happy Persian New Year! Happy First Day of Spring!
I did some yoga. Had a coffee on the porch. Updated my Couchsurfing profile and checked e-mail.
What am I going to do today?
It's funny, last night around 6pm a neighbor, a Turkish woman who works at the dive shop, stopped by to borrow a pot. She invited us to a dinner she's having tonight for her husband's birthday. It didn't register until a few hours later that he and I have the same birthday. I totally forgot about it this year.
At what point in life does one begin to forget birthdays?
No matter. This is what's on my mind today. Josh and Andy's daughter is two years old today. It is the first day of spring. I've been playing with an idea for a story. It's roughly based on Aldous Huxley's book Island and I would love a copy of this book to reread before I begin writing. Two people I've met in Bocas stand as inspiration for two of the characters. One, Heli from Finland, who spent six weeks walking across Crete with a donkey. Another is Tim, our hard core, upstairs neighbor in Bocas. (I promised I would not divulge his drunken secrets, so I won't mention them here.)
I am still finishing I Looked Up From My Terazzo and Fell In Love. Here's a short excerpt:
There she was standing. The top half of hunter green shutters revealed only her face and shoulders. The bottom half was closed, but I saw enough to know she wore only a towel. It was the first and only time I have been in love like that. I watched. She kept her hair swept up behind her head. I stared. She turned to notice me. I looked and could see in her eyes that she hated me. She returned my gaze with such contempt I was ashamed, as if I was a child molester or something.
Yet, I did not break my gaze for fear she would disappear and I would never see her again.
I watched her for an hour or two just like that. Could have been longer. I lost track of time but never allowed myself to look away, not even to light a cigarette.
I disgusted her, still, she continued her show. First, pulling her brush though straight soft blond hair, reaching for hair pins, stretching to put on a silky black kimono dress. But I couldn’t take it. My eyes had to close.
Just like that. Just a blink, and she was gone.
It's not really working yet. Or perhaps anymore. Will get back to it later, but I hate this part of writing. I'm beyond the fun just get the idea on paper phase and now it's editing and making the story work, finding and sticking with the right voice. It's easy to find distraction from this sort of work. So, I promise myself that I will spend a couple hours working through this today.
I also remind myself to e-mail Matt Leader and Samatha Shapiro and wish them mazal tov now that they're married.
I think about the past year, the past five years, the past decade. Lila was born. We watched the World Trade Center fall, watched it from the top of our building in Brooklyn because the radio was out and online didn't work. I also think about the people who piss me off badly. And the people who I no longer consider friends, because they have become family to me. Ali. Ken. Jen. Lisa. The family members who have acted as you really want family to act. Melissa and Fred. Mom and Dad.
I remind myself that you never know what goes on in people's minds. You don't know who people are. You cannot expect people to be there, and I am always pleasantly surprised to see who is there when I'm least expecting. I think of what it was like to be twenty-five and know everything. Now that I'm so much older and know for a fact that you never really know anything. Not for sure. I tell myself to be a bit more gentle, not so hard on myself or others.
And I am thankful for it all.
PS. Here's what I want as a present. Music suggestions. What should we download? We've been listening to the same music for the past 10 months and I need something new.
Today, Noah went to the Smithsonian Institute (STRI) to talk to them about work. Two neighbors, Cori and Jeff, study the frogs around here. They are the same species, but each island developed a different color frog.
Meanwhile, Lila and I went down the beach for paddle boating.
Well, we tried. The first time, it started to rain just minutes after leaving the house. So we came back, made pancakes and watched while rain poured and wind whipped our once dry towels off the clothesline.
"Mommy, Mommy," Lila came running. "It stopped. Can we go paddle boating now?"
So we picked up our stuff and went out the door. Again, tiny droplets of rain began to fall just as we stepped onto the path behind our place.
"Let's go back to the house," Lila suggested. I asked her if she wanted to paddle in the rain anyway.
"No, I don't think so."
"How about if we go down the beach and find a place for tea?" She loved the idea, and we walked down to Dona Mara and ordered two teas and a brownie. The sun was shining by the time we left.
I just followed the coast of Carernero in the direction of Bastiementos. Dolphins swam right by the boat. I stopped paddling and we floated in the wake of motor boats, watching and waiting to see the fin and rounded back arc out of the water and underneath. All the other boats around stopped as well to look.
"Let's go to that beach," Lila cried. So I paddled to shore. We swam, snorkled a bit, got back in the boat and continued down the coast to another beach.
The sun shines constantly here. When it doesn't, you just wait. The sea can be rough, but not so rough. The animals in the water are beautiful, but the most dangerous you'll find is a nurse shark or moray eel. Although, I have seen jellyfish all over the place. Small ones. This is the summer here.
Now it's 6 or maybe 7pm. I don't actually know.
And by off the grid, I merely mean no easy access to a computer. I've been spoiled the last couple weeks writing my blog posts from a laptop instead of the Blackberry.
We arrived last Saturday afternoon in Boquete which is significantly cooler than Bocas, gorgeous and most certainly not off the grid.
Today, we went on an very entertaining Jeep ride with Boquete Safari Mountain Tours guided by John. We went into Volcan Baru National Park, saw coffee plantations, rainbows in the mountain mists and learned about plants (including the caballero de noche which according to John is hallucinagenic)
Tomorrow morning, Jen and I head to Panama City while Noah and Lila return to Bocas. And in order to staunch the rumors that began to flow the last time Noah and I traveled separately, we are not breaking up. I join them in Bocas again Thursday morning.
More about Boquete and the rest of this trip when I return.
