The Ocean to the Rainforest! 

**Half, if not more, of the photos in this post were taken by Ryan! So I wanted to give him photo credit 🙂 **

6/20/2017

Montezuma 


After spending a night at a hostel in San Jose, Kyle and I hopped on a bus headed to the airport. There, after a bit of searching and avoiding extremely pushy cab drivers we found Ryan! We said our hello’s and headed back to the bus. From the bus station in San Jose we took a 30 minute walk to the rental car place, where Ryan had made reservations to rent a car. Within 30 minutes we were in the 4-wheel drive, white Daihatsu headed West.  

Driving in Costa Rica is known to be rather difficult and treacherous, particularly for someone who is not used to driving on non-paved roads. Fortunately both Kyle and Ryan grew up in rural Wisconsin and have plenty of practice driving on dirt trails and in not-ideal conditions. The first few hours after leaving the rental car place we drove on the highway, which eventually led us to Puntarenas, where we took a ferry to get across Nicoya Bay (driving around would have taken 6 hours longer). Being a 70 minute ferry, we all got out of the car and walked around the ferry during the transit. Nicoya Bay is scattered with small islands, one of which was covered in a mossy grass with steep cliffs reaching down to black beaches. Watching the waves crash on the rock face and observing the vivid green covering on the top of the island was pretty magnificent. Being that we were close to the Pacific coast there were lots of mountains lining Nicoya Bay, with clouds drifting past their tips. By the time we got off the ferry it was getting dark, and the roads were no longer paved. The dirt roads had lots of pot holes and large rocks to avoid, but Ryan did such a great job driving I never found myself nervous or worried in the back seat. It was an enjoyable drive, passing through tiny villages along the way. We arrived at our Hostel around 8:30pm and could hear waves crashing on the shore just below the hostel. Dropping our stuff in our room we walked into town to get some food and wander the small streets.

 The following morning we awoke to the most spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Just below the grass yard of the hostel rocks scattered the shoreline, creating tidal pools that we could sit in. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and shooting up towards the sky filled my ears as I sipped on hot coffee in the hammock on the porch. Our morning was rather relaxing, just all of us fully appreciating the beauty of the hostel we chose. Later that morning we headed to a waterfall and had an awesome time swimming and jumping off a small cliff into the crashing falling water.

The rest of our time in Montezuma was spent walking around the small downtown, checking out some stores, making delicious meals at the hostel, and really just relaxing and enjoying the slow and calm pace of life the people of Montezuma seem to have.

Monteverde

 On Monday afternoon after checking out a beach called Playa Grande, we hopped back into the car and took a 5 hour road trip to Monteverde, a town Northeast of Montezuma. Monteverde is known for its luscious rainforests, which is what we wanted to check out. It was an enjoyable drive as Costa Rica has the most amazing views- rolling hills and mountains of green just seem to expand forever. Taking our time we stopped along the way to eat lunch, check out some views, and even found this little “rest stop” with a walkway that led to the most spectacular view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The morning after arriving in Monteverde we enjoyed some free breakfast included with our hostel stay, before heading to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest. The name of the forest is pretty spot on, because when we were getting close we quite literally drove into a cloud. Mist and white fog encapsulated us as we ascended up the mountain leading to the Cloud Forest entrance. Paying a small entrance fee we grabbed a map and opted for the 4 hour hike around most of the park. I don’t say this lightly, but I am pretty sure that this hike was the highlight of our entire trip in Costa Rica for me. Walking through pure jungle and rainforest- just the three of us- was like nothing I have ever done before. The depth of green and fullness of the trees was something special. Where we hiked was a first growth forest, so the trees were just massive and they were covered in a vivid green moss that was soft to the touch and covered the tree all the way up into the sky. Every once in a while we would come to an opening in the trees and if we waited a few minutes for the clouds to pass, a view would open up and take our breath away. Another highlight of the hike was when we would be walking in this dense forest and suddenly the sun would shine through a thin layer of clouds and all of us would just stop and look up- observing the sun glistening and dancing on the leaves. We would close our eyes and let our face soak up the sun for just a few minutes before it would be gone again. Towards the end of our hike we saw some monkeys playing in the trees that we took some time observe. As we made our way back to the parking lot it began to rain, and Ryan drove us back down the mountain to our hostel. Feeling comfy and relaxed in the rain I made a colorful veggie stir fry over rice for dinner which we enjoyed in the open air porch near the kitchen.

