15 January 2017 | Boquete, Panama
07 May 2016 | Cusco, Peru
18 March 2016 | Cusco, Peru
25 February 2016 | Cuenca, Ecuador
23 January 2016 | Cuenca, Ecuador
14 December 2015 | Medellin, colombia
17 September 2015 | Ensenada, Mexico
27 June 2015 | Washington State
17 December 2014 | Bellingham, Wa
Back in USA (again)
18 July 2017
Our last blog update found us still in Panama, working with the handicapped center. The next four months we gradually decreased our presence at the center and worked on other volunteer endeavors. We had a patient that needed a new home for his 9 children as he was being kicked out of his present squat home (squatting is living on land you do not own nor pay rent on; many poor folks do this to survive). We found a small farm, with two shacks in bad repair. We were able to organize a group of volunteers to rehab the shacks with a new roof, concrete floor and running water. The family previously lived in a 20x20 shack with a dirt floor. It was a great experience for all concerned and the family was very grateful. We did make a visit or two down to the beach so it was not all work. We made a couple of trips up to Costa Rica to renew our visas. And did some jungle walks. We attended several dinners with our fellow volunteers and friends and had a great sendoff luncheon given in our honor at the foundation. Our work continues there with our therapist Steffany that we were able to train to help the handicapped folks that will come in the future. This also was a great thing for Steffany as she is a single mon with five kids. She now is able to support them working at the foundation. We left for home at the end of April as our new granddaughter was due to be born on the 29th of May. She actually came a little early, on May 8th!. We were able to be there to help mom for the first few days. Since then we have been busy visiting family and friends we have not seen in nearly two years. Our two grandsons are 6 and almost 7 and had not seen us for the two years, so we have been spending extra time with them. While it has been great catching up with friends and family. Coming back to the USA is always such a surreal experience for us. We normally don’t have a phone or car and internet access in limited. Now nothing is limited. Actually, everything is in excess. After working with folks who are happy to get something to eat and would never dream of owning a car it takes a little while to get used to again. It is now mid-July and I am ready to leave. I love my friends and family but the rat race wears on me quickly. Leiann is a little different. She loves to travel and do the things we do but she does not share my distaste for the hustle and bustle chase to get somewhere and buy something. We have a little over two months left before we again leave this time we will head East to Europe. We plan to fly to Portugal, bus it though to southern Spain, cross the Straights of Gibraltar and head to Morocco to Casablanca and maybe a little further south where it is warm in the winter. In the spring we plan to head north to southern Europe along the Med and across to Hungary or at least that is the lastest tenitive plan. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures
Four more months in Boquete Panama
15 January 2017 | Boquete, Panama
Starting dry season, windy!
Today is January 15th 2017! It has been four months since our last blog entry. We have moved seven times now in as many months house sitting. So far we have paid for one month, a nice exchange for the service work we do. We have now been training a new student therapist at the foundation for the last four months her name is Steffany. She has done a great job and is learning much in a short period of time. We have been treating patients, teaching Steffany, cooking meals and helping where we can at the handicap foundation. We have organized wheel chair access projects and other handicapped access/safety issues in homes of our patients. Leiann has, in addition to the foundation work, been counseling at at rehab center in in Boquete. It has not been all work as we have made border runs up into Costa Rica for our visa extensions and we turn these into mini vacations. We have gone to the beach, nice and sunny in January! We will be staying until the first of May and then head back to the USA and see our grand kids, the birth of our granddaughter, two weddings and see the rest of the family. At that point if all goes well we will be able to leave knowing that therapy will continue at the foundation when we are gone. We plan to stay in the states for four months leaving in late Sept early Oct, before it gets cold and nasty. We have not made any hard set plans for where we will go when we leave the states but have talked about Europe, further south in South America, Eastern Mexico, so many places and so little time! Before we leave Panama we will host Leiann's friend Diane for about a month and a half. So we will trying to slowly ramp down our work at the foundation allowing Steffany to gradually take on full responsibility and have time to take Diane out touring Panama. Check out our photos and stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures.
