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Sirena
"Sail fast and live slow"
Galapagos, Santa Cruz Island
Connie, hot and humid
03/15/2012

Galapagos-Santa Cruz Island
Our first day in the Galapagos was awesome! We're staying on Santa Cruz Island and we went to see the giant tortoises in their natural environment. We went to a private ranch which was high (1800'alt.) in the middle of the island. I was surprised to find out that there are a lot of farming and cattle ranches on the island. On the long drive into the ranch we saw rows of banana trees, papaya trees, and coffee plants all growing together. These private ranches are also on national park land, so the tortoises roam freely without the ranchers bothering them. The ranches allow tourists to come into their ranches for a small fee ($3.00). The land was thick with tropical rainforest type vegetation and it was difficult to find the tortoises in among all the plants. Our guide/taxi driver was good at finding them, so we slogged after him through the muddy marshland looking for tortoises. It's marshy because it rains nearly every night. We found quite a few and they were huge! Most of them were around 80 years old, according to our guide. I couldn't get used to seeing them in this lush forest environment because I think of tortoises as being in a dry desert environment. But it was wonderful to see them in their natural habitat instead of in pens. After this, our taxi driver took us to a big lava tube that we could walk through. It was bigger than I expected at around 20-30' high and wide, and about ½ Km. long. It was fun, but slow going because there were pools of water, slippery mud and rocks, and big boulders of lava to navigate around and up and over. Also it dripped on our heads constantly. There was one low area in the middle where we had to crawl on our hands and knees to get through, and then it opened up big again. Next our taxi driver took us to see "Los Gemelos" or "The Twins". They were 2 craters, about the same size and about 100 yds. apart. All of this and it was only mid-day! So we went back to our hotel for lunch and after lunch our driver took us to a nice beach. It was about a ½ mile hike to the beach, but it was worth it. It had fine white sand that was cool to walk on and beautiful turquoise water that was warm for swimming in. At the end of the beach was a lot of lava rocks creating a small lagoon and this is where we saw our first saltwater iguana, resting on the rocks. We had a full day with a lot of great activities. I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings.

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03/20/2012 | Lisa and Leif
Love reading about your travels! Thanks for the updates!
Quito, Ecuador
Connie, warm in the sun and cool in the shade
03/11/2012

Quito, Ecuador
Quito is a pretty city nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains and the volcano, Cotapaxi. It is between 7000 and 8000 feet high, so it's pleasantly cool after all the hot and humid weather we've been used to. We went on the Teleferico, which is a gondola style ski lift, up to a view point at 12,000 feet high. The views over the city were spectacular from there. There are hiking trails and mountain biking trails from the top. Two teenage boys shared our gondola and had their bikes on the outside of the gondola. We could see the trails zigzagging steeply down the mountain under the gondola and the boys were very excited. After that we went to the "Mitad del Mundo" or the "center of the world". This is where it is 0 degrees, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds latitude, in other words, exactly on the equator. There is a large monument and exhibition buildings that explain who and how this exact site was discovered. There is an exhibit where you can pour water down three sinks: one is right on the equator and the water goes straight down the sink, another sink is just one or two feet to one side of the equator and the water swirls around and down the sink, when water is poured down the sink on the other side of the equator it swirls down the other way. Very interesting!! We also enjoyed exploring the historical old section of town, where a lot of the government business of today takes place. We saw the presidential palace where there were two guards that stood on either side of the big door without moving (similar to the Queen of Eng. Guards). The presidential palace is on a beautiful plaza with fountains and monuments. There are a number of beautiful old churches, nunneries, and monasteries in this part of town. The huge Basilica with its twin spires is on a hill and can be seen from many parts of this section of the town. High on another hill is a huge statue of the Guardian Angel of the city which can be seen from most places in the city. We will be staying at a B. and B. that's 2 blocks from this plaza in a beautiful old building when we return from the Galapagos.

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Panama City
Connit, hot and humid
03/09/2012

