30 October 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
27 October 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
06 October 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
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
Merida (Little Rome) Spain
02 November 2017
warm no rain
Merida or Little Rome As It Is Referred To
We had not heard of nor had planned to come here. Leiann found about it looking for interesting places to see in Spain. She told me that there were Roman ruins there so I said let’s go check it out. We are now really glad we came. Merida is called little Rome because it was an important Roman City out on the edge of the frontier. The city dates back to 24 BC! We toured many of the sites to include the theater, amphitheater (for gladiator fighting, lions vs Christians and such) the aqueduct, the Roman baths, temple of Diana, the big arch, museum, temple of the cult, a church built in 500 A.D. and a few more. Lots to see in two days. We also learned a little history: Cortez (concured the Aztec)and Pizarro (concurred the Inka) were both from near here as were many other young men who sought their fortunes on the exploration of the high seas. This area is called the Extremaduro (literally “The hard place”). Men left here seeking a better life for a reason. It’s very hot here in summer and very dry. The one thing that does well here is the raising of pigs and the region is famous for it’s pork raised on acorns. They say the higher the diet is in acorns the higher the price of the meat, which is referred to as “Presunto”. It is dried and legs of “Presunto” hang in store windows everywhere. And of course nice wine is still dirt cheap, Leiann is currently drinking a 2014 bottle she likes that cost 1.59 Euro! OK that’s it for now stay tuned and be sure to check out the photos in the gallery.
30 October 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
still nice and sunny!
Goodbye Portugal You’ve Been Fun!
Before we leave for Spain we made one more trip into Lisbon with our Host and her aunt Ana to try and see a few more sites we had not made it to yet. Our last trip out sight seeing we found a whole 'nother cosmopolitan side of Lisbon with an Expo Center, gondolas along the malacon, huge shopping malls and sky scraping futuristic buildings. On today's trip we first we went to the National Coach Museum. Talk about decadence, these coaches dating back to the 1600’s were like rolling gold statures! For me I found myself thinking about the hungry people that must have watched these things coming down the road. Next we headed over to the Portugal Marine Museum. With My interest in sailing this place was like a sail boat wonderland. The museum traces sailing vessels evolving from simple river barges with a sail to open ocean explorers, the on-vent of combined steam and sail and finally giving way to diesel powered ocean goers. Next we headed over to taste the famous Lisbon pastry the Pasties de Belem. The line at this place is constant. Inside the restaurant is a maize of dining rooms completely full with people standing around waiting to grab a seat and seating says 400 available. The “De Nada” is a cream tart that is not as sweet as what we have in the US but they were very good. Raquel then drove us around Lisbon to see the places tourists don’t go to including a night club that features paintings of naked women everywhere, a stripper pole, florescent lights, a “toy” store and is reported to have standing room only on Friday and Saturday nights. It was a strange place. We finally headed home feeling that we had seen a good part of Lisbon, Porto and got to now a little more of Portugal than the passing tourist. Stayed tuned and don’t forget to look at the pictures of these sites in the gallery.
Portugal wrap up
27 October 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
Nice and warm 70 to 80 no rain!
Our Adventures in Portugal
We knew next to nothing about Portugal before we came so it has been a great history lesson and a very beautiful place to visit. The weather here in October has been great, in the seventies most days. The area is very much like northern California, an arid climate great for growing GRAPES. At the same latitude as San Francisco (38degree’s north) wine production is at the very heart of Portugal. We visited Porto a city in the north of the country that, you guessed it is named after port wines and so is the country. As we found out port wines became very popular in England back in the day, as they would withstand the high temperatures they would be exposed to during shipping due to their fortification with a white wine brandy bringing them up to an alcohol level of 20%. Red wines typicality need temperatures not exceeding 60 degree’s F or they spoil. Portugal summers are hot and the weather is not good for shipping in the winter, so port became king. Lisbon was at it’s height of riches due to the gold and other high value cargo returning to their ports, when in 1755 a huge earthquake destroyed 60% of all it’s buildings, so when we went to Porto it became obvious that Porto had not suffered the same fate, with many more churches, cathedrals and palaces surviving from that guild-ed aged. The opulence in architecture is truly amazing, no money was spared in the building of these structures. We have tried to take photos to share the experience with you our readers but like many of the places we have visited pictures just don’t do it justice, you have to be here to take in the beauty of place. Apart from all the beautiful churches and other buildings we have visited In Lisbon and Porto the stand out for me was visiting the tower of Belem. Built between 1510 to 1530. It sits on the entrance of the harbor and once had a sister tower on the other side so that cannon cross fire would protect the harbor. It was from this place the great wooden ships leaving to discover new worlds were blessed by priests and saluted by the king as they passed by into the unknown Atlantic. The most famous of these being Vasco de Gama, with the discovery of the southern most point of Africa, India and the spice islands. After which the rest of Europe played catch up to get their share of the riches. In Lisbon there is a very large square on the waters edge. In this square much of Portugal history has been played out with massive demonstrations to the public burning at the stake of victims of the inquisition. Yes the inquisition was alive and well here, we will see much more of their place in history when we get to Seville, the home of the Spanish Inquisition. Interesting a sister to the golden gate is built here by the same architect Ok, enough with history lesson. Leiann has been happy tasting different wines here that are dirt cheap. A nice 3 year old for $2 is unbelievable. She is not a big fan of ports but there are many other varieties here and she has found a couple ports she did like. We enjoy walking through the neighborhoods that tourists will never see. Riding on the local buses is always a great way to meet the people in the countries we visit. When out walking one day a young women asked what we were doing here as tourists don’t come to this neighborhood, we told her that’s why we came, to meet people like her. Immersing in the local culture is as much fun for us as is touring all the tourist hot spots. Don’t get me wrong we enjoy visiting all the tourist draws as anyone we just try to avoid the lines, crowds and meeting the folks who live here. Living with our host Raquel has been great. We have had dinner with her family and friends as well as a couple outings. We will miss Raquel and will remember her as our friend in Portugal. It’s the 27th of October the weather is still holding up and we have a couple more days of playing tourist before we go. Then onto a town we recently learned about in Spain called Merida. This was a major Roman city and many Roman structures still survive. I (Dave) love history, ruins and looking at rocks cut by workers a thousand years ago. We will stay there for three nights then off to Seville, Spain where we have rented an apartment right in the center of old town. I can’t imagine what Seville is like. If Porto and Lisbon was rich in the day of discovery, Seville is the port the all the gold stolen from the Aztec and Inca in the Americas. With all the riches looted I suspect even more opulent living occurred there. Stay tuned as we tour more of Europe and then head south following the sun to Morocco.
P.S. don't miss our photo gallery lot's and lot's of pix's for you to look at.
And off to Europe we go
06 October 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
Nice and warm 70 to 80 no rain!
Our last blog entry found us finishing up our five month return to the U.S., birth of our granddaughter “Elyanna Grace” and spending time with friends and family. We found a great deal on a flight to Lisbon, Portugal for $880 one way for the both of us. We said our goodbyes and headed out on our next installment of our “Chrysalis Adventure”. Landing in Lisbon we jumped in a taxi and handed him a map showing the location of our room. After weaving through a rabbit’s warren of six story apartment buildings he said we were there. The address was very vague and we were not sure if we were in the right place. With darkness not far away we were a little concerned at being left in the middle of no where. Finally we had the taxi driver call our host and after a bit a man stuck his head out a window of an upper floor telling us in broken English the we were in the right place. Our accommodations were fine but when we went outside to try and find a place to eat we saw a lot of gang graffiti on the walls of the apartments surrounding us. We knew we would not be strolling at night. The next day we toured the neighborhood and found a bus into town. We could tell the folks in the neighbor were not used to seeing tourists in their ranks. We managed to get to the historic district and it did not disappoint. We realized there was much to see, so we decided to take in a tour bus ride to get the general layout of the town and find places we would like to spend some time exploring. We went down to the Belem district and viewed the famous Belem tower built in the 1400’s from which the sailor and explorer De Gama left to explore Africa and discover India. There is way too much history to try to tell here, I will try to throw in a little but try not bore you with a history lesson. It is said that Lisbon is named after Ulysses from the Greek tale in the book “Iliad” by Homer (uLISES, Lizsa, Lisboa, Lisbonne, Lisbon). Maybe, maybe not. The Romans were here for sure and some of their building still remains here. Many of world discoveries, to include the famous first circumnavigation of the world by Magellan, all started here in Lisbon. After the conquest of the many colonies in the new world and Africa, Lisbon became a very wealthy place and the architecture showed it. But that all changed with the great earthquake of 1755 which nearly destroyed the entire city. Much of the architecture that is seen in the central historic area dates to the massive rebuilding of Lisbon from this time. Ok Ok enough with the history lesson for the moment. Our room was only booked for two nights so the next day we figured we better work on a more permanent accommodation. The room was booked for the rest of the month and not available so we took to the internet to find a new temporary home. We ended up finding a room about 45 minutes out of town, by bus, in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We had to do a little studying to learn to use to extensive mass transportation offered in Lisbon, subway, buses, trains, trams and trolleys. We got lost at one point and we were getting a little concerned as we did not want to return to our “cozy” neighborhood in the dark. We finally got off the buses and jumped in a taxi. We tried to show the driver how to get to our place but he did not speak any English nor did he have GPS. After he got lost and had to ask for help finding our place from a passing truck he finally got us home safe and sound, always an adventure. Once we got the route figured out it was not too difficult to find our way. We loaded up our back packs walked to the subway, (we kinda stand out) and onto a bus, got off at the giant strawberry, that our new host told to look for, and voila we were home. Our new digs were in another apartment, living with our host Raquel. Raquel speaks English and a few other languages. She has been great telling us a little about the area, taking us to the market and offered to take us to the beach and the mountains one day. So at this point we have been being a little lazy drinking coffee until afternoon, then taking a walk to explore the neighborhood. We will take a trip into Lisbon in the next day or two and visit one or two sites not wanting to have to hurry from site to site. Stay tuned as we explore more of Lisbon and other areas in Portugal then on to Spain!
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.