Back in Boquete
30 August 2016
We have now been back in Boquete, Panama for three months. After a grueling two day ordeal flying from Cusco, Peru to Florida and back down to Panama City we got moved into a house we were to “house sit” for a month. After a few days of rest we made our first visit back to the handicap foundation we had volunteered at two years ago. To our surprise our old patients were all there to greet us and had a special lunch just for us. The patients there had stopped coming after Jackie their therapist died in a car accident. Most were suffering loss, grief and depression as they had worked with Jackie for the last two to three years. A few were very slow to restart therapy but in one month we had them all back working hard on there various treatment goals. We have been very busy getting the clinic up to speed. When we first came the therapy room was a mess. We now have new painted walls with shelves and hooks on the walls so everything is off the floor and looks professional. We now have real treatment files on every patient and each has a specific routine (some have began walking for the first time in their lives or at least in the last few years in the case of our spinal injuries patients). We moved to another house sitting situation to help a woman who just lost her spouse and needed help to get her home ready to sell as well as emotional support during the early weeks of grief, we feel God puts us where we are needed. We then moved to another house sitting job (our friends have a dog and needed to return to the states for a month). Now we are renting a small one bedroom and are still helping the widow and staying busy at the clinic. It's not all work though, we have attended BBQ's, went to hear live music, participated in a weekly drum circle and Leiann fills in at the treatment center when needed. I (Dave) have started a weekly guitar jam session club, so I can keep up on my continued learning of guitar. At this moment we are up in Coast Rica so we could renew our visa and decided to go up to Golfito where we had visited on our boat two years ago. Two our amazement our old boat “Chrysalis II” was sitting at the dock. It was a bitter sweet reunion as she has been terribly let go. It made us sad to see her that way after she had given us such a great adventure and protected us in many a nasty storm. We will spend a couple days here before returning to our life in Boquete. We have committed to staying one year in Boquete working at the foundation and training a new therapist to take over and continue the work after we leave again. I had one prospect that worked with me for a few days but it became apparent she was not going to work out. I now have another I will try when I get back. It will not be easy to find someone to replace Jackie as she was phenomenal and especially for what the foundation can afford to pay. We plan to take some trips while we are here and will leave back for the states the end of next May. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures.
And finally Machu Picchu
07 May 2016 | Cusco, Peru
Cold at night, at 11,400 feet
And Finally Machu Picchu
The rainy season was supposed to end here the first of April, but it has continued into the end of April (El Nino, global warming?) It has been quite cold at night getting down into the 40's. Afternoons have been nice when it's not raining. We have gotten to know the town and have seen most of what is here, we are starting to feel like locals now after six weeks. I (Dave) have been taking guitar lessons from this old hippie rocker (Mike is 68) who is still going strong. He wants me to make a debut on stage with him. I don't want to embarrass myself. Leiann was able to help out at a local school teaching 1st & 2nd graders English, she said it was mayhem, but she loves kids. We finally headed up to Machu Picchu the 3rd of May. The weather has cleared, cold at night, but sunny and warm during the day. There are a few ways to up to the site, one way is to walk the Inka Trail (we have no interest in doing that). You can take the train most of the way, or you can go as cheap as possible and take a shuttle then walk the rest of the way or catch the train for the remaining 10 miles. Trying to save cash and doing the alternative thing appealed to us. We caught the shuttle van at 7am (very cold out). It was a six hour ride up to Hidroelectrica which is where they dump you off to either walk for three hours or pay another $28 US to ride the train up to Aguascalientes, there are no roads going all the way up. Leiann was car sick even though heavily medicated. She did not enjoy the ride at all as it was very curvy all the way up. One up side to the shuttle ride was taking the mini death road. The road like the “Death Road” in Bolivia is dirt, one lane mostly with a 500 to 1,000 foot drop off. Though not nearly as long and the drop in Bolivia is 2,000 feet (not that it matters much after the first 500). I told Leiann not to look and she mostly laid on the back seat not having much fun. At one point the van turned onto a very old wooden bridge that looked like it was not safe, no railings just wood planks. We all said to ourselves (he could not be serious). Over the bridge we went as we held our breath and