Every island we’ve ever been on… a huge issue is trash. That’s not to say the islanders themselves are dirty. Islands are just the strainer for ocean garbage. We have seen many creative uses for this garbage; from bagging it up and using it as wave breaks to stop erosion to cute uses such as planters and works of art.
The gals that own the little beach cabin we are staying at here on Isla Basimentos have made a concerted effort to keep their area of the beach “trash free”. They say that recycling is just catching on here. We are instructed on what trash is good and what trash is bad. Instructed to toss uneaten food and food byproducts into the jungle, certain cans and different plastics go in bins, glass in another and paper in a third. Amazingly if you eat fresh, and who wouldn’t when it’s available, there’s not much left for the “other can”.
What an incredible day! One thing about the jungle in Central America is the sunrise. At the first crack of dawn the jungle comes alive. The crickets and frogs cease and the birds sound the wake up call for the world. Parrots screech as they fly in waves of brilliant green across the sky in daring acrobatics through the trees. The morning doves rise and begin their mournful songs. The cowbirds make their unworldly announcements to get your ass out of bed. It’s natures alarm clock.
If you are so inclined to open your eyes and meet the dawn, the sky reveals intense hews of pinks and crimsons that cut through the inky black night. The trees begin as shadows against the lightening sky and eventually turn lush green and show off brilliant colored flowers. It seems to take an eternity for the night to release itself from the day.
Coffee and breakfast on the deck overlooking the turquoise sea and silhouetted against the sky is the distant mountain ranges of the mainland. This is truly paradise. Wafting on the cool morning breeze is the smell of coffee, bacon and salt air. Time to start the day.
Chris has met a gal here from Canada and the two of them are going to hike to the other side of the island. I will stay put at the lodge and chill since my knee is still not quite healed enough for an uneven Trail. There’s an inviting pool with a volleyball net which will serve as my entertainment for the day.
Bambuda Lodge is an eco lodge on the small island of Isla Sorte. It’s nicely nestled in a jungle setting. Fully supported by the sun and rain water. Fairly rustic with trails leading to the different sleeping areas. They have tent camping, single rooms, private rooms and dorm rooms. Their kitchen turns out delicious food for ever culinary tastes. There’s a pretty fully stocked bar with local beer and wine, cokes and coffee. A resident dog names Sasha who enjoys smiling at everyone and taking hikes with the guests. Best yet… hot showers and a pool to enjoy. It attracts travelers from all over the world with reasonable rates for your stay. http://www.bambuda.net
My day was relaxing. I played volleyball in the pool with the guys for hours. There were Italians, a Norwegian, a couple Germans and a Canadian… a smile and laughter is the same in any language. I chased the shade around the deck to keep from ending up looking like a sunburned tourist for the rest of our stay. After 4 hours I began to worry as I had not seen a water taxi carrying Chris and Joanne from the beach that was their final destination. The day before a young gal was attacked on the same trail so two middle aged women would be a prime target. At 4 1/2 hours they came back, finally, both sweating and exhausted. They had not been able to flag down a water taxi from the dock after a half hour. They had met some German boys that were also lost and they eventually had to climb back up the ladder like steps 200 feet back to the trail and hike back to the lodge.
After a mid day nap at the pool we were ready to continue our relaxing evening with an incredible meal and good company.
It took twenty six hours to arrive in Bocas del Toro. We can’t really complain since it only cost $350 USD to get here flying first class all the way. Airline miles make most of our travels free but sometimes you have to take the available flights for the least amount of miles. Occasionally that means long layovers, getting in in the middle of the night and very little sleep. Another perk I would strongly recommend is a good credit card with perks like airline VIP club entrances. This really makes such long layovers more enjoyable instead of sitting in the terminal listening to the same announcements over and over. They allow you to have a private space, good food, free drinks and good WIFI.
After a total of about 4 11/2 hours of sleep we went to Nature Air for the final leg of our journey. There were 16 of us on a twenty seater prop plane. The wind had picked up and the thunder heads were building. The flight was quite bumpy as we flew our way between the fluffy clouds which gave the effect of flying a toy plane through a cotton candy machine.
We arrived safe and fashionably late… Island time. The immigration and customs was all in the same room and consisted of 2 old computers, a fingerprint machine and a guy who derived a bit of pleasure searching all you luggage, joking about what he found with his partner. When he was satisfied with all your belongings and was sure we weren’t gonna blow up the Island or smuggle in contraband he repackaged our items and sent us out of the room.
We went into the second room of the airport and were immediately inundated with taxi drivers wanting to take us to the town docks, arrange snorkeling and each vying to be our personal tour guides for our time in Bocas. Note: never take the first or second offer, the prices get a bit less by the third or forth guy.
TONY whisked us away in a taxi to a bar and restaurant right on the water arranged us a water taxi and told us he could arrange anything we needed for the rest of our trip. One thing to note about us… we don’t normally dig on “touristy things”, we’d rather experience wherever we are on it’s own terms. Exploring the people and customs. Trying to sniff out expats who live there. We find they generally will steer you to the local haunts and hook you up with a good local who will not take advantage of the gringos.
Welcome to Isla Sorte and Bambuda Lodge.
Day One Panama: Travel Day
Holiday, vacation, time off… depending on where you live… it all amounts to time away from a regular routine. For most Americans though, we must try to cram a “vacation : a finite amount of time allowed to us by an employer to try to enjoy ourselves” into a short trip to ‘try’ to relax and forget about our “normal daily routines”. I find that it usually takes about a day to get where ever we are going including packing, running around dropping of the “kids” human or four legged, getting to the mode of transportation and the travel to the destination. This day is usually, or at least can be, more stressful than the stress of our daily routines.
