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Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Days 72-74: Bocas

April 20-22, 2006

Our time on Bocas falls under three major categories: diving, more diving, and the turtle.

It has been almost a month since our last underwater adventure on Roatan, so diving again is all we think about upon arrival to the town of Bocas del Toro (the most popular town of the islands has the same name as the entire archipelago). So we go straight into the first dive shop, which happens to be Starfleet, and end up signing up for a two-tank dive with them the next morning.
The water temperature around the Bocas islands is perfect (85-90F), the coral of all the colors of the rainbow is perhaps the most beautiful we have ever seen, and we even get lucky and, for the first time in our short diving history, see two sharks! A huge (3 meter/ 10 feet-long) nurse shark was carelessly lazing on the bottom paying no attention to the yummy divers (obviously digesting the filling breakfast! good that we went down with the second group of divers). The other shark was much smaller and very playful, and so were thousands of colorful fish.

Although the two dives were fabulous, there was something we missed about Starfleet (no surprise! the friendly folks at Tyll's Dives on Roatan have slightly spoilt us :)). Therefore for the next two days we continued diving with the other dive shop, Bocas Water Sports (BWS). (There are only two dive shops in the town of Bocas, out of which we would recommend BWS, as these guys are much more fun!) While diving with BWS, we visited several different dive sites around the nearby islands, stopped by the Dolphin Bay where we observed a few dolphins playing around our boat, saw a little seahorse (according to our divemaster, an extremely rarely seen specimen), and had a stopover on Isla Bastimientos where there is a red frog reservoir and the beautiful Playa Larga beach. It started raining cats and dogs at the time we disembarked on Isla Bastimientos, so one could say we dived around the island as well as on it!

The exciting three-day diving marathon was topped off by a nighttime visit to Playa Bluff where we finally got to watch a huge 220 lb marine turtle come out of the sea, dig a nest in the sand, and bury a bunch of white ping pong ball-sized eggs in it. This time we had a much better luck than a week ago in Tortugero! The turtle came ashore right after we arrived at the beach, and we got to see the entire nesting process until the very last moment when the exhausted turtle crawled back into the water, having left 70-100 eggs buried in the sand nest. 72 days later little turtles will dig their way to the surface of the sand and rush to the sea.

During an approximately 2-hour nesting process the turtle actually makes 2 or even more nests: first the real one, in which she hides the eggs, and then one or several dummies, which are meant to disorientate the turtle nest robbers, both animals and humans. Supposedly, the mate of the mama-turtle stays very close to the shore for the duration of the nesting, patiently waiting for her return. According to the beach rangers who took us on this unforgettable excursion, once a marine turtle finds a soul mate, a lifelong relationship begins, and the two separate only for the time of egg-laying ( "machos", as the rangers call them, are not allowed onto land!)

The Playa Bluff beach is on the same island as Bocas del Toro, a 1.5-hour bumpy jeep ride away from the town center. In addition to the marine turtle nesting, visitors have a chance to witness a part of the turtle preservation project. During the turtle-nesting season some of the locals volunteer to patrol the beach. Every night they wait for the turtles to come out of the sea. As soon as a turtle is spotted, the "egg retrieval team" comes into play. Their task is to quietly wait while the turtle is digging the nest, and then collect all the eggs into a clean plastic bag. The eggs are immediately taken to a guarded lot, where one of the "foster parents" makes a new hole in the appointed patch of sand, where he buries the collected eggs. If not for the efforts of the volunteer rangers, most of the eggs would end up on somebody's dinner plates. Even though it is illegal, turtle eggs are still offered in some restaurants.

The turtle story would not be complete without a quick mention of Gringo Loco, one friendly fellow from the States who accompanied us that night together with the local volunteers, and who got his nickname because of the revolutionary act he had just performed. In short, the guy had been living a tranquil happy life modeling and playing professional baseball in Miami, until one day he came to Bocas. He got so fascinated by the nature and the local way of life (quote: "go catch a fish in the morning, look for firewood, cook, eat, surf, drink beer, look for turtles at night and help the locals to protect the wildlife and the beaches") that he immediately quit everything he had been doing in the States and moved to Bocas. At the time we met, he lived in a tent on the beach, was called Gringo Loco by his tent-mates (in a friendly way!), and was helping the local guys with the turtle preservation project ("I might not know as much as these guys do, but I can run fast and spot the turtles first!"). He was also planning to invest all his savings into the beach land in order to protect the nature and the wildlife from the expansion of the destructive resorts and the tourist flow. Cheers to the noble ideas, and the best of luck!!!

