Guest Blogger Sue has returned!!!
Biking, Bridges and Beaches …or…..Pedalear, Puentes y Playas!!
Since getting bicicletas, we have been able to explore Isla Colon much easier, and with more freedom to stop and investigate whenever and wherever we want! Taxis only get you from point A to B, and in a big hurry!! We like to stop and smell the hibiscus (a.k.a. have an adult beverage or two) and of course I’m always snapping lovely photos.
We have been to town many times, and enjoy doing our shopping on bikes, so that we can stop in at all the little markets to try to find what we need. It’s been a bit of a challenge to cook here, in that we don’t really want to stock the entire kitchen by buying spices and cookware, but we still want to eat at home as much as possible. It really wouldn’t be as difficult if we wanted to stock up on all the basics.
The stores are all little Mom and Pop stores, but they have the inventory of a Walmart crammed into every nook and cranny. It’s an adventure to squeeze between the rows and boxes to try to find a specific ingredient, so we usually just wing it. We have had bar-b-qued Mahi Mahi, some great pork chops, a couple of very odd looking beef steaks, and lots of white fish and shrimp. We still haven’t found the $1 lobster, so we will probably go to a restaurant one night to splurge on that. We love the fresh fruit and I’ve finally mastered the fried plantains.
Breakfast is the easiest meal, so we have lots of yummy home fries with local sweet onions and fresh peppers, and eggs with whatever cheese we are able to find. The eggs are local, brown, and are unrefrigerated in the stores. They are definitely fresh though, and full of color, but don’t seem to have as much taste as what we’re used to. I’m not sure why that would be.
The bread is baked locally, and we love the Johnnycakes that are sold in the street. A little girl about 8 years old who goes from business to business with a big box of Johnnycakes on her shoulder sells our favorites. They are freshly baked, with a hint of coconut milk, and sell for 30 cents each. Yum!
Okay, now onto the subject that I intended to write about….biking! When we don’t have to go to town, we head down our muddy driveway and turn left, away from Bocas town toward the beaches. We do have a nice little beach right in front of our place, but it’s right on the road and with the big surf that we’ve been having, the water isn’t as clear as it usually is. We’re not really beach sitters anyway, we just like to enjoy the scenery and be out in the quieter part of the island. We usually find a place to sit and read, or stop in at La Coralina for a cold one (or their awesome nachos) while we watch the surfers from the hilltop.
Yesterday we rode all the way to the end of the road, across a few interesting bridges and stopped at Playa Bluff (Bluff Beach). There are a couple of hills on the way too, and it’s amazing how tough a 50’ change in elevation can be when riding a tired old beach bike with single gears and big tires! The destination makes it worthwhile though; Bluff Beach is a gorgeous long beach with big crashing surf. Lately the waves have been so big that there are two and three rows of breakers, so the surfers were out in full force yesterday even though this beach is usually too steep for surfing. The normal surf beaches are closer to town, where the waves break more gradually. Winter is the prime surf season here, as from what we’ve heard the water is flat calm in the summer time.
While out at Bluff Beach we stopped in at a new restaurant and hotel, called the Playa Bluff Lodge. It’s just opened, and is really going to be great. The owners are Dutch and Belgian I think; just a guess based on their accents and the menu items! They used large slabs of local hard woods for the benches and tables; which are beautiful. There was a pile of large pieces of Almond Tree wood drying out nearby that they said would be used in their houses as it’s really a special wood. I love all the local woods, but it worries me that these huge old trees are being used for building. There is a push for using treated pine as an environmental alternative, and it is also is more termite proof. Some of the houses are now being built with metal studs and cement floors too, and use stucco instead of wood siding. With all the building here, wood seems to be the most costly and time critical portion of the project. We were told that if we wanted to build we should order the wood when we submitted our plans, so that it would have a few months to dry; there’s no such thing as kiln dried wood here!
This has been a rather rambling read, but that’s what happens when my mind wanders, and it’s had plenty of wandering time lately! Today is my last Monday as an American Airlines’ employee; so that will certainly cause me to wander! Maybe one of these days I’ll have to wander through my AA career, it’s certainly been good to me! To be able to come to a place like this, and to be making dreams come true with mi esposo, it’s an incredible blessing. Travel has always been a key part of my life and whether we’re exploring a little island in the Caribbean on rusty old beach bikes, or sitting in First Class on our way to a new destination, it’s all a grand adventure!
PS…Today we visited a botanical garden; see if you can guess what my next post will be about!!