 The following morning we decided to do the “touristy” thing for a couple hours and took a shuttle bus up to a park near the Cloud Forest. Here we paid to walk across 8 bridges that hung above the trees in the canopy. It was totally worth the money, because being level or even above the tall trees was a totally different perspective than the hike we took the day before. When we were hiking the day before I kept looking up, trying to find the top of the trees but finding them too tall to really see. Whereas this time we were at the top of the trees, and I found myself looking down, trying to find their roots. Since we booked the tour through our hostel they gave us entrance to a hummingbird garden. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but it ended up being another highlight. The three of us walked into this veranda that had 8-10 hummingbird feeders hanging up, almost all of which were full. And hummingbirds were just everywhere! They could have cared less that people were around, they just buzzed right by our faces, allowing us to feel the wind generated from their fluttering wings. One of them landed on my finger for a second before heading to another feeder. Ryan and Kyle got some pretty cool photos, but their wings move so fast and they are such quick little creatures that they are hard to capture. I had never been so close and intimate with a hummingbird before, their variety of colors and small size amazed me. That afternoon we hopped back in the rental car for our last visit of the trip: La Fortuna.​​

The Caribbean Side: Cahuita 

6/13/2017

After our couple days in Puerto Viejo we hopped on a 20 minute bus to Cahuita, a small town 20 minutes North. Arriving to our hostel around 10:30am we were greeted by the kindest woman named Andrea. She and her husband have been running the hostel for over 30 years and now that her husband has passed she and her son run it. It is located a 20 minute walk from downtown Cahuita and just a couple minutes to the beach. Surrounded by a beautiful garden and trees our private room was tucked back in the corner of the property- hammocks swaying gently on the porch when we walked up. After enjoying a “welcome” juice which was delicious, Kyle and I packed a small bag, put on our swim suits, and headed to Cahuita State Park. 

There we spent our afternoon hiking, swimming, and observing various wildlife, particularly white-faced monkeys- although we did see a couple howler monkeys.
The trail of the state park ran parallel with the beach, which provided shade that I found myself very thankful for. Finding a bench we stopped to make veggie sandwiches for lunch and then walked down the trail a bit and found a place to go swimming. The water was scattered with rocks and coral that could be seen vividly through the crystal clear water of the Caribbean. Swimming was enjoyable, but definitely not very refreshing as the water was almost as warm as the air! Kyle climbed a tree and grabbed two young coconuts which he then cut open, we floated in the warm clear water sipping on cool coconut water.  

That evening after showering and relaxing for a bit we headed into town and had our first restaurant meal since arriving in the country- thank you Patti and Rick!!! We had a local meal called Casado which was delicious. I really enjoyed sitting at our table along the side walk and watching the night life of the small town of Cahuita. Local children ran around happily and carelessly while adults chatted on the corner.
We saw two sloths moving rather quick for their species across the electrical wires which we called “sloth highways”. Pretty cool! 

On Friday we spent our morning playing frisbee on the black sand beach before taking our 4pm bus back into San Jose. Kyle and I downloaded a couple movies from Netflix before the bus ride, and it made the 5 hour bus ride go by much faster! That night we stayed at a hostel in San Jose, while waiting for Ryan to fly in the next morning.  

Since Ryan has arrived we spent 2 days in Montezuma, 2 in Monteverde enjoying the rain forest, and are currently in La Fortuna checking out volcanos. Traveling by rental car has been quite the adventure! I’ll write more about it later. 

The Caribbean Side: Puerto Viejo

6/09/2017
A large sloth is eating fruit in the tree above my seat on the covered patio. Gentle music is playing in the background, a few birds are singing their late morning songs, and howler monkeys can be heard every few minutes in the far distance. I am sipping on freshly brewed coffee from a large French press and I pause every once in a while to take in the smell and sight the garden surrounding me. Kyle sits across from me working on plans for a wooden bicycle he wants to make in the future, and soon we’ll head to the beach.

