Tag Archives: Rain

Days 22 and 23 – El Remanso, the day

Sunday 12 and Monday 13 March 2023 – We had nothing to do until the early evening. So, having had some relaxation time at Villas Alturas and needing to fill the yawning void between breakfast and sunset, what to do? We went for a walk. Obviously.

El Remanso (“The Haven”) Lodge is set in many acres of rainforest, and there are several trails one can choose to walk, only a couple of which are restricted such that you need a guide to walk them. The obvious one leads to the beach. So, off we went, along a well-manicured track

which led to some steps down, at which point we realised that the route back up was going to be a bit of a challenge.

Over the whole two-and-a-quarter hours we really didn’t see much in the way of wildlife. Had we had a guide, I suspect we’d have seen more. A butterfly obligingly posed for me

but otherwise we got to the beach without noticing anything further. They’ve kindly marked the point where the trail hits the beach so you can’t get lost

and we walked along the beach trying to find interesting things to photograph. Frankly, we didn’t have a whole lot of success – its just this beach, you know? There were some hermit crabs

and a coconut shell appeared to be surprised to see us.

The powers that be at El Remanso are keen to point out that at high tide there is no beach, but that as the tide goes down some tidal pools become visible, so we went and fossicked about there for a while

and did the sort of things that one does if there’s not a lot to see.

Having fairly swiftly exhausted the entertainment possibilities, we retraced our footsteps. There was a branch that looked amusingly like something that Long John Silver might have left there

and some Frigate Birds flew over for me to photograph – I think one of them was being chased by the others. Frigate Birds are unpleasant like that.

The climb back up the track to the Lodge was, indeed, challenging – some 420 steps in oppressive heat and humidity. But we made it in the end, which made the lunchtime beer a very welcome thing indeed.

El Remanso also has some hanging bridges

so we spent a little time pottering about on the track that connected them, and then it was time for the scheduled activity of the day; a night walk. This was led by Alejandra,

a guide we’d met and chatted to during the day, who rather charmingly took off with us as soon as we turned up, leaving the other guide to deal with a group of about six people.

As is the way with these guided tours, Alejandra, whose great knowledge and enthusiasm made the tour very interesting, showed us many, many things we wouldn’t have seen had we been by ourselves. To spare you a litany of torchlit photos of insects and amphibians, I have squirreled the photos away on Flickr for you to look through if you’re interested. I will inflict a couple of highlights on you, though.

Alejandra found us a Fer-de-lance, the most poisonous snake in Costa Rica

and a Bicoloured Scorpion

which looks amazing under ultraviolet light.

We watched as an Anole Lizard gradually changed colour under the torchlight

and there were, of course, frogs, both small and large.

That was it for the day. We were due another guided tour the following day, which was a whole morning jobbie, so we took ourselves off to bed and tried for some sleep.

Some chance.

To start with, that bullfrog got together with his mates and they had a singing competition, very starkly (alongside games of Marco fucking Polo) underlining one of the downsides of having no glass in the windows.

I think they knew something that we didn’t at the time, because at around midnight it started raining, with optional lightning and thunder. The noise was terrific; and when it rains in Costa Rica, it can really, really mean business, and do so for many hours, e.g. in this case until 6am, when I captured this video.

We were convinced that this would mean the cancellation of the morning walk, but it didn’t – and apart from the forest trail being a little muddy in places, there was very little evidence that there had been a seven-hour deluge recently.

Our luck held and our guide, this time for a small group of six of us, was, once again, the lovely Alejandra. As before, she was able to spot things that we wouldn’t have known to look for. As before, to spare you having to scroll through endless photos of what we saw, I have put them in another Flickr album for you to look at if you’d like.

Some highlights: an Osa Anole Lizard, showing off, or possibly telling a rival to bugger off;

another Anole Lizard – Costa Rica’s answer to the chameleon – showing the sophistication of the camouflage it can adopt (the one we saw last night was bright green because of the leaf it was on);

a termite tunnel going all the way up a tree;

and a spat between spider monkeys, which we couldn’t see but could certainly hear,

all rather morosely surveyed by a howler monkey.

We even caught a glimpse of an anteater, but it was just a cream-coloured blur as it caught wind of us and shot off into the forest.

When we got back from the tour, we were lucky enough to see a couple of Scarlet Macaws. We heard them first, of course – they’re noisy critters. I managed to get this photo

and Jane rushed out to get a different angle.

This being our last day, we thought it would be a good idea to check up on the arrangements for transfer to our next destination, since we’re in a rather inaccessible spot and we knew that part of it involved catching a boat. So we asked at the font desk and….

