|H Family Adventure||
It's about time to do an update, and a fishing update would fit the bill. In the town of Esquina, Argentina we spent two days fly fishing with streamers for dorado. The first day I only caught one dorado, but had at least 10 strikes. Unlike fishing for trout, when you set the hook for dorado you have to pull the line as hard as you can without raising the rod up. Because I'm so used to trout fishing, I would constantly yank the rod up every time I got a bite. The fish I did manage to catch was on my last cast. The second day I caught three more smaller ones. Overall it was very fun.
We then spent a week in the town of Bariloche, Argentina, which reminded us all very much of New Zealand. The house we stayed in was on a beautiful crystal-clear lake. Luckily, there was a spectacular fly fishing river only an hour away from the house. Dante, our guide, took us on an amazing float trip where we caught a bunch of rainbow trout and several massive browns. There was not another boat on the river besides our two and to top it all off we had an all-you-can-eat steak lunch on the bank. We had such a great time that we decided to go again 3 days later. The second day was not nearly as good as the first, but we still caught plenty of fish. Dad also had two chances at the biggest brown trout I have ever seen, but the hook never stuck. We also got some awesome drone and GoPro footage!
Yesterday I decided to practice with the drone. Unsurprisingly, it was a little complicated at first, but now I know the basics. The drone has a pretty cool feature which allows it to fly back to the spot it took off from and land all on its own. It has sensors which enable it to go up, over, and around any obstacles that are in its way. In the past when I have told it to come home, it has worked fine, but yesterday it ran straight into the top of a tree. A 200 foot tall tree. As soon as we realized what happened, Dad and I tracked the signal all the way to the right tree. Luckily this tree was in the yard of a very nice local, who had a friend that was a professional at climbing trees. The next morning, with the persuasion of some reward money, his friend spent three hours climbing the tree and safely retrieved the drone for us. With only a few scratches, the drone is fine!
Today the sea was calm enough to go out fishing with our buddy Lazlo. Last year we met Lazlo at his small fish restaurant, and he took us out fishing several times with him. Although the type of fishing we did was mainly jigging, which is very tiring and easily wears you out, we were extremely successful and caught an abundance of fish. Today we left bright and early, around 4:30 AM to be exact, and spent the day catching a bunch of massive snapper, two big grouper, a tuna, and a pompano. I can't wait to go out there again!
Pura Vida Costa Rica, we are back! Our first night was spent at the Mariott in San Jose. In the morning we went to Walmart to buy pots, pans, and other hard-to-get items. The next day a cab took us to the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo. The cab ride was anything but fun due to the driver constantly breaking and punching the gas. Saturday we relaxed at the house and were lucky enough to have a sloth climb down a tree and visit us on the ground. Also, I practiced using the drone and got some really neat footage!
***Note from mom: I've tried repeatedly to upload the drone footage.
No luck but I'll keep trying!
We spent the last three nights in Panama on the outskirts of Panama City. Dad got us a room in an old, run-down place called Gamboa Resort. It is on a river that runs into the Panama Canal. The second day there we went to the Panama Canal Museum.
At first the French attempted to build the canal but failed due to diseases spread by mosquitos and the lack of proper machinery. The Americans picked up where they left off soon after and improved living standards dramatically. It took the US ten years to complete the canal.
There are three locks on each end of the canal. The lake that allows all this to happen, Lake Gatun, is 26 meters above sea level. It takes the average ship about 10 hours to completely traverse the canal from one end to the other.
Right now the cement and even the gravity-fed water system are all over 100 years old and still in use! Because ships are much bigger than they were "back in the day", the Panamanian government is constructing new locks that are larger and more water-efficient.
We had lunch at the museum's restaurant, which we decided was the best restaurant we ate at in Panama. The restaurant balcony is less than fifty feet away from one of the locks. Right when we were leaving a large tanker ship was headed to go through the locks, but we missed it.
