Rainforest rain and getting brave in a kayak
Holidays are about plans and rescheduling plans, aren’t they? So that was why we got up at 5.15 this morning to join the dawn chorus on the waterways, only to be confronted with a heavy rainforest downpour; this ended any thoughts of a river trip.
Still, the rain didn’t last long and we swapped the afternoon kayaking trip for the morning. OK, I opted not to kayak at all but to go on the guide’s boat with a couple of others from the group. Not having been kayaking for a long time, I think that I felt under pressure to perform, or at least, not to show myself up. Being so self-conscious is a dreadful thing.
We saw a few birds, green herons, boat billed herons. Not very much, time was already stretching out the morning and the creatures were disappearing into the cooler depths with their camouflage. The waterways join up with the Caribbean Sea and we landed boats/kayaks on a narrow stretch between the waterway and the sea, taking a few moments to face the high rolling grey waves. I lived in a coastal town for a long time and just smelling the water, especially that grey, angry sea was magical.
I was cross with myself for opting for the guide’s boat but our group guide had taken a kayak and readily swapped with me when I mentioned this! What a star she was! Because I was like a kid in a candy store. It was so much fun if a little tiring on my weedy muscles. Paddling through the water was, to repeat a word from the other day, serene. Big grin! I know it wasn’t an adrenaline rushing bit of white water but even so, my little secret bit of…serenity!
If you go down to the forest today
Quick change into boots and socks, we began our adventure into the rainforest with a very knowledgeable guide. I had never been to a rainforest before and I will admit I was nervous. There have been so many things on TV recently about snakes and spiders and creepies and crawlies and blood sucking critters that I made sure I was in my socks and trainers although I wore shorts too – does that make any sense?
Thanks to the guide’s eagle eyes (or probably repeated walks in the rainforest), we found a red-eyed tree frog asleep on a leaf, a tiny blue jeans frog, white bats huddled under a leaf and many species of water-rail and herons making use of the small swampy area. The best spot of the morning was an iguana chilling in a tree spotted by one of the group.
The lullaby of the rainforest
After another afternoon on the boats spotting more wildlife – squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys and rainbow billed toucans, we surprisingly opted for an evening spent on, yes, you guessed it, a boat!
Cradled in the darkness
The darkness enveloped us, swallowing the Turtle Beach Lodge quickly and spitting out the eerie rainforest noises. It would be scary in there at night – being on the boat was as brave as I could get. The guide had magical powers, I am sure of this, for there is no other explanation for his ability to spot wildlife emerging from the inky water.
Suddenly, the boat would stop and a torch flashed a creature in the water or on the bank. A tiny caiman, a bull frog, a Jesus Christ lizard, wolf spiders spinning themselves through the darkness to investigate. Roosting kingfishers are far easier to photograph than their daytime counterparts!
Killing the burble of the boat’s engine, we sat in the canal in the darkness. Lit quietly by the millions of distant stars, we listened to own breath and to the crackles and calls of the rainforest around us. Rocked by the gentle motion of the water, the shrieks and trills soon became a lullaby and it was difficult not to answer the call of my eyelids.