Our ten days at this remote, off-grid biodiversity centre were virtually indescribable, though the word ‘inspiration’ would be no exaggeration. Pretty much everything about inhabiting this space in the world was outstanding. Nature abounds, in the form of wildlife, bird life and plant life. We were told when arriving to this verdant jungle, that all wildlife had been killed off by locals who used the creatures for food, however we still found an abundance of unfamiliar life forms growing in the area. Each day provided new experiences, though the days were virtually carbon copies of one another in routine: walks through jungle paths with the dogs, simple meals, the reef and its life just off the dock, walking through mangrove on a 300’ dock to get to it, reading over the reef, snorkeling off the dock, the breeze to be found at the water’s edge and cutting the stifling hot humidity of the home — all make up the richness of this experience. We cared for the property and two dogs who live here at this biodiversity centre where mangrove starts are plentiful, the jungle is being reclaimed and educational workshops on every biodiversity topic possible can be enjoyed. I will share, through photos, our experience here. Some explanation below.
Photos, bottom to top:
The barita, the fruit pictured at right, will never see a market due to its limited ripeness lifespan. Once ripe, which only happens while on the tree when it turns yellow, it is only hours, perhaps minutes until the birds feast on it. Beside it is the image of coral reef from the dock. The actual experience of snorkelling here reaps far more than can be shown, as is evident in the 3´wide eagle ray that we scared up at the end of the dock. Starfish, many kinds, colours and sizes of fish along with other sea life plus a multitude of types of coral can be viewed up close when snorkelling. A shy sloth, one of several seen while here, is sleeping in a tree right outside our door. Tiny bats with a white pattern on their backs can be found clinging to a tree nearby in daytime. The gorgeous bloom is out only in morning shade while the leaves of this plant can be eaten in salad, offering an interesting tartness to perk it up. A type of cacao bean which is red when ripe grows on the property along with another type that is yellow when ripe. Interesting how the pods, which are about 7” in length, seem to sprout from the stalk of the cocoa plant. Both are harvested and sold when ready, a multi-step process which may take a month or more from harvest to market. Another photo shows the harvested cocoa beans drying on a tarp in the sun. Next we see an image of me with Ike, heading out for the morning walk, with the workshop in the background. Ike is the older dog, at 11 years, and definitely the boss of the two. He loudly scolds Selva, a pup still at about age one, for her playful and mischievous ways. Mangrove roots are in another photo, the only tree that grows in salt water, while another picture shows the baby mangrove starts that are being grown for dispersal to areas where the trees need to be replenished. Selva, the young Rottweiler who was born here, smiles over her shoulder when we are on a walk through the jungle. The replaced portion of dock is at the end where the concrete dock has broken down. What used to be a restaurant, at the left edge of the photo, is where we read in the shade while catching an afternoon breeze. Aaron and Selva are walking on the concrete portion of the dock, through mangroves, while the two dogs are also walking the dock in the middle photo. Mary, of Mary & Brian, OjoBio is pointing to the many jungle features in the first photo.
The quality and size of this image of the poison dart frog is testament to its extreme shyness. We saw several yet this is the only one we were able to snap before it vanished. An attractive shiny green and black colour, these little fellows are so timid.
Added below are a Google Images illustration and photos of a Fer de Lance. Check out videos of this snake — but be warned that it is a creepy being! Said to be aggressive and deadly, our hosts at OjoBio report that seven (of varying sizes) were killed as their property was cleared. Notice how it camouflages very well in the jungle, and apparently can change to whatever colour it needs to be for blending with the surroundings. Information from a google search describes it as a snake that does not mind living among humans and is most active at night. Watch out for those piles of dead leaves to be encountered off the paths in all of Central and South America!
What we have seen but of which I do not yet have photos are blue Morpho butterflies, mutiple varieties of birds, Toucan, gecko, monkeys, and much much more, thanks to Aaron White, wildlife photographer extraordinaire. (Wifi is not always highly accessible here in the jungle : )
For further information about the OjoBio biodiversity project near Almirante, and all topics Panama, see Mary’s many ‘I Go Panama’ YouTube videos, providing a virtual library of information at your fingertips. They come out every Friday. Check it out.