Shock! Horror!!

We have to be picked up at 0420 tomorrow!!!

The ongoing story from here is a bit complicated and involves us going Off Grid for a couple of days, hence the rather hasty write-up of the twenty-four hours’ touring within the two days we’ve been here at El Remanso. I hope you feel you’re nicely up-to-date and that you can contain your souls in patience until the next update, when All Will Be Revealed.

Catch As Ketchikan

Wednesday 17 August 2022 – Long read alert! Grab yourself a cuppa or a glass of something cold and settle in for a spell.

This is the last post about the cruise, for today we are At Sea, having departed our final port of call, Ketchikan, yesterday. From the decks of the ship, it looked an attractive place.

and we got prime parking position bang in the middle of the downtown waterfront. It was also clear what a major role tourism plays in its economy.

As ever it was an action-packed day, but for once our luck with the weather deserted us.

Ketchikan measures its annual rainfall in feet, and gets somewhere between 12 and 15 feet of rain every year.  If you check out this average climate page, you’ll see that “A lot of rain (rainy season) falls in the months: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.” Yesterday proudly performed in line with the averages.

No matter. We disembarked promptly for our excursion, a “photo safari”.  Whilst we awaited the start, we took a couple of photos from the quayside

The statue above is called “The Rock” and depicts the various influences in the development of the place – Tlingit, loggers, fishermen and airmen.

Our tour was led by Theresa

who was very friendly and helpful, but garrulous to the point of gabbling. It was only her second or third time of leading the tour, I think, and maybe she was a little nervous.  However, she had a few tips of particular value to iPhone users, but some of which could also apply to Android phones, and she took us to some nearby locations we might not have found by ourselves and some more remote ones, too.

We started at Ketchikan Creek, which runs through the downtown area.

You can see the downtown/old town buildings in the photo above, and we headed over to them. They surround a street sensibly called Creek Street and are very charming, even in the pissing rain.

I caught a glimpse of a raven slyly feeding on some scraps it had found.

Ketchikan styles itself “The Salmon Capital of Alaska”, and, since the salmon were running, we could see why.  On the positive side, one can see a salmon ladder beside the creek, where the salmon make their way upstream to spawn

but one can also see (and often smell) the carcases of those that didn’t make it – the creek waters are littered with dead salmon.

There’s a salmon sculpture by the banks of the creek, carved by Terry Pyles

and named in honour of the native carver Jones Yeltatzie, who had originally put a painted wooden salmon there.  Salmon dominate as a wildlife specimen, but there are plenty of other animals in the area, and these are celebrated in an artwork on the side of a Creek Street building.

Theresa took us to another area by the creek, where we could also see salmon working their way upstream; nearby houses were attractively coloured but a little run down.

After that we took to the road to cover a variety of different locations: a viewpoint which shows that Ketchikan has its working side as well as the quaint downtown area;

the library, which normally has a great view but today was struck by the Walker curse – “would have been better if it were clearer!” –


but which offered a nice close-up;

the harbour, which has a very extensive marina;

a floatplane mooring;

Ward Cove;

and, finally, Totem Bight State Historical park, also called Potlatch Park.  This features a replica native village, laid out as closely as possible to the traditional manner and constructed using traditional materials and hand-made tools. Construction started in the 1930s.

and, somewhat bizarrely to my mind, a small vintage motor museum.

The place had the most amazing gift shop. You really don’t expect to find life-size cars in a gift shop, do you?

The gift shop also featured a museum of older artifacts (e.g. guns)

and Jane found an exquisite advert.

Our time ran out at this point and we had to hasten back for the second adventure of the day, something which was surely to be the cultural zenith of the entire cruise – the Great Lumberjack Show!

We blundered about trying to find it at first, but succeeded in the end. There was a Lumberjill outside it as we went in

to seating by an arena which was clearly set out as a competition between USA and Canada.

The host was “Lasagne Joe”, who asserted that he was a chef,

and who was the MC for a variety of different “Timber Sports” set pieces with each team of two guys trying to beat the other.

It was as staged as WWF wrestling, but massively entertaining; and the athleticism, strength and skill of the guys was very impressive indeed.  Of course, it ended in a draw which meant that a tie breaker in the shape of log rolling was needed to settle the score.

The whole thing was ridiculously good fun and the athletes posed for photos afterwards as we filed out.

It was then not long before our ship departed, so we spent a few minutes looking round at the downtown, which has its fair share of attractive buildings and quirky bits

Jane pointed out, as we walked along, that up ahead wasn’t an apartment block we had to skirt, it was our ship!

