‘Don’t sit under the Tourist Tree with anyone else but me’
Apologies for my tardiness in getting this post out, O Faithful Fans. But The Dude and I just flew in from Panama, and boy are our arms tired. (Not to mention our bottoms, after six hours of getting to the airport while bouncing in a van on quaintly winding Panamanian roads.)
Speaking of flying, we saw gazillions of new bird species. (Well, around 250, give or take a specie.) Plus lots of other animals like monkeys, and sloths (the non-human kind), and adorable just-hatched baby turtles. Here is The Dude bonding with one of the babies (turtles, not sloths — though we did see some baby sloths too):
And here they are, hightailing it down to the water. The Child saw one bobbing next to her surfboard soon after its release. Maybe it wanted a ride.
When I excitedly shared my Turtle Release News with another hotel guest, she said ‘Oh, we saw that last year. All these big birds swooped down, plucked the babies from the surf, and ate them.’ Gosh.
So glad that didn’t happen this time. Since there were about seven fairly little kids in attendance, and I’m not sure they were quite ready for the full National Geographic Tooth and Claw Experience. Me neither. Though I guess some people want all the gnarly reality they can get.
Reminded me of last year when we were on safari (which you can read about in ‘Safari, so good’, ‘Spotting the Leopard’, and ‘Out of Africa, but not out of stories’).There was this woman who said she really wanted to see a cheetah. (Well, so did we all.) But she said she wanted to see a cheetah chase down a Thompson’s Gazelle and rip it to pieces. Oh.
Anyway. All this Adorable Turtle Activity was taking place right in front of the amazingly-lovely Hotel Playa Cambutal, which would be an excellent place to spend a vacation even if you were not a Whitmore and related to its owners. Which, um, The Dude and The Child and I are. (Well, they are. I’m a Whitmore by Legal Decree only, but I still get treated pretty fine.)
See, when we signed up for our Birding Adventure at the Canopy Lodge (which you can check out in last week’s ‘Walking on Air’), we thought, well, since we’re going to be in Panama anyway, why not see if some of the rest of the Whitmore Clan would like to flock together in Cambutal?
And a surprising number of Whitmores did. Not only The Child, but a Whitmore Nephew-plus-his-Buddy and a Whitmore Sister-plus-her-BF. Not to mention assorted Whitmore Cousins, Second-Cousins, Second-Cousin-Once-Removeds, and their Spawn. It didn’t hurt that the Hotel, as I mentioned, is run by Whitmores. (A Whitmore Cousin’s Daughter and her Hub.) What with us, and them, and the Other Whitmores Who Own Houses in the Area, there were so many Whitmores you couldn’t toss a coconut without hitting one. (Not that you’d want to; they’re all super nice.)
It was The Dude’s and Child’s and my fourth trip to Cambutal (two of the trips were before the hotel was even built) so we knew Good Times Would Be Had. We already knew about walking-on-the-beach and riding-on-the-waves. But this time they had added swimming-in-the-pool, backgammon-by-the-bar and biking-to-the-town to the mix. (The Dude and I even tried some bike birding, till he got a flat tire one morning before coffee-by-the-sea.)
As if there weren’t already enough activities to keep those Whitmores busy, The Dude introduced a slack line into the mix. If you’re unfamiliar with the slack line and its core-building properties, The Child will gladly demonstrate:
I could go on and on about Whitmores and their activities, not to mention the glories of the Hotel Playa Cambutal and the surrounding area, but it’s getting nigh onto 2:30 in the afternoon, so I’d better put this post to bed, or at least down for its nap.
But before I sign off, I should explain about the Tourist Tree (Bursera simaruba), a prime example of which is featured (with Dude) in the photo at the top of this post. Our intrepid Field Guides guide John told us it’s called the Tourist Tree because its skin ‘turns red and peels’. Good one, you non-red, non-peeling Panamanians, you.
New York City. January 2017