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Date: 22 Jan 2014 15:27:00
Title: Living the life

9:35.134N 78:41.675W

We've built an extension. Well, to be exact we've converted a fore deck awning that was abandoned on the dock by a bigger boat ('onest, guvn'r!). This has made a lovely cool shady room on the fore deck, as well as keeping the forward cabins cooler. We have added two hammocks by way of furniture and are working hard at developing our swinging-in-reach-of-a-cool-drink-while-admiring-the-view skills.

There's plenty to admire. It's pretty clear why they tell you not to attempt navigation around reefs before 9:30 am and after 3pm. With the sun low the sea is just sparkling silver all around you as the sun bounces off the surface. Between those times the colours appear. Deep dark blue where the deep channels are, lightening as it shallows to an almost crystal clear, like cellophane, when it's over sand. Dark patches don't always mean deep though: there's dark patches and dark patches. Some show patches of eel grass, where turtles love to feed, others mark coral heads or reefs. We're getting better at reading them, judging the depth from the colour, the type of bottom from the shade. Streaks of dark blue edged in bright blue lead to aquamarine lagoons, surrounded by islands fringed with deep green palm trees and ringed by white sand beaches. Beyond them the dark line of the reef is splashed with white where the swell breaks, their gentle roar a continual lulling background sound.

Exploring in the dinghy or snorkeling in the sandy lagoons or on the reefs a different kind of smaller dark patch interests me: rays. Some are huge, gliding effortlessly away with a flap of their wings. Beautiful. The sandy lagoons make for surprisingly interesting snorkeling: There are loads of little mini volcanoes, lava of brighter whiter sand spilling from the peak, a little hole in the top for who-knows-who within. Nearby are conical pits, clearly dug out purposefully. Scattered all around are little sea weeds that look like lollipop trees - a trunk and a round canopy, all perfectly in proportion to the little hills. Tufty moss type sea weed looks like scrub and bushes and every now and again there are anemone type things that look like symmetrical flowers, except they seem to be breathing in, out, in, out,if you look closely. It's just like a miniature country, seen from above. I wanted my toy farm animals to complete the picture. Star fish lie scattered as if someone had upended the sticker box. They're the type about 10 inches across, with big bodies and stubby triangular legs. If they were stickers they'd have a smile and eyes on their middles.

On one of the islands a Kuna and his dog lives in a hut. They seem to take turns to spend a week or so there. He'll charge $2 for us to use the island (just one payment, not every time you go) and, if you ask a day or so before hand and the fisherman are lucky, he'll give you a delicious meal of rice and fish and plantain for $5. We ate there with the Byamees and played with the little dog on the sand. It was cool being able to take her for a walk the whole way around the island. I felt like The Little Prince on his planet.

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