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A nearly impenetrable jungle forms the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia. It creates a break in the Pan-American Highway, which otherwise forms a complete road from Alaska to Patagonia.

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Sunday afternoon 4 wheeling

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sundays are the same anywhere you live.  No matter where we live, we´re always searching for some way to kill time Sunday afternoons. 

The day started off a bit dreary and very humid with no breeze at all.  We went to the pool at 8:30 in the morning, the kids played with some friends, Ziggy met a Beagle friend and then we were home by 11am.  Ok so now what do we do with the rest of the day? 

Finally around 1pm, we couldn't stand it any longer.  We knew the tide was low so we decided to rent two 4-wheelers, load the kiddos up and take a right.  When you walk out onto the beach in Buenaventura, you can go left to cross a river.  This way takes you past a small fishing village, the President's weekend home, the soon to be Nikki Beach, Playa Blanca Hotel and Resort and then onto to Farallon.  If you look to the right and cross this river, you'll pass a small town called Juan Hombron and then nothing, nothing, nothing but a deserted white sand beach for about 4 miles until you reach an impassable river.  We decided to go this way.

We headed out and crossed the river noting that the tide was coming in.  We drove along at a nice clip - 40 kph or so - racing with a few dogs, spying a few rather large dead stingrays, chasing down a few seagulls.  After the town of Juan Hombron, the beach is absolutely deserted.  I did see some tracks from other 4 wheelers so someone had been down this way today but no footprints, no horse tracks, nothing else.  It was amazing and I kept thinking that this beach is probably pretty close to what it was like for the first explorers to come across this land.  It was completely untouched. 

With Max in front, we pulled off the beach to see what was beyond the tall grass line.  It was an absolutely beautiful river flowing parallel to the ocean.  And of course my second thought was Wow, I'll bet there are some big crocs in there.  Max asked if he could swim and I responded No Way even before he had finished his question.

We drove back to the beach and continued on for a few more minutes until we saw the mouth of the river opening up into the ocean.  Max and I were ahead and I slowly pulled up to the bank.  Something jumped into the water.  Coley and Lila drove up next to us.  I told him there was something in that river.  And that's when we both looked halfway across the river and saw what it was.  It was the head of a very large crocodile...probably a 6 or 7 footer.  We watched it watch us as it slowly crossed the river to the other side and duck under water.  Wow.  Definitely no swimming here.

I then looked behind and saw an unending trail of seashells that had yet to be discovered.  We moved our bikes away from the water and hopped down to explore.  The 4 of us collected some of the most beautiful seashells to date. 

We hopped back on, returning across the untouched beach, stopping to throw a dying pufferfish back into the water, inspecting the carcasses of some wildlife, waving hola to a Panamanian family.  We were barely able to cross the river back to the Buenaventura property.  A few minutes later and it would have been a long drive around the river but Coley was able to get both vehicles across while I waded with the kids.  We lost a few of the shells but Max was sure to hold tight to the sticks he had found. 

Posted by on 09/16 at 08:46 PM
Things To Do in Panama


Isla Grande

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On Friday we decided to take off for Isla Grande for a night. 

Isla Grande is a popular place in Panama that people simply know as "La Isla" (The Island). The island is inside the Portobelo National park, just 5 minutos by motor boat from the small town of La Guaira on the main land that makes its living out fishing and tourism.

Isla grande has a population of about 300 inhabitants and its surface is mostly covered with plants and trees and its shoreline is surrounded by coral reefs. It is one of the favorit panamaninan turist destinations and on holidays it receives visitors that fill its small beaches and its narrow town roads.

We headed out at noon on Friday with the 2 kids and Ziggy, our new puppy.  We took the highway until the turn off for Colon.  The total trip should have taken no more than 4 hours BUT we hit traffic and construction on the road to Colon.  There were a couple of times we were at an absolute standstill for at least 30 mins.  We finally arrived at the boat dock for Isla Grande 6 hours later.  Long time.  The weather was decent that night and we decided to stay at a place called Sister Moon.  Unloaded our stuff and headed into town - a short 10 minute walk - with the whole crew. 

