When it came time to decide where my wife Audy and I would spend our holidays we knew it had to be somewhere the birds were.
At first Costa Rica was a thought but while doing research I looked into Mexico as well as a potential destination.
One name that kept popping up was San Blas.
Eventually, after reading numerous trip reports and buying a copy of Steven Howell's "A Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico" it was decided that we would risk vicious bugs and language difficulties in an effort to get as many photos of birds as we could in an environment where the majority of birds would be lifers for us.
We booked our holidays from Oct 27th (incidentally my birthday) till Nov 9th which would give us 14 days.
We flew USAir from Vancouver to Phoenix and finally Puerto Vallarta.
Both the planes we took on the way over were old and practically falling apart. They were both delayed for mechanical reasons and we wondered if the delays would cause us to miss our connecting flight in Phoenix.
Thankfully, we caught all our connections and eventually landed in Mexico.
It was Audy's first time and i guess mine as well, although my family visited Tijuana back in the 80's, everyone says that doesn't count, i suppose they are right.
Our original plan was to pick up our reserved rental car from the airport and spent the night in a hotel room in PV before departing for San Blas early the next morning.
As soon as we exited the airport we were directed to the Alamo car rental counter and a shuttle bus was hustled up to take us to the actual location, near the airport.
We had reserved an economy car with air conditioning for $204 a week, they tried to get us to upgrade to a more luxurious vehicle for a bit more money but where we were going (and the dirt roads i was planning on taking), economy would serve us fine.
As it was, we were handed a sparking newish Mitsubishi Gallant 4 door sedan, i made sure all the scrapes and dings were noted on the checklist and we were good to go..
oh, one thing to add, Mexican insurance is a killer, we chose the least expensive plan and even at that it was $17 a day. Not choosing it wasn't an option as i didn't want any hastles if an accident were to occur.
Well, once i got the car on the road we decided that we would begin our drive and stop off somewhere closer to San Blas for the night instead of staying over in PV, after all, it was only around 4pm, still light and i was anxious to begin our quest.
We grabbed our camera equipment and made sure everything was working and placed it all in the back seat in case we needed to stop quickly along the way for a bird.
Audy used a Nikon D50 dslr w/ Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens, Tamron SPAF 11-18mm Di 2 LD wide-angle lens, Tamron SPAF 90mm macro lens, SB-800 speedlight and Manfrotto monopod.
I digiscoped, using a Nikon Coolpix P5100 camera w/ Nikon ED82 Fieldscope, 30X Wide DS eyepiece, FSB6 bracket and Manfrotto ballhead and tripod.
Our storage device was a 40gig Epson P-3000 picture viewer with big 3" screen, we would just plug our 2gig SD cards straight into the device and edit as necessary.
And we were off.
Well, the driving was smooth and i got the hang of driving in Mexico pretty quickly and decided to just keep driving until we reached San Blas.
I was in no hurry (I was on holiday after all) and was happy to signal that it was safe to pass to all that wanted to speed along.
signaling that it is safe for someone to pass you is as simple as putting on your blinkers to turn left.
often, they won't wait for your signal but it never hurts to do it anyways, as well, mexican drivers use their emergency blinkers all the time, i guess it's a law or something but they use it whenever they slow suddenly or there is congestion ahead, it was easy enough to pick up on and i too used the emergency's on ocassion, when in Rome..
The drive up seemed to take a lot longer than 2 hours i had read it took and the tricky turnoff from the main highway at Las Varas onto the smaller road to San Blas took a number of tries to get right.
Turning left in Mexico can be tricky, you have to enter a small run-off lane to the right of the main road if you want to turn left, the Las Varas left-hand turn-off proved confusing to me and it took a couple of tries to get it right, meaning a couple of U-turns and one accidental drive down a wrong-way lane.
Well, it started to get dark as we drove on, no sign of San Blas anywhere but i knew we were going in the right direction.
At one point we drove through a little town and i thought it might be San Blas, it was dark out and we had been up since 3am travelling and now driving and i hoped this was it, i rolled down the windows and starting asking passersby in broken spanish if this was San Blas and where Casa Roxanna Bungalows was located. I was able to understand none of what was said back to me so all i could do was nod, smile and say "gracias".
I drove around the little town for a while until the realization sunk in that we hadn't yet arrived in San Blas.
