But they did and we haven't seen rain since. The landscape looks more like Northern California in August than Central America in February and the unpaved roads, now at least more passable without rivulets breaking them up, are inches deep in powdery dust. The burning sugar cane fields leave chunky, black cane ash as the only thing falling from the skies these days. The local kids call it "black snow." There is a dry, cooling wind blowing through almost every day and despite leaving a thin, sooty layer on everything within hours - we keep windows open to take advantage of the natural air conditioning. And I'm going through a lot of lip balm.
Yet the hot months of March and April are still to come.
Given the above, we've been motivated to seek water in our explorations and to visit places that might be spoiled by the daily afternoon showers I've been promised will eventually return. The obvious choice has been to get out to the beach, which we've done a lot of. Within 45-90 minutes' drive from home, we've explored rocky surfing beaches, sandy, strolling beaches, volcanic black-sand beaches far too hot to walk on barefooted, and golden sand, reef-protected beaches with calm pools to wade in.
|Almost-black sands of El Zonte beach.|
|Showing off his surfing/martial arts moves|
|El Tunco attracts an international crowd and earns it's nickname "Surf City"|
|Golden sands of crushed shells and coral at Los Cobanos due to the nearby reef. |
Huge black rocks courtesy of any one of dozens of volcanoes also nearby.
|Los Cobanos at low tide makes for great soaking in the calm shallows.|
|El Tunco's waves captured in rock formations.|
We even went out whale watching... and actually spotted some whales and dolphins. From the little fishing village of Los Cobanos with a local guide we headed out towards the reef that protects this stretch of coast to see if we could catch a glimpse of the migratory humpbacks. Full disclosure: my own photographs turned out disappointingly like Where's Waldo the Whale? and these below were later sent to me by our guide in an attempt to lure us back for another trip. But this is what they would have looked like, had we been about a quarter mile closer. Still - it was pretty dang cool to go out a few miles in a little launch, sea spray in our faces, and get neither sunburned nor seasick.
|Whale watching in six person launches from Los Cobanos.|
|Given the size of our boat, maybe I should be relieved I didn't see ole' Barnacle Bill THIS close?|
|Spotting spotted dolphins|
|Dry season and it looks like there's not a drop to drink.|
|Until you descend steep and deep into the gorge...|
|And find the series of cascades at Tamanique|
|Incredibly relieving and surprisingly deep pools.|
|That'll part your hair!|
|Smooth rock slides|
|All work and no splashing around for the Tourist Police on duty.|
|Local daredevils threw themselves into the little pools below|
After all, we still have two and a half more dry seasons to go.