It being my birthday, we treated ourselves to champagne and nibbles – the treat was the nibbles, as the champagne was available at no extra charge – and then went to The Grill for a hot rock meal – massive prawns for Jane and steak and sweet potato fries for me.  It was a nice end to a very entertaining day.

This morning, we awoke to very different weather.

and the sun combined with a patch of fog as we had a (latish) breakfast to give us the sight of our very first fogbow!

The rest of the day passed in relative indolence, interrupted only by starting the process of getting packed up ready to be kicked off the boat tomorrow morning. Oh, and lunch, which we took at the pizza place at the far end of the deck as shown below.

I must say that it was great to see the sun.  Ketchikan excepted, we’ve been extraordinarily lucky with the weather in Alaska, but in most cases “lucky” translates as “not raining”.

As we passed Vancouver Island (and, indeed, the place we’ll be in next week in an attempt to see grizzly bears in the wild), we got some nice views from our cabin.

And thus ends a week of sybaritic self-indulgence, Silversea style.  I’m very impressed with the Silversea offering. The food has been excellent, the service has been pretty much faultless, the excursions have been interesting and varied, and our butler, Francis, has done a really superb job of looking after us all week. I would expect us to be future customers of Silversea, but we’ll probably aim for their expedition-style boats, which are rather smaller and we think that’s probably more our style.  It’ll be 2024 before we find out and there’s a lot of, erm, water to flow under the bridge in the meantime,

We still have the practicalities of getting off the ship in good order, a process which is at once both convenient and a nuisance.  Silversea demand that we have our suitcases packed and ready by 2300 today, and we must leave the cabin by 0800 tomorrow.  This relieves us of faffing about with last-minute packing, but also means that we don’t have access to things that we might normally use overnight. I’m not sure whether this is a good arrangement or not;  I guess we’ll find out in due course.

If you’ve read this far, then congratulations on your patience and staying power and thank you for sticking with it.  We reach Vancouver early tomorrow and so will have the day to wander about gawping at things and moaning about the heat (29°C, with the sun threatening to split the paving stones).  So do come back and see how we got on, won’t you?


Cami de Cavalls day 9 – Wet Wet Wet

Tuesday 21 September 2021 – Fuck me, what rain! Oh, and wind!

Much of what follows is a long moan about the utterly, cataclysmically shitty weather we had to stumble through today.  So you can avoid several paragraphs of my moaning by watching the route and photos on Relive. But you’ll get a lovely dose of schadenfreude if you read on instead.

There had been a few straws in the wind about possible rain today, and so I looked at the various weather forecasts available to try to understand how the day would play out.  The UK Met Office suggested heavy showers with possible thunder; the Spanish website suggested by the Cami360 folk forecast grey skies with some rain.

They were both wrong; and I’m never going to trust the Spanish site again. Based on its more sanguine forecast and the choice of available dry socks I decided to go out in the running shoes which had proved so comfortable for walking in during the first five days of the trail.

This turned out to be an unwise choice.

Our pick up time at the hotel was 0830, for a lift back to Cala Morell, where we would start a 20km walk of easy grade – two stages of the trail, 9 and 10 – leading back into Ciutadella, where we were staying.  In our visualisation the day before, we thought we could have a nice easy walk to the outskirts of the city, where we could see lots of restaurants and bars, and stop for a Nice Lunch before tottering back to the hotel to sleep it off.

This turned out to be wrong on almost every level.

Deposited at the Cala Morell necropolis, we thought we might as well check out the one cave we hadn’t seen the day before; and very impressive it was, too.

Then we moseyed on to the start of the day’s first stage and set off along what looked like a reasonable path – maybe a bit rocky, but surely not too bad.

There was something of a sharp shower of rain, but it passed soon enough, and we carried on our way, amid some great light and bidding farewell to Cala Morell.

There was even a rainbow, nicely framing a stone hut, to wish us on our way.

I noticed a slightly ominous-looking cloud formation that clearly was carrying rain, but thought that the wind would carry it away from us.

Reader, I was wrong.

From this point, it basically hurled it down with rain for the next four hours.  Occasionally, the rain’s ghastliness was amplified by gale force winds, the only redeeming feature of which was that these came from approximately behind us (over the course of the day we met several groups coming the other way along the trail who had therefore to walk into hissing rain and lashing gales; our combined misery was such that we didn’t even spare the energy to acknowledge each other’s existence). The mix was leavened by the odd occasional flash of lightning and crack of thunder, much of it quite loud.

