Back in Bocas With MarkJ and Christian
15 September 2013
20130907-13 Back in Bocas With MarkJ and Christian
We missed our Johnson ... and he missed us.
Even though he knew it was now Panama's rainy season, he did not care. He said he just wanted to spend time with us and get his Mark and Rita fix. Now that is a true, special friend.
Fortunately, they picked an ideal time, as for the last several weeks prior to their arrival, Bocas had been unusually dry, sunny, and very very hot almost daily.
This was MarkJ's 6th time with us aboard aVida. This time he brought his partner Christian. Christian is much younger in age than MarkJ. He's very mature for his age, sweet, level headed, handsome, witty, and sweet (did I already say sweet?). They and we meshed well together.
After a night of catching up with each other's lives and dancing salsa at a local town club, the following day we took an adventure on ATVs meandering through dirt roads, into the jungle, over poor sketchy log bridges, over to the north side of the island called "Playa Bluff". We drove as far as we could, having to turn back at a point where our ATVs got stuck on bridges requiring us to manually turn them around and with MarkJ almost flipping his bike into a ravine. Our reward was a beachfront bar with rip tide surfs, a swim in a freshwater pool, a Panamian/Caribbean feast at the Playa Bluff resto, and then entertainment by the same live Latin Jazz band we danced to the night before in Bocas town.
The next day we went snorkeling with a guide to Coral Reef, and the Zapatillo Islands, with stops along the way to see dolphins at Dolphin Bay, Starfish Beach, lunch by the beach, and searching for sloths in the mangroves. The waters were warm and very crystal clear due to the lack of rain and silted run-off from the land. But the sea life was limited amounts of smaller fish. It was still a great experience for Christian, as this was his first snorkeling excursion.
MarkJ had his car totaled the night before their travels when a woman ran a red light and plowed into him. Fortunately, he was not injured with the exception of 2nd degree burns on his right hand from the airbag explosive. Blistering occurred several days after, and then came the peeling down to raw skin. So, similar to me, his hand had to be wrapped and water sports limited.
Originally, we thought about allocating several days to take aVida out of the marina, anchor off a nearby island, swim off the boat, giving Christian a taste of the sailing life. Though, we knew the weather prediction called for zero wind and flat seas, so we would be motoring along, in intensely hot temperatures, with no air-conditioning at anchor. And, since MarkJ and I had injured hands making it difficult to swim off the boat, we opted to enjoy Bocas itself, by land, water taxi, and dinghy.
We kept up a busy schedule with some down time for reading, chillin, exploring Bastimentos by dinghy, taking an informative hiking tour of the vast Finca Botanical Gardens on the north side of the island, making a second visit to Playa Bluff for fresh water pool time, enjoying movie nights, and relaxing on Red Frog Beach. Most importantly, we introduced Christian to "smoothie" fruit and rum drinks to the point of his commenting he was all "smoothied" out mid-trip, after downing four of them in an afternoon, very fast. We mistakenly introduced him to our favorite game - Eucher. He was hooked now. Obviously, we taught him well, because by the end of several evenings of play, he and MarkJ as partners were very competitive with us, winning many hands.
We turned them onto the local Caribbean slowww lifestyle, local characters, and the hippie crowd at the Cantina resto, with many nights of talks and drinks with other sailors and the Mgrs John and Alena. They certainly enjoyed many Cantina "Hungry Man" breakfasts whipped up early morning, as well as the standard Friday night BBQ with a live guitar and vocals performer.
They were with us for a week, but it felt like just a few days. We said our goodbyes at the airport, with promises to do it again, and to next time sail aVida with Christian included.
Until the next time, we will miss our Johnson .... and Christian too.