We eventually rounded a long, lazy curve in the path and I saw it. The river that I had been dreading. I just can not explain how relieved I was that it was now low tide and it was only knee deep. And really weird. I quickly named it the gold river because that was the color. I don’t know if it came from minerals in the water or what, but it was definitely gold in color. It was really neat where it emptied into the Caribbean, mixing the gold and blue waters. There were two little kids playing in it and it was so easy to watch them and imagine that I was actually in the Amazon somewhere. But we did not linger here, just basically got across and continued on our way.
Not much further up the path and we decided it was time for lunch. We had come a little over two miles and it had taken almost three hours. We were once again famished. We found a slightly secluded beach area just off the path. There were tree stumps to sit on, a bit of sand and the water was crystal clear and warm. There was also a tall tree that had fallen into the water. The end of it was out of the water and it was possible to sit on it with your feet in the water. Until somebody snuck up and started pushing up and down on it, turning it into a bucking bronco and spilling me into the water! But it was all great fun and we each took a turn “riding the bull”, as it were. Play time over, it was time to get down to some serious sandwich making and consumption.
We had a great lunch. Not so much in what we had to eat, basically just cold cuts, chips, water and fruit, but more in the ambience of where we were. Those of you who enjoy the outdoors and picnics know what I mean. Food just always tastes so much better. Then it was time for dessert and out came the pineapple. It was warm, juicy and delicious. We ate it and the juice ran down our chins, our hands and our arms. A delicious sticky mess. It was so good, and we had such a nice swim and lunch here, that we named the place “Pineapple Beach”, and it shall forever remain that to us.
We decided to venture a little further along the path. We were trying to keep in mind that it was not a loop and every step we took would have to be retraced later. We did not want to get so tired that it became a struggle to get back to civilization. Just a bit further along and we saw a group of perhaps eight people standing in the path. They were all looking up into the trees. As we approached, they pointed upwards but did not say a word. We looked and there above us was a sloth. This was our second one of the trip and the first that we had truly seen in the wild. It was just a sloth, but it was still a thrill to look up and see a wild animal in the trees above you. The first one we had seen in that restaurant garden never moved. This one did. It was crawling along a large tree limb, making its’ way deeper into the jungle. My neck grew tired from looking up and still it seemed to make no progress at all. They are so slow that it is almost incomprehensible how they ever get anywhere in the first place. We soon grew tired of looking at this blob in the trees and headed back out onto the path.
The path which had been a nice, well worn dirt up to this point, suddenly made a turn to the right and started leading us into the jungle and away from the water. At the same time, the path beneath us drastically changed. We were now walking in oozy mud, picking our way carefully along and trying to avoid going ankle deep in this thick, sticky mess. Occasionally there were roots that we could use as stepping stones, or enough space just off the path to get by a particularly muddy section. The undergrowth and vegetation in general became more dense and it got darker as every step carried us deeper into the jungle. We did this for perhaps 50 yards and then gave up. It was just too tiring and we were seeing nothing. It was impossible to look at the scenery or enjoy where we were because we were constantly having to watch where we stepped and the exertion of it was tremendous. With no debating the issue at all, we decided that we had come far enough for today and decided to head back.