Author Archive | Jess

CanalJessJoshUly

Lo Barato Sale Caro: Panama Canal, Part II

PANAMA CANAL—Our boat floats 85 feet above the Caribbean Sea. Waiting at the top of the Panama Canal locks on the Atlantic side, we stare from Gatun Lake down three steep chambers directly to a new ocean. Neither Oleada nor I have sailed this sea. Here, the notorious Caribbean trade winds whip clear water into short, steep […]

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PanCanCrew

Water-Locked: Panama Canal, Part I

“Handline Vessel Oleada, your transit has been cancelled.” It’s 5:00 am, and our sailboat bobs around in the choppy entrance to the busiest shipping channel in the world. We are on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, and we have spent the last two weeks securing everything we need to pass through the canal today. […]

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Just another daily storm at Isla Iguana, a couple days out from Panama City.

Vulnerable, Together: The Ocean and the Sailor

On the ocean, the horizon can feel crushingly wide. From the cockpit, we can only react to what the expanse reveals—and what it doesn’t, with frustratingly vague clues. As we sail through the tropics in rainy season—filled with towering thunderclouds and sudden, violent storms at any hour—we find ourselves often peering nervously into the horizon. […]

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Rich Country, Poor People: Life on the Panamanian Coast

“Panama is NOT a developing country.” The young sailor leans back in her chair in the tranquil courtyard of the marina. “They’ve got all the money from the canal. People are doing alright here.” A root-choked path filled often with thigh-high mud leads from our spot in the marina to an indigenous village less than […]

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LasSecasdivingJess

Do Whales Like It Hot?

I’m at the bottom of the ocean, and I hear singing. I can’t see them, but their voices are clear, like a bird calling in the night. I wait motionless on the sand bottom under twenty feet of water as reef fish dart around me. I’m listening for whales. The sounds I hear are not […]

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Trading Green for Green: the Complexity of Costa Rica

NB: Although published in 2019 here, this article was first written in 2016. Although some of the dates for carbon plans have shifted, the situations and underlying complexity remains. *** The monkey screams and leaps onto my backpack. It knows to grab the straps of the unattended bag. My husband Josh spins on his heel […]

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JiquililloPangasWaiting

A Coast With No Water

All I can see are breaking waves. I stand up on the lazarette and lean onto the dodger to steady the binoculars. There is supposed to be a channel clearly marked with lighted buoys, our first entrance to Nicaragua. We left Honduras early and had a favorable current pushing us south from the Gulf of […]

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Honduras and the Hurricane

Under full sail, we enter the only bay in the world shared by three countries. It’s first light, and a stiff breeze disperses the overnight storms. A thunderstorm guarded the mouth of the bay last night, flashing and stomping but breaking up with the sunrise wind. When I take the helm and Josh goes below […]

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The Brewing Storm: Coffee Steeped in Climate Change

I walk into the cabin and have to suppress a gasp. My friend Jon sits on the bed, his entire body covered in lumpy, bright red hives. “My lips feel weird. They’re all swollen.” “I gave him the allergy pill already,” Shannon, his partner, is unnecessarily tidying, something I have noticed she does when she […]

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Proud Cande.

Why They Stay: A Town On the Edge

On a windswept knuckle of land that juts proudly from Mexico’s Pacific coast, a tiny town perches between cliff and sea. With a smattering of artisanal fishers and restauranteurs, Tehuamixtle has tucked into a precarious edge, protected only slightly by the jagged black headlands of Punta Ipala. To get to the town by land requires […]

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