We arrived on the Caribbean side on Tuesday afternoon after spending a night in San Jose. Taking a bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo took about 5 hours, and despite the lack of A/C and the long distance it was actually a rather enjoyable ride. The windows opened so the air flow was plenty and the view as soon as we left the big city was absolutely stunning. The bus was rather empty so Kyle and I sat at window seats, allowing us to take full advantage of the open window and this also allowed me to nap for a while. Around noon the smell of the sea filled the bus and ten minutes later we made a turn onto a road running right along side the crashing waves. The bus followed this rode for a half hour longer before stopping in Puerto Viejo, our home for the next two days. Hungry from the long bus ride Kyle and I hopped off the bus and headed straight to a grassy spot on the beach. There we made fresh salads from the ingredients I’d been lugging around since San Jose, and enjoyed a picnic on the grass. Just from where I was sitting I could see the Main Street of Puerto Viejo and was instantly obsessed with our cute and colorful everything was. A somewhat busy little down filled with colorful shops, restaurants, and bars. The people, wearing equally colorful clothes, were all happy, friendly, and seemed to be genuinely enjoying life. After lunch Kyle and I loaded our packs on our back and went to find a taxi; despite the walk to our hostel only be 15 minutes, our bags are heavy full of stuff from the boat so we take advantage of the cheap taxi rides!

Arriving at Vista Verde Hostel we were greeted by a luscious garden, a friendly dog, and a nice guy named Juan. Being the only guests at Vista Verde (it’s the slow season in Costa Rica so things are pretty quiet around here) we were taken to our open-air room and shown around the hostel. Juan allowed us to use some bikes, and after settling in we headed down the road to the beach. The beach was rather lively with lots of locals surfing, playing volleyball, and lounging in hammocks. We went swimming for a bit, but due to strong currents were isolated to one area. That evening we walked into town to buy food for the next couple days. The hostel has a kitchen set up for guest use, and I made a really yummy tofu stir fry for dinner with rice and teriyaki.

The following day, after a lazy morning and omelettes for breakfast we explored the town of Puerto Viejo. Checking out little shops, talking with some locals, and strolling along the beach I fell in love with the small Caribbean beach town. That afternoon during the hottest part of the day we napped and made sandwiches for lunch. Early evening we headed to the beach again, where Kyle rented a surf board for an hour and I enjoyed watching from the shore. Two sloths lounged in the tree above me, and I had a lot of fun watching them- such awesome creatures!

Yesterday morning we said goodbye to our wonderful hosts at Vista Verde and made the 15 minute walk toward the bus stop in Puerto Viejo. There is a small town called Cahuita (ca-we-tah) 20 minutes north of Puerto Viejo that we are spending our last night on the Caribbean side in. Puerto Viejo is an awesome little Caribbean town that gives off the most positive energy- I am thankful that we found the time to spend some time there.

For his first time surfing he did pretty good! It was fun to watch
The common area at our hostel

Goodbye to High Climber: Golfito to Playa Flamingo 

6/07/2017

Well, I have gotten behind on writing the last week, so will do a quick summary of what we have been up to. Last Monday we motored away from Golfito, turned out of the bay in to the Pacific, and headed North towards Nicoya Bay. It was a 150 mile journey, with absolutely zero wind. Therefore the engine was on the entire time.. this has both negatives and positives. The positive being that we can use the autopilot, which means for the entire 36 hours no one touched the wheel, making our watches easy going. Another positive is that because there was no wind the sea state was fairly calm, so I didn’t get scared or sick. The negatives, which are a bit more powerful than the positives, are that the engine is extremely loud. And also it’s a sailboat, we all wanted to be sailing, not motoring, so the moral is a bit lower than when there is good sailing. The other thing is that when motoring, because the boat is not healed at all, we roll with the large waves of the Pacific- so it’s just a bit uncomfortable, although not enough to make me sick. Anyway! Regardless, it was a beautiful motor and we were close to shore the entire trip, which was mountainous and beautiful. Arriving in Nicoya Bay, we dropped anchor in a small bay within Nicoya called Ballena. Settling right outside a small fishing village around 9pm, we made pasta with red sauce and Kyle and Max had theirs with some freshly caught Tuna. The following day Max went to do some engine work and discovered an issue with the fuel line, which explains some of the other engine problems we had been having. He had lots of work to do, so Kyle and I went and explored the surrounding villages for a couple hours.

