A Few New European Ports with Friends on Independence

Independence of the Seas

 

Well today we bid fond and tearful farewell to Suzanne, our roommate for the last 28 days. She was probably glad to get away from the rollaway cot back to her own bed…

The second two weeks she was aboard with us, the itinerary was slightly modified, calling at Civitivecchia (the port for Rome), Cannes (instead of Villefranche), and adding Cadiz, the port city for Sevilla. [Read more…]

Cruising Europe on Independence of the Seas

Aboard Independence of the Seas

After cruising to Gibraltar, Barcelona, Villefranche (Nice, Monte Carlo) Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Cagliari (Sardinia); Malaga, Lisbon, and Vigo, we returned to Southampton today and said goodbye to Cason, Julia, Petter and Kristina. What a fabulous time – everybody went home a little plumper than when they left…here’s the short form of what we did… [Read more…]

Time for Some Big-Ship Cruising aboard Independence of the Seas

Aboard Independence of the Seas

What a wonderful thing, to meet up with old friends in a new place! Early on the morning of June 22, I turned the boat over to Chef Brian here at Bocas Marina, who will be cat-and-boat sitting for us while we’re aboard Independence of the Seas for 10 weeks. Caught an early water taxi to town, flew on a little puddlejumper to Panama City, and, via Miami, to Heathrow Airport. After a 4-hour wait, our good friends Cason, Julia, and Suzanne showed up from Phoenix and Seattle, respectively, and we taxied to a funky little hotel near Russell Square. [Read more…]

We Bought Dirt in Panama!

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

The Bus to David

Buying Dirt in Panama

Okay. We’re now Panamanian landowners. We just couldn’t resist the opportunity. With the US economy stalled out, and Panama growing at about 7% a year, the choice seemed obvious. Call us optimistic, but we chose Lot #279 at Montanas de Caldera, just down the hill from Bozuete. We took the bus up to David on Tuesday, paced the property, wrote the deposit, and celebrated at El Renegado.

On Thursday morning, we decided to go out for a long weekend before Ole goes back to work on the 18th, and before I meet up with my friends in London on the 23rd to join the ship in Southampton and cruise with Ole for his whole 10 weeks.

Update on Maggie, Trip to David

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Well, if all goes according to plan, Ole gets back on Sunday morning. He phoned me on arrival at Turku to tell me that American Airlines had “misplaced” his luggage in Miami on the way into Finland…a few worries for a few hours…but it showed up on Monday.

I took Maggie in to see the volunteer vet, and wonder of wonders, she’s put on 2 pounds, her fur is looking better, and she appears to be tolerating the thyroid medication (Tapazol) quite well. The ride over was even pleasant (relatively speaking). In the lancha, from her travel box, she seemed a whole lot less frightened than in the dinghy—and there was only discharge from the forward end this time. The vet is pleased. Now for the challenge of finding a steady supply to keep her motor from racing. She looks more like a cat (a svelte one) than a p.o.w. cat. She had us worried! [Read more…]

…And…He’s Off Again.

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Today I saw Ole off to Finland for a week’s worth of HVAC training. He left me with some homework – we just couldn’t get the development at Montanas de Caldera off our minds – so I’m going to research available funds, Panamanian Real Estate law, and see what ducks we can line up, whether we can make an investment possible.

 

Exploring Pacific Panama — Road Trip!

David and Boquete
Panama

Tuesday morning we set out on a road trip across the mountains to the city of David and on to Boquete, a spot high up in the mountains. Getting there was a combination of boats, busses and rental cars, and took most of the day – starting with the water taxi to the tour dock, where we caught the 8:00 am lancha to Almirante (the porqueria) for $4 apiece, then to the bus station to take the mini-bus to David ($7 apiece). The drive was beautiful, crossing Panama’s continental divide that rises to 5-6,000 feet. The road is relatively new and in great condition, offering some spectacular views once you get up to the top – you can see both oceans from some places. David is the 3rd largest city in Panama, located right at sea level. We rented a car and drove 45 minutes north to Boquete, which is up at about 3000 feet, nestled in a steep valley with a little river flowing through. [Read more…]

First Explorations of Starfish Beach

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

With just a few hours notice, we decided to pull out of the slip for awhile and explore the area on the north end of Isla Colon that we missed last time. We were joined by Neil and Kathy on Attitude and Tommy and Cynthia on Moondancer at a lovely anchorage at a perfect swimming beach known by the local expats as “Starfish.” The water is deep up to 15 feet from the beach, sloping up just like a swimming pool, with a clean sand bottom and a good protected anchorage a short dinghy ride from the restaurant at Bocas del Drago. On the way north, we passed Steve on Serenity cruising south. We stopped for a chat and anchoring instructions, and Steve asked if we planned to do any fishing. When we said “no,” he tossed over a light pole with a little lure on it, saying it might be fun to do a little jigging – he caught and released a lot of fish just for fun. We thanked him, found the anchorage, and Ole started jigging. No fish. More about THAT little experiment later. [Read more…]

Ole’s Home Again

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

After a busy week of cleaning, furniture moving, and mildew banishing, I was ready for Ole to get home today. This arrival was pretty civilized, as he got to fly into and overnight in Miami, staying with Svein and Lise, before travelling on to Bocas via Panama City. Gave him a chance to catch up, unwind, and bring home three months worth of mail. All I can say is thank goodness for online banking, bill paying, and shopping!

We had a little cocktail party featuring Neil and Kathy from Attitude, along with Jennifer from Always Sunday and Steve Tepper from Serenity – Greek theme with taramosalata, olives, humus, and marinated feta cheese – no need for dinner.

It was good to see Ole again, and note that working on a cruise ship during its inaugural can really pack on the prosperity pounds! Suffice it to say that we’ve made a pact that when we get on Independence in June we’re going to take full advantage of the gym.

Politics as Crack for the Masses in the Tropics

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Hooray for the North Carolina and Pennsylvania Primaries!!! I realized last weekend that I have a serious problem — I’ve become a political junkie, watching MSNBC online every night and checking with Huffington Post and dailykos every few hours to follow the Democratic race. I knew I was in serious trouble when I watched the Guam primaries all day long last Saturday…jeebus, I have to get out more!

Not a good night to stay up until 2:00 a.m., with Ole coming home tomorrow, but hey. Politics is crack.