Rolando is an amazing person, but we will get to that later. However, you can find out more about Boquete Outdoor Adventures here:
Rolando met us at our hotel, The Oasis, and drove us down through David and on to the small port called Pedregal. Pedregal is actually on a big river, and is pretty much surrounded / protected by Mangroves. Our Capitan was Capitan Ni Ni. This guy is amazing too! But again, I'll have to save that for later. First we gotta talk a little about fishing.
Here is Nancy reeling in her first Spanish Mackeral. These mackeral guys weigh 5 - 10 lbs (my guess) and put up a pretty good fight. Nancy hooked the fish, and hauled it in, all on her own. I was impressed, honestly, so was our guide, Rolando! We trolled the islands for about 2 hours, which was nice, relaxing, and we caught four of these beauties. They are so pretty when you see the colors on them - we released every one we caught (including a couple of times when I hooked the boat canopy). The second picture is Rolando and Nancy holding the catch.....I told you these pretty fish!
There are a lot of "vacant" and almost vacant islands out here. The area has been declared a "national park" since about 1996 I believe. The island of Parilla, which is about 30 miles around (again my guess) has only six families living on it. If you look at a map you will see some little specs. just out from David and Pedregal - one of largest of these specs is the island of Parilla, the other is Boca Brava - it actually has a hotel owned by some German folks. Parilla has no hotel, no electricity, no running water - and it is the birth place of Captain Ni Ni. Captain Ni Ni grew up here playing on the same beach where we had lunch, also nearby is the thatched roof house where Capitan Ni Ni's brother still lives. This beach (playa in Spanish) was kind of interesting, in that it had half white coral sand on the west side / and black volcanic sand on the east side. I've never seen the two that close together. On the right you'll see a picture of Nancy waking up from the boat. The boat is not all that big, but it is very comfortable particularly with the nice blue canopy to keep you in the shade. The picture on the left is looking back on the place where we had lunch. If you watch the video....you can see Capitan Ni Ni preparing a coconut on the beach with a machete and a stick. This was pretty interesting as well. The video shows El Capitan preparing a coconut for us to drink. Capitan Ni Ni has spent his whole life fishing these water and probably knows the fishing and these islands better than virtually anyone.
On the way back from fishing we stopped at a turtle farm, that is supported by Boquete Outdoor Adventures and Rolondo. It is a "shoe string operation" supported by a few local people who want to restore the native turtle population. Basically, what they are doing is gathering the turtle eggs and creating a "safe hatchery' in the sand where the turtle eggs cannot get eaten by predators. As the turtles hatch they are taken to a pool filled with ocean water (of course) and they are raised until they get to a more viable size and have less chance of being eaten. The pool is actually a placstic child's swimming pool, but there were hundreds of little turtles in there (I only got close-up pictures of a couple of them). Finally, when the turtles are about 6 weeks old they are release to the sea. There have been over 400 turtles hatched and released this year. More are being hatched and released each week. Interestingly enough, there are no government support or funds made available for this effort. Just some people who want to protect and restore the environment.
The picture on the right is kind of interesting to me. As you may have guessed it is the sand where the turtle eggs are buried. The stick marks the spot. You can tell when the baby turtles are about to come out because the sand starts to collapse as the egg shells break. These guys will be crawling out probably later today or tomorrow. You can also see some of the egg shells from previous hatches lying on the ground. This is not a "high dollar operation" but for sure they are getting the job done. And I admire what they are doing.
It seems like it some time ago in this writing, but I remember that I was going to tell you a little about our guide Rolando. Rolando is an interesting character, his Father is an engineer who works on design and construction of fish hatcheries. He has built fish farms all over Central America. Rolando grew up mostly in Panama City. He completed his university studies in Graphic Arts (he says to please his Mother), but as soon as he completed his studies he took off on his own; always pursuing "adventure". So basically, Rolando, at age 27, has become an expert fishing guide, an expert kayaking guide (salt and fresh water), and an expert hiking guide. He gets paid to go on all of these adventures and of course he loves his job and it shows.
This year Rolando finished a four day hike which crosses the northern part of Panama - from Boquete to Bocas Del Toro (in Spanish the Bull's Mouth). This hike crosses the continental divide of Panama (very mountainous) and requires 12 hours per day - of serious hiking. I think I could make it in about 8 Days if someone would carry my beer and pretzal supply. Oh, and they'd probably need to carry by back pack too. Remember the old shows on Africa where you got 1 or 2 white guys hiking and about 20 other guys carrying all their stuff? I am probably best cut out to be one of the white guys hiking.
Anyway Rolando was delight as both a guide and as a person. His exuberance for life and adventure is almost enough to make me think about hiking. I think I'll go grab a six pack now and think about hiking across Panama. All this talk about hiking has got me "worn slap out".
All the best,