The next day we did more schoolwork and had to switch rooms because the air conditioning stopped working. We went back to the restaurant for dinner and this time we were able to witness more than 6 different types of ships pass through the locks. It was so cool! It seemed like the destination was just as amazing for the crews on the ships as it was for us because most of them were sitting in the front of their boats taking each other's photos as they went by the giant sign that says "Panama Canal".
All the ships are guided by electric machines that look similar to diesel locomotives. Most of them have less than six inches of space in between their hulls and the walls! The next day we drove to the airport and flew back to Miami and then to Dallas. This trip has been an adventure!
We are coming close to the end of our journey!
Two weeks ago we traversed the border into Panama. On the Costa Rican side there wasn’t a single police officer. When we crossed the bridge, walking I might add, there were several very strict looking soldiers that were wearing camo uniforms and holding ARs. After some confusion with Panamanian customs officials involving proof that we were not just going to stay in the country, we all piled into a van and were off again.
The drive to Boquete, our next destination, took over five hours. The house we stayed at was part of a golf course resort in a lush, long and skinny valley. The house was the first on this trip which was similar to an American-style house. Kylie and I did schoolwork most of the time we stayed there and Dad went golfing several times.
The next place we went to was only an hour away as the crow flies, but took us four. The first hour brought us to a river mouth, where we loaded all of our things into a tiny boat that we could barely squeeze into. As soon as we were off the dock, we were soaked by spray coming over the bow. Our driver tried his best to keep us dry, but he couldn’t make any progress without getting us wet. It wasn’t long that we stopped caring about getting wet ourselves, but keeping our luggage as dry as possible Our destination was an island that should have been a 45 min boat ride but, because of the wind and waves, it took 2 hours. The island only had one house on it which relied on solar for power. It was about fifty acres, and had many fruit trees and howler monkeys. There wasn’t anything to do but stay inside or get eaten alive by bugs outside so we choose to do a lot of schoolwork and have a bunch of family movie nights. The howlers were relentless early in the mornings and randomly during the day. The house itself was very neat because most of the walls were glass. Every night about thirty geckos would come out and attack the swarms of bugs on the outside of the glass that were attracted to the light. There were four separate areas that you had to go outside to access. Three bedrooms and a living room/kitchen. The one big surprise was that the wifi was really fast!
We spent almost a week on the island then moved on again. Another five hour drive south took us to Anton Valley, which seems to be the Beverly Hills of Panama. The houses are all huge and on several acre lots. The house we are staying in has an indoor pool open to the living room! There are also horses, chickens, and five dogs, which might even be as friendly as Noah. The dogs roam the property all they want and have been enjoying the company of dog-loving humans. The other day we went on an ATV-UTV tour up into the mountains to the most amazing free-fall waterfall that we have ever seen. Three more days and we will be in Panama City and three more days after that, home!
It was almost time to leave Costa Rica, we went fishing with Lazlo again. Dad and I woke up at 4:30 AM to meet him at the boat ramp at five AM. Two other people father and daughter, were joining us this time. Lazlo drove us an hour and a half back up the coast until we were near the shipping port of Limon, but still well off from the shore. Thankfully he ocean was much calmer than the last time we ventured out. As soon as we arrived, we rigged four lines with big blue and pink trolling lures. Not even five minutes went by before we got our first bite! It wasn't the easiest fish to reel in and it gave a decent fight. When we discovered what it was, we were all cheering. It turned out to be a ten pound yellow-fin tuna, which was the choice fish out of what we could catch! Roughly every five minutes we would get another one on, sometimes two or three at the same time! None of the tuna were much bigger than ten pounds, but when you are endlessly reeling them in that doesn't really matter. In the middle of the day the tuna started to slow down and not bite as often. By then we had caught nineteen tuna and still had three hours of fishing ahead of us. However, there was a problem. The electrical wires inside the boat started to smoke.
