Franklin Viola has been exploring our little piece of the world since joined us on April 1, 2013. He has captured some amazing images, contributed to projects on site and is teaching us all to use our cameras better. Here are a few links to images he has sent out during his tenure with us.
Nature in combination with a deluxe cabana is the perfect base camp to explore Bocas del Toro, Panama. Tranquilo Bay has six air-conditioned cabanas tastefully and comfortably appointed with local hardwoods, tile floors, fine linens and a calming color palette.
All footage and or photos are from Tranquilo Bay’s facilities or excursions within Bocas del Toro, Panama.
“A 3-toed sloth baby clinging to its mother, a troop of capuchin monkeys, a hummingbird in its nest, green iguanas, brilliantly-colored ‘mini’ frogs, and even upside-down jellyfish — we saw it all at Tranquilo Bay! For a wildlife, rainforest and ocean experience all rolled into one, nothing can match Tranquilo Bay. The whole staff, including expert guides, will insure that you have the best time while enjoying a beautiful tropical environment and delicious food!”
Director Emeritus, Columbus Zoo
Host, Jack Hanna’s “Into the Wild” and “Wild Countdown”
We prepared a special family adventure itinerary for those families wishing to experience the heart of the rain forest in June, July or August 2013. Guests will have an opportunity to experience a select group of family approved excursions in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro.
Day One: Arrive at Tranquilo Bay. Hike or Kayak on site.
Day Two: Snorkel and Beach trip to the Zapatilla Cayes
Day Three: Indigenous Village Visit & Jungle Hike
Day Four: Cacao Plantation Tour
Day Five: Cave Nivida Exploration
Day Six: Bird Tranquilo Bay Trails
Day Seven: Cliffs and Beaches Kayaking
Day Eight: Hike, Kayak or Snorkel at Tranquilo Bay. Departure.
- Transfers between Bocas Town and Tranquilo Bay on either Wednesday or Saturday
- Meals and Beverages at Tranquilo Bay
- Deluxe Air Conditioned Cabanas
- Access to water and land activities directly from Tranquilo Bay
- Activities daily as designated in the itinerary
This seven-night, eight-day itinerary runs $2300 per adult with two adults in a cabana. Each child 15 and under is $1150 on this itinerary which staying in a cabana with parents. Children under three may travel on this itinerary free. We can change this itinerary for stays three nights or longer. Pricing depends upon the number of days and nights at Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge. All excursions are weather and condition dependent. If a particular excursion is not available then a similar excursion will be substituted.
For more information on how to book a family adventure vacation at Tranquilo Bay, please contact Tranquilo Bay.
Learn more here: http://bit.ly/10bCFrk
Brian Kimberling wrote an interesting op-ed piece for the New York Times this weekend questioning, “What do the Birders Know?” Brian has a new novel, Snapper, that will be released on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in the USA.
He relates birding or bird watching to a form of prayer of thanksgiving for being alive at a certain time and place. I get this. When Jay and Jim moved to Panama years ago to begin building Tranquilo Bay, they were aware of the birds, but they didn’t know them. Over time we all have come to appreciate the birds. Over time we have all come to count on their company. Over time, we all say our own prayers of thanksgiving for the birds that live with us or come to visit us on occasion.
5.8 million birdwatchers in the United States is a big number. It is a bit higher than the number of residents in Wisconsin. It is roughly two times the number of people in the country of Panama. As we open our eyes and ears to the birds and the birding community it is interesting to see how many of these people are participating in some form of citizen scientist project. Here in Panama the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has teamed up with iNaturalist.org as its database for citizen scientist related data. This website also has an app for both iPhones and Android phones that allows you to post in the field. We have hired an intern to help us get all the information we have collected over the years about birds and other animals supported by iNaturalist into their database over the summer.
Hopefully with information provided by citizen scientists we can learn what is happening to the bird population in Panama. Kimberling points out that the Audobon Society has estimated that nearly 60% of the 305 species found in North America in the winter are shifting northward. Until we have a body of information regarding our bird population in all of Panama, we cannot determine if we are seeing a change in behavior. The information regarding the bird population is better documented in more populated areas and or areas that have been birded within Panama for longer periods of time. Panama’s Western Caribbean Slope is relatively new territory.
There are birds that are bio-indicators that help us to determine the condition of a particular ecosystem. Raptors do not appear by accident. Watching what the specific ecosystem’s key bird does can help us learn about our back yard and possibly something about the world. It is interesting to tie back to how birds have been used throughout history as an indicator of what is to come. Modern science confirms this is absolutely true.
Rare are the instances when one can help science and complete a prayer of thanksgiving at the same time. They do exist. Keeping a bird list and putting the information into a citizen scientist database is one way of doing so. It is a new practice for all of us, but one each of us can easily support.
We have a seasoned water man with us for about six months in 2013. He is a professional photographer who is fascinated with water. His last name happens to be Viola. Yes, he is Jay’s cousin.
Franklin Viola has been influenced by water in every step of his life. He started out young swimming in it, surfing in it, diving under it and sailing over it. He formally studied water at Texas A&M University at Galveston, graduated in 1982 with a BS in Marine Science and Marine Transportation and then set out as an US Merchant Marine officer. When he returned to the beach in 1986 he focused on painting pictures of water with a camera.