It took another 45 minutes of winding roads in the dark until i recognized Matanchen bay road and knew that we were close.
We finally arrived around 9pm-ish, a day early at Casa Roxanna bungalows so we were lucky that our suite was available that night.
We were hungry, the flights down served us nothing but peanuts and pop, and since we had driven the whole time since arriving, well, we had forgotten to eat. Luckily, there was a corner store around the corner and eggs were bought, and boiled for a quick meal.
The great thing about staying in a bungalow like this was the fully stocked kitchen with fridge, gas stove and pots and pans etc.
We decided to try and cook much of our own food this trip.
San Blas was a fishing port after all, the seafood would be fresh.
We woke up excited, we were in Mexico and about to bird the famous San Blas!
For our first morning out we chose to follow in the footsteps of many others before us and walk the Sewage Ponds Trail.
Finding it took some doing however as i hadn't yet had a chance to scope out the town. I knew were it was but finding our way through the little subdivision of huts and abandoned lots took some doing, luckily, there were loads of birds to be seen everywhere.
The first birds we photographed were white-winged dove, along with great-tailed grackle, vermilion flycatcher, tropical kingbird, grey hawk, black vulture, cinnamon hummingbird, blue-grey gnatcatcher, and turkey vulture.
We made one big mistake that first morning in forgetting to bring water and i paid a price when i became a little dehydrated and sundazed.
Audy fared better, being Thai, the heat wasn't an issue.
Luckily we found a little storefront and bought refreshment. afterwards, we did siesta until the afternoon and then wandered over to the water to check it out. Another mini photo session erupted when we got shots of brown pelicans, great egret, brown booby (in flight), whimbrel, willet, magnificent frigatebird and great blue heron.
Aferwards we checked out the zocalo (city square) to soak in the character.
At one point a man on a bicycle rode up to us and asked if we were birders. His name was Armando Santiago and he was a local guide with a website.
At one point early in planning the trip i considered using guides but soon decided against the actual need to spend for one as most of the locations were quite straightforward, since our mission was to take pictures of every bird we could, hunting down specific birds wasn't overly important.
He remembered my initial email enquiry somehow (it was sent months previous) and i felt kind of bad, knowing i wouldn't need his services. Still, he seemed like a nice man, and maybe if mexican car insurance wasn't so expensive, a little extra money would have been there to aquire his services.
Dinner at La Cocadillo followed and i mistook ensalada with enchillada somehow and ended up with a salad to go with my beer.
We were tired and called it a night early, for we wanted to be fresh for the next days birding.
We planned to do Lower Singayta and hopped in the car early for the short drive up the road.
First though, we paid a visit to one of the junction ponds on the way out and were rewarded with a huge congregation of waterbirds, more than we would see again in that area it would turn out.
We crept up as close to the water's edge as we could and took shots of black-necked stilt, roseate spoonbill, spotted sandpiper, white ibis, snowy egret, yellow-crowned night-heron, yellow warbler, common black hawk, belted kingfisher and american avocet.
Since our major destination of lower singayta was still ahead of us we hastened off.
The little village of Singayta came up around a bend in the road abruptly. the little cobblestone road lead us through the quiet village, the only sound was from a group of school kids,on their playground "Hey Man!", i gave them a wave of the hand and a smile and got big smiles back in return.
One tip is to be friendly, whenever our car was stopped on the side of the road and we were out looking at a bird or whatever and a car of pickup truck would drive by we made sure to wave. A simple wave and nod was always greeted with the same in and around San Blas, where we found the people friendly and left us alone as much as we wanted.
We drove our car up the road to the end of the village and then some. There was a little clearing and i parked in the shade if a big tree.
With no one else around, it seemed Singayta would be ours alone today.
The first birds we spied were inca doves.
The trail was quite productive and we walked and birded our way up. along the way we took photos of elegant trogon, yellow-winged cacique, ruddy ground-dove, rufous-backed robin, black phoebe, american redstart - female, black-throated gray warbler, lineated woodpecker, fan-tailed warbler, golden-cheeked woodpecker, white-faced ibis, wilson's warbler, crested caracara, and masked tityra.
The rest of the day was spent around town, shopping for food, and relaxing.
It had been a good day of birding.
Our mission for the day was La Bajada.
I had done extensive research on the area and knew how to get there no problem.
It was easy to get through La Palma and then through La Bajada, just stay on the paved road till it ends.
