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coconut ice cream, flying grills & monkeys

Posted by on April 16, 2013

February 21 – 24, 2013

Panama's natural beauty

waves breaking along Panama's coast

The morning we pulled away from El Porvenir, the wind was blowing 20-25 knots out of the northeast. It was a perfect wind to carry us about 35 miles to the west. The trip was even better when we ended up with three black fin tuna on our fishing lures. We were aiming for Isla Grande and its homemade coconut ice cream. However, due to a rolly anchorage at Isla Grande, we ended up at the neighboring Isla Linton. We were still within a dingy ride of the reputable ice cream.
It was late afternoon by the time we pulled into Isla Linton, and we were in no mood to sit around on the boat for the rest of the evening. We had read about the possibility of $1 beers at a local café. We went in search of the café, and happened upon Pete and Rae (s/v Saliander) already there along with John and Sue (s/v Five Islands). The adults had beer, the kids had sodas, and we ordered papas fritas (French fries). After not having junk food of the sort for so long, we savored every bite of the fries.

a cobia fish farm at Isla Linton

The following day, we made it our mission to find the homemade coconut ice cream on Isla Grande. Along with Pete & Rae, we took the dinghies over to Isla Grande, beaching them at the small village on the south side. First, we explored toward the northeast side of the island, walking the path along the island’s coast. Isla Grande is a popular vacation spot for local Panamanians, so there were many quaint little villas and cafés along the way.

Once we couldn’t stand the wait any longer, we worked our way to the southwest side of the island where we knew the ice cream to be. To shorten our walk, we took the dinghies around to the resort beach, and then walked from that end. We got a good laugh when we discovered that the café was actually closer to where the dinghies had originally been.

I wish I had noted the name of the café with such a unique homemade ice cream. I believe it was a French café, but if you ask anyone who happens to be walking by where the coconut ice cream is, they will point you in the right direction.

The ice cream was like a popsicle in an upside-down plastic cup with a stick stuck into it. It wasn’t creamy like the ice cream we’re used to, but the flavor was absolutely wonderful. It was like sweet, frozen milk with bits of real coconut. We enjoyed the treat immensely.

After a long day of exploring and eating ice cream, we returned to the boat for a lovely dinner of the grilled black fin tuna that we’d caught the day before. Once biting into this light and tasty fish, we realized that black fin tuna is now one of our favorite fish to eat.

Dinner was done and we were cleaning up when our grill suddenly went overboard. Wil was spinning it off of its bracket, when it seemed to grow wings and fly. It slipped out of his hands, went between the life lines, under the dinghy hanging in the davits, and right into the water. It was out of sight before we could even think about jumping for it. We felt sick about the idea that our grill was sitting on the bottom in 40 feet of murky water. We had been learning to dive, but we weren’t ready to dive that deep.

The next morning, we asked Pete (s/v Saliander) if he would mind diving for the grill. After setting out a search buoy, and swimming a couple of circles on the bottom, Pete found the grill. We are so thankful to Pete for sacrificing a morning to dive in murky water with the possible presence of crocodiles!

Immediately, Wil disassembled the grill and rinsed it with fresh soapy water. Once the grill was back together, Wil turned it on in order to burn off any moisture. It started without hesitation, and we were relieved to know we still had a working grill.

We spent our last day in Isla Linton touring by dinghy. After school was done for the day, we rode over to the west side of the anchorage where a small channel through a tunnel of mangroves leads to Panamarina in the next bay. As we crept along through the tunnel, we kept our eyes overhead, wondering if there would be any snakes in the branches above. We also kept hoping to see a crocodile, but we never did. The only wildlife sightings were tiny crabs on the mangrove roots.

looking back towards the mangrove channel entrance

mangrove channel between Linton & Panamarina

taking a break at Isla Linton








Isla Linton is known for its monkeys. We’d read in our older guide book that monkeys inhabit the island and come down to the dock every afternoon. Cruisers have been warned not to feed the monkeys because they were known to bite people once the food was all gone.

When we arrived to look for the monkeys, Pete & Rae had had the same idea. We had seen tree branches move (not from the wind), and Pete had seen a large black monkey disappear into the old, abandoned building. After some time passed, and we still had not seen a monkey, we had decided to leave. Just at that moment, a tour boat arrived with a load of Panamanian tourists. To us that meant we should stay a bit longer.

It wasn’t long before a single Geoffroy’s spider monkey appeared. The guide opened a coconut, and the monkey gradually made its way down to the beach. The tourists all took turns feeding the monkey and getting photos with it. While we didn’t feed it, we did take part in the picture taking. We could hear other monkeys back in the trees, but none of the others were brave enough to come down for the free food.

spider monkey making sure it's safe to come down

waiting & scratching

enjoying his snack

walking around just like one of us

Pete feeding the spider monkey

Rae getting an upclose look

Rae & monkey having a peek at each other

tourist feeding the monkey

nervous about the monkey behind us










The next day, we would depart Isla Linton for a short sail to Portobello. Another step closer to the Panama Canal.

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