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isla jaina

Looking at my map, Isla Jaina catches my attention, for some reason. I know nothing of the place but the map indicates that there is an archeological site on the island – which is part of another biosphere reserve – at the end of a twenty kilometre dead end track.

I take the turnoff towards Isla Jaina where my presence and intentions are recorded by a couple of men at the entrance to the reserve. The road runs dead straight and totally flat but things are enlivened a little by the water which flows across it as it passes through marshy land and mangroves.

Looking back over the road leading to Isla Jaina.

Not a tourist to be seen. The Isla Jaina archeological site is famous for the particularly fine figurines that have been excavated from numerous burial sites there.

A massive observation tower provides a bird's eye view of the birds.

At the end of the road, I explore the area. Crossing a rickety foot bridge to the island, I investigate the ruins before returning to the observation tower where I spend a couple of hours watching the flocks of aquatic birds below me and the mighty storm clouds rolling across the sky above me.

A swallow, perhaps exhausted by its frantic circling in the inclement weather, rests on the rail of the tower, seemingly unfazed by my presence. I notice quite a few dead swallows on the road nearby.

Large portions of the access road are underwater. A whole host of aquatic birds stake out the sections where water flows from one side to the other hunting tiny fish.

These three birds, which I can't adequately identify, retreated, first, to dead trees in the lake and, then, further afield, as I approached.

The storm turns nasty and so there is nothing for it but to stay the night despite an empty food pannier. The only thing in my larder is some powdered freeze-dried re-fried beans left over from my emergency supplies for Cuba. Mixed with cold water they don’t make the best meal that I’ve eaten.

Poor bike: salty mangrove water is not very good for it. In many places it is above the hubs and my leaky front panniers are partly submerged.

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