We parked at the end of the road next to a farmers property. I had asked him if it was alright to park there and he waved me on with a smile, no problem.
We had chosen to arrive quite early and were surprised by the windy conditions, it was cooler as well, which was nice.
There seemed to be quite a bit of activity but a lot of it was hard to see.
We walked quite a ways up the hill because i was expecting coffee plantations and really, there isn't a lot of that left it seems, mostly bananas.
We did photograph birds, most of which we had seen the previous day; yellow-winged cacique, golden-cheeked woodpecker, grey hawk, elegant trogon, masked tityra along with black-throated magpie-jay, american kestrel, ivory-billed woodcreeper and citreoline trogon.
On the way back we decided to drive down the shrimp ponds road to check it out and picked up shots of neotropic cormorant, long-billed dowitcher, tricolored heron and juvenile yellow-crowned heron.
In the late afternoon we visited peso island (cost 20 pesos per person) and stayed as long as we could handle the heat, because it was hot.
We drank lots of water and photographed little blue heron, turkey vulture, sanderling, a large flock of terns, gulls and pelicans, ruddy ground-dove, magnificent frigatebird, pale-billed woodpecker, and most fortunately of all; Audy spied a military macaw flying above and was able to get a shot of it as proof.
The beach on peso island was amazing by the way, we were the only people there, just amazing.
We ate out at Wala restaurant near the zocalo and found the food to be good and the owner friendly and helpful as well. Audy asked him at one point about what type of lotion to get to ease the itch of bug bite and he proceeded to write out a prescription on a piece of paper and the name of the pharmacy and person behind the counter.
He was very helpful.
Since it was that time of year when kids dress up and go around trick-or-treating we were witness to such an event when a group of children came up to the restaurant and sang out a chant and waited.
The owner got up and gave them a coin and we fished in our pockets for loose change and did the same.
We decided to go back to Lower Singayta again, this time earlier than before and again met no other souls our whole time there.
The birding wasn't as good as previously but we did get shots of painted bunting female, nashville warbler, black-capped vireo, pacific-slope flycatcher, happy wren and a wild deer.
As well, i was mere seconds away from getting a shot of a rufous-bellied chachalaca on the ground up ahead but it flew off quickly.
We cut our visit short there though and went back into town while there was still morning to do Sewage Ponds Trail again.
This time i had a better idea of how to maximize our walk and hit up more of the prime spots.
One of these prime spots was a swampy pond along the way where we got photos of killdeer, bell's vireo, cattle egret, black-chinned hummingbird, ruddy-breasted seedeater, ferruginous pygmy-owl, black-bellied whistling-duck, great kiskadee, green heron, northern jacana, blue-winged teal, ruddy duck, least grebe, and orchard oriole.
After walking the shrimp ponds road we decided to check out the famed Garza Canela hotel for fun.
We walked into a spacious lobby and were impressed. not enough to justify spending the amount a night they require to stay there though.
We got a much better rate on a huge bungalow that was well-kept and had english-speaking owners who were both friendly, and helpful.
Luise, (one of the partners) even knew Chencho and was more than happy to set up a night boat trip to La Tovara with him later.
Anyways, Garza Canela had a gift shop that was overpriced but had a good selection of stuff.
I bought a cool t shirt with local birds printed in full colour on the back and the Garza Canela logo and the words San Blas on the front.
sweet. However, i also bought a huge bag of coffee that turned out to be just horrible as it was old.
So be warned, always check expiration dates.
I also bought a great little booklet called "Where to find birds in San Blas, Nayarit" by Rosalind Novick and Lan Sing Wu that proved quite informative.
It was such new information that led us to our afternoon quest of Chacalilla Road (off the main shrimp ponds road).
This stretch of dirt road contains some great birding, we photographed lark sparrow, ruddy duck, tropical kingbird, groove-billed ani, vermilian flycatcher, tropical mockingbird and green kingfisher.
It had been a long day and we ate at home and watched Animal Planet in spanish and flipped through the beat-up copy of Peterson's Mexican field guide. I kicked myself for not taking along a North American field guide as well but i didn't want to pack too much.
Today we would take the jungle boat trip and we were excited.