The rain was bad enough.  We had shower-proof jackets with us, which weren’t rated for a category 5 rainstorm. The occasional periods of gale force wind made things worse. But what really made progress not only miserable but even somewhat unsafe was the surface.  The rocks became slick, the ground turned to slippery mud, and the general misery of the weather was compounded by the general fear of taking a tumble on the rocks.  (I did slip and fall once, but “only” into a mud bath; it could have been much more serious.)

Yes, there were sights along the way:

stone huts, presumably used for storing food for farm animals;

caper bushes amid the rather bleak landscape;

a load of rocks with a cross on top (which, later reading showed, commemorates the wreck of General Chanzy’s steam boat in 1910 with only one survivor, but at the time I could frankly have cared neither one jot nor one tittle about);

a sight of the lighthouse which signalled the end of the first stage (dear God! is there another one to do as well?);

and some sheep, sensibly heading for shelter in the lee of a wall near the track.

But mainly, there was the rain, which by this stage had turned the path into a small river.

(I have video proof of this, but my soul rebels at the task of uploading it somewhere to share with you; just use your imagination, OK? And stop laughing, will you?  It’s not funny. No, it’s not.)

By the time we got to the end of the first stage

the road leading to the lighthouse had become a river in flood. Jane had suggested that we go and take a look at the lighthouse, but I demurred as politely as I knew how at the time, which was to say “Fuck off”.

The ghastly bloody mud-and-rocks path carried on past a few other sights.

We think this was a Naveta, something the Talaoitic-era folk used as a burial chamber, and which had possibly been modified to use for animal feed.  But it was clear that The Authorities didn’t want anyone exploring it, as any possible entrance hole was blocked; it was also (had I mentioned this?) raining, which lessened my interest in further research.

By this stage, I had completely lost interest in taking photos as we went along, or indeed in  anything other than simply getting into Ciutadella and outside a stiff drink, but Jane, bless her, took some shots of one or two things as we went by:

another stone hut;

a rather impressive rock arch, Pont d’en Gil;

and the outposts of civilisation, at which the heart leapt, for two reasons – there were only three miles to go, and it would be on lovely smooth tarmac. It would also, according to our original plan lead us past several possible refreshment stops, but since we were soaked to the skin and (certainly in my case) frozen to the marrow, this seemed a less tempting proposition than it had the previous evening.

Also: we had reached the “beach communities” outside Ciutadella, similar in principle, if you’ve ever been there, to Palma Nova on Mallorca or the cheap end of Paphos on Cyprus.

The restaurants and bars were (a) not very tempting and (b) unsurprisingly quiet.

The rain had obviously taken the local drains by surprise.

Eventually, the walk led us to some coves and inlets close to the city, such as Cala en Brut,

(which, incidentally, was the scene of further evidence of how unexpectedly heavy the rain had been, even if it was now easing to the point where I was prepared once more to take photos

I call this “wet stonewalling” and the policeman didn’t want me to take any photos.  So I reassured him by gesture and smile that I hadn’t.)

Playa de sa Farola

(you can see, in the distance, the ferry which brought us to the island a couple of years ago and started this whole thing off)

and Cala en Busquets.

And then we were right at the outskirts of the city itself

and then could cop an eyeful of the great view over the old town.

This was the end of the stage, and so all we had to do was to get ourselves to our hotel and hose off the accumulated mud, blood and weariness of the day.  We had covered 12.83 miles, or very nearly 21km, in five-and-three-quarter hours, which, given the conditions and the fact that neither of us sustained any serious injury was pretty damn’ impressive. Yes it was.

Having shed the worst of the day’s detritus, we headed out to find some lunch and had some tapas at a place called, rather unnervingly, Es Pou; but it was nice food, good coffee and lovely gin. Of course, by this stage, the weather had changed.

and long may the sunshine last (although I’m not too optimistic about tomorrow).  When we got back to the hotel, there was a lovely vignette of a balcony across from ours where a bunch of Spanish ladies were gathered having a good old gas among their rain-soaked clothing as it dried around them.

And thus the day came to an end.

  • 12.83 miles, or 20.66 km covered
  • 223 metres ascent, none of it actually steep, but all of it wet

Cumulative distance is therefore some 72 miles in seven days.  We’ve now covered the top half of the island and come half way round, from Mahón in the east to Ciutadella in the west.  Tomorrow we start on the southern half – a series of longer but less arduous days. Officially our next stage is just 13km and the forecast is for some rain, but not, we hope, the biblical floods we saw today. I’ll finish with the answer from the Cami360 team when we asked them about tomorrow’s weather: “The weather for tomorrow is similar to today with showers and localized storms. We hope that not like today”.

Amen to that.

Please come back then and find out how the day developed.