Tip #1: No need to spend money getting online in Bocas! Free wireless Internet is available at Hotel Bocas del Toro (located next to the Starfleet dive shop) and can be enjoyed from any of the nearby beachfront cafés. Some of them have electric sockets at the outside tables and do not mind if you connect your laptop and stay there all night long. (One of the cafes, the name of which we, unfortunately, forgot to write down, allowed us to stay connected long after the place closed and everybody, except for the night guard, went home!)

Tip #2: The dive shops of Bocas seem to be a bit "lazy" (there are two diving tour operators on the island: Starfleet and Bocas Water Sports, and we dived with both of them). If you do not specify your expectations and do not agree on all conditions before signing up for a dive, they will probably take you to the closest dive sites, which are not always exciting. Some dive sites near Isla Colon are very shallow: you go to 5-8 meter (15-24 feet) depth and see pretty much the same things which you can see while snorkeling. Therefore, try gathering the info about the dive sites in advance, and agree on which sites you will visit before signing up. You may be asked to pay a few dollars more for a longer boat trip, but it is worth it.

Tip #3: There are several agencies offering turtle watching trips. The most advertised ones are expensive and lengthy (most involve a boat trip to another island and a night stay). The easiest and most economic option is to go to the SHC hotel next to Hospedaje Heike near the main plaza and ask the receptionist about the turtle watching trips. (These guys do not advertise - we accidentally found out about them from a nice lady at Starfleet). The length of the excursion depends on when/if a turtle shows up that night. Sometimes it happens at 10PM, other nights it may not happen until 1AM, or possibly not happen at all. (Our turtle came out at 9:30PM, right upon our arrival, and the entire trip lasted for about 4 hours). The tour costs USD 18-22 per person (depending on the number of people in the group), includes the transfers to and from the beach, friendly and informative guides/volunteering beach rangers and possibly an amusing meeting with Gringo Loco. Guaranteed to leave you all smiles!

Tip #4: PADI certificate prices. Although most sources of information promote the Bay Islands of Honduras as the cheapest place to learn scuba diving, in reality the prices for PADI courses (Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, etc.) were quite uniform everywhere we checked, including Bay islands, Bocas del Toro and even the Galapagos (USD 210-240 per course). Considering the cost of lodging & entertainment, Bocas del Toro would probably be the least expensive, whereas Roatan remains second to none in terms of variety: huge selection of dive shops, diving instructors and dive sites. Moreover, Roatan is endless fun -night and day - never boring!!
If you decide to do your first PADI course on the Galapagos, the classes will cost you about the same, but your diving experience will begin and end in the Academy Bay next to the Charles Darwin Academy. All other dive sites around the Galapagos are far away and involve an expensive boat ride; besides, because of the very strong currents, they are too dangerous for beginner divers. Most tour operators of the Galapagos require minimum 20-dive experience for the majority of the dive sites - as we have experienced, not without a reason!

Click on the pictures to enlarge

The celebrity of the night (+/- 222 lb)

Towards the ocean after the long night

Sunkiasvore (+/- 100 kg vezlei) vakaro izymybe

Turtles-to-be collected in a plastic bag for a safe trasfer to the egg reservoir

70+ eggs

Busimieji vezliukai, paruosti saugiam pergabenimui i kiausiniu saugykla

The show is over

Bye turtle!

Spektaklis baigtas

Egg reservoir. 72 days later, a bunch of little turtles will come out to the surface and rush to the sea.

Foster parent

Kiausiniu saugykla. Uz 72 dienu mazi vezliukai issikas takelius i smelio pavirsiu ir nubegs i jura.