Loius had arranged for us to meet Chencho at 3:30pm by the small dock next to the bridge and we spent the morning driving around and checking out Matanchen bay a bit before heading over to meet Chencho.
sure enough, he was there and we set off right away and began the journey. I was able to sit back and enjoy the trip and Audy took charge of photographing everything we saw. Chencho was very obliging, slowing the boat when need be, and even cutting the engine and paddling softly at times. He would call the birds in expertly and we were treated to great shots of tropical kingbird, double-crested cormorant, osprey, great blue heron, little blue heron, green heron, great egret, bare-throated tiger-heron, magrove warbler, green kingfisher, yellow-rumped warbler, anhinga, yellow-crowned night-heron, wood stork, boat-billed heron, white ibis, snail kite, and as the day turned to night northern potoo made their appearance and we saw three of them.
As we pulled back into shore four hours later we were happy and quite satisfied.
Cerro de San Juan was on the agenda and we set out early for the 1 1/2 hour drive out to Tepic.
From the information i had it was relatively easy to find our way to the toll road and through to Tepic and the turnoff to Cerro de San Juan.
We pulled into the turnoff and the first words from Audy were "are you sure this is the road?" as the car bumped around on the rutted dirt road.
It was indeed the road and it wasn't all that bad to drive up actually.
The road twisted it's way up the mountain and back down again to the quaint little village of Cuarenteno 16km later.
We just drove slowly and stopped wherever we saw or heard activity. In most instances there was room to safely park on the side of the road and a polite wave to passing cars and trucks always got a wave back.
We photographed red-naped sapsucker, black-and-white warbler, hepatic tanager, spotted wren, white-eared hummingbird, Audubons yellow-rumped warbler, painted redstart, townsend's warbler, eastern bluebird, wilson's warbler, northern rough-winged swallow and swainson's hawk.
It was a beautiful area full of fruit trees, pine-oak forest and panoramic views of the valley below.
The elevation helped cool things, which was nice.
We didn't stop at Rancho La Noria but saw that there were hiking trails in that area that might have been interesting to explore.
Another time perhaps.
The drive back to San Blas was a bit of a traffic jam for some reason, maybe it had something to do with a Day of the Dead festival going on but the roads were congested.
I had considered taking the free road back to El Mirador del Aguila to see the military macaws but we saw that all the cars and trucks seemed to be taking that road back as well so decided against it.
We didn't know it at the time but Audy already had a shot of a Military Macaw taken in San Blas, we just hadn't ID'd it yet.
In the afternoon we drove out to the Cocadillo Farm where i was hoping for a chance to photograph rufous-bellied chachalaca, having read previous reports confirming their reliability there.
There they were, hard to photograph though as they were tangled out in the tree branches above us quite nicely.
eventually we did get our shots as well as northern jacana, allen's hummingbird, yellow-crowned night-heron and boat-billed heron. On top of a little hill overlooking the farm there stands an deserted pagoda full of big brown bats (eptesicus fuscus), as well as large iguanas.
At one point out of the bushes came two coatimundi, and we enjoyed the opportunity to photograph these strange creatures.
On the way back along Matanchen bay road we stopped to get shots of wood stork and roseate spoonbill by the side of the road.
We decided to drive up the hill to the Old Fort and do a bit of birding there in the morning.
It was productive, with shots of orchard oriole, squirrel cuckoo, mexican parrotlet, ruddy ground-dove, streak-backed oriole and blue-grey gnatcatcher.
The old fort itself wasn't overly spectacular but the church ruins nearby were worth visiting and Audy took wide--angle shots of the surroundings.
Since it was still early we decided to venture out to the sewage ponds road again and found barn swallows, lesser yellowlegs, sinaloa crow, cassin's kingbird, black-chinned hummingbird female, broad-billed hummingbird, black vulture, least grebe, black-necked stilt, american coot, white-faced ibis, ruddy duck, wood stork (in flight), groove-billed ani, great kiskadee, gila woodpecker, northern mockingbird and white-tipped dove.
After a seista we decided to see if we could get some shots of boobies in the afternoon and the peso island ferryman offered to take us around Virgin Rock for 250 pesos.
We accepted and the boat set off into the choppy waters, there were some rather substantial waves to get through before we got into the open water and i felt Audy's grip on me tighten.
The ferryman was a seasoned salt and had no problems manuevering us out to the rock, funny thing happened; as soon as the birds were in sight Audy forgot all about her fear and began shooting like a pro.
