Return to Panama.

After a great time back in the north-east of England it was eventually time to return home. I had a couple of nice days in London – the wintry weather finally faded away for the last few of days of my time in England. I enjoyed catching up with an old friend, meeting some new ones, and wandering along the banks of the Thames.

I flew from London Heathrow to San Jose in Costa Rica (via Houston), and stayed overnight in a little hotel there. It was a bit of a dive, but it cost me the princely sum of $9, and was very close to both the city centre and the bus station I needed to get to in the morning.

I could have flown to Bocas Town directly from San Jose, but the bus is so much cheaper, and I like the journey through the mountains and down the coast.

I made it home later that day, and started the settling-in process. My house-sitter had left the day before, so I made a very quick transition from the busy hustle and bustle of Central London to the complete solitude of my own little island.

It took a couple of days to get used to being on the island again, and to get back into the rhythm of the slower pace of Caribbean life. Sunday at jungle restaurant Rana Azul and a birthday party at Lyn’s house helped smooth my transition back to the laid-back lifestyle here.

Since then time seems to have flown by! It’s almost three weeks since I returned, and I’ve been pretty busy. I had many emails to respond to regarding the sale of the island – there are a couple of seriously interested people at the moment.

I had to get the island cleared again – it’s amazing how quickly the undergrowth develops. Once cleared the grass now seems to be doing very well, springing up everywhere. The place is looking great. Everything else has also grown quickly, and I have some huge pineapples coming on. I have countless coconuts and the pepper bush is doing well. I was also very excited to collect the first bananas from the island too.

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The birds have moved in in my absence! I have a hummingbird feeder outside the front door, and am now getting regular visitors. They are amazing brightly coloured little birds, and are fascinating to watch. Their wings sound like tiny outboard motors.

The other evening I had a hummingbird fly into the house. It must have got a bit disorientated, heading upstairs. It eventually tired itself out against one of the windows in my bedroom and I could finally catch it – they’re extremely fast little things. It sat quietly in my hand for a while, gathered it’s strength, and flew away from the back balcony. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it back at the feeder again since then.

I noticed another bird flying around a lot by the propane gas water heater. I eventually investigated, and found quite a few sticks inside the chimney of the heater. On further investigation there seemed to be much more material inside the heater. I took the heater down from the wall the next day and took it apart. I was amazed to find a complete nest in there, complete with four eggs.

The nest was made of very dry twigs, and was sat right on top of the heat exchanger. I have no idea how it hasn’t ignited before now! The eggs look a little bit burnt, and I don’t imagine they are ever going to hatch – I think they’re hard-boiled!!

I put the nest in a small plastic container with a hole cut in the lid. I screwed the container to the outside bathroom wall right beside the re-installed heater. I was amazed when the little bird came back and now sits optimistically in the nest on the eggs. (I put a wire mesh over the top of the chimney to prevent further bird issues.) It’s a tiny thing, about the same size as the hummingbird. It’s very shy, but sometimes on an evening it will just sit in the nest, peering out of the hole in the top of the container, watching me nervously as I brush my teeth.

The Panama Flycatcher is back too, and has been re-building her nest above the light fixture in the main room. (See the “Baby Birds” chapter in “Paradise Delayed” for the full story from last year!) I had to assist a little, as I have re-wired that light since last year, and the cable from the light now runs right up through the centre of the nest area. So I had to extend the little nest platform, and blocked off access to the cable. The nest is now fully built. I’m not sure if there are any eggs yet this year.

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Unfortunately there have been a couple of chicken losses in my absence – four of the seven youngsters had disappeared. We think it was probably a raccoon, so I’m now locking them in the coop at night – no further casualties since I’ve been back. And both the older females are back on egg production after becoming mothers. I’ve missed the super-fresh eggs.

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I’ve also been hard at work on a new business venture. This will be a business that can be operated from a laptop from anywhere in the world, and I’m very excited about the potential. I’ll maybe tell you a little more about this in the next blog post.

But at the moment I’m enjoying being able to work out on the front balcony, or even on occasion while swinging in the hammock. Living on a Caribbean island doesn’t mean you have to be rich – you just need some sort of online business or income generation.

I’m willing to bet there are many people out there with online businesses who could live and work out here if they chose to do so.

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