Lazlo immediately turned off the engine and spent over ten minutes inside the helm of the boat trying to figure out what was wrong. After several guess and check theories he decided a wire that is part of the main computer's system was fried. He tried unplugging it but every time we turned on the engine the computer thought something was wrong and it immediately shut off. Lazlo spent another thirty minutes trying to fix the new problem without luck. A local fishing boat was within earshot, so we thought, so we all tried yelling for it to come over and help us. Dad even climbed onto the small roof of the boat and waved a bright orange life jacket back and forth. Nothing caught the other boat's attention. After Lazlo had called one of his friends to tow us home, he tried turning the engine on one last time just for grins. It purred to life and stayed on. He immediately took advantage of the situation and drove us home as fast as he could before the boat could shut down again. Later that night Mom and Dad went to his restaurant and he made them different tuna dishes. They both agreed it was the best fish they have had in a long time!
After Lake Arenal we drove seven hours all the way to the south eastern part of Costa Rica on the Caribbean side. The second day there Dad and I went out fishing with a guide for tarpon. Dad has never caught a tarpon and it is on his fishing "bucket list". We were on the water by seven. On the way to the main tarpon-fishing area, we stopped at a spot that was teeming with small baitfish. Every once in a while we would see a humongous tarpon roll at the surface (they go to the surface and "roll" because they are air breathers and are taking a breath of air). They were all around us feeding. We fly-fished for half an hour but we didn't have a single bite. Our guide decided to move on to the Sixoala River, which is the main tarpon fishing spot, but when we arrived we found nothing at all. We traveled back to the first spot that we had found and fly-fished there for another three hours and still didn't get a single bite! The only fish we caught were two jacks when we tried trolling in the area.
We headed back from lunch with a new plan. Arriving back for the afternoon half of fishing we would use spinning rods instead of fly rods. We met the guide with our revised fishing gear. We motored straight back to the spot that we had discovered earlier in the day. Right away I had a fish on that took a bunch of line out non-stop! Sadly, ten seconds into the fight the line snapped. Dad caught a big mackerel and reeled it all the way up next to the boat. As the guide reached down to snag the fish out of the water, the fish did something similar to a seizure and got away. The guide was obviously disappointed and later told us that he loved mackerel.
Four other boats with fly-fishermen showed up and we started to see tarpon roll again. After fishing for another hour I got a bite. Immediately we knew that it was a tarpon! It took off without slowing down and jumped completely into the air several times. It took me eight minutes until I managed to get it tired out next to the boat. Right then the line broke, but we still count it as a complete catch because it had given up and was drifting on the surface right next to the boat.
Dad had one on but during its first jump the hook came out of its mouth. Unfortunately, we didn't have another bite the rest of the day, and none of the other boats even had one on. We are planning on going back out with another guide before we leave the area so Dad can mark catching a tarpon off his bucket list!
After the horse farm we back tracked an hour closer to Lake Arenal. We liked the area so much when we traveled through, we decided to spend four nights there. The house we rented was on top of a hill in between two valleys. One valley had Lake Arenal and the other had a smaller lake called Lake Cote.
The second morning Dad and I woke up at five thirty because we had another fishing excursion ahead of us! We met our guide, Captain Ron, at a small boat slip and we were off! The fish we were targeting was the exotic rainbow bass. We went along the shore, in the boat, casting as close to the shoreline as we could get without getting hung up. Just past shore the water drops over 15 feet and at that drop-off is where the rainbow bass like to wait to ambush each other. The only other type of fish in the lake is called a muchaka, which eats flowers and nuts that fall from trees, therefore the bass don't have much to choose from. Dad caught the first fish which was only about a pound. We had already spent two hours on the water and only had one fish so we were beginning to wonder if it was worth it. Not long after, my line went ZZZZZ and I knew that my luck had changed! After a fun fight I brought the fish in and the guide weighed it. It was over eight and a half pounds! The fish was florescent green with pink and black spots. It also had some decent teeth to it. We let the beauty go with high spirits and fished for another two hours without catching another over a pound.
