Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bye, Bye Birdie!

Birds and animals of Panama

 Crimson-backed Tanager
 Yellow-backed Oriole

Tiger Heron - Juvenile
Tropical Kingbird


Oscar the Toucan

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird


 Magnificent Frigatebird
Male, Female & Juvenile


Blue-gray Tanager


Yellow-faced Grassquit

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Last Night of the World

Thank you Miss Saigon for this beautiful song.

We stayed overnight in the Crowne Plaza at Tocumen Airport in Panama City. A wonderful hotel that is one year old. Beautiful, large room and good facilities. We arrived about 9:00 and woke be fore 5:00 am to go to the airport. Everything went smoothly using the hotel shuttle.

Funny things happen and make us laugh. Panama is full of young travelers. Jeff and I were often asked if we needed help during our trip. At the airport a lady offered me her seat on the bus and was sure I needed to sit as. Heartily declined.  As we checked in for our flight the young ticket agent insisted that Jeff use a wheel chair to the gate. He said, "It is a long walk." We must look really old to these 20 and 30 somethings.

Our three and a half hour flight from Panama City to Atlanta went smoothly. I watched two movies, My Name is Doris and Brooklyn and enjoyed both. A short layover and we were on the plane to Savannah. Our friends Jan and Harvey picked us up and we had an early dinner at Ruby Tuesday's.

Everything was fine at our house, but lonely without Sirius. He will come home tomorrow. I unpacked and did laundry. Talked to a few friends on the phone and spent most of the night downloading my pictures and beginning the sorting.

The end to an enjoyable trip.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Last Dance

Today is our last in Boquete as we fly back to Panama City this evening. We did another bag of laundry here last night and it took about an hour and the charge was $5. Such a deal! It is cloudy this morning and we had breakfast at our beautiful morning patio. Visited with Oscar the Toucan and had orange juice, oatmeal, fried eggs with crispy corn tortillas and hot chocolate. Jeff had sliced bananas, scrambled eggs with ham and toast along with orange juice and hot chocolate. Breakfast is outstanding at The Oasis.

I walked in the garden for a while. Such gorgeous and huge flowers including begonias, petunias, orchids, day lilies in several colors, lantana, birds of paradise, antheurym, and many more. Fruit trees and flowering trees add shade. Several small streams with waterfalls and a large pond with koi. I will miss my walks in the garden.

Love driving around the country. So pretty in the mountains with lots of cows and many calves. Horses too and occasional goats and sheep. We pass lots of schools and the kids are adorable. They look so cute in their uniforms of a white blouse/shirt and dark blue skirt or trousers for the boys. Every spot often you see a Chino, small general store owned by an Asian. Bigger areas have a mercado or even a super mercado. All the same products we have in the states and similar prices. Very fresh produce and meats. Lots of farm markets for produce, fruit and flowers.

Jeff and I set off to walk around town and visited a native craft center and several stores. Not much to buy here. We did see the "mall" which is quite modern.

There are builds a big American style mall on the road between Boquete and David. David already has impressive shopping and is only a half hour ride from here. I got a strawberry smoothie on the way back to the hotel. Then we rested, took a shower and packed. After watching the news on CNN we had lunch in the on site restaurant.

Now it is almost 5:00 and we are being picked up in a half hour to drive to the airport at David. There we'll talk a COPA flight to Panama City. It is an hour flight.

Oh, the ride to the airport. The ride should take a half hour and of course there was terrible traffic and torrential rain. We finally got there with just under an hour to spare. And, it was fine. There are only two gates and ours was the only flight scheduled. We breezed through check in and security. Now we are on the plane after walking a very long way outside to the plane. Luckily the rain had stopped or we would be soaked.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two by Two

Today's song is from The Book of Mormon which I listened to twice on the ride to Boquete. Such great music and Jeff and I are two by two traveling on our own now.

Woke up to heavy rain and glad that it was a travel day. We got packed and ready for the boat and shuttle trip leaving at 10:30 for Boquete. The water taxi from Bocas had a cover, but we got wet sitting in the back with the water flying in from the engine. I had my wind breaker over my life vest and Jeff finally put up his umbrella which was very funny to see. It is a half hour ride to the mainland from Isla Colon where Bocas Town is located. Then we boarded the shuttle for the three hour ride to Boquete and I smiled and laughed to Book of Mormon with its very funny lyrics and toe tapping music.

