The Yule Tides

The Yule Tides

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.

Quick! To the boatdock!!

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.
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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.

Coolest. Pic. Ever.

But just because she dressed as a superhero, it didn’t stop me putting her to work!

Use your super strength, Wonder Woman!

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:

MAIS OUI!! Merci beaucoup Jayson et Cindy!

No sooner had Jayson and Cindy left than I found myself hosting these three guys: Renne, Bjorn and B-Man.

The Three Bocateers!

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.

Hi Anna!!

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!)…

How is this thing still in operation?!!


Mind your step!

As you can see, I was very excited to make it to the other side.

Yippee! I’m not dead!!

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.

Hellooooooo Helen!

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?”



It was a beautiful Bocas day so we went out on the speedboat.

Now I have a speedboat. Ho Ho Ho.

We trundled over to Erika and Jose’s place, the scrumptious Dolphin Bay Hideaway.

How’s my hideawayin’?

Luckily for us there was a Christmas Party in full swing!

Janis, Pete and Jane try to figure out where Pete’s drink has gone.

So I got to introduce Helen to the local gringos like Wayne.

Who is this strange man?

Helen even went for a paddle!


Later we went to Blue Coconut, the bar on the Solarte Island.

Perhaps because it’s lovely?

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.

Look at that intensity! That’s a guy who knows how to drive a boat!
Oh, hang on…

So I got back to find Campesino had decided to start sleeping in a washing up bowl that was ludicrously too small for him.

What are you lookin’ at?

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).

And go they did!

But don’t worry, they’ll grow back bigger and better soon enough.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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