Thursday, January 31, 2013

My son meets some friends - so we decide to stay on in Boca Brava, Panama

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My son was going to have a quiet day today.
We have been starting off his new school year.
We are using the Australian school terms.
He has been behind with the travel and is caught up on 95% of it.
We only have a few pages of maths to go - well done to him I say!

So as we sit in the quiet of the cafe to use the Internet,
along comes a family with twin boys from New Zealand.
They are eight years old.

We were meant to leave tomorrow.
But he really needs some kid company.

so I talk to their parents and ask if they would be around if we prolonged our stay.
My son is thrilled.

So we quickly hop on a water taxi to Boca Chica for supplies.

We get dropped at the wharf.
We walk up the little street.
Men sit outside - they all have moustaches.
It is a quaint town.

 The boys have a great time, and get along instantly.

Next day, after he has finished his school work, we head off to the beach.

It is fun to see the boys all muck around, and I see my son having the time of his life.

 The boys decide to take us from one beach to the other.
When we finish there, they decide we need to go rock climbing.
So off we head.

We scale right around the point.

We head back to the hotel for a break.
Then it is dinner - or tea as we would say back home.
Then the boys want to go searching for monkeys.
We head off with our flashlights.
We didn't find any and decide we will try again in the morning.

That night they are still as thick as thieves.
They are such lovely kids.
My son is really enjoying this time.

(Apologies if some photographs are a bit dark.
I discovered my camera was still on underwater mode!)

Fantastic Seafood at Hotel Boca Brava, Panama

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This is just a short blog.
It is 5 pm in the afternoon.
I am so full from lunch I can hardly move.

I had the most incredible meal.

Filete de Pescado guisado.
This was fabulous grilled fish - you get to choose from three of the freshly caught choices.
It comes in an awesome red spicy sauce.
It has red peppers, onion and tomato.
It came with yucca fries - yes yucca - tastes a bit like potato.
Even these came with two choices.
There were other choices of plantain - sweet or fried, rice and salad.
Wash that all down with a Panamanian chilled beer.

And this is served on the terrace on the top of the hill in the restaurant.
The breeze blows as I look over the islands of Panama.
You can't beat it here.

I can barely move when I finish every last bit on my plate.
And that was just today.

Yesterday there was fresh lobster.
You can see it coming to the kitchen door from the local fishermen.
This can be made into a salad or Langosta al Ajillo o Herbida.

Then there are bags of fresh prawns and shrimps.
These come in a variety of dishes.
Shrimp starts at $7.
The prices here are fabulous.

It is so relaxed.
My Waistline may thank me we are leaving.
But my taste buds won't.

This has been a seafood delight!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bocas del Toro to David to Horconcitos to Boca Chica to Boca Brava, Chiriqui Panama

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Today is a huge multi-transport travel day.
We have to go from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean.

So we are up at 6 am.
It is still raining.
The whole Hostel is locked up.  Even the front gate.
Oh no - we can't get out.
After 15 minutes we knock on a few doors.
We have to get our key & towel deposit refunds too.
By 7.30 am we walk out and instantly get a taxi.
We head to the docks and instantly get a water taxi too.
My son gets to sit at the front.
It is a bit choppy with the weather.
There are not enough life jackets to go around which annoys me.
And then - my sunglasses fly overboard.
Not happy as they were my last prescription pair.

We then taxi to the bus stop at Almirante - again it is a rush - no wait.
It is a mid size coach - on a mission.
The co-driver refuses to stop for the Bano when I ask.
My son is not feeling well, and I need a toilet.

We wind through the hills.
The driver plays an M or R rated movie regardless of the fact there are kids on the bus.
I tell my son not to watch but he is too ill.
When the bus finally stops, he just makes the bathroom to be sick.
I am not far behind him - feeling very green.

We have met a lady on the first water taxi from Canada.
She has sat with us and is talking of taking the bus to the island tonight.
She had other plans originally, but is able to help with bags etc.
We move to the front of the coach when I explain about my son vomiting.

Finally we reach David.
We sit in our now regular table at our cafe at the bus depot 
- we have become locals we joke.
We are told we have to wait 1/2 hour for the bus to Horconcitos.

The driver seems to like me.
We get a seat right at the front.
He buys my son M&M's - very kind.
Traders come to the window and we buy snacks for the trip.

The wait for the bus ends up being over 1.5 hours.
We leave and listen to his lovely Christian Spanish music and talk.
He helps us stop the connecting bus to Boca Chica and we are off instantly.

Weirdly then, the driver stops at a person.
I cannot tell if it was male or female.
They tell us there is no food or water where we are going.
They offer to take us in their truck to get supplies.
I tell our new travel companion this does not add up with what I had researched.
I had found our destination myself.
I was sure there was at least a restaurant.
So we take our chance and leave.

We pass a huge number of cafes and supply stores.

It drops us at a water taxi and we head off again.
As we arrive, I feel better.
It looks like it has supplies.
It also has about 100 steps we have to get up with our luggage!

We check in and decide to share a room with our new travel friend from Canada Lynda.
We stop and refresh ourselves with a beer and a bite to eat.
We end up sitting around a while.
We meet new travellers and make friends with the guys that arrive too.
Soon there is a bunch of us all sitting around like old friends.

We head to our room.
It is an ocean view set on a hill top.
We can see right out to the other islands.
The breeze and view is so lovely.
It has a fan and a private bathroom.
Lynda has her own half to the room too, so that is nice.

