This Bay Bites
28 December 2011 | Matanchen
From little teenie tiny bugs called jejenes (no see ums) to giant man eating crocodiles, this Bay bites.
It was a fantastic sail from Isla Isabella - all the way with the gennaker, and made all the more cosmic with tons of dolphins riding our bow and whales jumping on the horizon. We arrived shortly before sunset, set our anchor, and breathed a sigh of relief that we weren't attacked by the area's infamous and dreaded "jejenes" during the process. It was amazing to soak in this suddenly tropical lush scenery.
By the time we got the dinghy down, the sun had dipped over the horizon and things were getting pretty dark. We had thought that there would be a dinghy landing area so that we could take Zig Zag ashore...but we found the landing area had become silted in, and what looked like an easy route in suddenly became a propeller grinding in sand. It was going to be a long, wet walk. I carried the dog in and tried to scout better landing areas while Paul circled in the dinghy, but it was for not. Zig and I were going to have to reunite with the dinghy via the dark water walk route...and I was praying no one had tipped off the jejenes that there was fresh meat in town.
We had a quiet and dark night in the Bay, except for some fantastic Samba/Brazilian music that a band was playing way off in the distance. It certainly wasn't coming from any of the palapas Zig Zag and I had visited - while there appeared to be seating for thousands, there were only about 5 folks on site. The fabulous band and its locale will remain a mystery.
The big thing to do in Matanchen Bay is the Jungle Tour, but we had told another couple whom we met at Isla Isabella that we would wait for their arrival so that we could all do the tour together. Thus, our first day in the Bay was focused on boat and work tasks, a small shore journey, and later a fantastic dinner hosted by another boat at the anchorage whom we had also met at Isla Isabella. Jeff and Julie on Buena Vida invited a bunch of folks together and a good time was had by all - they are fantastic hosts. Our new friends Keith and Olina from Isla Isabella on the s/v Anon had also arrived in time for the gathering, and so together we gleaned tips from the anchorage's 'old timers' (the folks who had arrived a day ahead of us) about where to land the dinghy and connect with the jungle tour.
TugTub and Anon crew headed out together the next day for the Jungle Tour, early enough to catch some birds but not so early that we'd be eaten alive by the dreaded jejenes...or so we hoped... Indeed, we saw an amazing myriad of birds, including a boat billed heron! Sadly I was unable to catch the boat bill with my camera. Lots of different herons, egrets, kingfishers... - the usual suspects - plus a roseate spoonbill too. Then, what to my wandering eyes did appear, but a not so miniature iguana with waaay more than eight tiny ears (ok-actually, spines or something, I dunno). Iguanas jumping from limb to limb in the trees, HUH? Who knew? Then....around another turn and...holy crap...crocodiles. I'm not sure if boating and crocodiles mix. Isn't it distracting enough to be thinking about jellyfish and ....??
We ventured further into the cocodrilaria, which I thought was going to be kind of a hatchling place to raise and release baby crocs, but it was actually a place where Mastadon sized crocs sunned themselves behind fences. In another cage, a jaguar lounged :-( :-(. Other cage areas included little wild boars, chickens (croc comida?) and a some interesting owls. If my Spanish was better, I'm sure I'd learn some happy things about this place - like maybe the jaguar was saved from eminent death and is deaf and dumb, unable to sustain itself in the wild - or the giant crocs are vegetarians due to bad teeth or something - so I tried to think happy thoughts instead of organizing some release effort from what seemed to potentially be a >
Getting on the happy thought train, we swang from the jungle swing and swam in the fresh water, fenced away from the Mastadon crocs. The weather had turned cool and cloudy so the swim was more about bragging rights on the jungle swing...and getting some kind of movement in before lunch. I was the absolute worst on the swing...I kind of forgot the purpose - which is hanging on vs. letting go! So I think I won 'best fat old lady jump', Paul won 'loudest jungle roar', Olena wins 'most graceful swing and plunge', and Keith wins 'longest swing and best entry form'.
Jungle swim was followed by Lunch in the croc-side cafe, then back on the river for more wildlife viewing. Next up, a cab ride into San Blas. The town was readying itself for Christmas, and I'd have to say that they had the most impressive Christmas trees on their town square that I'd seen in the past couple months. A little street market was going on, a mobile health facility was checking people in and up, we purchased little this's and thats, and then we searched out a trail to the old fort (La Contaduria) and church (Templo de la Virgen del Rosario). It was a nice uphill path once we found it, and just as promised, old building foundations, cannons, crosses, etc. This area is described in Henry Wadsworth Logfellow's poem 'The Bells of San Blas'. The cloudy day didn't make for a fantastic view, but overall it was still interesting to see the full San Blas harbor and town. On the way back down, we had to "feed" the local economy more by eating AGAIN... stands of smoked and cooked fish looked too good to pass up. By the time we made it back to the dinghy and boats, I think everyone had a mental and physical full day.
Zig Zag had gotten the short end of the stick during our tour so Paul and I took Zig Zag to shore for a run and that's when I discovered the mysterious jejenes. I needed to give Zig a lot of time on the beach, but my oh my, those little chompers sure did get me good! Blood sacrifice.
We were ready to change venues and left the next morning for Chacala. There was no sailing...Unfortunately it was the "Sail-a-Bago" the whole way. But, once we rounded into the bay, the difference in environment here made motoring worthwhile, it was pretty stunning and a change in weather probably helped. Sunny, sandy, tropical, warm... ahhhhh. A happy, happy place. ...