Jessica

Posts by jreilly:

  • Into the wind: Lessons learned from two years sailing a changing coast
    Two years ago, my boyfriend and I set sail in a four-decade-old boat, built around the time we were born, heading down a coast we had never seen. Few modern vessels have traversed the entire coastline, more than 5,000 miles from the Sea of Cortez through the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean. We sailed...

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  • Hidden battles in the fight against Zika
    PANAMA CITY—I stare at my doctor in disbelief. He’s supposed to provide the best prenatal care in all of Panama. And he’s telling me, at eleven weeks pregnant during my first prenatal appointment, that I don’t need a blood test for the Zika virus. I’ve traveled here from a remote community in Bocas del Toro,...

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  • Paradise divided: Culture and conflict in the Caribbean
    BOCAS DEL TORO, Panama—We hear the buzz of the motor closing in. Both Josh and I stand up instinctively, peering into the inky blackness for the invisible boat. We’ve just finished eating at our little teak table in the cockpit, enjoying the dark ensconce of the warm, humid evening. I see only reflected yellow lights...

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  • Panama Canal, Part II: Waiting for Disaster
    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...

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  • Panama Canal Part I: Water-Locked: Can the Panama Canal Handle Climate Change?
    “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...

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  • Why They Stay: Humans and Sea Level Rise
    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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  • 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 Rural 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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  • 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 Truth About Costa Rica’s ‘Eco’ism
    With a wild screech, a monkey springs from the trees and grabs our backpack. The pack sits unattended on a bench, but within a few feet of my hand. The monkey knows to grab the straps. But it miscalculates the weight of the pack and cannot leap back into the trees from the bench. My...

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