Monday, September 28, 2020

7 Beaches In 7 Days ~ #7 Punta Tuna Wetlands Trail


The Punta Tuna Lighthouse
What began as not a thing, became a thing. And now we've done it. We have visited 7 beaches in 7 days.  Normally we pace ourselves, but when I realized we were on a roll, this became our goal. And finally, we made it to the beach we intended to visit on day... whatever. I've forgotten it in the blur of so many beaches and so much new sea glass!

I know I sound like a broken record when I say THIS is a favorite of ours.  I KNOW!!  We have so many favorites!  It's a tough life!  But really!  

The thing we love about this beach is that there are also trails! They run east and west behind the beach, past the high tide mark, and hidden in the palm forest that lies between the beach and the wetlands. We have always done the trail going east, because it is longer... Next time we will go west. I promise!

It always feels somehow magical when we first emerge from the park area onto the beach. Today was no different.  Our plan today was to walk east on the beach, looking for sea glass, of course... And then where the end of the palm trail joins the beach, we will go into the palm forest and follow that equally magical trail back to the car.  It's about two miles from where we are parked on the road outside the park area today.  For whatever reason, the gate was still locked so we couldn't drive into the parking area. But no worries... it just added a little more to our walk!

We found plenty of great sea glass along the upper part of the beach. But today's theme seemed to be a continuation of a favorite.  Leaning Palms!!  I just love how they handle adversity by just simply changing direction when life knocks them down!

Flat over on its side, and still not touching the sand!

And it didn't flinch when I sat on it!

Sort of a Palm Tree Selfie-Stick!
It's been a while since we've walked this beach.  I guess it had to be before March... and there are a lot of changes since our last visit.  The leaning palms, for one... and the river mouth for the other!  We really didn't even know that there was a river coming out here!  Today we found a thin stream of water leading from the wetlands, into the Caribbean Sea!  We could have skipped on across it if we had wanted, but this was our planned end point anyway.  This is where the palm forest trail meets the beach. 
It's more of a trickle...

Very jungle-esque!  And a white egret is back there fishing!

After a brief break, we entered the palm forest and began our walk back to the car.  I love the quiet majesty of this place.  There's a hush here that seems unaffected by the not-so-distant roar of the waves nearby.  Like even sound is impressed by the unofficial reverence of it. 

Some parts of the trail are less protected from the sea, but mostly the trail is hidden.
Noni Baby!
With eager delight, I darted along the trail as quickly as my foot would let me.  I never got far before a photo op presented and I would stop to get a few shots of the many wonders this forest holds. 

Noni fruit

A bed of morning glories 

Basket Stinkhorn

I don't know why these fascinate me so!

All along the trail, we were nearly bombarded by a parade of butterflies.  I spent a good amount of time trying to photograph them, but they are skittish and would not sit once I got close.

Many different forms of lichen grown in the palm forest.

New to me ~ Calocera Viscosa I think.

And just like that, our two mile hike/meander was done.  Having such wonderful places to get our exercise makes it so much easier than just plain old working out.  Maybe it's slower to produce results, but the mental benefits are well worth it!  

This also concludes my 7 Beaches in 7 days posts.  Whew!  That was rough! (Beachlife problems)

Today's treasures!

This is my entire glass collection.  Time to get crafting!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

7 Beaches In 7 Days ~ #6 Leaning Palms at Playa Palmas

We have been talking about this for months.  We have all the gear, and have just not done it... until TODAY!  We loaded up the wide-wheeled-wagon with stuff and took off walking!  About a mile to the west on our beach, there are two leaning palms that have been our favorite spot for as long as we've lived here.  It's the perfect place to splash around with a long shallow slope and calmer waves than we have outside our gate.  And, there are these lovely leaning palms! 

My mind has been formulating this plan for months, and all it needed was the perfect hammock to make the dream complete!  And now I have it!  Bruce did all the hard work, pulling the heavy wagon through the sand... I just followed along behind.  

My foot is still giving me some trouble and if I walk fast, the limp is unavoidable.  So I'm working on walking only as quickly as I can with good form.  So he speeds ahead, then stops to wait for me to catch up.  

I swear I offered to take a turn...
He's in it for the shade...
Finally we arrived at the spot!  Bruce picked a nearby palm shade to set up his camp.  He was already working on it when I arrived... but I had my own ideas about how this should look.

All he wants is shade.  I'm in it for the photo op!  
I set up the umbrella for him, but he wasn't having it...

I had my head under the palm leaves to avoid the sun.

As the sun moved, I had to put a sarong up to shade me!

Nobody for a mile!

Bruce over there enjoying his little camp in the shade...

My biggest worry, Is the tide gonna reach my hammock!

I have a difficult time just relaxing.  No, seriously, I do.  My mind is buzzing all the time, so much that I find it hard to even concentrate on reading a book.  But today... in this place... I was finally able to just settle down and read.  Swinging from a hammock, bouncing gently when the wind picked up, enjoying the shade and a light breeze to cool me... it was all perfection. 

I was able to calm my mind, and there was nothing else to be done today but sit in this hammock and enjoy a little fiction.  Mindful of the peace, the passing clouds, the sound of the waves and the gentle stretch of the salty froth as it sometimes crept up beneath me... These were all the things in the world.  And then there was the little crab!  He caught my attention for a while.  

The sun travelled from morning position to afternoon position while I reclined under that palm.  Eventually it became impossible to avoid being directly in the sun, so I had to give up my perfect spot, and moved over to join Bruce for some lunch. I got in the water to cool off for a bit, but the waves were a little more than my foot could handle, so I retreated back to my beach chair in the shade.  