At Boquete is was cloudy and we pulled our travel bags to the Baru cafe where we sat outside and had lunch. I had fish sticks which were strips of fresh sea bass lightly fried with terrific fries. Yum! Then we continued to The Oasis which now feels familiar. Tonight we have a small suite and it is gorgeous with a king bed and large balcony. We even have a rocking recliner with lots of pillows. I sat in the garden for a while looking for birds and enjoying the trees and flowers.

The view from our gardens.
The "locals" bus from Boquete to David.

Decided to go out and walk a bit and catch some supper. We went to the Main Street and turned up the hill to a recommended place. We had never been in this area and saw a beautiful Catholic Church. Then we reached Il Retrogusto. A true find! Very pretty restaurant with dark woods and interest lighting and terrific Italian food. The bread was melt in your mouth with a light oil drizzled on it. Then we had pasta - Jeff had meat ravioli with mushrooms in a brown sauce.  I had eggplant parmigiana, my favorite and first time in Panama. My mouth was happy as it was so delicious. Lots of expats in this place enjoying the food and ambiance.

We walked home and ready for bed.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Shot the Sheriff

Tonight we were serenaded at dinner by Calypso Joe singing Bob Marley songs. But I must start at the beginning...

Woke up to haze and heat. We are booked to go on an all day boat tour and ready to go. Our street is lined with hotels, restaurants, shops and tour companies all along the water. Each place has a dock and boats pull in and out constantly.

We walked a few doors down to board our tour boat with guide Moses and driver Oscar. There were 14 passengers and one of the gals was from Robbinsville, NJ. That is close to where I grew up. Jeff and I were the oldest by 30+ years. This whole country is full of young tourists. Many are backpacking through Central America. Lots of college students studying here or in Costa Rica and taking a break to see the area.

We rode along and passed tiny islands and a few with hotels and houses. We stopped at Solarte to pick up guests at Bambuda, where Brian had stayed. It is gorgeous from the water sitting high up amidst lush vegetation. They have a long water slide to get you quickly from the lodge to the sea. There was a boat in front loaded with plastic crates of produce. The lady on board hung up a scale and was ready for business.

This entire area depends on boats. With over 200 islands it is necessary. Only eight islands are large with businesses, more with homes, hostels and guest houses and some are just mangroves.

Our first stop was dolphin bay. We saw a few dolphins and then headed to sloth island. We pulled into a space between trees and looked up to see a large, gray sloth with a young'un. They move so slowly, so funny. Another small sloth climbed a tree right in front of us.

Next stop was to snorkel which we did off the boat. The water was a perfect temperature and completely calm. Lots of coral, but not too colorful. I did like the deep purple shades and there were many varieties. Saw some colorful fish. Angels, parrots and many more.

Back in the boat we made our way to Zapatilla Marine Sanctuary where we spent the rest of the day.

This is a protected area with the best beach and clear water and a sandy bottom. Lots of shells and pieces of coral wash up on the beach. We took our stuff off the boat and our backpacks were soaked by this time. Our towel too!

A special feature of this tour company is a chance to do deep boarding. This is something new and maybe unique. The board looks like the plastic windshield of a motorcycle. It has a slit about halfway where you hold on. It is attached to a long rope which is attached to a long board placed horizontally across the boat. They tie five lines on. It is really cool! You wear a mask and put your face in the water. Hold your breath, dip the top of the board and go underwater. You feel like a fish cruising with your arms and legs straight out. When you run out of air, you tip the top of the board up and surface. Another breath and down you go. We had a long ride and my arms were not tired.

After everyone got a ride we sat on the beach and then they served lunch in a pavilion. They had plastic containers with a generous portion of pasta with vegetables. It was still a little warm. Chips with canned, refried beans and fresh pineapple completed the meal at a picnic table. Water, cokes and beer were in the cooler and all the trash has to be taken back with you. Afterwards you could hike a trail which looked lush, but buggy. We opted to go back on the beach and swim and sun. We took a photo on a downed tree that looked like they put it there on purpose. Our photographer was a young man from NY and his parents live in Beaufort. Another small world story!

Finally time to get back in the boat and we are full of sand and soggy wet. The ride back took about an hour and we were so glad to take long, hot showers. All the wet stuff was put on the balcony to dry.

After we rested and watched CNN to catch up on the news we walked to dinner a few doors down. We were seated at the water's edge looking out at the boats speeding by and a misty moon rising.

Food was good and Calypso Joe appeared to sing a few songs. He was quite a good musician with a great personality.