Sunset Hill

The right arm of the Ocotal cove, the hill directly visible from the restaurant and beach, is just as important a landmark as Morgan’s Rock itself, since it is actually part of the property and is not hidden from view at certain angles. When one looks out at the ocean from the ecolodge, one sees this hill first; the rocks at its base withstand the constant onslaught of thundering waves, and the steep rocky slope is almost completely covered in verdure.

The prominence might be called Sunset Hill, due to its function as the lookout point for guests who wish to watch the sun descend into the ocean from a high vantage point. From most locations on the property, viewing a full sunset is impossible since the Hill is in the way.

I left the ecolodge in the morning today to climb Sunset Hill and see what the trail was like without the dim lighting that would accompany a sunset. Before approaching the hill, I found two low-hanging coconuts and cut them with some stem as handles—I knew it would be a hot and long climb and wanted some refreshment at the top. Despite the additional weight, the climb was not too difficult, but I was left sweating when I reached the first stop: a bench set in the trough of the two wave-like hills with a view of the whole cove and ecolodge. Setting the larger coconut aside, I grabbed the other and used my pocket-knife (Wenger Swiss Army, Patagonian Expedition Race Edition) to cut a channel through to the small orb holding the water. The can-opener proved the perfect tool for this job, since the blade was short enough to present little danger to my fingers in case of a mishap, and I could also apply significant pressure to leverage chunks of husk out of the way without fears of bending or breaking the metal.

After a few minutes I had reached my goal. This fact was drawn to my attention mostly by the popping sound and burst of water that sprayed up to soak my face. Setting my dripping glasses aside (I only wear my old pair while hiking, in preparation for these unforeseeable events) to dry, I widened the hole slightly and titled the large vessel back to drink the refreshing water.

I am used to drinking coconut water from the fruit itself, but in a very different fashion: street-vendors in Central America and India use a machete to hack the top off the coconut and stick a straw in the near-perfect circle they’ve created. Using my tiny tool to pry open the fruit’s tough skin and press my lips to it like a certain Tom Hanks character made me feel much less touristy than I do when I buy a street-coconut. After all, I had not only selected the fruit off the tree myself, but had also carried it up a significant slope and used its water to cool off before continuing the climb to the Sunset Summit.

To reach the summit, one merely has to climb the stairs set into the hill. This is not a great challenge, but in what was now a midday heat, the stairs were unwelcome. However, compared to the tall limestone steps of Tikal temples, or the uneven sandstone tomb-paths of Petra, these simple wooden planks set into the earth were nothing—a mere ten-minute task, if that. When I completed my ascent, it was instantly clear why the hill has been chosen as a sunset lookout. The height of the hill, along with its projection from the mainland by roughly a kilometer, presents a worthy view even without the sun setting over the water. A little lizard, which I later identified as a rose-bellied spiny lizard, was resting in the full sun that fell on the top of a railing post.

I enjoyed my second coconut in a cooler location: the middle of the stairs, where the overhanging branches of bushes and trees create a tunnel blocking the sun. A little more cautious, I avoided getting sprayed, and slowly consumed my drink before descending the hill and returning to the beach. On my way there, I saw a pair of mating butterflies that I believe to be Papilio thoas nealces, and once I got to the beach I found a Draedula phaetusa. As I walked from the beach to the road, a Microtia elva fluttered along the path and rested a while on a nearby bush. It was a lucky day for butterflies, and I look forward to photographing and identifying more of them, especially once I have a camera that can zoom!

2 thoughts on “Sunset Hill

  1. Pingback: Arthropods and Sunsets « Raxa Collective

  2. Pingback: Photo Updates « Raxa Collective

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