Random (belated) thoughts/ month 16

15 Sep

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the beginning of our trip, if you’d ask me where we would be in one year, I would have said Panama. If you’d ask Hani, he would have said already home. Crazy to think that it took us SIXTEEN MONTHS to crawl our way to Panama. This month we:

+ reluctantly left the house in Potrero, air conditioning, pool, friends, bakery with the good brownies and all. That was a sad day.

+ made our way to the towns in southern Nicoya: Montezuma, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. When we came to Costa Rica 5 years ago, we LOVED Mal Pais/Santa Teresa and were lukewarm about Montezuma. We were so obsessed with this community, I thought this time around, we would buy some business and settle there. The town of Santa Teresa was just ok this time around. Too many people. And much more touristy now. We parked on the public beach and explored other beaches, restaurants and the crappy coastal road (if you can even call it a road) on the motorcycle for a few days. We loved Montezuma! We found a sweet spot in the center of town right on the water and again took the bike down to check out the surrounding town and beach of Cabayu. But as far as settling there long term, meh. Our feelings on the area have definitely changed.

IMG_2472.JPG

IMG_2469.JPG

IMG_2490.JPG

IMG_2483-0.JPG

IMG_2491.JPG

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

+ learned yet again there’s a different mentality when you travel on vacation versus travel via camper long term. And what worked well on a vacation once doesn’t really do the trick the second time around. BUT finding the same cabana you rented 5 years earlier for a fraction of today’s price is still pretty satisfying.

+ ferried from the Nicoya Peninsula to mainland Costa Rica. It’s been a while since Skyhorse has boarded a boat.

IMG_2499.JPG

IMG_2498.JPG

DSC_0129

+ caught up with our So Fla friends Huda and Jason in Jaco. They, along with a group of friends, rented condos in Jaco and we were lucky enough to get included in their activities. Huda and Jason put us up in their plush rental (thank you guys again!!) and we enjoyed meals and down time with them and their gang. It was nice to be reminded of home after being away for so long.

IMG_2503.JPG

IMG_2502.JPG

+ arrived in Manuel Antonio National Park on a crowded Sunday. We didn’t feel like battling all the people so we planned to go Monday bright and early. Monday morning we packed a bag and lunch, walk the sweaty 10 minutes to the entrance only to find out the park is closed on Mondays. Whaaaat?! So we spent the day with all the other idiots who also probably tried to go the the park and found it closed–at the beach.

IMG_2560.JPG

+ explored Manuel Antonio National Park. We had been to this park before but were eager to do it again, since the wildlife is spectacular. As we hiked through the steaming park, we saw loads of birds, monkeys and raccoons. Yes, nasty, greedy raccoons that were trying to steal food right out of peoples’ hands. So gross.

IMG_2562.JPG DSC_0035 DSC_0054 DSC_0095 DSC_0098

+ fixed the thermostat on our small fridge. It kept freezing on the lowest setting and ran constantly, draining the truck’s battery. After Hani took it apart, we searched for a repairman in Quepos and then in San Jose. Through a series of fortunate encounters (including running into a mobile refrigerator repair guy) and conversations of not taking no for an answer, we bought what we believed to be the right part, found a repair guy and waited the 3 days near the shop to test and retest the fridge to make sure it was REALLY fixed. It eventually was.

+ parked in a cul de sac in San Jose for those 3 days while the fridge was being repaired. The weather was cool. We were around the corner from the fridge repair shop. The cul de sac was peaceful and neighbors super sweet.

+ were gifted a bag of limes, then gallo pinto, and then invited to breakfast by Miriam who lived in the cul de sac. We were so grateful to be welcomed into their home and in their little neighborhood.

+ arrived at the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. A-MAY-ZING!! Definitely our favorite area of Costa Rica. While there, we camped on the beaches at Cajuita, Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo, and Punta Uva. The beaches were immaculate. The towns of Cajuita and Puerto Viejo had a Key West-y chill caribe vibe with delicious food and friendly people. Punta Uva beach was filled with coconut palms and the water had some cool areas to snorkel. Only a sandy tree covered track lead out to this remote beach. And there were many days we were the ones out there.

