As part of the package the divemaster took some underwater pictures of us, which was very nice of him.
So here they are. We'll try and put some other pics up soon.
Stacey doing what all good AFOs do
After bumming around for our final week in Costa Rica, we have spent the first few days here in Panama at work and at school. Work-wise, we have been helping a brother-of-a-friend-of-a-father, Ian, turn his newly-bought Caribbean island from an overgrown jungle into a tropical paradise. It's slow progress and we don't think it will quite be at 'tropical paradise' stage when we decide to move on.
The island, floating a few miles south of Isla Colon in the Bocas Del Toro archipelago, is about two-acres in size and is surrounded by a thick border of mangrove. There are three dilapidated piers while inland there are lots of trees: some dead, some alive.
Our job so far has been to burn stuff, but to make the position sound more glamorous than it actually is, we'll call ourselves assistant fire operatives (AFO).
As AFOs, we... well, we burn stuff. Nobody has ever lived on the island, so it's a bit of a jungle, actually scratch that, it's fair to say it's a lot of a jungle. Ian has some local lads hacking through the jungle with machetes while we collect tree trunks, dead palm leaves and leaf litter and make great big bonfires. Fun, you may think, but it's back breaking work. In fact, if you had to draw up a list of Top 5 Sweatiest Jobs in the World, “Hard manual labour involving a series of huge roaring fires in a tropical country" would probably come just after “Sauna quality control officer”.
Ian and Will - men who made fire
Don't worry though, we have been keeping our fluids up: water and coconut water during the day and a few cheeky Panama Beers in the evening.
The island certainly has potential – there a lovely bay for snorkelling on one side and it's just a stone's throw away from a bay which is a popular hangout for dolphins which the locals, for some mental reason, have decided to call 'Dolphin Bay'. Ian hopes to build a house on the island and may even erect some little holiday huts on one side.
Despite my suggestion of “IanLand”, the island has been christened Isla GilligIan, a reference to a once-popular TV programme, Gilligan's Island, which both myself and Stacey are far too young to appreciate.
On the bug and scary animal front, I have uncovered 2x angry scorpions on Isla GilligIan (quickly despatched with boot by the local lads) while there are lots of termites, lots of crabs, some lizards and there was also a constrictor snake spotted.
Stacey has also been back to school. I have my Open Water scuba diving qualification, so when we found out Bocas was one of the cheapest places in the world to do the course ($225 for three days including two free fun dives) she thought she might as well give it a go.
Break time Isla GilligIan style
She's half way through it at the moment so she is deep in information about the dangers of decompression sickness and is even deeper in the warm Caribbean sea. It means that as well as being able to explore what sub-marine Bocas has to offer together, we'll be able to do lots more diving during the rest of our travels.
Stacey's course tutor is called Mike. Mike is from New York, he has long hair, tattoos and is so laid back he's horizontal. That's what this place does to you.
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