Our diving buddies from BWS

BWS divemasters


A little bit of dolphin

Dolphin Bay

Truputis delfino

Red frog

Red frog

Raudonoji varlyte

Anat's catch of the day

Red frog

Anat'os (vienos is galvojusiu, kad Saras yra latvis) grobis

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

72- 74-oji dienos: Bocas

2006 m. balandzio 20-22

Bocas del Toro salu archipelaga sudaro sesios dideles salos ir grupele mazu saleliu. Didziausioje is salu - Isla Colon - isikures nedidukas turistinis miestukas tokiu paciu pavadinimu, kaip ir visas salynas - Bocas del Toro. Nors egzistuoja galimybe apsistoti bent trijose is sesiu pagrindiniu salu, patogiausia pasilkti Bocas del Toro miestelyje, kuriame yra apie 99% visu archipelago miegojimo ir maitinimosi istaigu, absoliuti dauguma turizmo agenturu, siulanciu nebrangias isvykas i gretimas salas; bei visos nardyma aplink salas organizuojancios firmos. O kur musu naujoji aistra - nardymas, ten, zinoma, ir mes!

Archipelago dienos. Juros gerybes. Pirmaji ryta Bocose, aisku, pradedam nuo nardymo. Antraja diena nardyma pratesiam. O treciaji ryta, begalvodami, kaip cia idomiau praleisti paskutine diena salose, vienbalsiai nusprendziam... eiti panardyti :) Prie to, kad kiekvienas nusileidimas i juros gelme naujoje vietoje jau savaime yra neuzmirstamas nuotykis (panasiai kaip ekskursija i nepazistama miesta, tik siuo atveju - i povandenini), o spalvingais koralais bei juose knibzdanciomis juros gerybemis galima grozetis keliolika dienu is eiles - ir neatsibos, nardymas Bocose mums ilgam isimins dar ir todel, kad ten pirma karta pamateme rykli naturaliomis salygomis (t. y. laisveje) - didziuli! - gal 3 metru ilgio, ir is labai arti! Ryklys tingiai gulejo ant juros dugno ir neatrode nei pavojingas, nei agresyvus - matyt, virskino socius pusrycius (gerai, kad isplaukem nardyti su antraja grupe!).
Veliau mateme dar viena jaunikli rykliuka, ir netgi viena mazyti juros arkliuka, kuri pastebeti, anot musu nardymo gido, yra didele laime! - jie retai tepasirodo. Taciau didziausia laime mus istiko tada, kai, pakeliui I viena is nardymo vietu, mus pasivijo 5 ar 6 delfinai ir eme zaisti aplink valti. Is susizavejimo net pamirsome, kad butu gerai juos nufotografuoti...

Bendrai, nardyti Bocose buvo labai smagu ir idomu, taciau, jeigu reiktu pasirinkti ar parekomenduoti viena vieta is dvieju, nedvejodami atiduodami simpatijas Roatanui. Mat Roatane mateme daugiau ir ivairesniu zuvu, bei susitikome daugiau linksmu ir draugisku zmoniu, o tai - visada svarbiausia!

Archipelago naktys. Vezlys. Vakarai Bocose - labai grazus (tie patys, jau ne karta musu liaupsinti, nuostabiu spalvu karibietiski saulelydziai), o naktys - siltos ir ramios. Jeigu atvirai, tai Roatano tipo linksmybiu cia net nebandem ieskoti, nes jau pati pirmaji vakara aptikom klastinga pagunda - nemokama interneta ant juros kranto - ten ir pasilikom nuo pirmo iki paskutinio vakaro :) Aciu dosniajam viesbuciui "Hotel Bocas del Toro", kas vakara "vaisinusiam" mus bevieliu internetu, o dar didesnis aciu salia viesbucio esanciai kavinei-restoranui, kuri ne tik kad keturis vakarus is eiles toleravo ilgalaike geriausio staliuko okupacija, bet net gi leisdavo mums pasilikti po to, kai restoranas uzsidarydavo ir visi darbuotojai issiskirstydavo po namus!! Atsidekodami uz sitoki pasitikejima, mes istikimai kas vakara pas juos sugrizdavom! (Ta vakara, kai nebegrizom, visi, tikriausiai, lengviau atsikvepe :))

