The Butterfly Farm

We’d found an ad in a local paper for a Butterfly Farm near Bocas; this sounded like a great little excursion that the kids would enjoy. On the morning of our butterfly tour, it seemed everyone had planned to go to town via the water-shuttle. How many people fit into a panga? The answer is 26! Our driver, Felo, is fabulous but I think even he was surprised that everyone fit. The panga was riding low in the water for that trip!IMG_9280 IMG_9281Once at town, Felo taxied us over to the Butterfly Farm. We’d never have found this entrance on our own. Just arriving was an adventure!IMG_9283IMG_8130IMG_8131

This way to the butterflies!IMG_9285IMG_9286



The Butterfly Farm was not what we’d expected, but we’re learning quickly not to set any expectations in Panama. It was someone’s private property; trails wound through the jungle and educational signs were posted pertaining to wildlife and plants. The area was a bit run-down, but the farmer was engaged and helpful. At one time it looked as though this farm was thriving, just not today. We were disappointed that our Spanish is so poor and we were unable to really communicate to learn about the butterflies. We were led inside and left to ourselves to explore the butterfly house. IMG_8143

Butterflies fluttered all around; large ones with bright blue wing-tops, small orange butterflies, and small black butterflies with a bright red stripe on their wings. The butterflies were constantly moving. The house was hot and humid. There were several beautiful flowers to admire while walking along the little pathways though the house. Annika and I played “Hot & Cold” on the paths; I’d stand in one location and let her know if she were getting closer (hot) or farther (cold) away as she wound around the paths through the vegetation.


Darren was on a mission to get a non-blurred photograph of a butterfly, and he succeeded!

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Outside of the butterfly house, along one of the paths, we found a large terrarium where several tiny frogs were living. These were the poison-dart frogs and they were brightly colored green, yellow, blue, and red.IMG_9363

Brian had struck up a conversation with the farmer, although limited conversation due to our language barrier, the farmer shared his knowledge with us in Spanish and elaborate hand gestures. We returned to the butterfly house where he showed us butterfly larve.IMG_9362

We’d spent an hour at the Butterfly Farm and had to return to the docks to meet Felo, our water-shuttle driver. We welcomed the cool breeze from the boat ride after having been in the steamy jungle.


Felo brought us to Bocas Town where we had lunch and did a bit of touristy shopping before heading back to the Red Frog Marina.IMG_8207

Our afternoon was spent swimming and snorkeling from the dinghy in the mangroves. It was refreshing and peaceful; Darren and Katie admired the sunset over the Panama mountains as we returned the dinghy to the docks. That night we dined on tuna that Brian and Darren had selected from the fish market. Brian spiced up the tuna with an onion and pineapple chutney and made coconut rice and broccoli for our sides; all plain for Annika and Gavin, both loved the fish and rice. Once the kids were asleep, we put our feet up with rum and/or red wine in hand and once again enjoyed the cool night air out on the dock.


Kayaking at Compass Cay

Compass Cay had great exploring potential. Brian and I got an early start to our day so that we could see all the sights during our one day layover at Compass Cay. We were in hot pursuit of our friends aboard sv/Por Dos, and so were continuing south along the Exumas attempting to meet them while they remained in Georgetown.

Compass Cay is divided down the center by a tidal stream that runs from the north end through a section of mangroves and connects with a larger creek flowing out the south end of the island. Here’s a screen shot of the island on our chart. We thought it a great place for our kayaks.


We headed out about 9:00am and there was just barely enough water to float through the inlet that dries at low tide.



Soon we were out of the kayaks and trudging through the mangroves hauling the kayaks behind. The sand was soft and silted under crystal clear water. We kept a lookout at every step for critters (especially sea slugs). Brian spotted a small shark and a small stingray; we let both swim clear of our intended path before proceeding. The mangroves were about ankle high and the kayaks got stuck here and there in branches and roots. Several tiny snails hitched a ride when we knocked them from the branches.

Finally, after one-mile of trudging (GPS watch tracked), we found water that was just barely deep enough for floating. We maneuvered the kayaks over, under, and around the mangroves toward the creek.


AHHHHH…the creek!


We spent another mile and one-half paddling down this beautiful, wide open creek. There was nothing but white sand below and often we spotted stingrays. They were not skittish, they were settled into little beds of sand.


We paddled past ruins from an old house.


And at the south end of the creek we paddled by the Compass Creek Marina and back into the ocean side to complete our trip. The ocean side gave us a bumpy ride but we enjoyed seeing the contour of Compass Cay.


At the end of the day, we took the dingy over to the beach and walked into the inlet we had kayaked earlier. We were greeted by a crab.


We walked to the top of the inlet; on the chart this is labeled ‘Bubble Bath’. Fellow cruisers have informed us that this spot is known as Rachael’s Bubble Bath and when there is a northeast wind the ocean waves surge over and leave their foam at the top of the pool. This needed some investigating even though the day did not present bubble bath conditions.


We waded to the pool in shallow, warm water. We were cautious to avoid sea urchins. Both black and white urchins were scattered throughout the sand and rocks.


The pool was a bit deeper than the stream. Just right for an afternoon bath!



We hiked up the side of the pool for a great view of the inlet and anchorage. We are anchored on the side of the island called the Exuma Bank.


Here is a view of the inlet leading into the mangroves that we trudged through earlier.


This is the ocean side of the island called the Exuma Sound.


Kayaking, hiking, swimming…oh but there’s more to come at Compass Cay!

Kayaking to the Grass Lake – January 25, 2013

Today we spent several hours exploring in our kayaks as we had a great opportunity to paddle through the tidal flats. We exited the Great Harbor Cay Marina and paddled across the harbor where we had entered with Rode Trip. There was a narrow bridge on the opposite end of the harbor, under the main road. At the time we were headed out the tide was heading in, so we picked up the kayaks and walked them across the road to get to the other side.


On the other side of the bridge we found ourselves in crystal clear water of varying depths. The bottom was white sand and/or grass and scattered throughout were mangroves. We learned how to read the water and seek out the deeper spots so that we wouldn’t bottom out in the sand.


It was beautiful, calm, and quiet. The waters seemed to weave for miles and miles. In the shallow, sandy spots we found bonefish. It was so shallow their fins stuck out of the water. They minded their own business and darted away as we floated by.


We continued exploring and as we rounded the next bend we found ourselves in a wide open space. After referencing the map we’ve determined that we kayaked to Grass Lake. The edges here were lined with old coral reefs topped with mangroves. The water remained shallow, about 3-feet deep, and the bottom was grassy.



We found a cut back across to our previous route. There was a bit of current rushing through an opening between the coral lining. Here we turned to cut through and the bottom dropped down, deep, nearly 20-feet! We could see all the way to the bottom of this pool. We paddled through to the other side where the pool abruptly ended, banking upward to another white sandy bottom. Along this pool we spotted a school of fish swimming through the roots of the mangroves. We hovered over the fish for a while just watching, like our own private aquarium.



On the way back, we had slightly less water than we started with. My trusty steed pulled us through the shallowest part.


Brian had to carefully watch his step to avoid squishing sea slugs.


We kayaked back, and this time got to ride the rapids down under the little bridge. Wheee!