 Pulling the dinghy up on a black sand beach covered in large rocks, I tied it to a tree and we turned left, walking towards the fishing village along a dirt road. The village was small, with lots of open air houses and children running around. Everyone was friendly and waved or said ‘Hola’ has we walked around. Coming towards the end of the village we decided to turn around and walk the other direction. After about 20 minutes of following the dirt road to a paved road, we ran into another small village, but this one was much different. The tiny town of Tambor was very tourist orientated with lots of cute shops and restaurants right on the water. We found a little shop that had all sorts of beautiful tapestries and I bought a really colorful one that I am in love with. The woman who sold it to us was very kind and gave us information on the area and some tips on making sure we don’t get “gringo’d” by taxi drivers as she put it haha.

 The following day we made a venture into a town 15 miles away to find a new fuel hose for the engine. It was a nice bus ride up a mountain, providing us with awesome views of the Pacific and Nicoya Bay below. I am amazed at how incredibly green everything is in this country. Even when we spend time in populated towns, the greenery is more prevalent than the development. I feel like wherever I am standing is just the most beautiful 360 degree view. With some groceries and a new fuel hose we headed back to High Climber. The following morning we took off around 11am for mine and Kyle’s last hop on the boat. About 130 miles and 24 hours of being underway and we’d arrive in Playa Flamingo. This time we had wind for about 4 hours of the trip and while the rest of the time was spent motoring, those 4 hours were glorious. A light breeze along with a current pushed us along at a constant 6-7 knots. The sun was setting over the tall mountains protruding from the sea to our right and a few dolphin swam at the bow of the boat. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, but we were feeling fortunate to have finally had some time under sail, the only noise being the boat pushing through the water and the occasional bird. We also saw 2 sets of sea turtles mating on the surface of the water.. pretty funny and interesting that we saw 2 set within 20 minutes!

 Around 5am on Saturday morning while I was on shift I made the turn in towards Playa Flamingo Bay. The sun was just coming up over the mountains and there was a low mist on the lower half of the mountains, causing part of the mountain to disappear before its peak reached out into the sky. Despite the motor, it was quiet morning and I waited to wake Max as long as possible, enjoying the solitude and quiet of the rising sun and towering mountains. As we started to get real close to land I shouted down to Max, waking him to come help me bring us into the anchorage. With Max taking over the wheel I attempted to help with the anchoring, but ended up having to wake up Kyle- it’s just a bit too heavy for me! Being that none of us had slept much the last 24 hours (it’s very different having 3 people instead of 4!) we put up the sun tarp and went back to sleep for a few hours. Around noon we headed to shore to find some wifi, the bus stop, and explore the town of Playa Flamingo.

 The next day Kyle and I spent the entire afternoon packing our gear, cleaning out our cabin, and consolidating what we are bringing with us and what Max is going to ship back to Florida. It was a bitter sweet feeling packing up all our gear, and by late afternoon we had everything ready to go. The following morning Max rowed us to shore around 8am and walked us to the bus station. Saying our goodbyes Kyle and I waved goodbye to High Climber and wished Max luck with his new crew and the next half of his journey to California. I was filled with anticipation and excitement as we boarded the bus to San Jose about what the next 2 weeks of exploring Costa Rica by foot would bring. One of Kyle’s best friends, Ryan, is flying into Costa Rica on the 9th, and we have rented a car for the week before we all fly out on the 17th- so Kyle and I are heading to the Caribbean coast for a few days while we wait for Ryan to arrive. I’m really looking forward to seeing the other coast of the country!

My Favorite Place

5/28/2017
On Thursday morning Max, Kyle, and myself rowed ashore around 8am. Securing the dinghy to the dinghy dock at Banana Bay Marina we grabbed some hot coffee and walked the 15 minutes to the ferry dock. Buying tickets to Puerto Jimenez we waited for the small ferry to arrive. The ferry was rather fast, traveling about 25 knots and was a small boat with windows that opened, allowing the fast moving air to flow through the boat. It took about 30 minutes and was a pleasant ride. Arriving in Puerto Jimenez we walked around attempting to find the “micro bus” that would drive us the 40 minutes to Doz Brazos, where we could find the trail leading to our hostel. After asking a few locals we found ourselves waiting outside a hardware store, not completely sure we were in the right place. At 11am a woman in a small bus, more like a van, helped us onto the bus with some locals and a few babies. Five minutes into the ride the paved road ended and the remainder of the journey was on a dirt road with an endless amount of pot holes, large rocks, and small dips in the road. The surrounding land was absolutely beautiful. Small colorful homes, lots of children out playing, people on mopeds, and just this feeling of joy, happiness, and community. Despite the houses being small and open aired, I received a feeling of community and of love of their surroundings by the locals here more than anywhere I’ve been in the US. It was quite refreshing. Around noon we arrived at the office of the Bolita Hostel we had reservations at. A nice woman named Val showed us a map, gave us directions, and sent us on our way. This hostel is literally in the rainforest, and it takes about 30-40 minutes to hike up to it. It was not an easy hike, especially since we have been sitting on the boat for so long. But it was absolutely stunning. There was a small river crossing, little waterfalls lining the lower part of the trail, and steep inclines that lifted us up into the canopy. A half hour or so later we arrived at the Bolita Hostel. We were greeted by colorful hammocks, an open air kitchen and living area, and 3 volunteers. After meeting the owner, Ron, we went up to our rooms- Kyle and I had a small room offset from the dorm beds. It was so amazing- the rooms were completely open air, with a nice bug/critter net snugly around the bed. With our stuff unpacked and our beds made, we headed off to spend the next 4 hours hiking.

