"But it was just a little bit scary, swaying as it did in the breeze so high up in the air..."
We are now in Linton Bay, still on the Caribbean side of Panama, about halfway along its length. It’s a very pretty anchorage with little islets dotted around and thickly vegetated green hills rising up above us. The water is nice and clean for swimming and we have even seen a turtle.
The large graceful frigate birds glide across the sky high above us while smaller little swifts flit rapidly around. One even flew in through the hatch one day, flew inside the length of the boat and then tried to get back out of the only closed hatch, while one cat watched intently. The other hadn’t spotted it.
I moved the cat and opened the hatch and it happily escaped. Luckily our cats don’t have a history of attacking wildlife, but they are still interested in watching!
We took our dinghy over to visit Linton Island, home of spider monkeys. They look very funny as they sometimes walk upright on their two hind legs, looking like a very thin and elongated human. One of them entertained us by hanging upside down with just his tail wrapped around a branch and one foot. How I envy monkeys sometimes, it must be so much fun! The other monkey decided to sit in our dinghy and investigate our outboard engine and fuel funnel.
They are supposed to live mostly on fruit but were happily eating the doritos fed to them by a local tour guide with their long slender hands. One of them was eating while hung upside down. Unfortunately the island is private so we were unable to walk around it.
So, we took the dinghy and ventured further afield to Isla Grande. Isla Grande has plenty of tourist infrastructure, but the large beach has been taken over by a hotel which charges $8 to use it. The remaining public beach is tiny, probably only big enough for two people to lie down on it. This means that all of the other tiny guesthouses, hotels and restaurants on the island, of which there are many, suffer.
We got speaking to a Venezuelan couple who have lived on the island for nine years and have a guesthouse, but no guests right now. It’s a remote location and so mostly only domestic tourists that come and it’s been quiet for them since the pandemic.
It’s an idyllic place, but it can’t be easy for people on the island to support themselves if it is this quiet in the dry season. Hopefully it will pick up later in February when there are more holidays.
We walked along the (non privatised) coastal path of the island and up a steep hill through vegetation until we reached a lighthouse. There was barbed wire all around but the gate was open and so was the door to the lighthouse staircase.
Up we climbed the many steps. Built in 1894, but refurbished last year, the lighthouse is 93 metres, or 305 feet tall. Rust was coming through the fresh white paint but the steps all looked to be in good condition. At the top you could exit and walk all the way around on a viewing platform. It gave an amazing view all across the bay where we could see all the tiny islands, the green hills and a couple of sailing boats out on the water.
But it was just a little bit scary, swaying as it did in the breeze so high up in the air. But there was one more floor. At the top there is no light there any more, but you can stand in the centre platform which used to house the light and look all around you through the floor to ceiling glass with its 360 degree panorama.
Then we dinghied back to the boat and went for a swim, admiring the scenery some more from vantagepoint of the water instead.
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