looked down into the raging river below us. Hey it's all part of the great adventure. We got to small town of Hidroelectrica and decided that we would opt for the train as Leiann was not feeling to hot. We had a little incident with the police there after I voiced my displeasure with the tour operator. She had us climb up this rocky dirt path, several hundred feet, with us believing this was the way we had to go to catch the train. As it turns out she just wanted to take us to a rustic restaurant that she most likely was being paid to bring tourists to. We ended up missing our train because we now had to climb back down the rocky dirt trail to catch the next train. I was not happy and when I found the tour operator I asked why in hell did she take us on this goat trail only to miss our train. She said she spoke no English. At this point her male friend came to her rescue and we exchanged a few choice words and I walked away thinking that was the end of it. But later as we waited for a couple of hours for the next train here came the guy with the police claiming I pushed the women (total fabrication). After explaining (in Spanglish) to the police that I did not touch the woman and that her friend had came over and “chest bumped” me and he began yelling at me and after some more heated banter Leiann's calming voice took effect and the police shook our hands and left. Leiann was not to happy with me, but hey I just felt the guide should be held responsible for her actions, that maybe she might not pull this crap on the next tourist. Getting up to Aguascalientes we found our room to be very acceptable for the $31 a night. The next day we drank coffee until 11 and got on the bus up to the site. Most people like to go early in the morning but it is more crowded then. Hence our plan to head up when most would be heading down. The site is about 2,000 feet above the town, the bus zigzags its way up. One can take the path which has 2,000 steps but we chose the bus. We had been told by many that Machu Picchu stands up to the hype. We walked up onto the high side of the site so that our first view would be from above, taking in the entire site. I think it is impossible to express the feeling of seeing Machu Picchu up close and personal for the first time. We sat for half an hour just taking it in. Thinking about the people who built this city in the clouds. Machu Picchu was only occupied by the Inka for a little over a hundred years. A hundred years of continuous building with rock. Some archeologists believe that the site was not started by the Inka but by an earlier people (a controversial theory). One of the highlights was seeing the Inka Bridge, the emergency exit of the site. If being pursued Inka could pull the bridge behind them and then continue across the cliff face (you would have to see this yourself to fully understand it, but you can see the pictures). It would be way to long of a story to tell here to describe all of Machu Picchu but you can see lots of it on You Tube. One thing not to many people notice is the difference in the stone wall construction. Many walls are of very precise stone work where others are just stacked stones. Some walls start of with precise cut stone and then halfway up turn into much less precision and then just stacked stones. This to me would give evidence of an earlier people doing much finer work and then later people getting lazy, hey it was hard work! We had a great three days and finally getting to see Machu Picchu after five years of heading south did not disappoint. We took the train all the way back down and a short taxi ride to our apartment. Leiann liked this method much better then the trip up. We have just learned that the Physical Therapist that I trained and worked with in Boquete, Panama was tragically killed in a car accident leaving her son with cerebral palsy in critical care. We were asked if we could come back and help out with the clinic as they now had many patients and no therapist. We had planned to stay here six months and to go up to Bolivia to see Lake Titicaca but we feel compelled to return to Boquete to see if we can train another therapist as the clinic we worked at has very little funding and can not pay a therapist much (like $5 a day). Jackie the therapist I worked with had no formal training but had been taking her son to Physical Therapy for 15 years so was able to use what she had learned to help treat handicapped children in Boquete who had no ability to pay for care. I was able to work with her for two months teaching her as much as I could about anatomy, physiology, assessment, and treatment intervention philosophy. She was very intelligent and was a sponge, soaking up whatever I taught her. I suggested sources online she could go to for continuing education. It was very satisfying working with Jackie and knowing years later she was still there taking care of patients I had worked with. We had always planned to return one day and it is devastating to learn of her short life. She will be be remembered for her commitment to help those that had no where else to go. We are now making plans to return to Panama at the end of May. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures
On to peru
18 March 2016 | Cusco, Peru