Panama City
We flew from David, Panama to Panama City and it was quite a sight to see as we flew over 100's of tankers and freighters anchored and waiting their turn to transit the canal. Also, the skyline full of high rise buildings was a surprise to see. I had no idea Panama City was so full of high rises, it looked like Miami. Actually, we talked to a man from Florida at our hotel and he said Panama had more high rises than Miami! We found out that most of these high rises have been built in the last 10-12 years, since Panama took over running the canal from the U.S. in 1999. There are also many new buildings under construction. As I looked across the city from our 7th floor hotel room I counted about 8 cranes working on new buildings. Panama appears to be very prosperous and there are many Americans living and working here. Along with the big city, comes big traffic congestion! Looking down from our hotel room one evening around rush hour, all we could see was gridlock. The 4 lane main street was barely moving, the side streets were backed up waiting to get into the main street, and other cross streets were backed up waiting to get into the side streets that led to the main street: total gridlock!! Our hotel was located about 3 blocks from the harbor and had about 12-15 restaurants in a 2 block radius. We had lots of choices of good restaurants to walk to, which was nice. We saw 3 marinas and 3 anchorages. The marinas were full. One of the anchorages near the entrance to the canal was where private sailboats and powerboats waited their turn to go through the canal. We went to the Mira Flores locks to watch the boats go through the canal. There was a viewing area right next to the locks where we were "up close and personal" with the ships going through. It was a great vantage point where the boats were at eye level and we looked down on the canal. Right when we got there we were lucky to have a ship coming in to the locks and it was a big car carrier that was the biggest size ship that will fit in the locks. It dwarfed the locks and looked like it had about 1 foot of room on each side of it. It was interesting to watch the whole sequence as it moved forward into the lock with the "mules" on each side of it keeping it centered in the lock, then slowly rising with the water level, then the gates opened and it moved into the next lock. It was interesting to learn that the water flowed from the high lock to the lower lock strictly by gravity, there were no pumps involved. After the big car carrier came into the lock then 2 tour boats came in side by side with plenty of room around them and they looked small in the lock whereas the car carrier had filled the lock. There was a museum and a movie that showed the history of making the canal that was very good. After this we went to Casco Viejo which is the old colonial part of Panama. It had beautiful churches, monuments, statues, and an old theater. The architecture of the buildings was quite beautiful and we had lunch in a small restaurant on the plaza and enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere. We enjoyed Panama City very much, but after a few days in the hustle and bustle of a big city we were ready to move on to Ecuador.

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Golfito, Costa Rica
Connie, hot and humid
03/05/2012

Golfito
As we were entering the bay a Swallow came and flew in circles around and around our boat while singing to us. Then a lot of his friends joined him flying around and also landing on the jib lines and the foredeck. What a great welcoming party to the bay of Golfito! The bay is large and very protected as it is almost surrounded by mountains. The small town is situated on a narrow, flat strip of land between the mountains and the water. The mountains are covered in lush, green tropical vegetation. There are several small marinas and we anchored off the Land Sea marina. Tim makes all cruisers feel very welcome at his Land Sea marina. For $5 we can tie up the dinghy to his dock, use the shower, get drinks at the honor bar, use the wifi, and relax in the cruisers lounge. What a great place! Tim made a cute houseboat that is tied up to the dock and is his "refuge". Many cruisers paint their names and boat name on the wall of the lounge and we found Gijima (Tim, Tracy, Sean, and Alex Sowell) painted on the wall. Our good friends from Newport Beach had spent some time here 2 years ago and it was fun to find their name on the wall. One evening while we ate at the Banana Marina next door, people got up from their tables to feed a sea turtle. So, we got up to watch. Evidently this sea turtle has been hanging around here getting fed for a number of years now.
We took a taxi to the border of Costa Rica and Panama (about an hour away) and took another taxi to the town of David, Panama (another hour). The ride through Costa Rica was pretty, with tropical vegetation and rivers, and many mountains. Many people cross the border to go to David for shopping because it's a big town and has many things. It's also very inexpensive. We stayed in a nice hotel for $25.00 and Ed got a haircut for $3.00!

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Uvita
Connie, hot and humid
02/26/2012

Uvita
We sailed from Quepos to Uvita on flat seas and about 8 knots of breeze. When we were approaching the anchorage all we could see was white water and waves breaking on reefs. Fortunately we found the way in between 2 reefs and anchored behind the reef. There was a curved sandy beach and a peninsula with a long sand bar that extended from the tip of it out to the reef. The peninsula, sand bar, and reef formed a U shape with us anchored in the middle of it. When we first got there it was high tide (9 feet) and the waves were crashing over the reef, so the anchorage was violently rough and rolly. But as the tide went down, the reef was more exposed and blocked the waves and the anchorage was much calmer. The low tide was a -2 feet so there was an 11 foot difference in the tides. When we got up in the morning it was quite a sight to see the calm green water, and the sand bar and reef surrounding us and exposed 4-6 feet out of the water. This peninsula and coastline is a National Park and was thick with lush green vegetation.

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Quepos
Connie, hot and humid
02/26/2012

Quepos
We sailed from Los Suenos to Quepos on flat seas and 8-10 knots of wind, getting there in mid-afternoon. We anchored inside Quepos Point, right next to Manuel Antonio National Park, in a beautiful bay with 2 sandy beaches and hills that went straight up from the water with many large homes partially hidden among the trees. As soon as we were anchored, Ed and I dove into the 87 degree water and were enjoying our swim, when 6 tour boats showed up and people poured out of them and into the water to go snorkeling. Aha! There must be a good reason the tour boats came here, so we grabbed our snorkel gear and swam over to join them. We discovered a rocky area with many tropical fish. As we floated on the surface and watched the fish, huge schools of brightly striped fish would surround us and it felt as if we were swimming in an aquarium. As dusk approached, the tour boats left and we again had the bay to ourselves. It was so quiet and peaceful we could hear birds and monkeys.

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