One Week Ago…

We were spending our last Sunday in Boquete. Doing things like this:

047

051

And visiting a coffee farm up the mountain with church friends:

074

079

082

And riding in the back of a Prado:

090

To see natural rock formations, and eat frozen strawberry desserts and attempt climbing:

100

102

We are now spending our last day in Panama, sitting on the terrace of our guest house in El Valle, just a couple hours from Panama City. There are pictures coming, (of course) so hang in there. We’ve been without internet for a bit, and now that we have access, I’m finding that I don’t want to spend a lot of time using it! I rather like the “less is more” approach. At the same time, I want to share all these beautiful places with you! Meanwhile I will direct you over here for a little Birthday post for Natasha. She turned two yesterday!

Tomorrow morning we take a bus to Panama City, then fly back to the States in the afternoon. I am looking forward to returning “home”, and yet not. Especially since I just checked the weather for the midwest, and it’s not all that happy looking! High of 60? Will I actually have to wear socks?! :) Oh, and the whole eating out deal. We love eating out here, and I might have to explain about that later. But Daniel was thinking about making some guidelines for eating out in the States…a few things that servers could learn from Panamanian restaurants. The main tip being, leave us alone to eat our food!

Okay. So I’m off to change a diaper. Some things are the same wherever you are in the world.

Advertisements

5 Months Ago Today

We arrived in Boquete, Panama!

077

Now our adventure living in another country is coming to a close. We are headed for Bocas Del Toro for a few days, and then El Valle for a few more days, before flying back to the States next week. Yesterday after church, we had a grand photo shoot with our church friends, and of course, you’ll see those pictures sometime. But for now, it’s just us. :)

043

Farewell Boquete! We will miss you!

013

012

Riding the {Full} Bus

After hiking for about three hours, with nothing more to eat but a few cashews, we 5 decided we were hungry. It was high time to find a bathroom and some sustenance. Since we were not interested in walking any further than we absolutely had to, a bus seemed to be just the ticket back to town, ie: food. It seems lots of others have had this same thought, since there was a little building built especially for folks who are waiting on buses, right down from the hiking trial.

132

We gladly took refuge on the roomy seats provided, and waited.

108

The smallest of the group got a diaper change, and the Momma of the smallest one hoped the bus wouldn’t come at the exact moment between wet and dry diapers. It didn’t. So we waited some more.

118

We listened for vehicles, in hopes they might be public transportation…

315

And filled our memory cards.

317

115

After a while, this exact bus came along:

288

We all hurried to gather our bags, cameras, child, and selves and piled in. Daniel, Natasha and I sat in the first seat right behind the driver, with Lynette and Melody taking the seat directly behind us. So we settled in for the 15 min drive down the mountain, back to town. You might notice on this road sign that the arrow to town, points left. We didn’t go that direction. We went the opposite direction, and for a bit, I wondered if we’d have to pay extra for the detour. But all we were doing was delivering a fellow to a lane, where his little brother was waiting with the bus fare.

130

Once we were turned around and headed in the “correct” direction, we ended up back at the little red tiled-roof bus stop. Where we came to a stop and the driver, bus boy and front seat passenger abandoned us. They gathered round back for a smoke break, while we 5 Americans, another foreigner and a couple locals waited in the still running van. After a suitable amount of time, they rejoined us and away we went down the mountain.

Not every bus passenger waits under a nice roofed shelter like we did. If you need a ride, it’s quite common to simply stand near the road and wave or nod to acknowledge your need of transportation to the driver or bus boy, when the bus comes by. We had several folks join us in this manner.

The bus boy is the one in charge of opening and shutting the sliding door, taking payment and dispersing change. He sits right inside the sliding door behind the passenger seat and hangs his hand out the window, inquiring to possible passengers as we fly by, to “speak up quick” if they need a ride, and so on. As the bus fills up, he also has the honor of doing the seating arrangements. It is this last job description that amused us greatly on this particular bus ride.

131

After the “false start”, we passengers were comprised of an Indian lady with a baby in the back seat and the before mentioned gringo, a somewhat shifty looking guy with a diamond earring, and a random fellow in the front seat. We gradually picked up more along the way, which is the fun part. I don’t really remember who all came in what order, but we accumulated a lady with a 7 or 8 year old boy, a well cologned young Indian guy, a couple coffee pickers, and a tidy dressed coffee farmer. Soon however, all the “normal” seats were occupied, and we were close approaching the issue of  infringing upon the ‘personal space’ of proper bus seating passengers.