Cold at night, at 11,400 feet
Chrysalis Adventures Blog Update
We left our little home in Cuenca, Ecuador at the end of February and continued our trek south. We took an overnight bus crossing into Peru. We were quite groggy at 3am checking into Peru getting off and back onto the bus. Just falling back to sleep when we reached our destination Mancora, Peru. As we came off the bus again disoriented and in the dark we were greeted my multiple guides wanting to sign us up for a tour or sell us something or change money for us. After saying NO many times they left us alone sitting on the sidewalk in the dark in an unknown little not so clean or safe looking town and it was 5am. First priority get off the street! We hired a Tuk Tuk (a three wheeled motorcycle with a canvas roof) to take us to our hostel. Again it was 5:30 in the morning and the only thing around our hostel, which was fenced in, was dirt. Thankfully our driver knew where the call button was and we were able to check in very early. After a nice nap we got up and checked things out. Our hostel was a bungalow with lots of bamboo and other than a few ants trying to eat my sandwich before I did and a couple cockroaches it was fine. After a dip in the pool, 15×20, but hey it was cool, we headed down to the beach. The beach was a short walk and we walked on the sand down toward town. The water here is quite cool because of the Humboldt current bringing cold water up from the Antarctic so we were not tempted to jump in. We found a little grass hut to have drinks and a little to eat while we watched the local surfers. We walked the town a bit, not much to see, mainly a surfer hangout and a poor tourist town. We made plans to catch a bus the next day and headed back to the hostel. The next day we headed out to Piura, a short two hour trip. We had booked a night at a hostel which turned out to be a pretty nice place. Piura had about as much appeal as Guayaquil in Ecuador. Big, dirty and not to safe looking. We found a modern mall to our surprise and had a nice dinner at a Chile’s restaurant which we also did not expect to see. We had dinner and took a taxi back to the hostel. We had booked a flight to Cuzco from Piura as we found that the Northern Peruvian coast was mostly desert all the way to Lima (the view doesn't change much) and the cost to fly was about the same. We arrived in Cuzco without issues and a taxi took us to the hostel we had booked. It was a shock going from night time temps in the 80's to overnight temps in the 40's. Cuzco is at 11,400 feet so it's cold! In the day time when it's not raining it's nice in the 70's. It is weird to see snow in the mountains so near the equator. We spent two days in our little hostel before finding more permanent housing. Leiann found a house totally furnished for $600 soles ($175 US)! Our house is 350 years old built in colonial times, the walls are built of adobe and are 3 foot thick! We really liked living in a historic place but soon found out that the home has not heat (as most old homes) and we were freezing at night even with four heavy wool blankets. So we began to look for another place. Leiann found a place advertised for $94 month for a room with a fully stocked kitchen! We had lived in a “flat” with other people in Medellin and found it fun so we had not qualms about renting just a room. When we got to the place it had security fences, under ground parking and an elevator, it looked pretty up scale. We were scratching our heads, this for $94? When we into the apartment we really looked at each other, it looked brand new, fully furnished, huge kitchen, new furniture and china on the table with a full pitcher of water? Something was definitely not right here. The owner spoke broken English. We asked again how much was this place? She said $25 a day! That's $750 a month. We told her our budget would not allow for us to pay that and she asked how much could we pay. We told her $500 max. She said that if we allowed her to rent the other room out for $25 a night when she could she would give it to us for $500. So we have a totally modern apartment (with A/C and heat)! So if any one wants to come down you can rent the other room for $300 for a month. Pretty good deal when you consider you have full kitchen that you would not have in a hotel not to mention $50 a day at a hotel adds up fast. We have been exploring our new playground and there is lots to see. The town is the oldest continuously occupied city in all the Americas so there's lots of history here. We have hit seven museums, squares, little cafes and three churches so far. The famous perfectly jointed stone wall is right in town (see pics) as well many other stone walls made of Inca stones that were stolen from various Inca sites. Nearly all important religious Inca sites have been torn down and a Catholic church built on the foundations. We plan to visit Machu Picchu in the end of April when rainy season is over. We will be visiting many ruin sites soon a well as traveling up to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Lake Titicaca (say that three times fast) is the highest lake in the world at 13,000 feet. So stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures and be sure to check out the photo gallery.