The town is definitely a laid back Carribean-style setting.  We ordered hamburgers for the kids and seafood for us.  The food was decent as was the price.  I think the 4 of us ate and had drinks for $20.00.

Headed back home for the night.  Everyone was exhausted.  No AC in Sister Moon but it was a cool rainy night and with a fan, we actually were quite comfortable.  Everyone fell right to sleep but I have this problem.  I guess it's from watching too many Tsunami video clips and this happened to me on the San Blas Islands as well, but if I can hear the waves breaking and they're basically underneath me or the structure could slide into the water, I can't sleep.  I woke up at least 12 times thinking for sure we were all going to die while everyone else snoozed the night away.

Woke up the next morning at 5am because the kids were ready to go.  Headed to the pool for a quick swim and then into town again for breakfast.  Luckily some places start serving at 7am.  We hadn't gotten halfway through our meal when the clouds started rolling in.  I asked a local if the rain was coming and he said not until much later.  I didn't buy it.  Those dark clouds were rolling in too fast.  And sure enough the rain came and it came in sheets.  We hung out for about an hour and it started letting up but then it came down again.

By 9:30am, we had decided enough was enough.  The rain wasn't going to stop at least for half the day and we decided to pack it up.  We packed our things, took a boat back over ($7.00 total) and got into the car.  We could hear the Howler Monkeys as we headed towards Portabelo for the Fort ruins.  And the trip home was less than 4 hours with a stop to McDonald's in Colon.

We had a great adventure and I would do it again, but I think I'll wait until the dry season.

Posted by on 09/11 at 10:49 AM
Things To Do in Panama


Ziggy Comet Hudgins

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ok so we got a puppy.  She´s very cute, 12 week old Black Lab, and after 1 day she already knows how to sit.

Here´s what happened.  We went to XS Memories Thursday night for dinner, the restaurant I wrote about a few days ago.  We´re finishing up our dinner and the owner brings out a 4 week old kitten who has no mother.  Black and white, very cute.  He set us up because immediately the kids were begging us to keep him.  (I guess our turtle, Baby, just isn't cutting it anymore.  Although he did run away twice, which in my eyes, counts as a real pet.)  So a few minutes later we´re walking out with a 4 week old kitten in a crate and I don´t even like cats.

The kids are very excited and start thinking of names.  Lila shouts out her suggestions "Napkin! Table! Tree!" 

Max offers his "Venus, Mars, Moon".

We decide that since he is black with a white tummy he should be named Sylvester, even though, as Max points out, the coloring doesn't exactly match Sylvester.  For example, he has a white foot or something like that.

In any case, we take him home and put the crate in Max's room.  We feed Sylvester, clean off the towel where he did his thing and try to play with him although he keeps running under the bed.  After we settle everyone down, Max explains that he's going to have to sleep in his room all night because if he lives, Sylvester will be scared.  Why didn't I think of this sooner???

Max wakes me up at 5 am because Sylvester is crying for food.  We feed him and hang out until the sun comes up about 45 mins later.  Max is really attached. 

We decide we have to play with him only in the bathrooms because he can't hide so easily except behind the toilet.

My nanny arrives a bit later and lo and behold, she has a severe allergy to cats.  Oh darn, I'm not going to be a cat owner.  So we break the news to the kids.  Max begins sobbing, oh so sad.  Lila tries to eek out a little tear for affect.  This is really hard for her.  The crying continues off and on for 45 mins.  Coley, who has always been the one to say no more dogs, finally caves.  "Fine, get a dog."

I promise the kids that I will not come back from the city that day without a puppy.  Ok, to keep this very long story short, I found a breeder in La Prensa, called, located the puppy, last of 13, bought all the gear and headed home.  Arrived home at 6pm carrying the puppy.  Max looks over and says "That's not a puppy."  "Yes it is."  "Well it's bigger than Sylvester."  Oh geez.

The kids quickly decided on a name, Ziggy after Ziggy Marley, Comet, because Max likes space.  So our newest addition is Ziggy Comet Hudgins!

 

Posted by on 09/03 at 11:39 AM
Living in Panama


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Vacation rental information, travel tips and advice, and general observations about life at "The Crossroads of the World" from an American and a Canadian on the ground in Panama.

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