I've heard people say about Panama that they think before coming down here that it would be very difficult to get used to living with servants they way so many do. Someone who makes whatever you want for breakfast, does the dishes, the laundry, mops the floor. That is more like Panama City. Here, there are other things.
Like the rooster next door who crows all night long. He wakes us up at 2:30, 4:30 and 6:30 approximately. Sometimes he goes off randomly. We have no idea why. More than a few of us have discussed the hope that he'll be someone's dinner soon.
Then this evening, before dinner. Lila was inside reading a book to Jen. Noah and I sat outside decompressing from the day.
Ok, so maybe decompressing is a strong term. It was a fabulous day. We waited until Jen came to go on one of the three-stop boat tours you find around here. You pretty much choose where you want to go, and it's twenty dollars a person from just about any of the boat drivers down by the docks.
We stopped first at Dolphin Bay. You can't swim in the water because of all the jellyfish, but you can watch dolphin after dolphin leap out of the water, usually two or three in a row. It was raining steadily by the time we reached the bay, an inlet of Isla Cristobal. Then to Isla Zapatilla, a beautiful completely undeveloped island that is part of Parque Nacional de Bastiementos. You'll find it at the southern end of Bastiementos. From there, we went to Hospital Point, the end point of Isla Solarte, right across the water from the northern end of Bastiementos and within view of our place on Isla Carenero. There, we snorkeled through the different types of coral and saw all sorts of fish and coral. This is a decent map of the area to give the idea of our journey. We've been to many of the places mentioned, but next I think I would like to go to Isla de los Pajaros off of Playa del Drago.
So we returned from this very, very Caribbean vacation sort of day to find ourselves sitting outside in the cooling day, sun just high enough to allow us to see the horizon, the waves silvery in the last light, to watch our neighbor slaughter her chicken. She cut it's neck on each side then hung it upside down while it flapped it's wings and shook. The blood drained straight into the water below. (That, along with chicken dropping and other things are reasons I don't like to swim in the water in front of our house.)
Can you imagine looking out the window of your Brooklyn brownstone to see this going on in the garden next door?
We're not sure if the animal killed was the crowing, old guy who wakes us up at night. Sometimes, it scares the crap out of me because he sounds like a human gasping for air.
I'll let you know if we all sleep through the night tonight.
We're back. Jen is visiting. And I don't have anything in particular to say. Figured I'd post some pictures of our trip. (As paraphrase of what Jen said: It's cool to have to visit Costa Rica to run errands.)
This first one is a shot of the Bocas harbor where all the larger boats are docked. It was our last sight of Bocas on the boat to Changuinola. The boat (6 dollars to and from Bocas) is longer but far more beautiful and interesting than the boat ride to/from Almirante (4 dollars to and from Bocas.)
Then the sloth we saw our first night there. It was creeping ever so slowly across an electric wire in the driveway of the hotel. This is a 2-toed sloth. You can tell by the pig-like face. (Notice the baby as well)
The following day we went to the Aviarios del Caribe, a sloth reserve about ten minutes north of Cahuita. You take the bus to Limon and just tell the driver Aviaros. It started with a look at sloth babies and the other sloths they've taken in over the years. These animals are found after losing their mothers or after an injury. Some are treated, heal and are released into the wild. Some are not able to return and stay living on the reserve.
After the babies, you're taken on a canoe tour of the surrounding land. It was amazing how many animals, especially birds, we saw so closely.
The Aviarios is a perfect place to visit with a child or really with anyone who would find a trek through the jungle (found at the national park you can enter from Cahuita and all around the area) to be too much. They owners are unbelievably accomodating. You can guide your boat tour as works for you and much of the water is extremely shallow, although there are deeper areas. Lila had a great time looking at the bird guide and then chooseing a bird to find
This is the Boat Billed Heron or Pica Cuchara (Cochlearius cochliearius).
I somehow didn't see this iguana even while staring right at it.
We bought some animal and bird guides in the gift shop of Aviarios. That's how I recognized the nests of the Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma) -- those long objects you see hanging from the trees. Their tails are yellow and form an upside down heart you can see when they fly.
Lila had fun!
Just got back from Costa Rica. We went to renew our visas. You have to be out of Panama for at least 72 hours to get a new one. So we took the boat to Changuinola, then picked up a bus to Sixaola. You walk across the border, stopping at each side to check out and then check in again to your chosen country. This includes a walk over a wood plank bridge built over an old train track overlooking a raging river (which I've been told can be completely out of control in the rainy season). It was surprisingly not bad, but I had the funniest feeling of fleeing the country as I grasped Lila in my arms and rushed across the bridge to the other side before a truck started on.
Then another bus to Cahuita. It's a hundred kilometer's away, maybe one-fifty and the trip each way took approximately four hours. Driving on gravel and dirt roads a good amount of the way and stopping often to pick up and let off passengers.
Lila was amazing. Very calm, didn't complain. She sat in her seat making up songs for a good part of the way from Sixaola to Cahuita, where we spent the rest of our time..
Cahuita is a tiny little town with one part of a cobbledstone road. We stayed across from the beach, visited a sloth reserve, took a boat ride down the river where we spotted lots of birds and the occasionally iguana. We woke up each morning to a true symphony of birds, amazing sounds, and fell asleep at night to the howl of the howler monkeys. They literally sound like the dogs of hell barking in the near distance.
More on all this, including pictures, tomorrow.One note on taking the return trip: Coasta Rica is a different time Panama and the border closes at 5PM.makes sure you leave enough buffer in your travels or you could potentially arrive at the border 4:30pm Costa Rican time to find you're too late to cross into Panamanian time.