It was fun and we got to go around the rock a couple of times, getting shots of brown booby, blue-footed booby, brown pelican and even a peregrine falcon.
It maybe seemed like a short trip for the ferryman because he told us to wait in the boat for a bit as he picked up some people from Peso Island and brought them and us back to shore. He then proceeded to take us out once more for a bit of a harbour area cruise and we got great looks at a number of ship wrecks as well as some, well, magnificant shots of a tagged female magnificent frigatebird in flight.
We decided to take another trip out to Peso Island to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. oh, and the shore birds as well.
The ferryman however isn't an early riser so we went and had a great breakfast at Walla restaurant and i drank delicious coffee there as well.
satisfied, we headed over to the boat launch and were ferried across the small channel to Peso Island.
It didn't seem quite as hot as first time on the beach but maybe i was just finally getting used to the weather. there was a slight breeze as well which helped matters considerably.
We were able to photograph white-winged kite, black-necked stilt, the large congregation of terns, gulls and pelicans, juvenile grey hawk, spotted sandpiper and american oystercatcher.
It was an enjoyable morning and in the afternoon i decided to check the "Where to find birds in San Blas" booklet we had bought from Garza Canela for a new location and i chose the El Cora road, some 18 miles from San Blas.
It is supposed to be a well-graded dirt road running for 9km to the small village of El Cora.
Well, i drove out there but couldn't find the road anywhere, i knew i must have been close though as i saw a road sign with the words El Cora on it. we drove down what turned into the most twisty-turny stretch of road i have ever been on.
this paved road snaked up and down valleys and my driving consisted of nothing more than constantly turning the wheel to the left or right depending on the curve. Making a U-turn on this road proved a bit of a challenge and a wee bit dangerous because of all the blind curves, nonetheless, we survived and drove back and stopped off in a little seaside village for lunch and then drove out to Chacalilla Road again and got photos of crested caracara (both adults and juvenile), common black-hawk, lark sparrow, white ibis (in flight), cassin's kingbird, wood storks (in flight), caspian tern and roseate spoonbill (in flight).
We decided that this would be our last day in San Blas as we had seen and done pretty much everything we set out to do.
Since neither of us had ever spent any time in Puerto Vallarta decided to give it a few days and just relax and enjoy the remaining days of our holiday.
Well, we still had one day in San Blas and decided to drive up to the Old Fort again to check out the town one last time from above and see what birds we could rustle up.
Not too much other than hooded oriole, mexican parrotlet and grey hawk, maybe we were finally starting to get tired because we weren't seeing as much anymore, maybe it was a sign to chill and relax now.
We drove around town slowly and Audy took pictures with the wide-angle lens and added to her collection of town shots consisting of painted signage, buildings and street-life.
How she found the time to take photos of all that as well as the butterflies, bugs, spiders, crabs, shipwrecks and whatever else is quite an accomplishment, in my eyes.
We ate out at La Familia restaurant one last time and i enjoyed my Pacifico's and enchilladas.
We went back home and watched Animal Planet in spanish one last time is San Blas.
After packing our things and loading the rental car up in the morning we filled up at the service station by the bridge and said goodbye to San Blas and hello to the big city.
The drive back down was slow but uneventful.
I had thought of spending a few nights in Bucerias but as i pulled into town and began the search for cheap accomodation along the confusing streets i just decided to keep going, again, and just spend all our remaining time in Puerto Vallarta.
It was early afternoon as we finally arrived and i began the task of finding somewhere to stay and not having any idea where to look.
I knew i didn't want to stay near the airport as i wanted somewhere inexpensive, comfortable would however be nice.
we drove through town and eventually started getting to the southern outskirts and up a hill when i saw a sign advertising 300 peso a night suites, that sounded about right, plus, the sun was starting to set and we feld an urgency about finding accomodation.
The Suites Encanto was kind of run-down and the inn-keeper smoked heavily but did show us a suite but quickly explained that none of the 300 peso suites were available, this suite was more expensive. I told him that i couldn't pay much more and he (perhaps sensing an opportunity slipping away) counter-offered 3 nights for 1500 pesos. We agreed.
The view was as Audy said "a million dollar view" and it was actually a great location to be in as it was a short walk downhill to get to the beach and main streets.
Because we couldn't trust leaving anything behind when we weren't in the suite i carried all the camera equipment in a big Crumpler backpack where ever we went around PV.