At the next stop there were at least 3 men in line to get on.  This might have also been when I realized that there just really were not enough seats for everyone, but obviously, they still wanted to pile more in. Since I was married to the guy sitting on my left, I asked him if I could sit on his lap. That opened up one more seat. Melody soon followed suit and perched herself on Lynette’s lap, creating about 13 more inches on the seat and enough space for one more person. By this time, Natasha was standing between Daniel’s leg and the side of the bus, *right* behind the driver’s seat.

129

This is when the bus boy got creative. When we stopped the next time, it was for at least 3 more men who needed a ride and the bus boy asked the lady with the young boy to move over. He wanted to seat 4 people on the seat she was in. (The boy was already sitting on her lap.) She declared this was outrageous, the seat was only meant for 3! So she climbed out and stood at the side of the road with her arms crossed, huffing slightly. She simply stated, “He wants someone to sit on my legs!”

All the while, several coffee pickers were laying on their backs, relaxing at the edge of a coffee field, arms akimbo behind their heads, watching the whole plot. They were certainly amused outside the bus as we were inside! Somehow the seating got arranged, things were smoothed over with the disgruntled bus passenger, and she joined us in the bus again.

We Americans started snickering (politely, of course) at the situation, and rode along quite merrily, carefully watching our heads (not to hit the ceiling, you know) and counting people as inconspicuously as possible. I hope we represented the happier side of things for the Panamanian riders.

Melody counted up a grand total of 25 people in the bus. Now, we know there are amazing records for this type of thing, and we certainly didn’t break any, but it was all rather eventful and memorable to us.

128

Natasha was keeping herself occupied this whole time by singing quietly to herself, peering out the window, (as much as she could see by standing on tip-toes,) and twisting round and round. She did keep mentioning to us that she was “tuck”…and we kept responding, “Yes dear, we’re all stuck.”

At one stop, (this might have been when one fellow got OUT to walk because there were too many inside) the little boy’s fingers got caught in the seal of the sliding door. He never cried out, but a fellow passenger did, and the bus boy calmly opened the door to release the fingers, and closed it again, never saying a word. The little boy just flexed his fingers and sat quietly.

When we finally arrived in town, we all climbed out, gathering parcels and backpacks accordingly. I crawled out as quickly as possible, but forgot that Daniel still needed to pay, and we had a toddler in there somewhere. So I went back for the toddler to ease Daniel’s responsibility and he handed Natasha out with one hand and her pants in the other. Yep, in all her twisting and being stuck, her pants (and one sandal) had come clean off!

321

So we dressed our diaper clad girlie right there on the street, with the locals looking on.

323

And then directly went in search of food, on wobbly legs that come after walking and walking for hours and then sitting for a few minutes, laughing the whole way.

Happy Birthday Boquete!

Natasha and I walked into town the other day to get some magnesium for Daniel. After many nights of waking up WAY too early, (like, 1:30, or 2 a.m. or some outrageous time), he looked into the problem and realized the lack of magnesium might be the cause. So he bought some and after only 3 nights or so, with each night’s sleep lasting longer and longer, he determined that was indeed the problem! But his first bottle was running out, and in attempts of making it last longer, he only took one a day. It didn’t work. He woke up at 4:15 the other morning, and decided with our big traveling plans looming just days away, this wasn’t the time to lose sleep. Anyway, that was a long way around to say, I went into town specifically to get magnesium. (Turns out I got the wrong kind. Oh well.) I also wanted to see what type of festivities were going on, because I saw a sign the day before that announced Boquete’s 101st anniversary was the 11th.

We missed the earlier events of the morning, but arrived just in time for the parade.

050

051

The Queen of Boquete is on the left. I found her heels slightly outstanding.

054

055

059

Yujin, one of our Korean “English” students was walking with her school group:

065

067

This was one of the first times I actually asked if Natasha could get her picture with some locals. They were ALL too happy to scoop her up and pose. :)

079

084

I will miss all the festive events and sporadic parades that Boquete holds, so I was glad to get one more in before we leave. Speaking of leaving, it’s coming up soon. Monday, to be exact. We are going to do a little touring of Panama before flying home in about another week or so. More on that later!