 The hostel has 16km of self-guided trails that are well marked and maintained. We headed towards the two sets of waterfalls that allow swimming. It took about an hour to get there and the hiking was like none I have ever done before. Walking, quite literally, along the edge of the canopy we saw colorful birds, tons of monkeys, and the most luscious greenery. We spent a couple hours swimming in the waterfalls, walking along the river bank, hiking up small creeks leading to waterfalls, and walking through the rainforest. On our way back to the hostel it began to rain, brining a magnificent smell. It’s pretty cool hiking in the rain in the canopy of trees because even though it was pouring, we were hardly getting wet because the trees above us were so thick.

 That night we made the pasta we had brought with us in the kitchen the hostel provides. After dinner I sat on our bed listening to the rain land on the tin roof above us. Looking out over the rainforest and listening to howler monkeys and tropical birds I smiled from deep within. I stayed up fairly late, just enjoying the feeling of total relaxation and happiness that my surroundings brought. The following morning Kyle and I woke early and went on a hike while Max slept. We then made some lunch and hiked a bit more before heading back down to Dos Brazos to catch a bus back to the ferry leading to Golfito. Had we not have already had our Zarpe (a document allowing the boat to leave port in Golfito) with my name on it, I was going to stay at the hostel and meet Kyle in San Jose next week. That’s how much I loved it  haha. But knowing I couldn’t do that due to customs and immigration, I said my thank you’s for being able to experience such a serene and special place, even if just for a night. Thank you Bolita Hostel!

 As I write this I am sipping on hot coffee over looking the marina and High Climber out on the mooring ball. Max is taking care of a few last minute things, and then we are going to top off our water tanks and head out to the Pacific. In two days we will arrive in Nicoya Bay where we will spend a night or two at anchor to rest and find some snorkeling. From Nicoya we will take two more days to get to Playa Flamingo, where Kyle and I will pack our bags and take a bus into San Jose to start the next part of our journey. Onward!

Isle de Coiba, Panama to Golfito, Costa Rica!

5/27/2017 

The trip from the Pearl Islands to Isle de Coiba took about 36 hours. It was an easy passage, as due to a lack of wind we motor sailed most of the journey. Therefore we could use the autopilot, so being on shift meant just hanging out on deck, reading, walking around, and checking the course and surroundings from time to time. The sea state was fairly calm, although the Pacific seems to constantly have large rolling waves. But due to their size, they are spread out and not as noticeable, despite being much larger than the Atlantic. Not sure how to explain it, but its definitely a different feel than the Caribbean side. Being that we only had a short passage, we stayed fairly close to land and most of the journey could see land off to our starboard side. I enjoyed being able to see the land- tall mountains with their peaks covered in clouds and small islands scattered along the shore. The morning we arrived to Coiba Kyle was on shift and I was on deck with him. It was a quiet morning and hundreds of dolphins, about 4 or 5 pods of 20-30 dolphin, were all around us. These were dolphin I had never seen before, not sure the official name, but we called them spotted dolphins as they were covered in white and gray speckles! Their top fin was much smaller than a bottlenose dolphin as well. They swam so close to the bow and the ones in the distance would jump and do flips in the air. It was a wonderful greeting to a beautiful island. Coiba is a preserve so there is no development other than the ranger station, and some old prison ruins. Approaching the island we could instantly hear the loud howler monkeys from the shore. Waking Max and Itai we chose a spot to anchor and dropped the hook.