Friends and the Galopagos
25 February 2016 | Cuenca, Ecuador
Updates on the “Chrysalis” Adventure
January and February as usual have been busy. We had four friends visit us, a trip to Vilcabamba and a trip to the Galapagos. We always enjoy sharing our adventures with others and the last two months we have been able to host our four friends: Jacob our pastor on the run, Thomas our digital vagabond roommate from Medellin, Casey our motorcycle traveling friend we met in Medellin and Ellen our good friend from Washington State. After returning from our trip to Vilcabamba (see last blog) we had Thomas show up and we showed him the town. We toured Inca ruins, took him to the jazz club, Leiann and him drank Cuba Libras at home, told stories of past adventures and had a great time with him. We hope he continues to enjoy life as he travels the world doing his digital vagabond life. Then our friend Casey showed up. We met Casey in Medellin watching the Sea Hawks as he was also from the Seattle area. He had rode his motorcycle from Washington State to Florida, shipped it to Colombia and now is riding to southern South America. We again drug Casey all over town and to our favorite hangout the jazz club. We wish him well on his journey. No sooner did Casey leave and Ellen showed up. We also drug her all over town, to the jazz club, then left the next day for our trip to the Galapagos Islands. We began our trip taking a bus over the Andes Mountains through Cajas National Park, where we saw wild lamas running around and the scenery was breath taking. We took a taxi from the bus station to our hotel/hostel. The taxi had a tough time finding the place winding through the back streets of Guayaquil. The neighborhood was not looking so nice and we were getting a little worried. We gave Ellen a little hard time as she had booked the place. We finally found the place in what looked like a back alley. We entered the tiny office which looked a little dubious and now wondered even more about our accommodations. Ellen was a bit unsure of this part of our trip but hey we wanted her to really experience the “real culture”. We finally got to our room which was fine, sparse but clean, safe (inside anyways) and it had A/C which we really needed after staying in the mountains for the last four months, Guayaquil was hot!
The next day we took a bus to the Malecon area and on our walk from the train to the tourist area of the Malecon a guy ripped Leiann's cross off her necklace. She yelled at him and started to chase him, then I now being alerted took off after him but he was quicker. Leiann was a little shook up so we took her to a bar and filled her with alcohol. Afterward we had a nice walk on the Malecon had dinner and took a taxi back to our room. Suffice it to say Leiann does not have fond memories of Guayaquil, but like any city of two million there's gonna be crime. The next day we flew out to the Galapagos, a two hour flight. We then took a short bus ride to the ferry that takes you to the main tourist island of Santa Cruz. Our accommodations were again basic but did the job, four nights for the three of us for only $260! The bad part was our room was on the fifth floor with no elevator, good exercise! The next day we went to visit the giant tortoise farm. The tortoise run wild here so you can walk right up to them. You are forbidden to touch them or get closer then six feet from them. We walked the farm with our taxi driver Wilson who was nearly bi-lingual and knew the farm well, as he takes tourists here daily. We saw a dozen tortoises and walked through three amazing lava tunnels. We had lunch and drinks at the farm and enjoyed the trip. The tortoises are amazing to stand next to, the males are three feet across and older then we are, many live over a hundred years. We got back to town and walked out to the Darwin Research Center where they breed tortoises. It was a lot further then we thought it was going to be and hotter then hell. We jumped from shade to shade as much as possible and we were glad they had a bar when we got there. We were a little disappointed at the center as the baby turtles raising area was under new construction so we could not see them. The adult tortoises were in pens and did not look too happy. The tortoises on the Galapagos are endangered but are making a come back after many years of sailing ships stopping by to load up on them as they provided meat and lasted a long time in the hold of a ship without food our water, sad. The next day we took a boat trip over to Isabela Galapagos as we had heard that it was a cool place to visit. The boat ride was two hours of pounding, but it was beautiful. We walked the little town and beach. We found three