Tela is a town on the Caribbean that is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from San Pedro. It is the closest clean beach to San Pedro, and it is possible to go and enjoy it on a day trip. It is surrounded by two national parks, one on each end, and some Garifuna villages. The Garifuna are decendants from West Africa who have settled along the Caribbean in Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua. They have a very distinctive culture with music and dance being very important aspects of their life.
Last year in January, we had come to Tela to visit one of the national parks called Punta Sal. We hiked along trails in the park, saw howler monkeys, went snorkeling, and ate a traditional meal of fried fish, rice and beans, and fried plantain chips. This time, we went to Punto Izopo, on the other side of Tela. This national park covers the area where the Rio Platano empties into the Caribbean. Mangroves grow in this area as well as many different bird species, monkeys, crocodiles, caymans, and snakes. The tour we took was a kayaking tour along the mangrove swamp area, to look for wildlife.
The freshwater from the river mixes with the salt water from the ocean and created a swamp. We kayaked for a few hours along different parts of the river looking for wildlife and enjoying nature. We had a guide with us, who actually had grown up in Minnesota. Talk about a small world!! Now, I'm not exactly an avid kayaker, so we did occasionally run into trees and get stuck on roots in the water. Jesse and I used a double kayak, and since Jesse is abnormally tall, the kayak was a little bit small for us. We made due however, and really enjoyed the trip.
This is me, in the kayak, with mangroves behind me. The mangrove is really an interesting tree, since its roots grow from the trunk of the tree down into the water to stabilize it and provide it with nourishment. It provides a very good habitat for many different animals and generally grows in brackish water.