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February 2013

 

Week One:

The last week of January we were busy getting ready for our trip to Cabo San Lucas. Our niece Rachel got married there on February 1st. Hannah and the girls slept at our house the night before we departed because we had to leave at 3 am for a very early flight out of Reagan National Airport. The first leg of the journey, to Chicago, was a little turbulent but it was a reasonably quick flight, only a couple of hours. The following flight from Chicago to Mexico was a royal pain! We boarded the plane and then sat there for an hour whilst the remaining five gas tanks were filled. Apparently the headwinds were so strong that more fuel was needed to get us to our destination. We wished they had thought of that before boarding us. Our flight was about 6 hours and we were given no food. We could of course purchase some snacks, but we had come somewhat prepared thank goodness. The girls were little angels for the whole trip. (Thank heavens for Innotabs - kiddie computers to those who aren't in the know).  When we arrived in Mexico at around 2pm our taxi was waiting to take us to the hotel. After a short 25 minute ride we were there in paradise, a little worse for wear but happy to be there. Our rooms were lovely, albeit on the fourth floor with no elevator. We had a balcony overlooking the ocean and we saw so many whales passing by each day it was unreal. This is the season for them to migrate, so we were very lucky. They were very close to the beach too. Mathew brought his binoculars so we had some really great viewing.

We rented a car for a day and drove West to Cabo San Lucas, and then East to San Jose, the old city. Depending on what you like to see or do, either of the towns would appeal and they are not that far apart. Just 20 minutes each way from our resort. There were many street hustlers in CSL and that was a little off putting. Truthfully, everywhere we went we had the same problem.

We walked down to the beach but the sand was not nice and fine like we're used to and the girls kept complaining about their hurting feet so we spent much of our time around the pool, not a bad thing either as there were a couple of bars there for the adults.

The first couple of days it was cool and very breezy but the wedding day was perfect. Good thing too as the whole shabang was outside. It was really fun. We got to spend time with many family members we rarely have a chance to see. It was sad to say goodbye to them. However the experience has prompted us to try to arrange more time together.

Richard (Vanessa's brother) showed off his dancing with his wife Denise. Click here for video

Mark and Jill (I know you're reading this), what a lovely day it was and we love you lots. You too, looked beautiful - and it wasn't your wedding! What a wonderful time we had!!!!

Room with a view

Cabo San Lucas marina

Mission Church in San Jose

Sunrise room with a view

Nephew, Henry

Aunty Carole, Naomi, Jackie and Dick

Pool time

Jackie, Vanessa, Naomi, Carole, Christine

Mat & Christine

Flower girls

Rachel & Farris

The wedding party

Jill, Farris, Rachel, Mark, Adrian - beautiful!

Our little angels

Joel, Carole, Denise & Richard.

My baby brothers!

Niece, Adrian

Father and son

Cousin Darryl, Jackie and V.

Nephew Oliver, and fiance, Katie

Bride, Rachel

Henry, Richard, Andrew

Dinner at Terrazo restaurant. Christine, Denise, Henry

Our three girls!

Week Two and Three:

We got back from Mexico and now have headed off to Panama. The direct flight down was an uneventful 5 hour trip and we rented a car. Now ........driving in Panama City is awful. Even with the GPS we made mistake after mistake but thank goodness for the GPS since it "Recalculated" our way out eventually. I think we drove down the same street 3 times. Once we crossed the Canal we had a straight shot arriving at  our destination by 5 p.m. After securing the key to our apartment we headed for the grocery store to pick up a few supplies.

The complex consists of 10 self contained units that would house 26 people. We found the grocery store and spent most of Friday getting the basics in. So no trips yet but now have our base camp set up.

 

This is where we are 40 miles outside of the City.

Entrance to the complex.

Our accommodation for the month.

Kitchen

Lounge

Bedroom

Pool ...... about 85 Degrees.

 

 

Week Four:


We are settling in nicely. The resort is full and most of the guests are Canadian. The owners are also Canadian so that may be the reason for all the Canucks.  There are barbecues on Monday nights and a drink/games night on Thursdays. The pool is a great place to hang out and get to know our neighbors.  The temps here are hot, HOT and humid, so at midday it's a given to be inside and maybe take a nap before a nice afternoon swim.

