The Next Lindblad Model?

Finally! Off the boat at last! It’s been a long two months down here in Costa Rica and Panama on the Sea Lion, but we made it through and now we’re in San Jose relaxing at the endearing Hotel Aranjuez (thanks, mom, for the recommendation). We left the Sea Lion just after lunch yesterday amid the turmoil of a new rotation coming in and an old one on its way out. It was good to see people I haven’t seen for awhile, but I was also ready to start my vacation!

This past week was actually a rather memorable one for me, though, in terms of Lindblad trips. I had a very light work week massage-wise (which I wasn’t sorry about), so I went on a few more outings than I normally do (I can go on any hike or Zodiac cruise I want to when I’m not giving massages, but I typically stay on the ship and work out or catch up on emails). It was a photography-orientated trip, so we had two guest photographers – Ralph Lee Hopkins, a National Geographic photographer, and Richard Maack, a professional freelance photographer from Arizona. The guests ranged from point-and-shooters to semi-professionals with two or more SLR’s strapped around their necks.

Towards the beginning of the week we stopped at a new beach in Coiba National Park that I’d never been to. The landing was difficult – our Zodiac drivers had to bring the Zodiacs in stern first on a rolling wave – so catching the Zodiacs when they came in was exciting and drenching wet. The beach was also home to massive hermit crabs and tide-pools that harbored strange-looking nudibranchs, sea stars, little fish, and snails.

For my last week I also got to lead the horse-back ride at Caletas, just outside of Corcovado National Park. There were about six riders plus myself and we had a nice morning riding along the rainforest trail and out onto the white-sandy beaches as the waves crashed into the rocks.

Later that day I was recruited by our National Geographic photographer – Ralph Lee Hopkins – to do a brochure photo shoot at the base of a waterfall at San Pedrillo. I’d never done a photo shoot before, so I was excited! He had me wear a bright blue top, black carpris and a safari-style hat with a chinstrap. Before taking the brochure photos (for Lindblad’s expedition catalogue, although the photos we took will probably never make the cut), he shot me doing some yoga poses with the waterfall at the background. It was so much fun! Maybe my next career will be a yoga model???

So now here we are, enjoying the expansive breakfast at Hotel Aranjuez, with no plans for the day expect to relax, maybe walk around if we feel motivated, enjoy a nice dinner and perhaps a movie. Tomorrow we board a plane that will take us to Ecuador and our mountain biking/hiking escapade and Galapagos adventure!

Coconut Crazy

I was at the beach the other day, at a place called Caletas just outside of Corcovado National Park, when one of our naturalists walked by with an unopened coconut. I pretty much grabbed him as he passed and asked where he had gotten it. Fresh coconuts are one of my favorite things on earth and now whenever come across one, I’m transported back to Yoga Thailand where we would line up at the juice bar after our morning Ashtanga practice and order a fresh, chilled coconut. Coconut water (what sloshes around into the inner cavity before the coconut is broken open) is extremely high in electrolytes (basically salts that are essential for controlling fluid balance within the body). So after a hard workout and a yoga mat drenched in sweat, a fresh coconut filled with nutritious coconut water was heavenly. But back to Caletas. Miguil, the naturalist, offered me the fresh coconut juice for which I was very grateful. He had one of the Ticos (Costa Rican’s) chop off the top with a machete and then he drained the fresh juice into my empty cup. Yum! After the coconut was drained, he broke open the shell and cut out hunks of coconut flesh for everybody to try. Once again, I reiterate, fresh coconut is one of my favorite things on earth. But it gets a bad rap. There is so much fear in our society about fat, and coconuts are laden with it, particularly the “bad” kind – saturated fat. But I don’t think that it’s necessarily the natural saturated fat (or any unprocessed fat for that matter – think avocados, nuts, etc…) that are the problem. The problem comes from when we process that fat and make it into things like hydrogenated oils and trans fats. That’s when our bodies rebel and treat the unnatural substances as artificially dense forms of energy. The processed fats are what pack on the pounds.

I thought I would do a little research in our small library on board (and some Internet browsing), to see what else fresh coconuts provide for our bodies and health. There has definitely been a coconut health craze in the works for the past few months, and even though I’m always a little skeptical about new health crazes, I think coconuts deserve more (positive) attention than they get.

There are two ways to enjoy a fresh coconut. One is a young, or Thai, coconut that isn’t all the way ripe and the other is a fully mature coconut, or the one that has a brown, hairy outer shell. Young coconuts have a more jelly-like flesh and more water in the center while mature coconuts have a firmer flesh and the water is slightly less sweet. Coconuts are also rich in lauric acid, which is known for being anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and boosts the immune system. They are high in fiber and surprisingly high in iron, which I wouldn’t have guessed, as well as phosphorus and zinc. If you think about it, like all other nuts and seeds, coconuts have all the nutrients and minerals needed to create an entire new tree or plant. So how can that powerful concoction not be beneficial to your body?

Aside from fresh coconut, the healthy nut can also be consumed when dried (desiccated), as coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut oil, and coconut butter, which is a combination of both oil and meat (my favorite).

Just don’t sit under a coconut tree 🙂

Corcovado National Park

Each week, one of our staff responsibilities on the ship is to write a Daily Expedition Report (DER). These can be found on the Lindblad website under “Guest Experiences” if you’d like to read about what’s happening on the fleet’s ships all over the world. I wrote the DER for today, and here it is!

29 December, 2011
Caletas and San Pedrillo, Corcovado National Park

We spent the night anchored in the sheltered waters of Drake’s Bay on the northwestern edge of the Osa Peninsula. During breakfast the National Geographic Sea Lion repositioned a short ways south of Drake’s Bay to a place called Caletas in Costa Rica’s rugged Corcovado National Park. The park is known for its dense vegetation, abundant bird and wildlife populations, and beautiful coastline adorned with sandy beaches and rocky outcroppings. Corcovado is a great place to explore and we had the good fortune of spending several hours there this morning. For our morning activities, our naturalists led several jungle walks through the rainforest, pointing out interesting species of plants and trees and using their spotting scopes and binoculars to find birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. There was an option to do a long, vigorous loop that traversed several steep inclines, or to do a more mellow, leisurely walk that allowed for ample time to search out wildlife. Several guests also took the opportunity to go horseback riding along a trail that paralleled the coast and meandered through both forest and beaches. At the end of the horse trail there was a refreshing river where the riders could cool off and relax before returning back along the same trail.

The hotel staff and galley treated us to a delicious BBQ lunch ashore complete with hamburgers, hotdogs, and blondies for dessert. While eating, we were entertained by several pairs of macaws that flew by and a capuchin monkey perched high in a tree. All too soon it was time to return to the ship for a short reprieve before commencing our afternoon activities.

After a brief reposition down the coast of the Osa Peninsula, we dropped anchor again at a a place called San Pedrillo. We arrived at the sandy beach by Zodiac and after washing the sand from our feet and changing into sneakers or hiking boots, we set off down the trail. Like this morning, there were two hiking options. One was a more strenuous hike to a beautiful waterfall and the other was more flat and ran along the shoreline. Both walks were beautiful and reminded us of what a diverse and lush ecosystem we were visiting. Several guests even spotted a crocodile! But thankfully it wasn’t in the swimming hole they were swimming in.

The National Geographic Sea Lion set sail just in time for us to enjoy a nice sunset on the aft bridge deck. Tomorrow is another full day of exploring and enjoying this beautiful country!

Becky Timbers, Wellness Specialist