Broad palm trees looming over thick mangroves. Smooth sandy shores with bordering cliffs and scattered rocks. The splash of ocean and seemingly endless calls from the jungle ecosystem within. Isla Palenque at a glance yields thoughts of tropical fantasy that last for ages. Stay here a few days, however, and you’ll notice the subtle changes in scenery quickly add up, giving you something new to look at nearly every day.
Our walk to Playa Palenque yielded a pleasant surprise. We stopped mid-route to the sound of birds about the air. We looked up to see half a dozen of them: small, dark, and graceful, milling about the trees overhead. A howler monkey made its way about the upper branches as well, the rest of the troop calling from not too far away.
The real change, however, came once we got to the beach. A stream broke through the jungle overnight on the north end, creating a shallow brook that made its way from the greenery out into the sea. It was still growing, breaking walls of sand off the sides like icebergs from a glacier. We stepped into the current and saw a mound of branches lying where the beach meets the treeline, forming a natural gate that drove the mystery even further.
We had just walk through here yesterday, on flat beach. If we showed before and after pictures to someone on the street, they’d smile and commend us on our Photoshop skills.
The changes continue every day. Waves shape the sand. Wildlife on the move. The sounds of trees falling signal that the island morphs bit by bit, all the time. So while it may seem stagnant from the outside, step ashore and see the surprises that come with each new day.