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The boat ride was wonderful. It was about 45 minutes long, and included all the drinks and sunshine you wanted. Once we got close to the national park, we noticed little islands off the coast, made up solely of rock and trees. The boat took us from the salty sea to a fresh water river, and into a cave. We were then instructed to jump out and let the current take us to the shore. The water was a little cold, unlike the ocean, and current was pretty strong. The shore was only a five-minute swim away, and the island made me feel like I was in paradise. The trees, coast, sand, and numerous yellow butterflies that sprinkled the air made this moment picture perfect.
Edit explained the different species of trees to us; which were imported from different countries, which were used as food for the slaves, and which were used to build houses. After this 20-minute stop, we jumped back on the boat. We weaved in and out of the tree filled islands that surrounded the main island, and Edit told us lots of fun facts about the different species of birds that lived there; like the pelicans only live to about 25 years old because they dive into the water with their eyes open, and after a while they go blind. Once this happens, they can’t dive to find food anymore, and they starve to death. [This became a joke the rest of the week. Whenever we were at the beach, and anyone said, "I wish I had goggles", someone else would say, "So do the pelicans!"]
Our next destination was a cave where indigenous people once lived. It was huge. I was grateful I brought along my flashlight. I went off exploring because I wanted to take pictures, so I didn’t hear all of the fun facts about it, but I did see the drawings they made on the walls that Edit pointed out. After spending a good amount of time exploring, we jumped back on the boat. Our next stop: the mangroves.
The mangroves were SO neat. Picture huge trees growing out of the ocean, with their thick, tangled roots resting above water level. They grow in water that is about a foot deep, and when the water gets too shallow, it can’t survive. So, to prevent its certain death, it walks to deeper water. That’s right. It walks. When the water level lowers, the side of the tree that is growing in deeper water produces a bundle of roots that hang down from the top of the tree, and grow until they get long enough to reach the ocean floor, where it becomes rooted. So, if there were a video camera taping one of these trees for 50 years, it would look like it was walking. So cool! I couldn’t help but think of my mom while I was here, because of her love for trees. :]
After the mangroves, we went to another cave. Again, I went off exploring, so I didn’t get the educational experience, but I sure did have fun. I set up my camera to have a long exposure, and I had everyone use their flashlights to paint!
We loaded on the boat, for the last time, and enjoyed the long boat ride back to the peninsula, where an all you can eat buffet was waiting for us! The food, our guide, the boat ride, the sunshine, and all of God's creation that we saw, was so wonderful. It had been such a fabulous day :]