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…]

Exploring Pacific Panama — Road Trip!

David and Boquete

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…]

Oh, Yeah! It’s Easter Week. (I Forgot). That Complicates Things…

San Jose, Costa Rica

Only today did I realize that this was Easter week – a heck of a time to be travelling anywhere in Central America. I left Panama on a Tuesday, thinking I could return Thursday and that would be three days. When I came to my senses, I realized that “72 hours” meant I needed to stay until Friday. That’s when it got more interesting. All of Central America shuts completely down on Good Friday. No buses. No planes. No taxis. No restaurants or movie theaters or nothin’! So I negotiated with the hotel to put me up for another 2 nights (during EASTER WEEK!) and they were wonderful about it. I chose to spend today, Thursday, visiting the Santo Thomas mall in downtown San Jose (MALL!), getting a haircut and some necessary computer components. Most of the downtown museums appeared to be closed in preparation for closing tomorrow. On the upside, the food at the restaurant at the hotel is superb – reasonably priced, beautifully presented and briskly served.

The “Renewing the Panama Visa” Challenge, Complicated by a Senior Moment

Somewhere in Costa Rica

Given that Panama grants 90-day visas to visitors, I had to leave the country for three days this week, to re-enter Panama for another 90 days. Today was an exercise in middle-agedness. Catching the 7:30 a.m. water taxi, I alighted from the 45-minute run at Changuinola only to discover I had left my wallet in Emma Jo’s pilothouse. Having planned to take the 10:00 a.m. international bus to Costa Rica, it became apparent that I would miss that bus. The dispatcher at the water taxi office in Changuinola suggested I call to have my wallet sent on the next boat from Bocas. So I called the marina, explained my dilemma, and was assured that it would be taken care of. [Read more…]

(Not) Getting Our Visas Renewed in Changuinola

Kathy went off to spend a long weekend with her sisters, so Neil and I are “batchin’” it together.

Today we caught the lancha to Changuinola to get our visas renewed.  It was a beautiful 45-minute ride across Almirante Bay and up a very shallow canal dug by United Fruit nearly 100 years ago between the ocean and the banana fields of Changuinola.  The canal is maybe 50 yards wide, and probably no more than 5 feet at the deepest, and passes through farms, fields, and the odd village.  In some places it is choked with water hyacinth – which makes it nearly impassable if it’s been raining heavily.  [Read more…]

Tucked In at Marina Carenero

Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama

As Ole went back to Sovereign on January 3, and Emma Jo will be staying in Bocas del Toro for the next several months, we’ll just make a monthly page until we start cruising again.

It was impossible for Ole to get a flight out of Bocas to Panama City to catch his flight back to the ship, so we booked him a flight out of David, a city across the mountains from here.  That meant we were up at dawn’s crack, and over the water via lancha to the town of Almirante about 30 minutes away.  From the boat dock, it was a taxi ride to a wide spot in the road to wait for a bus to David, two hours away.  The bus finally came – a small affair with stuff packed on top and people shoehorned in.  Ole reported that for most of the way he had an indigenous girl of 15 sitting on his lap, so he couldn’t really say how the scenery was.  Once he got to the bus station in David, he had to get a taxi to the airport in time for his flight to Panama City – and all this with limited Spanish.  [Read more…]

Party, Party, Party…and Travel

Hacienda Tijax
Fronteras, Guatemala

With Ole’s 10 on/10 off schedule, we really have to cram life into a compressed schedule, and July was no exception.

For the Fourth of July we were invited to “Calamity Jane’s” birthday at the Crow Bar. Jane and her husband, Roy, have a Beebee trawler called Steel Magnolia, who came down here from Houston about a year ago. His boat is written up in the December 2006 issue of Passagemaker Magazine. A former newspaper owner, Roy has retired to manage the Crow Bar with Jane and run the Rio Dulce’s online newsmagazine Rio Dulce Chisme Vindicator. Crow Bar Marina has its own cast of characters, who were all on hand for barbecue and rum. [Read more…]

Tourists Doing the Rio Dulce Thing…

Hacienda Tijax
Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Tijax filled up this month, with boats arriving from England, France, Holland, and the US. After casually meeting a few cruisers on the dock, Gerard (from France) took it upon himself to organize a cocktail party in the dining room at Tijax so we could all meet one another. The party was the same night Ole arrived home from Sovereign, so he missed the initial meeting, but came up to speed quickly as we organized a couple of private excursions.

The first was about an hour away from Fronteras – to a place called “Finca Paraiso.” It’s a private ranch that happens to include a river with volcanic hot springs. There were eight of us — two from England, two from Holland, two from France, Ole and I, who rented a mini-van and driver, carried picnic lunch in backpacks, and spent the better part of the morning in the river. [Read more…]

May is “Travel Month”

Hacienda Tijax
Rio Dulce, Guatemala

May was a busy travel month, celebrating two family birthdays and a wedding in the States.  From Tijax, via the internet, I booked travel from Guatemala City to Reno to Seattle to Orlando and back to Guatemala, over a three week period.

My sister Sara’s birthday was the tail end of April, and my Aunt Maybelle’s 90th birthday was in early May.  As both families live on the US West Coast, we opted to make Reno the rendezvous spot for both activities.  My lifelong friend Suzanne was able to join us at the Silver Legacy and the Peppermill (it helps on the rates to be a “frequent gambler”).  I hadn’t seen Suzanne since our trip to Bimini for Thanksgiving in 2005, so it was good to catch up. [Read more…]

A Gringa (Partially) Does Holy Week in Antigua

Easter Sunday
Tijax Marina
Fronteras, Guatemala

Nuestra Senora de la Merced

If we Americans are guilty of pageantry and associated gluttony at Christmas, we are only outdone by the magnitude of Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Guatemala in general, Antigua in particular.

Monday I took a shuttle van with our boat buddies Rosie and Don from Chickcharnie for the 6-hour trip to Antigua. The drive was amazing and relaxing in that someone else had to be responsible for negotiating the potholed mountain road and building holiday traffic. We arrived in Antigua at about 2:30 in the afternoon, and checked into a triple room at a private, restored 17th century colonial house run by the charming, outgoing Karla, who spoke no English but greeted us like long lost family. [Read more…]