 We spent that day exploring the beautiful beach. Jungle lined the beach where we saw a couple monkeys, lots of birds, and climbed trees to get fresh coconut water. At low tide Kyle and I found a tidal pool under a cliff and cautiously walked across the rocks, marveling at the thousands of water snails covering the rocks. Little crabs with one huge claw scurried away from us as we walked the rocks. I loved how untouched the beach felt, other than our footprints, there seemed to be no evidence that anyone else had ever been there. And as soon as it rained, there would be no evidence we had ever been there.

 The following morning we motored 3 miles to the other shore where we could see ruins from an old prison. The history of the island and the prison that was there up until a little over a decade ago is rather interesting, learn more here: https://the-line-up.com/coiba-island-prison/ Itai wanted to stay aboard and fish, so Max, Kyle, and myself rowed over to the shore hoping to explore the prison ruins. We were greeted by a Panamanian Military man who was nice and told us we couldn’t explore the ruins ourselves, but then called two younger guys over who weren’t dressed in uniforms but carried guns, to guide us around the ruins. For the next hour or so we wandered around the old prison and attempted to have conversations in our broken Spanish and their little bit of English. They were both very kind and we ended up picking mangos, these other really yummy red fruits, and drinking fresh water coming from a stream. I didn’t get many photos, but we were able to take a few at the end with the nice guys who guided us around. Waving goodbye we rowed back to the boat.

 The plan was to leave around midnight that night so that we would get to Costa Rica during daylight. So I went to bed rather early in hopes of getting some rest before my 11pm shift. A storm rolled through around 5pm and brought loud thunders, amazing lightning, and lots of rain. I didn’t want to be on shift during the storm, so Max agreed to leave a little later, and around 2am Max and Itai lifted anchor and headed out in the tail end of the storm. By the time I was on shift next the rain had gone and the sky was clear. Again, we had little wind, so we motor sailed most of the way to Costa Rica. Halfway there, the engine shut down and there wasn’t a stitch of wind. While Max trouble shot the engine, we bobbed in the rolling waves. He found the problem to be dirty fuel, which caused the fuel filters to clog. Fortunately he had all the spares needed, and within an hour and some hot, smelly work on Max’s part the engine started again. This happened again, about 15 hours later, and he had to change the filters again. We found out that somewhere along the way we must have picked up dirty fuel. I was very thankful that Max was not only able to fix the engine underway, but had enough spares to get us safely to Costa Rica. Somewhere between the engine troubles our fresh water pump broke as well (clearly High Climber has traveled over 2,000 miles!) and again, Max had spares and Kyle was able to install a new water pump giving us access to our fresh water again. Other than those mishaps which were all quickly fixed, the journey was rather uneventful.

 At 11pm Max woke me for my shift as we were just entering into the channel leading into Costa Rica. Although it was dark, I could make out the shapes of the mountains surrounding us as I guided us between the light houses marking the entrance. My shift was enjoyable as the stars were vivid and plenty above me. When I awoke around 7am we were just entering into the bay leading to Golfito. By 10am we were ashore, checked in, and enjoying free coffee, wifi, and showers at Banana Bay Marina.

 

Lori a sea turtle who has been visiting Banana Bay Marina for 10 years and loves bananas! 
**We have been in Golfito, Costa Rica now for about 6 days. Itai left to head back to Isreal on Tuesday and Max, Kyle, and I took an awesome excursion to the rainforest which I’ll write about later. So far this is my favorite country we have visited and I am looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks in Costa Rica!**

