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Monday, April 07, 2008

A howlin´good time at Boca Brava

This morning started not with a rooster´s crow, but with a rustling in the trees, and then the loud, deep cry from a howler monkey just outside our window.

An extended family of monkeys call this part of Boca Brava Island home, and the night before, they were frolicking in the trees, dangling upside down from their prehensile tails to grab a tasty fruit. After their feast, I found one little guy passed out, draped around a branch with his limbs dangling free, totally oblivious to the juvenile monkey swinging by.

Once the show was over, one howler -- he must have been the leader of the group -- stared down from his perch 10 feet above my head, and bellowed at me. Perhaps he was the same fellow that decided to wake us up at 3 a.m.

We came to be on the Isla Boca Brava because it sounded from its description in the Lonely Planet to be off the beaten path, yet only about an hour and half away from the Cielito Sur B&B. Just off the mainland of Panama are a series of several volcanic islands, some of them protected for marine animals.

So yesterday, we got up early, drove down from the highlands to the Panamerican Highway, and then turned onto a dirt road. At the end of the road, was a boat dock. We parked our car there, and for a couple bucks, we were shuttled over on a motorboat to an island barely 100 meters away.

Half of the island is owned by a German fellow, who built a hotel and big game fishing operation there. You can´t make reservations ahead of just show up and hope there is a room available. If not, guests are welcome to sleep in hammocks for five dollars. We splurged on a ocean view room with private bathroom for 22 big ones.

We spend the afternoon going to the beach on a secluded cove, then renting kayaks to explore some of the other little islands. At dinner, we dined on fresh red snapper and mahi mahi with fried plantains, while enjoying the company of a couple from Oregon, Jean Marc and Marie. Interestingly, they came down to go through the Panama Canal crewing on a sailboat owned by someone they found on a message board.

The day was great. I just wish we had more time.

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