The (Naked) Pool

Deep in the jungle (actually not far at all) you will find a little natural pool that’s a great place to cool down on a hot day.

We discovered the pool a number of years ago when we were looking for a source of water for the property. It was full of gravel and big rocks then but once we had moved the loose sand and stone and used the rock to make the dam higher we found we had created a beautiful little bathing pool.

The area around the pool is a great place to spot our little green and black dart frogs so bring a camera.

The pool is mostly shaded by the forest canopy but the light shining through is particularly pretty in the early afternoon.

It’s there for you to use whenever you like and as the name suggests skinny dipping (though not obligatory) is perfectly fine!

In rainy season the stream that feeds that pool can carry a lot of loose gravel, fallen leaves and branches with it and it’s not uncommon for a particularly prolonged downpour to deposit enough gravel to completely fill the pool. However we usually have it cleared in a day or two!


Wildlife moments

Most days Jim and I compete as to who has seen something remarkable. It can be a new animal, or a new behaviour, and if you manage to get photographic evidence, so much the better. Of course, if you didn’t carry the camera, something good ALWAYS happens.

Yesterday wasn’t unusual. Tamarin monkeys in the quebrada ( burn or stream ) at dawn. Our resident Great Black hawk who is now completely unperturbed as we walk under his favourite tree. A couple of sloths above the papaya patch. Capuchins and Howlers crossing from east to west as part of their daily commute across our garden.

So I just want to reassure the many people who have written concerned, I wasn’t bitten by a ‘wild’ animal, and it wasn’t on our property.

Charmer is anchored off an island 5km away. I had just finished cleaning the hull, and as my reward I finned over to the shallows, planning to look for seahorses around the pilings of the abandoned dock.

As I snorkeled along parallel to the shore, I became aware of animal noises. I pushed my self up on my hands to investigate, saw two monkeys staring intently at me and one immediately launched himself from the sand, jumped on my back, and took a bite at me. It happened so fast. His momentum toppled me back into deeper water, which was when he let go, and then I saw all the blood! As luck would have it, Jim wasn’t testing the main engine. He heard my panicked scream, and I waded out backwards into deeper water ( the only easy way with fins on) together enough to want to get further away from them, and also not wanting Jim to have to come in too shallow, with the outboard. I clambered inelegantly into the dinghy, and he told me to keep pressure on the wound, and we headed back to Charmer. Once onboard, I started to hyperventilate, and officially fainted briefly.

Thank heavens for friends. One phone call, someone met us on the mainland to help Jim get our dinghy out and onto the trailer, the vet was on hand to treat me ( who else has better experience of animal bites?) and, the hospital in Panama City were great. Two weeks on, I have graduated to steri strips to help the wound heal, antibiotics done and apart from frustration at not being allowed to do anything, all is good.

The back story? The animals were released there more than twenty years ago, along with some peccaries ( wild pigs) and various birds. As the US pulled out, bases were closed and these monkeys were part of a zoo in Fort Sherman. They were initially fed, just as in their previous life, but not caged, they were always free to roam. A family lived there and cared for them, but after they left, I am guessing it was assumed the monkeys had learned enough to forage for themselves.

The world has changed, and what was once a remote, relatively un-visited part of the Caribbean coastline, has slowly become busier. The white sand beaches nearby attract weekend visitors, and it has become a regular stop on the water taxi routes… stop and feed/watch/photograph the monkeys. But it isn’t regulated. Some days they score a lot of junk food ( no idea how that affects them physically but it can’t be good), other days people throw full beer cans at them…  one of the people who helped placed them notes they were already pretty mischievous when still in the zoo, used to stealing sunglasses and picking pockets.

In the past I had never seen them enter the water, and that’s why I felt secure. Up until two years ago, they were my closest neighbours, and because of the many incidents we observed, we never set foot on the island.

They were, and are, completely unpredictable. Please note this change in behaviour, and give them a wide berth. That was one wildlife moment I intend never to experience again











A Tuesday triple

Tesoro Verde has been our home for a few years now so Heather and myself are getting fairly well aquainted with the resident wildlife. That said, the hillside that we live on still has plenty of secrets to discover, and we love having our daily tasks interupted by what we term a “wildlife moment”, when we get to share one of those secrets. It’s rare that a day will include more than one new discovery so Tuesday this week was a day to mark in the diary as we had three new sightings to record. First off was the little gekko that quite literally crawled out of the woodwork as Jim and Danny were working on the new roof for the Bamboo Bothy. Strictly speaking that should read “crawled out of the bamboo work”!P1080496 As you can see from the photo he’s a colourful fellow and we are sure he belongs with the Least Gekkos although we can’t decide on a specific species. It’s between Sphaerodactylus lineolatus, homolepis or possibly argus, any gekko experts out there?

At least we managed to narrow down the choices for our four legged friend, for the other two we are open to suggestions. First off is an insect or more correctly, lots of insects which we noticed P1080505gathered en mass on a tree near where we were working that day. Shiney metalic green as you can see and happy in their own company but what are they? The last and strangest question mark is a fungus. We noticed it on the ground in the bamboo forest where from a distance we thought it was a flower. It’s not obvious from the photo that they (there were three examples close together) areP1080519 formed in an open cage like structure and they were all connected to the white root network you can see in the soil. More difficult to tell is that they all smelled strongly of feces! Answers on a postcard to ……And for those who are wondering, yes we did manage to get a little work done that day too!!