The Pearl Islands, Panama

5/15/2017This morning I awoke to the sound of High Climber’s engine starting. While rubbing my sleepy eyes I peered out of the hatch above me and watched as the clouds moved by quickly, or more so as we moved quickly by the clouds. “I guess we’re off!” Kyle said enthusiastically. I laid in bed another half hour or so before grabbing a cup of coffee and heading on deck. We were a couple miles away from the Balboa Yacht Club and headed towards the Pacific. Having little to no wind we motor sailed with the main sail up, allowing us to travel at a consistent 6 knots. I cooked breakfast, eggs and potatoes, while everyone else hung out on deck. The auto pilot is working now, so no one has to steer the boat- it’s pretty miraculous- everyone just doing their own thing, keeping an eye on our surroundings but otherwise not having to touch the wheel. Knowing that we would be arriving to the Pearl Islands around 4:00pm we all spent most of the day on deck. I lounged in the sun on my yoga mat, listening to music and drifting in and out of sleep. Itai and Max were busy setting up fishing poles, and within an hour caught a medium-sized tuna. For those of you who don’t know, I have a rather hard time with the idea of fishing- killing animals, even bugs, really upsets me. I had to prepare myself for this because I knew that everyone on board was excited about fishing. So I stayed strong and watched as Itai and Kyle brought the fish on deck. I then asked Itai to explain to me how he was going to kill it, and watched as it happened. I accidentally named it haha.. which didn’t help me feel any less sad for the fish. Anyway, 30 minutes later they were eating pan-seared tuna with some seasoning and soy sauce. I had a delicious veggie sandwich. With Panama City behind us small islands began to show on the distant shore. The water was calm and we all giggled as sting rays jumped 5 feet in the air, doing multiple flips on their way back down into the water. None of us had ever seen anything like it.

 Around 3:30pm we began approaching the island where we planned to anchor for the night, Isle Pedro Gonzalez. The luscious green of the trees and jungle lining the shoreline was a stark contract to the white sand below. The sun was shining, causing the water to glisten, a strong smell of flowers and jungle filled our noses, and Itai had just caught another fish- this time a mackerel- which made the guys really excited. For a few moments there it seemed as though there was nothing else in the world but our pristine surroundings. Arriving at our anchorage we got rather close to shore before dropping the anchor, and before the engine was even shut off I was swimming in the water. Kyle climbed up the mast and jumped off the spreaders while Itai cleaned the fish and prepared it for dinner. This time I cried- I tried so hard not to, but I just can’t help it- I feel so bad for the little fish, swimming so happily in the beautiful ocean and then just being yanked out and killed. Haha I was also laughing at myself while tears filled my eyes because I know it’s a bit ridiculous. Oh well, I’ll be having pasta for dinner. 🙂

 After swimming for a while and taking fresh water “showers” with our sprayer we rowed ashore to the beach. Max, Kyle, and Itai immediately went searching for coconuts- Max getting motivated enough to scale up a palm tree and knocked down 6 or 7. I was rather impressed with how quickly he got up the tall tree. We wandered the beach a bit more before hopping back in the dinghy and rowing along the shoreline to check out a rocky, tree covered small cliff face. Four people in a small dinghy is definitely not the most stable, but not once have we flipped! As I write this I am sitting the v-berth taking some time to myself. Kyle just cracked open a coconut and I am munching on the most delicious fresh coconut pieces and sipping on some coconut water. Itai is busy fishing, and Max is lighting up the grill to cook the fish that was caught earlier and has been marinating. The sun is setting below some thunderheads causing the sky to erupt into the colors of fire. A bird of some sort is singing a rather interesting song, causing me to laugh. This entire journey hasn’t been super easy for me, a lot of different factors have made it so I’ve been having a hard time adjusting, but right now at this moment- all the pieces are falling into place and I am feeling filled with joy and gratitude at where I am. Thank you to the universe for providing such a brilliant life and planet. Cheers!  


5/17/2017

The water is a turquoise green, a new color now that the sun is out. There is a slight breeze, so that in the shade the temperature is just right. Max is doing yoga on the foredeck, Itai and Kyle are getting ready to go spear fishing, and I am sipping on some warm coffee, sitting cross-legged on the cabin. We are surrounded, almost 360 degrees, minus a small opening that we entered through, by cliffs, black sand beaches, jungle, and rock covered beaches. The rain that was here this morning has dissipated, the sun bursting through and causing the full trees to glow in a luscious green.

