Bahia Honda...A Beautiful Place, and time.
While I’m definitely a theist, I’m not very religious, at least not in
the sense of following any particular faith. I do have a strong
belief in the existence of a higher being, and try to live my life as
trying to leave the world a little bit better than when I arrived, lo
these many years ago.
I’m not a rabid environmentalist trying to impose my will on others,
but I do take personal responsibility for my impacts on the planet.
Nothing overboard that will not naturally and harmlessly disappear in
a very short time.
When I see a place like Bahia Honda on the
Pacific Coast of Panama, my belief in a divine creator is amplified, and nothing, no nothing
except the fruit peelings of the fruit acquired there goes overboard.
Even though the bay is huge, bigger than Coos Bay, Oregon, we use the holding tank, and don’t even discard the biodegradeable paper towels we buy. There is no human impact here. Roughly 200 people live on the bay, most in a small village on the island in the middle. There
are no roads, no airstrip, no fuel supplies, and no trash on any of
the beaches, though there are a few outboard motors on dugout canoes, and the two pangas we saw. Hearing a motor is such a rarity, it always snatches your attention. Every few days, a sailboat will
enter and anchor, trade with Domingo or his sons, for fruits and
vegatables, and leave a few days later.
The dugouts are paddled about on the clear and
very deep water, with an outboard, if any at all, tilted up. Occasionally, a boat will come
into the bay and dispense some gasoline, at a high price, to the few
locals who want it. Let me repeat: there are no roads, none in, none
out and none anywhere around the bay nor tiny village.
In the morning the sun rises over the surrounding hills. The hills to
the west become gradually illuminated from the top down in a slow but
inexorable slide of light on the green jungle. You will likely be
awake in time to fix coffee and watch the sunrise. The Howler Monkeys
and occasional other unidentified wild animals sound the alarm of the
impending dawn at the first lightening of the eastern sky.
During the day, sitting at anchor in this totally
protected bay, you
will see youths fishing from their homemade dugouts, bringing in,
Carvallo, Pargo, Sierra, , Bonita, and other capture. Birds of broad
variety, circle, dive, screech, sing and just look placid. There
will on most days be porpoises chasing the same dinner as the young
fishermen. One morning, we saw a fair sized whale breach in the bay.
It happened so quickly, we did not identify it, but likely a young humpback.
Not only did God create this exquisitely peaceful place, as yet not
defiled by civilization, but he clearly provides for the people living
there. Some work at a hotel resort not on the bay, but a short panga
ride outside to the Northwest; however, but most are living off the
land and sea as has been done by man for many centuries, prior to our
current “civilized” life.
God even went out of his way to provide for Barbara and I. On Easter 2012, Barb and I were anchored in about 50’ of water, 100’ from shore. We took the dinghy with its 2hp Honda, and just rowed and motored around on the flat calm water. Ana our dog was pretending to be a bow ornament. We had been gone several hours and had shifted to rowing.
As we approached “Someday”, our 41 foot Ketch, we became aware of a slapping and drumming sound. It was coming from the far side of the boat. I rowed around to that side, and there on the deck was a nice size Sierra Mackerel, flopping about on the side deck. It was just
loose, by itself, flopping.
I dispatched it with the oar, and while Barb prepared the galley, I cleaned it. She cooked it, and the two of us, and Ana our dog, ate it. It was quite a full meal.
It is well to consider that it was Easter Sunday, a very holy day in the Christian religion, and it was a Sierra Mackerel that had volunteered to feed us. Certainly a “Holy Mackerel” if ever one existed.
PS: There is an aside to this. While he provided a fish to feed us for a day, he has yet to teach us to fish!
Chetco Cove, OR
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