The same day after lunch, we met another guide by the name of Jim who was going to take us out on Lake Cote. As soon as we were out on the water he started to set up the poles while still driving the boat. He threw all three rods in the water, which surprised us because we had no idea that we were going to troll, opened a beer, turned on some AC-DC and said "Now this is fishin!" At first we thought it might be a joke but it wasn't! We spent three hours trolling around the lake, every once in a while hooking on a small rainbow bass or muchaka. He told us all about his different alien encounters, how he ended up in Costa Rica and what he was going to do next. At one point he asked my Dad if he wanted a beer and after Dad said no he asked me! Of course I said no but this just shows his personality! He was extremely entertaining. We never hooked onto anything big but it was still a great time.
The next morning we woke up early again and drove another hour to a river that we had gone rafting on a few days ago. While we were rafting the guide asked Dad if he had any fishing equipment with him because this river was great for fishing. We didn't know about the possibility of fishing, so we hadn't brought our rods with us. The guide convinced us to come back the next time we could. The whole day Dad caught one rainbow bass and had lots more bites. Near the end I caught a decent sized red snapper, which was really weird because we were in the middle of the country. All that fishing was probably the most fun I have had in Costa Rica
While we were in Playa Flamingo, we all went on a turtle night tour. A taxi picked us up at 5:45 PM and we drove twenty minutes to the beach. Sure enough, not long after we got out of the car and were walking down the beach, a turtle was slowly making its way out of the crashing waves up onto the dry sand. Our guide Nelson told us that this turtle was called the Green Pacific turtle which is the type we were most likely to see. Nelson did not let us get close to the turtles as they were climbing up to the dry sand because we might scare them off. Because of this and the fact that the sun had already set made it hard to see the turtles. They looked like big rocks slowly moving. Once they climb up the beach they want to get close to the tree line so that the high tide won't wash away their eggs. After they find a suitable spot they try to dig down until they reach the wet sand. They lay their eggs from November to March. At the beginning of the egg-laying season, eight out of ten turtles that look for a spot actually lay them. At the end only about two out of ten turtles lay their eggs. Near the end of the laying season it is harder for them to find wet sand as they dig down because it is the dry season. After an hour of watching turtles climb up and back down to the water, we finally found one that had a suitable spot. The guide set up a special light and we watched the whole process of digging, laying the eggs and covering them. It was an amazing experience!
We stayed in Flamingo for seven nights. The next place we stayed at was a horse farm near La Fortuna, which was four hours away and in the mountains. One of the afternoons we went on a three hour horseback ride. Our guide took us through sugar cane fields, rainforest, pineapple fields, cow pastures, country dirt roads, and even down a creek (not following it, literally down through it). Our horses were really well trained and only needed us to make a kissing sound for them to go. It was tiring but well worth it!
Last week we spent four nights in Playa Samara. Mom finally had her wish of air-conditioning throughout the house granted. Another major bonus was a large pool that had a deep end. Apparently Playa Samara is in a drought so we had to be careful using the water. The overall climate was dry, even all the creek beds were dried up. Three of the days we had full schoolwork. The second afternoon Dad and I went out fishing on the rocks. About ten locals, eight men and two women, were there fishing with hand lines. They had only caught two small grouper which was very surprising to me. Another thing I found a little strange was that they were keeping everything that they caught, including needle fish which don't have much meat! It did not take Dad long to reel in a small grouper. He gave it to the locals and they were very happy about it. Not long after, I caught a much larger grouper that had florescent green spots on it. The locals were cheering me on as I brought it in and walked it over to them. Dad caught another one almost exactly the same as his last and so did I. We also gave these to the locals. We left having made good friends and a successful fishing night!
Another one of the days Dad and I went kayak fishing. Kayak fishing here isn't that easy because the good fishing is up against the rocks where the waves break. Several times a wave came out of nowhere and we had to immediately set our poles down and paddle straight toward it so that it wouldn't knock us over. Dad did manage to catch two small grouper and a small snapper. I caught another one of the green groupers.
On Monday we moved houses again to Playa Flamingo. The house is up on a hill and has a cool infinity pool overlooking a spectacular view. This house also has air-conditioning throughout and is new. We are here for seven nights. There is a turtle night tour we might do where you get to see endangered leather-back turtle laying eggs on the beach.