Yesterday after a lazy morning at Isle Pedro Gonzalez, we pulled anchor in the rain, not turning on the engine, using the sails to quietly glide away from the anchorage. Once the rain stopped, so did the wind so the last couple hours were under engine, but it was a beautiful cruise regardless. Around 2pm we spotted the small opening to the cove we planned to spend the night in on Isle del Rey, the largest of the Pearl Islands. I found myself with my mouth hanging open in awe at where we were headed. Sticking to the south side of the opening to avoid rocks, we motored into a small cove, and pulled almost up to the beach. The water here is so deep that in order to find good anchoring we have to pull really close to shore, which is rather different than anything in the Caribbean, and is a bit exciting. Within 30 minutes Kyle and I had lathered up in sunscreen and hopped off the side of the boat. We swam over to the rocky shoreline and climbed up on the boulders protruding from the water. Scaling the side of a small cliff we made our way over to a beach covered in large and colorful stones. The waves have crashed on these stones for hundreds of years causing them to be smooth and gentle on our feet. Walking along the large stones we headed for a cave we saw on our way in. Due to the waves crashing in through the opening we were unable to venture into the cave, but observing it from a distance and listening to the waves crashing was awesome. Max came swimming over to meet us, while Itai stayed on the boat to fish. Kyle, Max and I swam off the beach and headed towards another beach, this one black sand instead of large stones. We explored for a bit, picking up long pieces of bamboo and attempting to get some more coconuts. Hearing Itai yell at us from the boat, I realized he had something very big on his fishing rod. We could see him fighting with whatever he had caught, and he yelled that he needed help. As we swam closer he informed us that it was a large sting-ray. I felt so sad for it and Kyle and Max quickly climbed in the dinghy to aid Itai in freeing it from the hook. Knowing that they can be very dangerous because of their stingers Max and Kyle put on gloves and got pliers to hopefully cut the hook so it would come out. At this exact moment a small panga with 3 guys in it seemed to come out of nowhere and motored into the cove. Fortunately Itai speaks Spanish and he was able to communicate with them. They had seem him fighting with something on his fishing rod so came over to see if he needed help, which he did. Thank goodness for these guys because none of us knew what to do. They stuck their fingers up the stingrays nostrils so that its stinger could stay in the water, a safe distance from anyone. They then took their knife and made a small incision in the stingrays mouth so that the hook could slide out. I sat in the front of the dinghy with my eyes covered- these are the reasons I don’t like fishing. Fortunately the stingray was free of the hook and was let go, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him swimming away with a bleeding mouth. It made me sad, but we were so thankful for the locals who came to help. There is a small village on this island of about 500 people who live there, and that is where the guys in the panga came. They asked if we had any alcohol to share, but we only have water on board, so laughed and asked them the same question. After showering and cleaning up a bit, Itai, Kyle, and Max had a BBQ and cooked their tuna they had caught earlier. I read my book and headed to bed early.

This morning I awoke to the sun shining through the hatch above me. I poked my head out and noticed a light drizzle, but still some sunshine and a warm breeze. I quickly hopped up, made some coffee in the small french press, grabbed some mugs, packed a simple breakfast, and loaded the dinghy. Quietly I woke Kyle up and asked if he wanted to row to shore with me. With Max and Itai asleep aboard High Climber, we climbed into the dinghy and I rowed us to the rocky beach, a light drizzle creating little ripple effects on the water’s surface. Tying the dinghy to a log we poured ourselves some freshly brewed coffee and sat on the log munching on buttered bread.We then spent the next hour or so walking around the rocks, wading into the crashing water coming in from the cave, and found beautiful stones to bring home. For a while it felt as though there was no one else out there, just the two of us surrounded by rocks, cliffs, and dense forest. The drizzling eased and the sun burst through the clouds. Suddenly our surroundings came alive in vivid colors. We climbed up on a big boulder and I closed my eyes, letting the sun shine down on my face with my arms outstretched. The waves getting a bit larger due to the tide, came barreling through the cave creating thunder as they echoed off the rock walls. It was a spectacular, romantic, and refreshing morning. Feeling like Max and Itai would be waking soon, we climbed back in the dinghy and took our time making our way back to High Climber.

This afternoon we are leaving the Pearl Islands and heading North. In about 200 miles, and 40 hours we should be arriving at Isla de Coiba. An island that is a national park and is supposed to be quite amazing, based on our readings and talking with some people who have been there. To be honest, I am not really looking forward to the 200 mile hop. It will be two full nights and two full days, and I just am not feeling the offshore sailing anymore. But oh well, 40 hours will go quickly, and before I know it we will be in Coiba. After that there is just a 100 miles hop to Golfito, Costa Rica! I can’t wait to be in Costa Rica, I have been looking forward to it this entire trip.


**We are currently in Golfito, Costa Rica at an awesome little marina. We’ll be here for 5 days waiting for a propane refill so I’ll post updates on Coiba and Costa Rica soon!**