pink flamingos in a swamp very near town. The beaches were beautiful and had marine iguanas running wild all over the place, as well as sea lions. We wished we had not booked our hotel for four nights as it would have been cool to stay longer on Isabella. At one point I went to go for a swim and wanted to put my things on a bench, which was surrounded by lunging sea lions. I got a little too close to a mother with her pup and she came after me! I retreated quickly and tried to come around the other side to the bench, nope she was not having it, I quickly backed up again. I snuck my stuff over the top of the bench as she looked back over her head at me. Don't mess with momma. After Ellen and I had a nice swim we loaded back up on the boat for another two hour pound back. The highlight of the boat ride was seeing an eight foot shark on the surface eating something. When we got back to our hotel we were wiped out. The next day we headed out for a canyon filled with crystal clear water that you can swim in that we had heard about. We were told to take a water taxi, then it would be a five minute walk to the canyon. Again it was very hot and we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, as Leiann and Ellen were already sun burned. It ended up being more like 30-45 minute walk and I was really ready to jump in when we finally got there. The canyon is a crevice in the lava that makes up the island. It is about 40 foot deep and 30 wide. The water is a little on the cold side but after the hot walk felt great. The canyon was about 100 yards long in three sections. The sections were divided by algae covered rocks. It was a little dicey climbing over them but was rewarding as no one else did and I had the other side all to myself. It was cool swimming on my back looking up at huge rocks that looked like they would fall at any minute. Ellen jumped in after some coaxing from Leiann, but Leiann did not want to take the plunge as getting out required one to climb the slimy rocks and she could not see the bottom which is not her favorite swimming situation. By the time we got back to the hotel Leiann was nearly dead from the heat and hike, with me and Ellen not fare behind, the five floors back up to the room about killed us all. We had heard about a beach that was a don't miss (Tortuga beach). Leiann was definitely not going to leave our air conditioned room. I told Ellen if she wanted to go see the beach I would go with her. She decided to go after some deliberation as she was tried. I told her “they” said it was only a fifteen minute walk and that there were supposed to be sharks that you could wade with there. After fifteen minutes we arrived at the gate into the park. The guard did not want to let us in as the park closed at 6pm and it was 4:30. He said it was a 30 minute walk to the beach each way. I told him we would be muy rapido. He let us in so we jogged for as long as we could, five minutes, walked, jogged, walked and got to the beach at about 10 to 5. The beach was very beautiful and very long, at least a mile long. Ellen wanted to walk the beach and take pictures. I wanted to see the sharks which happened to be at the far end of the beach. I jogged and walked as fast as I could only to find out that the tide was too low so no sharks! I walked and jogged back up to Ellen it was now 5:30. There were slower people behind us so we were able to walk at a leisurely pace back. By the time we got back to the room again Ellen's ankles were badly swollen and her calves were all splotchy. We made her lay down and put pillows under her feet. After some rest I went to get us some take out pizza so Ellen would not have to do the stairs again. My last time up the stairs was slow going and about killed me again. We defiantly got our exercise on this trip! The next day we were up early to catch the bus to the ferry and onto to our plane. It was a fast and furious few days we were glad to get back to our place to chill a little. The next day we took Ellen shopping and some last minute sight seeing. We put her on her plane at 9pm and wished her a good flight. We feel a little odd now that no one is here with us but we really enjoyed sharing our adventures. Now we are planning the next phase of our trip. We will take a bus to Peru on the 29th of Feb. Then stay at a few beach towns on the north coast of Peru. We plan to ride the bus all the way to Lima and then fly to Cusco from there. We plan to be in Cusco around the 10th of March and plan to stay form a couple months maybe more. Besides Machu Picchu there is much to see in Cusco which was the Inca capital of 400 years. Stay tuned for more adventures and don't forget to check our pictures in the picture gallery.