Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Day At Sea....

This should really be called "A Day At Bay"...  but that sounds like we sat on a boat that was moored and stayed in one place all day.

That couldn't be further from the truth...  
Bill & I walked into Coco early...  even stopped at the Jardin de Tropical for breakfast, before heading on up the beach to meet our "cruise" ship.  
The boat's capacity is 120 guests, but the group we were with numbered only 40.  A panga (lower middle) photo shows us being tendered from the beach out to the boat....  upper right.  I think there were 2 trips to pick up everyone, but we also stopped in Hermosa Beach and in Panama Beach (don't confuse this with Panama, the country) to pick up other folks.

The tour is from 9 am until around 2 pm.   There was a buffet fruit bar available as we headed out to sea.  

One of our first sightings was a Humpback Whale and her calf...
She never did breach, but we saw her back, her tail and her fin off and on for at least a half hour.  Several times she "blew"....  spouting a huge spray of water straight up in the air.  The baby stayed quite close, and often we'd see a big hump and a small hump...  side by side in the sea.

We also saw a good size Yellow-belly Sea Snake....
We saw one washed up on the beach last week, but this one was at least 4' long, and swimming happily along.

We didn't see many birds...
Just the usual gulls and terns...  and vultures.  But this Great Black Hawk flew over, giving us a good view of his black and white striped tail.

Our destination was a spit of land across form Panama Beach.  There are sandy beaches there and the water is shallow enough to wade around, but gradually deepens enough to swim, kayak or snorkel.  The big boat stayed moored out in the water and the panga brought us all to shore...  in about 3 trips altogether.
Neither Bill nor I are swimmers, but we were hoping to do some birding.

Wasn't gonna happen...
Instead we saw an abundance of other wildlife...
A troupe of Capuchin (White-Faced) Monkeys visited us first...
There were maybe 10 or 12 that came quite close to us.  This Mama was carrying her baby on her back.  I believe there were a couple other females with their young, as well as several who were alone.  

These sea urchins had washed up on shore...
Not the spiny kind, but a  bumpy symmetrical thing of beauty....

Tiny, but, oh, so interesting...
This little hermit crab scurried along the beach.

This is first Coatimundi we've seen during our stay here...
Distantly related to the Raccoon,  if you look close you can see the black and white face.  It is locally known as "Pizote".  He was quite large...  bigger than a cat....  maybe about the size of a small dog.  He checked us out then ambled off into the jungle.

Most folks came on the cruise to see the wildlife, but also to enjoy the time in the water...
This young girl was doing a rather intricate performance with balls tethered to chains.  She held a chain in each hand and did all kinds of fancy maneuvers.  I'd have had them wrapped around my neck... or someone else's neck...    You can see a couple of the kayaks about to go out...  and lots of folks enjoying the water.

Not everyone headed for the water...
That's Bill....  
And yes, he has a weird suntan on his legs...  and a fresh line of sunburn just above his sock line.  You can see Bill has his binoculars out...  ready to catch that elusive bird.
Neither of us are "barefoot" people, and neither of us gave it much thought that we'd have to wade into the beach from the panga.  

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the Monkeys...
Time to go...

Goodbye, beach.....

Back to the boat...  where a snack awaited everyone...
We were told we wouldn't be served a meal, just a light snack...
Well, there was not only several kinds of fruit, but a pasta salad, bean dip, guacamole, chips and cookies...  as much as you wanted.  Maybe it was more like "heavy hors d'oeuvres".  You could buy beer, water or soft drinks at a very reasonable price.  

One thing that made this trip kind of special was that our neighbors, Greg and Francine, and their guest Wendy, were also on board.  What fun it was to visit with them and hear more about their lives.

Sometime around 2pm or so we headed back to Coco...  got in the panga which took us back to shore...  and we headed home.

Yeah... I took 249 photos...  but think I got most of the day compacted into these dozen or so.  It was a great day...  one I'd certainly recommend to anyone who visits here..  for a week or for months....  as a matter of fact, I'd go on this trip again!

That's All For Today!


  1. Now that sounds like a very nice daytime cruise and more wildlife sightings you had.

  2. Wow! That looks like a very fun day.

  3. I would have enjoyed seeing those whales!

  4. Oh ya, the Whales would be a big draw for me too! Looks like you had a great day.

  5. A stellar day with some firsts, time to visit with new friends & an unusual sunburn! All in all, quite successful!

  6. Love that new header picture, Sharon. It's really great to get a little different perspective on things, so that boat trip was an excellent new adventure for you and Bill. Thanks for sharing the photos. It doesn't add up to 249 though. Don't be holding out on your faithful blog readers, now! LOL

  7. That looks like a ton of fun. I had to look twice at Bills legs to figure out he didn't have socks on, just white feet and a red sunburn stripe haha!!

  8. Awesome trip. It sounds like one of those trips you could take every day.

  9. I love those kind of boat trips. The girl throwing balls on a chain reminds me of Maori Poi Poi dancers. The poi pois or balls are traditionally made of flax and swing on flax strings of course. It is quite a talent to do well. Most New Zealand children get a chance at learning or did when I was at school. Today some entertainers load the poi poi with lights to make a spectacular dance in the dark. We built the poi pois using a similar technique to rolling a ball of wool.


  10. I listened to a PRI program yesterday about Costa Rica's howler monkeys. According to this "expert," the monkeys are always there; you never know unless they howl. Then you look up and see them. They can also be located by the sound of vegetation and fruit pits dropping as they forage, and if you're really listening, their soft vocalization as they keep track of each other, sort of a tiny woof sound. This is ranger Joanne, over and out.

  11. Your photos are wonderful - I feel like I was there (wishful thinking). I can't imagine being in a place that has live monkeys just living with their babies, or such wonderful, strange animals. Great day! :)

  12. Such great pictures. I especially liked the whales. Don't often get a chance to photograph one.