Isla Corazon is a heart shaped little island in the Chone River estuary, situated 8km from Bahía de Caraquez. One of the largest colonies of Frigatbirds in South America lives in the mangroves of the island and surroundings. It is an amazing sight to see all these birds where the males, to attract females, inflate their red chest pouch to the size of a basket ball. Besides Frigatebirds more than 60 other bird species have been registered here. Since 2002 it is a Refugio de Vida Silvestre and it is managed by the community of Puerto Portovelo. The local Fishermen’s Association took over the management of Isla Corazon in 1999. Fishing was not sustainable and they turned to eco-tourism, education and conservation of the fragile mangrove ecosystem. Thanks to restoration and reforestation of the mangroves the colony of Frigatebirds has tripled in size.
As I arrived in Puerto Portovelo I registered and paid $15 (July 2012) for the tour. I know that two people who visited earlier that week had paid $10 each, just being two on the tour, so I thought I was going alone with a guide, but before we left a group of Americans arrived and when it was time for the tour we left in two boats. As the guide spoke Spanish two of the Americans translated for the others so it was not as quiet as it could have been. When returning to Puerto Portovelo I heard that a man leaving for a tour alone with a guide was paying $20.
After I had registered and paid for the tour I waited for a while, as we waited for high tide. I also saw a video about the community and their work around Isla Corazon.
First we went by boat along the coast of Isla Corazon to the colony of Frigatebirds. It is incredible how many Frigatebirds there were, flying in the sky or sitting high in the mangroves. Many of the Frigatbirds in the mangroves were males with huge red inflated chest pouches.
Then we changed to a canoe and went across the island in a tunnel of Mangroves. Here there were many crabs, but my photos of them are all very blurry. This part of the tour, going in the canou in the tunnel of Mangroves, can only be done during high tide.
On the island there is also a boardwalk but it was closed for restoration when I visited.
Next to the visitor centre in Puerto Portovelo there are a few simple cabañas. It cost $5 to stay there (July 2012). I can imagine it is a very calm and relaxed place to stay in for a night or two.
I arrived in Puerto Portovelo by taxi from Bahía de Caraquez, and went back with bus and ferry.
Hospital Miguel H. Alcivar
Hospital Miguel H. Alcivar is situated in the part of Bahía that is south of the bridge. It is a public hospital so it is free, but they don’t have very big resources. I came here when I had fallen in Canoa and broken my wrist.
At the emergency I got a prescription for a pain killer, which I took to the pharmacy inside the hospital. The medicine was finished there so I had to go to a pharmacy outside the hospital where the medicine was $3 (it would have been free at the pharmacy inside the hospital). Back at the emergency they injected the pain killer in my arm (I have no idea what it was). As the radiologist was not at the hospital I then went to eat lunch.
Back at the hospital I waited for the doctor and then took an X-ray of my wrist. It turned out that I had broken the wrist. The bone was completely broken and a bit out of position. At the hospital in Bahía they couldn’t help me further, but the doctor told me a specialist was coming from Guayaquil on Saturday (this happened on a Tuesday). I said I couldn’t wait that long and asked where I could go instead. He told me there was a private clinic in Portoviejo specialized in traumatology, which I could go to. I was happy that I have a travel insurance, but I wonder how often specialists are coming to the hospital so people without the possibility to go somewhere else get the right treatment.
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