We were both hungry for dinner and decided to walk down a street with many restaurants, at one of the first we passed by a friendly doorman chatted us up and mentioned how nice it was to see me, "for the second time". I had tired of the game and said "actually it's only one time.." and then Audy said "oh yeh, the crocodille farm...".
Sure enough, this man had been on holiday with his family in and around San Blas himself and had been at the farm the same day we had.
We were easy to remember apparantly because most people bring little cameras of cell phones to take pics, we had "big" equipment.
He was the owner of the restaurant Cafe Quetzal" and we ended up eating there and enjoying a great mexican dinner, with Pacifico's of course.
When the bill came we noticed he had given us a 10% discount, very nice.
The ratty air conditioner worked at least back at the suite. We watched Animal Planet in Spanish and fell asleep.
We woke up in the morning to the sound of birds and realized that our balcony overlooked a prime little spot of greenery and trees. We grabbed our cameras and got pictures of streak-backed oriole, golden-cheeked woodpecker, yellow-winged cacique.
It was turning into a productive day. I didn't put my digiscope together when we went out but Audy did have her camera because after our morning, we believed birds could be anywhere.
We made the mistake of walking down the main beach strip at a time when a couple of cruise ships were docked as well and were greeted at every store by overly-friendly proprietors who tried persistantly to get you to come inside, or suddenly, the converstaion would change to time-share condos and how we just had to go our and check this place out...
It got a little tiring and we soon realized that by walking up a few streets away from the beach it was better.
The beach was good for birds though and we got some great closeup shots of a pair of magnificant frigatebirds pearched up in a statue of an bare-breasted mermaid releasing a dove.
We thought to ourselves honestly though that we should have stayed in San Blas the whole time, this tourist town wasn't for us, i didn't care at all about Senior Frog's or any of that commercial excess. We kind of wanted to go home.
The ratty air conditioner broke but luckily there was a small fan we were able to blow on us.
I didn't trust the place and insisted that all windows be closed and locked (if they could be) at night, thus it was nice to have that fan.
We woke up again to the sound of birds and low and behold, we saw our first San Blas jays - a yellow-beaked crested juvenile and an adult.
It seemed almost like a gift to see these on our last day. we got shots at least but wished they would have come closer.
A crazed golden-cheeked woodpecker did however come close, in fact, it proceeded to fly madly around the apartment in circles, chattering the whole time.
I was also able to get some decent digiscoped shots of a streak-backed oriole pair and that was certainly a highlight for me.
We went forth into town again, avoiding the beach and took wide-angle shots of buildings, the church etc. and checked out the small river that cut through part of town as it flowed to the sea.
We discovered that there were alot of birds to be seen in that area.
Audy got some decent shots of citreoline trogon, orange-fronted parakeet, yellow-winged cacique, little blue heron, rufous-backed thrush, great kiskadee, inca dove and juvenile yellow-crested night-heron.
We found some neat shops to check out and took back some roasted chicken to eat at home.
We were excited to be going back home the next day and watched Animal Planet in spanish one last night in Mexico, maybe that was a good thing because we were starting to see reruns.
We woke up and the birds were absent outside, it was kind of overcast outside and i knew this was a good day to leave.
Our flight didn't leave till the afternoon though so we occupied our time by watching old 80's sitcoms on TV and finally packed up the car one last time and found our way back onto the 200 highway, back to the airport.
We dropped the "suitably thrashed" rental car back to Alamo and they were cool and turned a blind eye (or didn't notice the crack in the windshield and the fresh scrape to the rear fender) and arranged a shuttle bus to drop us off at the airport.
Our flights back were both on nice newer aircraft and our only headache was at Phoenix where everyone has to get their baggage and re-check it again no matter where they are going.
Luckily we had time to spare and eventually arrived back in Vancouver just before midnight.
The next week was spend looking through the photos, editing in PS and posting up onto our flickr site here
We had a great trip, and the two of us did it pretty much all on our own too, which was cool. We would definately consider doing this trip again as we felt very comfortable in San Blas. In fact, Audy was very surprised at how similar the scenery, flora and fruits (and even the people in a way) were to her native Thailand.
San Blas is a special place that offers so much for so little. There is so much to see and it is all contained in an area that is easy to access, we were amazed at the variety of birds seen and even more amazed when we were told that we were early and the real migrants hadn't yet arrived, nor had the other birders.