Eventually we packed it all in and wheeled our stuff back home.  Bruce let me haul the wagon a portion of the way this time, but he helped me by pushing from the rear! 

It was a wonderful day, and the culmination of much planning.  Whenever I feel like I need a mental reset... I can just remember this!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

7 Beaches In 7 Days ~ #5 Our Beach!!

Ok, so it's our same old beach... but it's different from yesterday! Today is a short one. We took a break from walking and did some serious Chillin' instead! I have a new hammock to test!  
For months, we have been driving past a little outdoor tienda on the corner, without stopping. Today, we went there directly! The mission? The perfect hammock. Of course I can't be satisfied with the cheap ones... no! I have to have the best! And I think I have it! 

It seems borderline criminal to live on a beach with the perfect palm trees just begging to have a hammock swinging between. Thanks to Bruce's idea to get a couple of ratchet straps for hanging, and it's super easy! Although I must admit that it took me at least half an hour to get them right this first time. Complete with lots of comical mounting and dismounting technique... no videos! I finally got it just right and spent a couple of delightful hours swinging peacefully, enjoying the view, and marveling at my good fortune!

Bruce had some new fishing lures to try out.  He went out past the wave break and tried throwing a line, but his shoulders would not allow it.  He's got some problems with both rotator cuffs, and his range of motion is limited.  What a bummer!  

The view from the other end!
Perhaps we'll have to set up TWO hammocks next time!  I guess if we're going to be decrepit, this is the best place to do it!  I have to appreciate the fact that we got out of cruising at exactly the right time, and found a wonderful place to settle in.  Walking, and figuring out how to reverse direction in the hammock are the most complicated physical requirements we face! 

Friday, September 25, 2020

7 Beaches In 7 Days ~ #4 Forgotten Beach

Yesterday's sea glass bonanza left me wanting more!  Bruce agreed, so as soon as breakfast was over, we packed up and took off again.  We were heading for Playa Los Bohios, same beach as yesterday, but somewhere along the way, we took an unexpected right turn onto a very tiny and obscure road... which lead to this! Turns out, we have actually been here before, but forgot all about it!  And because there is no name for it on the Google Map, we've named it "Forgotten Beach"!

A very good restaurant is on that hill, Paisajes Curet!

The beach stretches on to the west only a short distance from where we parked the car, before terminating in a rocky point that is just beneath a restaurant called Paisajes Curet. Not knowing the distance going the other way, we chose to begin with the longer beach to the east.  We set off walking, bending, picking and zig-zagging to get the best pieces.  

This time, we each had a collection bag for our sea glass. This allows us to separate and cover more ground.  Some of the pieces we picked up yesterday were not quite ready, so today our strategy was to be more selective.  We would concentrate more on the walking aspect, and only slow down to pick up the biggest, and best pieces of sea glass.

Wouldn't we love to live here???

We enjoyed the walk along this pristine stretch of beach.  We never saw another soul, although there were a few footprints left by early-bird walkers. We raced along, trying to catch up to the endless procession Great Southern White butterflies that sped past us as we moved up the beach. They were always just a little bit faster than we were, as they flowed around us and continued on their way to wherever it is butterflies go.

The river signifies the one mile mark.

He's very serious about his rest!
Serendipitously, my Fitbit pinged the one mile mark just as we reached the mouth of the Rio Maunabo!  It was the perfectly sensible turning point, with a leaning tree (that you might remember from yesterday) as the resting spot. Today we are enjoying more sunny skies, and with that, the heat!

Lighthouse in the background!
You can see the sun on his tail, and his body in the shade.
We paused for a while and enjoyed the shade and the cool breeze, then I left Bruce drinking his water, and went on back along the tree line where the best sea glass pieces are found. Imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of movement, and realized that it was a mongoose!  Evidently he had not seen me... but I saw him!  He paused beneath a large piece of driftwood, thinking he was invisible...

Incredulous at this unexpected encounter, I scrambled to get my phone for a video.  I began recording and the mongoose didn't move!  So, I began to creep toward him, hoping for a really good view. It would have been so perfect, if not for my slight bobble at the precise moment he raised his head and saw me!  He scuttled off into the palm trees and all I got was a brief glimpse of his head!  Dagnabbit!  

Plenty of opportunity to be hit by a falling coconut!
All the way back, we picked up choice pieces of sea glass, but the real star of today's show were the hundreds of sand dollars scattered among the drying seaweed.  Just like our breach, this part of the island has experienced a kill, most probably from runoff from recent rains. All the way to the car we picked up sand dollars, and even a few other nice shells!  
Looking up from my chair, checking for loose coconuts overhead!
Back at the car, we put away our treasures and got out the beach chairs.  We were dripping with sweat and wanted to enjoy the cool shade, and the stunning view for a while before returning home. 

Wow!  What a wonderful spot!  We chastised ourselves for not remembering this spot after we found it, and mentally moved it up to Favorite status! 

So now I'm beginning to notice that we have visited four different beaches in four days.  That's sort of a record for us... and with the idea to stretch that out to a whole week of different beaches daily... a plan was born!

And it didn't hurt that my sea glass/sand dollar collection was benefitting!  I think I'm just about to get started on making something with them... but not until we hit those three remaining beaches!

67 sand dollars!

Rare reds, several blues, and small queen's helmet shells!  SCORE!