Be nardymo rytais ir tinginiavimo vakarais, Bocose dar buvo vezlys - tas pats, kurio nepamateme Tortugero! Si syki del vezlio mums pasiseke kur kas labiau - i Bocas del Toro atplaukem kaip tik tuo metu, kada didziuliai juriniai vezliai naktimis isplipa i kranta, kur smelyje rausia gilius "lizdus". Kiekviename lizde vezlio patele paslepia apie 50-100 stalo teniso kamuoliuko dydzio kiausiniu. Uz 72 dienu is ju issirita vezliukai, issikasa takelius I smelio pavirsiu ir nubega I jura.
Viena velu vakara Bocose stebejome (draustinio darbuotoju prieziuroje) visa procesa - kaip didziule vezle isplauke is juros, issikase lizda, padejo apie 70 kiausiniu (i mus nekreipdama jokio demesio, nors stovejome nuo jos ne toliau kaip per metra), tada, juos uzkasusi, iskapste dar viena - fiktyvu - lizda (zverims ir suzverejusiems zmonems apgauti) ir galiausiai grizo atgal i vandeni. Visi iskilmingai nulydejome vezle iki juros, ir net gi gavome leidima atsisveikindami ja paglostyti!! Tuo tarpu juroje, anot draustinio priziuretoju, vezles lauke "macho" - vezliuku tetis. (Didieji juriniai vezliai, atseit, poruojasi tik viena karta per gyvenima, ir tuo tada visada plaukioja kartu. Issiskiria tik tol, kol mama vezle ant kranto deda kiausinius. Tuo metu tetis "macho" jos kantriai laukia vandenyje).

Vieno idomaus dalyko, kuri mateme, vakaro heroje niekada nesuzinos - ta nakti ji uzkase ne viena, o abu tuscius lizdus. Visi kiausiniai buvo draustinio darbuotoju "pavogti", nugabenti i visa para akylai stebima aptvara ir ten uzkasti i smeli, kur is ju lygiai taip pat issiris vezliukai ir saugiai, darbuotoju priziurimi, iskeliaus i jura. Jeigu kiausiniai nebutu laiku surasti ir isgelbeti, lizdas, greiciausiai, butu kuria nors nakti vandaliskai isdraskytas, o busimieji vezliukai nukeliautu besirdzio gurmano pietu leksten. Vaikinukai, nusivede mus i sia neuzmirstama naktine ekskursija, pasakojo, kad patys jau daug metu vezliu sezono metu dirba draustinyje - diena saugo surinktus kiausinius, o nakti patruliuoja pakrante, laukdami pasirodanciu vezliu, kad galetu "nugvelbti" kiausinius anksciau, nei tai padare brakonieriai.

Archipelago naujienos. Saras. Idomu suzinoti, kad… didysis Krepsinio Salies pasididziavimas, tautieciu bei izraelieciu vienodai stipriai mylimas krepsininkas Sarunas Jasikevicius, pasirodo, yra LATVIS!!

O buvo taip. Bocose susipazinom su grupe turistu is Izraelio, su kuriais kartu vaziavom ziureti vezlio ir kartu plaukem nardyti. Isisnekejom, aisku, ir apie abiems salims bendra "religija" - krepsini. Tada ir paaiskejo, kad 9 is 10-ties tarpusavyje niekuo nesusijusiu Izraelio pilieciu (desimtasis apskritai nesidomejo krepsiniu) buvo isitikine, jog Saras i Tel Aviva atvyko zaisti is Latvijos, pats yra grynakraujis latvis ir su jokia Lietuva neturi nieko bendro. Va tai tau :))
Nusisluoste juoko asaras ir pagaliau atgave zada, pabandem issiaiskinti, is kur atsirado tokia nuomone - gal Izraelio spauda arba televizija paskleide klaidinga informacija? O gal pats Sarunas prisistate zaideju is krepsinio salies Latvijos??? Deja, musu smalsumas liko nepatenkintas - nei vienas negalejo prisiminti, is kur apie tai suzinojo. Taciau visi buvo taip tvirtai isitikine latviska Saro kilme, kad, net ir po visa vakara uzsitesusio bandymo irodyti teisybe, liko neaisku, ar musu naujieji draugai is Tel Avivo pagaliau patikejo, kad Izraelin geriausius zaidejus neretai siuncia Lietuva, o ne Latvija!

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