We decide to go exploring and find the beach.
We hear some howler monkeys.
Beautiful blue butterflies the size of sparrow birds fly past us.
It is nearly dark - we can't find the beach and head back.

Dinner is at the Hotel Boca Brava Restaurant.
It has great prices.
The food is good.
The new friends are fabulous to talk to.
The breeze and the view is to die for.

Our friend decides she is not leaving in the morning - she will stay another day.
This is so quiet - it is a piece of paradise.
It is a bit of a mixed crowd.
As we chat into the night, I know the next few days are going to so relaxing.
This is definitely the nicest place for the money in Panama so far.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Farewell Isla Carenero - hello Bocus del Toro - Panama

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We start the morning slowly.
We don't want to leave here.
It is an island paradise.

Once again we are entitled to a free activity,
so we select the paddle boats.

We head out around the rocks.
It is so shallow and is hard work.
But then we are out in the sea between Bastimentos and Carenero.
It is beautiful, blue and clear.

My boy decides it is time to feel the water and jumps in off the paddle boat.

The water is divine.
It is so warm and clear and so I am in before I know it.

Then he decides it is my turn to paddle.
Whilst he sits on the back and is chauffeured around.
I can feel myself burning off yesterdays food - a great idea!

We head back and pack up.
It will be so sad to leave this place.
We have to go to Bocus del Toro for one night so we can get the early bus out.

Once we get to Bocus del Toro I immediately remember how much I do not like this town.
We can't get a taxi - in fact we get ignored for over 1/2 hour.
We finally get to the Hostal Mar Iguanas
It is way out of town.
The room is not ready, but the manager is nice.
It is clean.

We watch a movie and wait for the next bus time for the Starfish Beach.

We wait and wait and wait for a bus.
It never comes, and after 1 hour I am a right complainer!
My son actually tells me to "suck it up Mum".
I laugh as we walk 20 minutes to the bank.
The ATM at the bank then runs out of money.
It gives me $200 in $5 notes and then quits.
We wait 1/2 whilst it is refilled.
We are needing cash as we will be heading to remote area.
I hate carrying cash, and do not do it often.
I start to grumble about how much I don't like this place.
My son tells me off again!

We hear there is a BBQ and music night at the hostel.
I groan - oh no - we need an early night and it will be noisy.

But we meet some fab fun staff.
The cook is awesome and engages with my son well.
He makes him a great chicken dinner.

The food is fabulous here.

It ends up being a great night.
There is a guy on guitar singing reggae.
We sing along to any that are in English.

It starts to rain heavily and we head off to bed.
The music goes on as we fall asleep.
It has ended what could have been a bad experience into a good one.
I am learning to make the best of what we get.
It is a good attitude check.

As I fall asleep, the drip, drip starts as the room leaks in the corner.
I pull our stuff away and fall asleep.
I drift off to the tapping rhythm of the rain.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My birthday at Isla Careneros, Bocus del Toro, Panama

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Today I turn 51 years old.

Last year turning 50 was horrible.
I was trying to sell my home, things were all going wrong.
I was out of money and had no funds to throw a party.
It was a depressing time in some ways.
Apart from my sister being there with my niece from America.

This year I was determined it would be different - no worries.

We have chosen Isla Carenero at Buccaneer Resort for my treat.
It is a fantastic beach area right off Bocus del Toro.
We have a lovely hut right by the beach and as I wake the sun rises 
- and I am still in bed to see it.

Our little hut is behind these trees and it is beautiful.

Part of the treat is a hot water shower.
Most places the shower is cold.
We also have an air-conditioner.
And a separate eating sun room - it is so nice.

We head down to Bibi's restaurant - right over the water.
I had helped my son (without looking - which is no easy thing to do)
to collect and wrap my gifts in banana leaves and tie them with bits of palm fronds.
He is SO excited - he has collected gifts along the way and hid them from me.

We move in from the sun to enjoy fresh fruit juices and fruit pancakes for breakfast.

We decided today is going to be an island day.
We will stay around and have some fun.
There are kayaks we can use for free if we spend $10 or more at the restaurant.
So we head off for a paddle.

We head around the island to explore.
There is a mix of poor residents, a few wealthy, and a growing tourist area on the other side.
We are glad we are where we are.

We head back and enjoy a lunch at the Pickled Parrot.
We have discovered deep fried cheese sticks with a tomato and carrot salsa.
It is a favourite for both of us - but oh so rich.

We both down a chocolate shake - today is not a day for calorie counting.
The wind has picked up and we can barely sit without being blown off.
We are glad we got back when we did!

We have a bit of a rest - I am told to relax and I can do whatever I want.
But being an explorer, it is off to discover the top part of the island.
Large trees and growth is right to the sand.
Sadly there is a lot of trash that needs cleaning up too.

There is a stack of driftwood and stumps in the sand and it is hard to find a place to walk.

This butterfly lands on my hand - it has a damaged wing, but it can fly well.

My son writes a love message to me on the sand.

this ends up turning into an art time.
Each person takes turns to make a new drawing from the last image before the tide gets it.
My son is getting quite talented at art.

It is getting to be dinner time.
My son has been to the restaurant and reserved a "special table".
A big group heads over so he races to make sure that is isn't taken.
He pulls out my chair as I sit down.
He is quite the little gentleman.

We start the night with a cocktail and a cocktail each.

Later that night he sneaks off and organises a candle on the dessert.
Everyone sings me happy birthday in the restaurant.
I feel so special.

I am so grateful for my son.
I am grateful for all the events that led me to this lovely place.
As the sun sets I think I have had just the best Birthday ever!