DSC_0166 DSC_0168 DSC_0170

IMG_2527.JPG

IMG_2509.JPG

IMG_2519.JPG

+ dined (twice) in Cajuita on the most scrumptious spicy garlic mussels…with a sleeping sloth above us.

+ met John and Jeanine from California who have been living in Cahuita and are now selling their home. We spent a great afternoon with them checking out their house, having a beer on their deck, going to their favorite restaurant and walking the town with ice cream.

IMG_2510.JPG

+ toured the Jaguar Rescue Center in Punta Uva. Though no jaguars, we saw rescued monkeys, toucans, sloths, monitors, big cats, colorful snakes, baby ant eater, and owls. The monkey playroom was the best–these little guys swing and jump and wanted to be cuddled. We weren’t allowed to bring cameras in because they would destroy them so there’s no picture of the baby monkey jumping on my head and nesting in my hair.

DSC_0130 DSC_0136

IMG_2538.JPG

IMG_2539.JPG

+ got soaked daily. It was a pleasant reprieve from the heat.

IMG_2544.JPG

+ spent 81 days in Costa Rica and crossed into Panama on August 19th. Our southernmost country!! We made it!!

IMG_2554.JPG

IMG_2550.JPG

IMG_2557.JPG

+ left Skyhorse parked in Almirante (because it would have cost $200 one way on the vehicle ferry) and boarded a small lancha with the dogs to Bocas del Toro. It was a pricey 2 days of staying in a hotel and eating out for every meal but TOTALLY WORTH IT! We would have stayed on Bocas longer had it not been so expensive for us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

+ mingled with locals and took water taxis to a few of the surrounding Bocas islands. After eavesdropping at breakfast, we learned that Emma had a restaurant/bar on a mangrove island 10 minutes off Bocas with a reef around it. We snorkeled for hours and ate and drank on this remote little restaurant island, Blue Coconut. Robin was kind enough to give us a ride back in and showed us the ex-pat nightlife. Very Key West and very fun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_2572-0.JPG

IMG_2582.JPG

+ saw the real Bocas. Way outside the tourist center that’s basically Key West circa 1974 live the local locals. Their homes are shacks tucked into the mangroves. To access the homes, a series of practically rotten planks are set up above the mucky trash-ridden waters. You need pretty good balance to navigate this path, especially when someone is coming in the other direction. We followed the plank path a while and it just got too depressing. Garbage was everywhere and no one was doing anything about it. Tons of tourists pour money into Bocas and it’s doubtful that this community ever sees a cent of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

+ found the Cangilones de Gualaca, a canyon hidden in a nondescript part of Panama. The river below begins as rapids, gets super deep and narrow through the canyon, then widens into a lazy river kinda thing. The jump in was pretty high and scary, though it doesn’t look it from these pictures. We had the place all to ourselves to jump, float and splash for several hours before a bus load of students arrived.

DSC_0006DSC_0013 DSC_0011DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

+ are impressed with how well stocked the grocery stores are in Panama. I can pretty much find anything I would ever need in ONE store! That hasn’t happened since leaving the states.

+ landed in the cool mountains of Boquete. There we explored the city on foot, drove high up into the mountains, hiked a trail, ate some delicious German sausage, and explored the local farmer market.

IMG_2586.JPG

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

+ have yet to escape the rain. Oh well.

+ hate Claro, the cell service we choose when we entered Panama. Sure it was cheap, but we’ve had an “extended” signal everywhere in the country. Thus, few postings and this belated blog entry. Forgive me.

One Response to “Random (belated) thoughts/ month 16”

  1. supra14 September 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    These pictures are amazing. It has only been 16 months. Why are you rushing to come home to write your books? Get a job on some funky island and stay awhile :). ENJOY!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: