03/10/2014, Boquete, Panama
Crossing the border into Panama on foot was a chaotically fascinating process! Evey imaginable product is available for purchase in the "free zone" and we came away with a pair of flu flops for me and two yummy mangoes to eat on the bus ride to David once all paperwork had been cleared.
Our original plan was to utilize the bus system only but, with our last minute decision to go to South Africa cutting into our travel plans to Panama, we decided a car rental in David would be more efficient as many of the places I had picked put to visit were off the Trans American highway by a good two to three hours each time.
Boquete was our first stop. Nev had been there about 10 years ago and his memories were good ones. The town is at an elevation of 5,000 feet and the cool air felt wonderful on our roasted bodies! The bougainvillea, hibiscus and pentis were stunningly large and colorful and the aroma of coffee in the air stimulated our olfactory senses no end! If I wasn't a wino I could see myself becoming a coffeeo without a doubt!
We zip lined from TreeTrek Lodge and loved it. Great guides, the second tallest natural station in Central America and two of the longest lines from stations 10 through 12! The chilling wind blew hard that morning and slowed some of us down but that only added to the unusual experience!
The patience came in handy at mealtimes - no hurry here! Nev and I waited an hour and a half and a bottle of wine before our dinner was served! That we learned would become the norm for most dinig experiences in Panama. Later, in Panama City, I would come across a quote that would explain it all... Goes like this: "It is equally offensive to speed a guest who would like to stay as to detain one who is anxious to leave." Homer.
I did discover magic bug bite medicine that quickly healed my ravaged knees and legs as promised on the label, and even brought some relief to Nev's achey knee!
A fascinating little town that definitely deserved at least two more days of exploring that we didn't have the luxury to extend.
PS Problems with our camera - picture to follow.
03/10/2014, Zancudo, Costa Rica
Miraculously Nev and I met up at the bus terminal in San Jose, Costa Rica, with little fuss and huge thanks to big, gentle Luis who got me there safely from La Montana. :)
And Nev was lucky enough to retrieve his kindle that he'd left behind on the plane - he's ink the middle of Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" and totally hooked so he needed that little miracle too!
I was thrilled to show him Zancudo, one of my most favorite beaches in the world and one that he and I had not shared together in Costa Rica on BLUE. It did not disappoint and Nev loved it as much as I did. Of course he added his own spin on the experience by renting a motorbike from a local tiende owner for two hours! I was distrustful of his skills since I'd never seen him ride a motorbike before! I should've known he'd take control of the bike as tho he did this every day! We traversed dirt roads, three rivers and two rickety bridges before arriving safely in Pavones (I got off the bike and waded through all the rivers just in case!), famous for the second longest left surfing wave in the world that goes for 3/4 of a mile, takes about 4 minutes to ride and then 20 minutes to walk back with surf board under arm to start all over again! Since it wasn't rainy season (starts April) we didn't get to see the famous wave but we did get to sit quietly watching a sloth crossing the road at snails pace!!! So cool! Such a great photo opp too... Quite fascinating!
We loved the warm ocean and watched the sunset as we sipped on our cocktails jumping the waves of the incoming tide. Pure, simple bliss.
By the time we caught the 5:50am bus on Tuesday 25th to cross the border into Panama, our bodies were brown as berries and our minds as calm as the gentle waves lapping on this stunning beach at low tide.
03/09/2014, La Montana, Costa Rica
Larry and Lindi , Loren and Julie, Mike and Karen, Jim, Avery, Dan, Connie, little Luis, Chef Oman, big, gentle Luis, laughter, tears, back breaking work, tender shared moments of honesty and vulnerability, creating and planting a cross that will overlook the new campground to be built, the quiet presence of God... these were the marvels of my week at La Montana.
We were on the go from sunrise to sunset and beyond and we achieved much despite a few really random setbacks such as a fall through double bunk beds ( that would be me!), Karen's fall at the base of a ravine that had us marveling at Gods strength in Avery who piggy backed her all the way back up the hill in the ever encroaching darkness of the jungle evening, and a lump of cement that spewed out of the mixer and into Avery's eye as he walked by resulting in an agonizing 24 hours for him.
We painted 8 girls dorms, two large ablution blocks, the chappel and the gym. All the trash cans got revamped too. But the largest project of all was the construction of a staircase on a steep hill, necessary because the rains we're washing away the dieting concrete slabs that been placed there before. Mike was the master mind behind the framing and design, little Luis, Avery and Jim were the brawn, and us ladies were the essential bucket swingers and sand and stone shovelers! The staircase was completed at 4:30 on the Friday the campground was due to be filled with children :) We were quite the team! I remember Lindi saying one evening after a particularly hard days work and tender evenings bible study that this was surely what it must de like in Heaven... this marvelous feeling of peace and contentment. I think so too!
How to wrap up that week in a few paragraphs? Impossible! Come with me next year to share and experience the marvels yourself xxx
03/09/2014, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
Stephen is proudly donning the camouflage uniform of the Air Force as he literally survives one day at a time going through nine weeks of "basics", an experience he told me last night that is the toughest he's ever endured, which is why I am filled with angst when my thoughts take me to Alabama. He sounded tired when we chatted for a deliciously long time yesterday, but he also sounded proud and determined... And we laughed about the fact that the fatigue has created a zombie type state which makes the yelling and the endless drills more tolerable! He and his flight have made it through their first two weeks - they were pinned on Friday night and have a drill test today which, if passed, will entitle the 13 of them to caffeine privileges. They are pulling hard as team - two weeks without coffee or chocolate have made both sound life sustaining! Some have quit, all have been tempted to, but Ste is running the race and keeping his eye on the goal and I couldn't be prouder! He told me there couldn't be a better leadership training program in the world... He knows he'll look back one day with awe and gratitude. For now an extra few hours of sleep is the priority on his prayer request list! Please keep him in yours, as well as Candace who is bravely holding down the fort in Dallas.
02/13/2014, Brea, CA
Our precious Christopher is about to graduate after 8 long years of college, obviously no longer a kid, but a husband and almost Pharm D too. Congratulations my boy on your years of dedication and hard work that have been harder on you than us though we thought differently about that at times!
We're thrilled to say that Christopher has landed a fantastic year long fellowship with Eli Lily in Indiana starting on June 23rd and we couldn't be more excited than he and Allison are for the move and the change... only hoping the weather will be warmer then than it is now!!
Soooooooooo very proud of you my boy! And thanks Allison, for being his biggest fan (after me!). xx
Time for you two to be playing for a change!
Can't wait to visit... roll out that mother-in-law bed!!
02/13/2014, Oxnard, CA
Valentine's Day this year will be as different as it has been since I met Nev!
This year I am flying out to Costa Rica on a mission trip with a small group from the church I have been attending these past few months in Oxnard.
We are off to La Montana to a camp ground committed to transforming the youth of Central America through Christ-centered adventure camping. I understand that we will be building a new campground and that our tasks will include the construction of the campground from ground up - I don't think there is actually a road to the area of construction yet so we may be doing that too! I am well packed with gumboots, gardening gloves, ADVIL , bug spray, SPF 50 and a great attitude!
Keep us in your prayers... Larry, Lindi, Mike, Karen, Avery and me... and the kids we'll be serving.
Nev has decided to join me at the end of the trip and he and I will be heading on to Panama for 10 days which I am thrilled about as BLUE never quite made it there. We're hoping we'll get to see the canal and maybe even hitch a ride as line handlers on one of the boats transitioning through.