Returning

Our adventure in Panama had come to a close. We spent a little over 5 months there, and loved it all. It will always have a special place in our hearts.

Pause.

Okay, before I start sniffling, I’ll move on.

We caught the bus right outside our apartment, and ride 2 1/2 hours back down the mountain from El Valle de Anton, to Panama City for our flight to Miami. I loved the views on the way down:

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Partway there, we realized that we had forgotten to leave our apartment key with the landlords! So we fiddled around a wee bit, and managed to wrap it up in an old laundry detergent box, and tried to communicate with the bus attendant that we needed this “parcel” to return to El Valle when he returned. (In our limited Spanish…all the while praying he wouldn’t take advantage of the situation and…peak.) Daniel told him this needed to go to the house where we were picked up and the naturally, he wanted paid, and of course, asked what was inside the little box. Daniel cautiously replied, “It’s for her house.” We did followup on that transaction, and were relieved to find out our hostess did receive her key. Whew!

Here’s a view from my seat, with our little American, blue-eyed passenger, crossing the Panama Canal:

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We took a taxi from the Panama City bus station across town to the airport and…flew home. First stop: Miami.

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We spent the night there, before catching our flight out of Ft. Lauderdale the next morning.

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While waiting for our flight, I watched the sunrise, and we had the most expensive banana ever purchased, along with a breakfast scramble for our morning nutrition. Natasha then followed it up by her morning workout by dancing to the classical music from the intercom.

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You can catch up with the rest of our adventure, back in the States here. And…I think that officially concludes our Panamanian updates, more than a year after the adventure. :-/ Now I can hopefully stay more updated with current events and pictures. The main difference? Natasha has more hair.

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Exploring El Valle part 3

Can you believe, I’m still trying to finish up our Panama adventure? This is getting really strung out, and I’m ready to be done! So, here’s the last of El Valle. We spent one day just touring on foot and seeing the area some.

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Fun gates:

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Colorful wall murals:

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This is the outside of our host’s home, as seen from the road. Our little apartment was in back. But we were able to go up to that upper floor to relax.

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The view from above!

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And…our apartment in the back.

Edited to add: For some reason I’ve neglected to get a link directly to our apartment! It’s called Casa Mariposa. Ursula, our hostess is originally from Switzerland, (thus, the Swiss flag!) and her husband is Colombian. They were ever so nice…  :) I highly recommend a stay there if you’re ever in the area.

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Inside, we caught up with some internet stuff, relaxed in the hammocks some, and let it rain outside. The rainy winter season was just starting and it poured while we were chilling up here. 

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After the storm…

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Moving right along now… This was the last full day in Panama. *sniff sniff*

Celebrating a Birthday in a Volcano. El Valle de Anton Part 2

Before we arrived here, we knew the weather was similar to Boquete. Practically a nice 70* all the time, with cool breezes. The one main difference we noticed, was that it was slightly more humid, and much flatter. Maybe because it’s located in a volcano crater. Boquete was in a valley, and it was rather hilly–everywhere. Not many bicycles because of too many hills. But El Valle had cyclists everywhere!

Since we were only going to be here a few days, and our little lodging didn’t have a kitchen, we took advantage of the wonderful eating out experience Central America offers. Which is: Cheap, tasty food and waitresses that leave you alone. Meaning, they bring your food, and don’t keep bothering you by asking every 8 minutes, “Is everything okay over here?” If you want them for something, they are always watching out of the corner of their eye and you just kind of signal that you are ready to pay the bill or something. So we basically ate two meals a day in town, and bought fruit for snacks back at the room.

For Natasha’s 2nd birthday, we ate at a little diner, and she ate her entire plateful of scrambled eggs. We enjoyed Mexican sausages and patacones too. Patacones are green plantains, fried, then smashed and fried again. They serve them like just french fries, as an available side to just about any dish. They’re…so, so, so good. (And easy to make at home too!)

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The little diner was located directly across from the bus stop:

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The only thing Natasha requested for her birthday, was a strawberry. We didn’t have any of those around, so Daniel bought her a little container of strawberry yogurt.