Literally, Franklin’s focus on painting pictures of water through the optics of a camera has taken him all over the world. He has completed photography assignments for Audubon, National Geographic, Travel Holiday, Islands, Discovery Channel Online, Sport Diver, The Nature Conservancy, American Express, Turner Broadcasting, and Delta Airlines among others. He has led photography safaris and seminars above and below the water. He is happy to share his knowledge of photography and the water with us all.
He decided to come down to Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge to help us with a number of projects. He is sending photos of his adventures out in a variety of mediums. He has a test run posted on Ikelite’s Facebook page here: http://on.fb.me/17pynRJ. He does a photo a day on his website here: http://bit.ly/15glEnT.
He got this one on Sunday when we took the kids surfing. Marlon was helping the kids catch waves and was able to grab one for himself. Franklin was in the water to snap the photo.
We will keep you posted on Franklin’s work while he is spending time with us in paradise. He does a great job capturing life near the ocean.
In January, we had a couple of guests that came to spend 4 days at Tranquilo Bay, after they had traveled around Panama for almost 2 weeks looking for birds. During part of their time with us they wanted to do some serious bird watching, but they also wanted to see some of the different tours we offered to our non-bird watching guests. On one of the days, another couple joined us for a trip to the mainland and we all had a lot of fun.
We had very good weather and the birds were cooperating. Some of the highlights of those days were: Snowy Cotinga, Nicaraguan Seed-Finch, Lineated Woodpeckers mating, at eye level, from our observation tower, several brown Jays, Band-backed Wren, and very good look, in more than one place of the very pretty White-crown Parrot. Those were just a few of the many wonderful birds we saw during the four days with this particular set of guests. In about three and a half days of birding this couple saw 183 of the 411 birds we had on our list at that time. You can download the list of the species we saw and heard during their visit here.
We are looking into having a teacher for the children once again. After Gina left, I have homeschooled the children for the past two years. It has been a great experience, but due to an increase in our occupancy, we think it might be time to have a teacher again. As such, we are looking for someone to fill the position for the 2013 – 2104 school year. If we find the right person, we will hire a teacher. If we do not find the right person, we will come up with a different solution. So, we will be picky in our selection process as filling this position is not necessary.
- Native English speaker
- Follow both U.S. and Panamanian curriculum standards simultaneously
- Implement lesson plans using set curriculum for mixed grade level classroom (now K, 3rd and 5/6th grades)
- Implement lessons for varying degrees of skills within the same classroom
- Provide lessons for all subject matter as well as specials suggested by the director (i.e. art, computer)
- Assess individual student needs or gaps in learning and address these appropriately
- Submit extensive written progress reports mid year and end of year
- Organize and submit assignments to director for Panamanian curriculum requirement due dates
- Research and plan field trips based upon standards
- Practice suitable classroom management and social standards
- Maintain proper behavior with students and serve as a role model
- Maintain classroom in an organized way and be responsible for supplies
- Communicate regularly with director (i.e. concerns, needs, change of schedule, accomplishments)
- Follow morning and afternoon school schedules punctually
- Self-monitor and self-motivate
- Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
- Monday – Thursday 2:00 to 5:00 pm (approximate)
- Vacation – June, July, 3 weeks November, 2 weeks December, One week spring break
- Mature person with an independent character
- Adaptability to live in a foreign country outside of your comfort zone
- Ability to dwell in a somewhat isolated environment
- Flexibility to coexist and share common and/or work space with other members of staff
- Adaptability to living in a tropical climate with basic accommodations
- Ability to pass several weeks at a time on site
Monthly salary (dependent upon experience) plus room & board.
Molly McCluskey just wrote a new piece for the Motley Fool entitled Tipping Tips for Travelers. I was interviewed in this piece about tips, etc. for all-inclusive locations and tours.
Gratuity may or may not be included when you book either an all-inclusive vacation or a tour. It is best to just ask. As I point out to Molly in the piece, we do include a small amount in our package so that our employees are going to receive something. Many of our guests book through a tour operator and they assume that full-gratuity is included in each of our packages – it isn’t. We only include a gratuity for the staff, excluding the guides, that is around 2.5% of the package price per person. This gratuity, and all tips left by guests, go into a pool that is split between the kitchen staff, the wait staff, the cleaning staff, the boat captains and the gentlemen who move your bags around for you during your stay. It is easiest for you to just give any additional gratuity either to the staff themselves if you so choose or to management upon your departure. This way you can determine what kind of service you received and what you believe is a fair amount during your stay. As to additional gratuity, we generally recommend, if you are happy with the service, about $5 per person in your party a day to be added to the pool.
For example, if you request that your laundry in your cabana be washed each day during your stay and the staff does a great job for you, then you might choose to leave a bit more of a tip than someone who didn’t have any laundry during a stay. We do not charge for laundry service, but the staff is doing it for you.
We suggest you consider leaving $5 to $10 dollars per day for each person in your party for your guides. Again, this may combined. If you have one guide one day and another guide another day, or even two guides in one day then you need not tip both of them. You may either give this to the guide or guides directly or leave it with management for distribution to them.
Whenever you are traveling, when in doubt ask.
Our friends at Cayuga Collection are offering a luxury internship for the right person or persons in Costa Rica. You can learn more about it in an article from Travel and Leisure or directly from Cayuga Collection. I have already sent the link to a few people who I believe would be perfect for the job, but I am sure there are many more of you who might make it work.