In the online world, this day of the week is called Throwback Thursday – a day when you bring out something from the dim past and show it around. So I thought I’d show a photo from a trip that indeed took place a long time ago. And looking at it again brings back some vivid memories.
Back in 2004, on a trip to Central America, I travelled up the Rio Frio from Costa Rica to Nicaragua with a couple of fellow birders. We had planned to travel down the Rio San Juan to see parrots in the jungle. But they ran out of cash, and headed off on a bus to the next place that took credit cards.
So I found myself back at the dock, waiting for the next boat back to Costa Rica. But looking to pass the time while I waited, I struck up a conversation with an American woman who had just arrived. She and her husband were headed to Solentiname, a group of rarely visited islands in the south of Lake Nicaragua. And to my surprise, they offered to take me along.
And off we went, in a time-worn motor launch, to a place that reminded me of Canadian cottage country: rocky islands covered with dense forest, and peaceful bays made for canoeing. Our destination was a big house set high on a rocky point, simply called El Albergue. Our hostess, Maria, was an artist, one of many in a unique arts colony that has developed in the archipelago.
On the second day of our stay, my friends invited me along to visit an old friend who lived on another island. And after a 10-minute cruise, we came to a small frame house, little more than a shack, with a dugout canoe tied up out front. We went inside, we found a scene that still sticks in my mind.
There was little in the way of furniture in the house, just a few chairs and a table. But looking out the window, I could see an enchanting view: small islands framed by crystal blue water and the bluest sky I could imagine. Who needs furniture when you live in a natural paradise? To heighten the effect, the inside of the house was painted in bright, pastel colours that seemed to bring the sun and sky inside with them.
The friend we came to visit was an older man, stocky, with a kind, sunburned face. And after a little conversation, he showed us what we had come for: a table full of paintings, in the same vivid colours that covered the walls. There was Solentiname, rendered in a naïve, Rousseau-like style as a natural paradise, filled with lush vegetation and blue lagoons where boats sailed happily past white egrets wading in the shallows. The bright colours almost seemed to rise off the table.
I wanted to buy one and take it home, a ray of sunshine to ward off the winter gloom. But I was short of cash as well. So I did the next-best thing — I took a photo. All these years later, it’s still one of my favourite images, capable of brightening a grey day with just one look. And unlike the painting itself, I can show it to you on Throwback Thursday. I hope it brings a little sunshine to your day.