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She was pretty pleased.

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When our host and hostess found out it was her birthday, they left a nice little card and a stuffed animal for us with our morning coffee. Later that day, we headed in search of a laundromat, and Natasha enjoyed sitting on the little Mickey Mouse ride out front while we waited for our clothes to wash and dry. Never mind the fact that we didn’t even pay to make it move. We’re so cheap sometimes. ;)

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So her 2nd birthday was celebrated quietly and without much to-do, but will always be remembered as the birthday she celebrated in another country. :) Our final post on El Valle is coming up next!

To El Valle de Anton! Part 1

Picking up where we left off on the “Last-Days-In-Panama-A-Year-Ago” series, let me get you oriented again. :) Daniel, Natasha and I lived in Boquete, Panama for 5 months, but before returning to the States, we wanted to see more of Panama. First off, we spent a few days on the Carribbean on Red Frog Beach, and now we are headed to El Valle de Anton before flying home. So here we pick up en route to the town in a volcano.

To get to Panama City, where we would catch our 2 1/2 hour ride to El Valle, we needed to take an overnight bus ride to the city. We waited around in the rain to get everyone collected, watched the school kids line up for snacks and then we set off.

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Overnight bus rides are supposed to be very handy in the sense that you can sleep, and arrive the next morning at your destination all ready to see the sights. Of course, you don’t get to see much scenery, but sometimes this is how it works out. I had heard rumors of these buses being incredibly cold, and it was a true rumor. We were so cold. The freezing type of air conditioning, that leaves you grumpy. Then, the bus began to sway on the twisting mountain roads, and I got a little woozy. Combine that with hunger, sleepiness and a coldness that had seeped into my bones, it made for a rather unpleasant and very long bus ride. As for the sleeping-while-riding-plan, it did not work. They stop about twice for bathroom breaks and refreshments, about two more times for passport checks and random passenger pickups. That means that all the lights are flicked on, and sleeping is nearly impossible.

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We finally arrived very early in the morning at the bus station in Panama City, where we happily greeted the humidity of southern Panama. I was so sleepy that I could hardly keep my eyes open to watch the luggage while Daniel and Natasha took a walk around the mall. (Yep, the bus station is in an open style mall.) We didn’t leave for a few hours, so we had time to watch the mall get busier with everyone grabbing the daily paper, and had breakfast at our favorite little cafeteria-style restaurant before catching our smaller bus to El Valle.

Upon arriving in El Valle, it seemed deserted! Our bus driver wasn’t sure where our lodging was, and after a couple mixed up connections at the bus stop, a neighbor of our hostess gave us a ride in his truck to the rightful location. After not getting much sleep on the bus overnight, and not having properly showered for a few days, this was like heaven.

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{The view from our front porch}

We quickly made ourselves right at home, took hot showers and slept the afternoon away. I think I’ll always remember the happy feelings of being clean, comfortable and totally relaxed that day. We had no where we needed to be, no obligations to meet, and it. felt. great.

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{Our little apartment}

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Later that day we slowly crawled out of  hibernation and explored the garden right outside our door. Our hostess greeted us with a baby sloth, which was riding on her front in a fabric sling. If I remember correctly, she was keeping it for a friend for some reason, who had found it. Since baby sloths need skin contact for something like the first 9 months of their lives, she and her husband share the sloth-wearing, just like babywearing. :)

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It was so terribly soft!!

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The very next day was Natasha’s 2nd birthday. So be prepared for a Natasha-themed-post coming up next. :)

Last Day on the Beach

The last night on the island, we took a walk down the beach and had some fun in the coolness of the evening.

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But the next morning, was the day to head on to another adventure.

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We had one last breakfast, did some more coloring, attempted some reading, and tried to stay in the shade.

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It was all rather relaxing. And, if I remember correctly, it got much more relaxing when Natasha *finally* fell asleep. ;)

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This was the morning of April 19th, 2012, and you can read more about that day on my “homemaking” blog, here. The next post will be about our continued vacation which includes meeting a baby sloth, Natasha turning 2, and a town in a volcano crater!