Christmas saw the return of Sarah (Wonder Woman) as well as Anna from Liverpool. To make things extra confusing, she brought with her Anna from Scotland (whom you may recognise from Glastonbury 2014) and our special guest star Niall Doherty of Disrupting The Rabblementfame.
At this point, Niall had been travelling around the world for 4 years without flying (sound familiar?). Our paths had crossed a couple of years earlier in October 2012 in Kerala, India. I was trying to take a ship to the Maldives and he was trying to take a ship to Sri Lanka.
As things turned out, we both ended up on the same ship.
Sarah had been knocking around Panama City with her dad for the past week or so and she returned to Jinja Island bearing turkey!
Which we all whipped up into a FEAST!
Campesino looked happy. Or demented. One of the two.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!
Boxing Day saw us head over to Bill and Janis’s for a couple of cold ones.
I got to introduce the gang to Roboro, Bill and Janis’s tamed pirate.
And then we went out for a razz around Dolphin Bay.
Didn’t see any dolphins though.
The next day we went for a trip to Red Frog beach.
Niall got a hair cut.
The girls went for a swing…
We met up with my buddy Pua…
Posed by the gates of Red Frog Marina…
And then headed home to Jinja.
The next day we said goodbye to Niall as he continued his journey back to Ireland the hard way.
We were given a lift over to Bocas Town by Eduardo, Bill and Janis’s right hand man. I had a LOT of stuff to get from town, and no way would it have all fitted on my little speedboat.
See all that wood in the boat? That’ll mean something to you in just a bit.
So then, cheerioski Niall!
And back to Jinja for Anna and I! Eduardo, you rock my word man!
Did I ever mention that I have not one but THREE docks on Jinja Island? Maybe I should have.
Note the mattresses on top of the wood, you’ll find out what they’re for in a moment.
So, what was all the wood for?
Remember I said a while ago that I wanted to do something about the fact that under the house looked like a concrete car park?
Globally, 2014 was the hottest year on record. This is because global warming is a real thing that will eventually affect each and every one of us, whether you live up a mountain or not. Anybody who says otherwise is a damn fool.
December began with Jazzy and Ben continuing their stay on Jinja. Soon they were joined by Colm from Ireland (on the left) and Alex from Canada (on the right).
Hang on Graham, what’s this got to do with climate change?
Ah yes, I’m glad you asked. This was the very out of my window at the beginning of December:
Here was the area under the house:
I’ve waited a long time to put these pics online as I didn’t want discourage anybody buying the island, but since the island is not for sale (more on that in a later blog entry), I’m thinking what the hell?
This situation is a direct result of rising tides – December 2014 saw the highest tides in the history of Bocas Del Toro. Most of the town was underwater. The real kicker? It’s salt water. When the tide recedes, it leaves salt in the soil. And salt kills plants and trees.
On my little island, it’s not that much of an issue – the palm trees are quite hardy and I can always – at some stage – build a small levee.
But just imagine you live on Tuvalu, or Kiribati, or the Maldives. Your soil is being salted every year by the sea, so much so that root vegetables are no longer viable and your fruit trees are dying.
That’s bad enough, but now imagine you live in Bangladesh – 100 million people living below sea level. Where the hell are they supposed to go? They’re completely surrounded by India – another country that’s already packed to the rafters with people.
But does anybody seem to care? Nope. You know when we will care? When we start to lose pretty much every beach in the world.
Anyways, since my island was underwater, it seemed like a good opportunity for Colm to teach me how to fish.
While Jazzy and Alex looked on.
And Ben tried his luck getting into a coconut.
Ben, Colm and Jazzy left on the Wednesday and were promptly replaced by Veronica from Cuba (yellow blouse) and Sarah from the US (in the blue). Alex stayed on for another couple of days.
Veronica was a real ray of positive sunshine, her boundless optimism was infectious. Sarah was a cycle-rickshaw wallah from Austin, Texas. She liked to dress as wonder woman.
But just because she dressed as a superhero, it didn’t stop me putting her to work!
But, all good things… after a few days Jazzy, Ben, Alex and Sarah went off on their merry ways.
I then took in Jayson and Cindy from Canada! It was all go with the CouchSurfers this month.
Jayson followed The Odyssey Expedition and was already friend of mine on Facebook.
Cindy and Jayson only stayed for one night (not long enough!) but they did leave me an amazing present:
No sooner had Jayson and Cindy left than I found myself hosting these three guys: Renne, Bjorn and B-Man.
Bjorn followed the Odyssey Expedition and did an incredible amount to help me win SOS Island.
A few days later, another castaway arrived, this time it was somebody I had known for a long, long time.
Anna and I go way back. Until I started The Odyssey Expedition she ran the dance studio above my office on Dale Street, Liverpool. We’ve been to three or four Glastonbury festivals together, we even met up in Indonesia, which at the time was in country number 179 of 200.
Anyways, it being six months since I returned to Panama, it was time for me to do a border run to Costa Rica… and Anna came with me.
That meant crossing the BRIDGE OF DOOOOOOM on the Panama/Costa Rica border once again (4th time for me!)…
As you can see, I was very excited to make it to the other side.
After a night on the tiles in Puerto Viejo, Anna went to explore Costa Rica for a few days and I headed back to Jinja… because I had yet another visitor… and this time it was somebody I’ve known for even longer than I’ve known Anna.
Helen and I met in Cambodia back in the spring of 2002. We shared happy pizza together and travelled down the Mekong River Apocalypse Now-style to Phnom Penh. There we found out she’s a crack shot with a 6-shooter. Django Unchained has nothing on her.
Helen was only staying for one night. In the morning she asked me the best question ever… “is there supposed to be a scorpion in the shower?”
For future reference peeps: NO. THERE SHOULD NEVER BE A SCORPION IN THE SHOWER!!
It was a beautiful Bocas day so we went out on the speedboat.
We trundled over to Erika and Jose’s place, the scrumptious Dolphin Bay Hideaway.
Luckily for us there was a Christmas Party in full swing!
So I got to introduce Helen to the local gringos like Wayne.
Helen even went for a paddle!
Later we went to Blue Coconut, the bar on the Solarte Island.
Can’t go wrong with a bit of Blue Coconut…
But it was a flying visit. My friends in the bar said they’d take Helen back to Bocas town for me. We said our goodbyes (hopefully not for another 12 years, mind) and I headed back to Jinja.
So I got back to find Campesino had decided to start sleeping in a washing up bowl that was ludicrously too small for him.
In my experience, dogs usually think themselves bigger than they actually are. Campesino is special, I think.
Just to go back to what I was saying about global warming/high tides/salt in the soil earlier, here’s what my banana trees looked like by December 23.
Sad eh? Well, they had to go (obvs).
But don’t worry, they’ll grow back bigger and better soon enough.