We are not rushing to see places as we have a month here and we are enjoying having a rest between excursions. We've been to our local beach where there's great wind surfing to be found bay side. On the ocean side of the Pacific it's quiet with plenty of driftwood and stuff for Vanessa to sift through. The only problem is that it's a 20 minute drive away and by midday the sand is too hot to walk on. We'll have to get up early!

At the weekend we went to the mountain town of El Valle De Anton. The temperature up in the mountain is a few degrees cooler so it was pleasant to walk around. We visited the Chorro Macho waterfall and went to a very small zoo "El Nispero". On Sundays there is an artisans market and veggie market. We bought some fresh veg and fruit for a great price. 25c for a bunch of watercress. $1.00 for a bag of tangarines. etc. etc. Video here. The drive up the mountain was quite curvy and on the way back down Andrew began to feel quite nauseous. Fortunately he made it down without bringing anything UP!

We also went to the Gamboa rainforest and took an aerial tram ride to the top of the mountain. On the way up we saw Capuchon monkeys and iguanas, and at the top we were fortunate to see a sloth lounging in a tree. We forgot to bring our camera with us but we did have our ipad so we took a few pictures with that. Later that day we visited the Miraflores locks on the Panama Canal. This is one of three locks on the Canal and it's the one with a lovely visitors centre. We were lucky enough to see a couple of ships transit the lock.  

 

View of the Canal

The Rain Forest

Sloth in the Trees.

Aerial Tram to the top of the mountain.

Pananma Canal Lock gates

Miraflores Locks

Rain Forest

Rain forest guide

Agouti in the wild

Golden frog

Cows ......

White Sand and Black sand.

Vanessa finds shells!!!!!

Week Five:


Another week has flown by. We began this week with a trip to Casco Viejo, Panama City. It takes us roughly an hour by car to get to the city. Navigating it's streets can take forever and put you in less than desirable parts of town. Of course we managed to get ourselves into the least desirable section of town and we then proceeded to drive up one of these streets the wrong way. We were told......expletive, expletive....by an array of hand signals and dirty looks to reverse. This was a great start to our day! Eventually, we arrived in Casco Viejo, founded in 1673. UNESCO has declared it a world heritage site. Unfortunately or fortunately, they are now in the midst of restoring the entire area so we did not really see it as it should be. Once completed it will be a very romantic and beautiful part of town. It's a mixture of Spain, France and New Orleans. Got the picture! We were accosted by two different men within two hours. It was fortunate that we were able to talk our way out of a difficult situation and having a couple of $$ helped!

From there we drove to the "Dubai" skyscraper section of town, the sprawling business district. Andrew wanted to see an unusual building in this modern architectural jungle. After a grueling drive through the the city we decided to head back home via the Amador Causeway. This is a strip of land extending 3k into the Pacific. It's a bit of a tourist attraction with lots of restaurants and a few marinas, including a cruise ship terminal. Amador was once a US military base, some of the old buildings are still visible.

After a day of rest we then ventured out to a small village called La Pintada where The original Panama hats are made and also where there's a cigar factory that makes cigars primarily for US export. We were the only visitors in town and at least Miriam the cigar factory owner was pleased to see us. We also stopped at Penonome, a bustling town that intersects the Panamerican highway. We were very noticeable as "Gringo" visitors, and we felt a little awkward there.

Another rest day and a pleasant evening at Wally & Lidia's house, new friends we met at the resort we are in. Lidia is from Panama and Wally is from Tennessee. They spend half the year in each country. Lidia cooked us a traditional Panamanian meal (feast),chicken, fried plantain, lentil soup, rice, potatoes. We had a great evening at their home.

The heat is really hampering our travels. We are so exhausted by midday. To see all the sights requires lots of long haul driving and we just don't have the stamina for that. We are choosing our day trips very carefully.

 

Iguana at Punta Chame

Dinner at the DeChameron restaurant with some of the other residents at our resort

Panama City (or mini Dubai as it's called) on a hazy day.

Casco Viejo, a refurbished area!

Around the corner and not refurbished.

Ruins in Casco Viejo

Revolution Tower

Miriam, the owner of the cigar factory showing off her cigars

The only hombre working today.

A market in Penonome, a small bustling town off the Panamerican highway.

Lunch at Pipa's on the beach.

Lidia and Wally, our gracious hosts one evening.

A little overfull, I think!

A tangarine tree full of fruit. Mountain region of El Valle.

Mountain cacti.