(editor's note: Forgive me reader, for I have sinned. It has been over three months since my last blog entry. Once the immediacy of the blog faded away, a break from writing commenced. I knew I needed to finish the blog, even if it was now from a historical, contemplative perspective rather than written during spare moments on planes and in hotel rooms. But as time passed, the unfinished blog loomed larger and restarting it seemed an insurmountable task. Days of the week have no names when you're unemployed, and time passed as it often does. Even New Year's came and went. I was going to write on Dec. 29th, but waited because the first was a much more apt day to restart anew once more. And so...)
We walked through the jungle, stepping carefully around snaking tree roots and creeping vines, seeing new things around each bend and marveling at the sight of it all. Here and there, the narrow path was flooded and we tread carefully along the edge of the jungle to avoid getting our feet soaked. At certain points, the path turned into raised wooden docks that carried us over marshes to the next spot of dry land. Ahead on the path, a huge white crane flapped his wings and rose into the air in a majestic whoosh before disappearing into the canopy.
It was hard to know where to look. If you looked down, you would miss the quick glimpses of colorful birds as they darted across the path. If you looked up, your feet could trip or trample the criss-crossing regiments of ants forever carrying tiny bits of leaves into their subterranean tunnels. We kept to the path and tried in vain to take it all in. After crossing a wooden footbridge that carried us over about 100 feet of reedy marshes, we looked up and saw a huge toucan picking something tasty off a tree. Toucans, besides being famous in our minds for hawking breakfast cereal, are so different in design than their North American brethren. With that colorful beak that seems to take up half the bird, it's an animal that screams its exoticism from the rooftops. It was such a treat to see it that we spent far too long standing there staring up at it; leaving only after our necks ached from all the craning.
We could hear the beach now, the sound of the crashing waves mixed with the constant cacophony of the jungle. As we came out from beneath the canopy, there was some sort of low building and a group of American teenagers having something educational explained by a guide. The building turned out to be a turtle hatchery and we continued past them to the beach. The sun was bright and the sky was hazy, which meant we didn't need to put on sunscreen immediately. But I remember thinking we shouldn't forget to put in on later. The beach was empty and populated by tiny holes everywhere; spiders? crabs? snakes? I filled in a few dozen of the holes before we cautiously put our blankets over them.
We couldn't wait to get into the ocean and welcomed the rare opportunity to go into the water together. The beach we usually go to is at Coney Island and someone has to stay on dry land to guard our personal effects. The lack of broken glass, candy wrappers, and bottlecaps in the sand was another welcome change, unfortunately, there was also little chance anyone would come by selling Heinekens. The holes, incidentally, belonged to an innumerable population of small to tiny crabs that scurried hurriedly to the side in all directions.
The water, however, did not seem to want us and kept trying to forcibly throw us back onto the beach. My gimpy knee made balancing against the current especially difficult and once you got out into waist-deep territory, the riptide was just plain rude. Deb and I both got knocked down and sandblasted by the roiling surf. When we regained our footing and wised up enough to get out, our fleeing ankles were pelted by the pilgrimage of tiny rocks being drawn into the insatiable sea. We were about to try once more, when Deb spotted a ray (manta, possibly sting) near her foot and opted out of the Pacific Ocean once and for all. I followed suit and we relaxed on the beach, skipped stones into the angry surf, and forgot to put on sunblock.