03/10/2009, Panama City
Every now and then life comes full circle, and it's a beautiful thing. Tonight we slumber in Jeff Remily's apartment. Yes, Jeff of 'girlie-man,' 'Rem-dog' fame, and one of the original founding father's of B.O.B.. Several things are unique about this. One of course is that we are hangin' with Jeff in Panama City, 18 floors up above the din and roar of the city, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, (almost two years in the Caribbean and after a 2 hour drive across Panama we are looking at the Pacific, tides and all). The other is that we are off the boat for a few nights, which hasn't happened other than our visit home in September. Jeff is great and desperately missing his wife and kid's, who should be moving to Panama from Hawaii in about a month. We will miss Tanya, Jake and Jordyn but look forward to catching up someday soon.
We arrived to Shelter Bay Marina about a week ago, after several weeks of loving the San Blas Islands. We had a great couple of stops along the way, including Portobello, which was founded by Columbus and became a famous transfer point for all the gold headed for Spain. It was quite popular with pirates as well.
The Shelter Bay Marina is located on the grounds of the former US base, Fort Sherman. The jungle is slowly taking over all the grounds, but the marina is brand new. It makes for an interesting contrast as you walk past the pool and several minutes later you are deep in the jungle walking past gun batteries rapidly being overgrown. Jeff and his coworker George came over for a visit and we all had a grand time. Jeff brought his guiiitar and we managed to mangle our way through a few Grateful Dead classics before a neighbor boat came over and asked us to please shut up as he was leaving early AM. Some people just have no appreciation for art.
We had so much fun we decided to rent a car and come to big Panama City for the weekend. Much pork and beef was sacrificed. Bacon wrapped asparagus, bacon wrapped mushrooms, bacon wrapped filet mignon... you get the picture. We did have some veggies, but not enough to get in the way.
One or two nights stretched into three so we could do some inland exploring and serious grocery shopping (Costco style!). Our inland trip was a couple hour drive up into the mountains to a town called El Valle. It was a beautiful town with lots of flowers and a renowned framers market. However, we came for the zip-line at Canopy Adventures. One of Rennie's 'bucket list' items for this trip was to do a zip-line through the jungle canopy. Mission accomplished. It was awesome! Nothing like free falling through the jungle across waterfalls! I'm not sure but I think I heard a Tarzan yell or two!
We all had a great time staying with Jeff and George, and the kids almost had their fill of TV. Another highlight was getting to see our new friends aboard m/v Seven C's. They had gone through the locks a few days ago and were still here in Panama City. We had a great afternoon hanging out with them, and are hoping they turn back through the canal and cruise north with us. Either way we are sure to see them again somewhere!
Our time here in the big city is done and now we must go! All we need is weather window to start off towards the great white north!
03/09/2009, Panama city
Just a quick note that a whole bunch of photos have been added, including Venezuela and Cartegena. New blog on its wat on the next day or two. Life is great here, hope it is there!
02/16/2009, Eastern Holandes
I am beginning to fear for our survival, and am wondering how we are going to make it. Life in the San Blas Islands is turning out to be pretty tough. We are forced to eat fresh lobster, crab, octopus, conch , and fish darn near every night! And when that gets old we supplement with pork loin, hamburger, or something else from the freezer. This living off the land is hard work as well. Whatever I am not able to hunt up from the reefs, we have to wait for a local fisherman to come by in his dug-out canoe and sell it to us. Sometimes we have to wait a whole day to buy enough to feed us all (and then some), and then we have to fork over enough money to cover it all. Usually 5-6 bucks! And don't even get me started on having to eat Kuna bread, which is like a very small soft baguette. If it has been out of the oven for more than a whole day or two it just isn't the same as fresh. Brutal I tell you! And if you don't believe me just ask Auntie Heidi, who just flew home after a ten day visit. She was so tired of all the fresh seafood she threatened to leave early!
Fortunately we were able to keep Heidi happy and convinced her to stick it out. I think she had a fun visit even if it did rain a couple of times and the clouds were around a lot. After her 6:30am arrival we set out with Migo for a sail to Morbedup in order to celebrate Joanna's 15th birthday. 30 knots of wind and 4'-5' chop made for a 'sporty' sail. Throw in an engine that wouldn't run and scattered reefs with breaking seas..welcome to the San Blas Auntie Heidi, hope you're not too tuckered out after travelling for almost 24 hours! Arriving at Morbedup was a great relief to all, and Joanna had a fun birthday. Tucked snug as a bug behind a small palm tree covered island was a great relief, for the next several days it blew around 25 knots with frequent rain showers. Still, the water was 81 degrees and the air just a touch warmer. The arrival of several charter boats full of French tourists finally chased us away. They were kind, and quiet, but let's just say we all would have appreciated a bit more clothing than what they were wearing. Some people can pull it off, most can't.
Our next stop brought us to the Green Island area where we managed to find our own, very small deserted island with a perfect beach to hang a rope swing from a palm tree. As our Kuna bread was beginning to get a bit stale (YIKES!), we set out for the town of Nargana in search of some fruits and veggies and the fabled internet. Actually, the main reason was to take a dinghy trip up the Rio Diablo in search of crocodiles, monkeys, toucans, parrots, and all the other wild life that lives along a real jungle river. We only saw a handful of birds and no monkeys or crocs. However the river is so clean and pure up a few miles that you can drink right out of it. We had our fill to drink and it felt so good to swim and bathe in the cool clean fresh water rather than salt water. It felt like the blue hole at La WisWis, but much warmer and in the jungle, for those of you who know where that is!
A few more stops for a few more mola's, Kuna jewelry, and Kuna bread and it was time for Auntie Heidi to hop a plane back to Panama City and then back home. Our favorite traditional Kuna village of Soledad Miria held a few more choice mola's for us, and they were all very happy to receive some of the 26 pairs of reading glasses that Auntie Heidi brought with her. Many years of very, very fine hand stitching mola's is hard on the eyes and let's just say there are no eye doctors around. Watching the women try out the different strengths was very entertaining. As they are proud people they were very shy, yet thankful. Of course the kids were fun to watch, and were very thrilled to see themselves on the digital camera display.
All in all we had a great visit with Heidi and were sorry to see her go. I know she had fun but she was also looking forward to a nice hot shower!