For me I find the disconnect rather difficult even though I tell myself I am excited… I’m not gonna think about work… I’m not gonna miss my boy… we’re gonna have fun DAMN IT… if it’s the last thing I do! I worry about having forgotten something. Not getting to the airport on time. GERMS! Yes I’m a germifobe when it comes to winter travel during major flu outbreaks. I just can’t seem to ‘chill’. I just want to get there…
This trip is going to be longer than our normal. We are throwing all caution to the wind and taking off for two weeks. Our normal is five days. We are going where there is limited power… internet… and an abundance of natural living! Islands off the coast of Panama, just south of the Costa Rican border. Bocas del Toro. We’ve rented two homes that are run on solar power and the water in the homes is supplied by the rainfall and rain catchment systems… in other words, we are at the hands of the earth, the sky, and Mother Nature.
I awoke today to a blanket of fluffy white snow. Snow is silent as it falls. It is as peaceful as anything in nature. It blankets everything in a pureness like angel’s wings.
After a day of unease and even hate spread across the waves of social media… this snowfall has come in time to accompany a renewed feeling of empowerment to all the marchers across the world who are expressing themselves in solidarity.
If left alone, snow is a great equalizer. It blankets everything evenly… creating an unbroken wave of starkness… robs everything of it’s color, it’s individuality. It blends the landscape into a soothing wave of white. It brings out the yin and yang in the strongest of ancient trees. It brings life and can also usher in death.
Snow… for me… brings a peaceful, easy feeling…
Yesterday the USA had a “peaceful transfer of power”. I sat watching this on TV wondering what this country is on track for over the next four years? The USA already has a negative ima…
Source: The Changing of the Guard
Yesterday the USA had a “peaceful transfer of power”. I sat watching this on TV wondering what this country is on track for over the next four years? The USA already has a negative image of arrogant, rich, and maybe even Self centered. With Donald J Trump taking office a lot of our country held it’s breath in our horror.
Please accept my apologies for whatever may come…
Please know… he does not stand for the majority of the people of the United States. Our electoral system is not one for the people and of the people. The majority of the people DID NOT vote for this jackass. Unfortunately he still became president.
His inaugural speech showed how much he thinks of himself. His cabinet picks have no political background… nor does Donald J Trump. What are we in for? He seems to think he is omnipotent and able to change everything on his own. He seems to think he is going to be our “savior”. He would like to take the USA back a hundred years on some issues and propel us into some kind of unrealistic dreamlike reality… at least for men.
Today women are taking to the streets all over America. We cannot allow this misogynistic ass to send us all back to “barefoot and pregnant”. To be nothing more than sex symbols that any man, including Donald J Trump, can have their way with.
Hold onto your bloomers people…we are in for a rough four years.
Over the last 25 years, we have always traveled with a dog. Mercy “Bucket”… a 75 pound German shepherd was an awesome travel companion and member of our little family. She passed on Mother’s Day in 2008 at 15 years old. After a short grieving period we got Gandaulf. We were looking for another Adventure Dog that could keep up with our travels but this time without the size and hairiness of a shepherd. The Corgis are a working breed just like the shepherds, with a lot of the same mannerisms, easy to train and always out to please.
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Gandaulf came to us as a rescue at 10 weeks old. How could a dog with such short legs keep up with our hiking, climbing, rafting and travel abroad? He would get high centered on the Sunday papers in driveways on our walks, high centered on tennis balls… but boy could he jump! It wasn’t long before his first 2 mile hike, camping trips and rafting/fishing trips. He was a natural in the outdoors.
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Gandaulf is now 7 years old and shows no sign of slowing down. He has been to more countries than most humans. Every year he has his own calendar showcasing his travels… he’s a natural in front of the camera. This adventure will be a test of his patience and travel savvy.
We have never entered another country via driving across the border. There is a bit of trepidation on our part. We see blogs and FB posts of people traveling with their dogs. Traveling by airplanes is such a hassle with the red tape and vaccinations he has to go through. Poor guy… but he is a trooper. We hope crossing a border is no big deal…
We would love to hear from anyone out there with such experience for some pointers. Dos and don’ts, etc…
If anyone our age tells you that they are not afraid to do something new, give up everything they have, quit their job, sell their homes, cash out their retirement accounts and leave whatever family and friends they have, I’d say they are not centered in reality.
As human beings we resist change. People cling to religion because it is a constant in their lives. They stay in their homes till they die or they can no longer live alone.
We are at a jumping off point that is like jumping off a 700 foot cliff with a wing suit as safety equipment. Oh… and with no prior training. Do not hesitate. Yes websites, blogs, Facebook and many other publications exist that make this journey a bit more manageable… but the actual “doing” is scary as hell!
Twenty years ago even thinking about doing this would have been a daunting undertaking. Where do you start? Where is it safe to cross a border? Where is it safe to spend the night? What do you need to cross a border? The world was a huge unknown for the most part. The US state department made you so afraid to venture into other countries. As a visual learner, I find the task at hand much easier to comprehend. The how to exists out there. YouTube, Blog sites, Facebook pages for expats, AIRBNB, VRBO, where to go and how to manuals are everywhere.
When we were younger this would’ve been an absolute thrilling notion, like when we hit the road back in 1993/4. Cell phones were new on the market and very expensive (for what they were). IPads were a futuristic concept. Hell a portable laptop computer was even just a glimmer in someone’s imagination. We were kids… we threw caution to the wind and just did it. Ahhhh… for the innocence of youth…
This time we have so many options… some more fraught with danger than others. Could we be happy settling down in some mountain town in Ecuador, Columbia, Peru? Become beach bums in Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, and Thailand? Travel the world from ‘point A to point B’ with no time limits? Will our vagabonding lifestyle be possible as planned? Best made plans are often laid to waist when put into action… still we continue to put one foot in front of the other. I continue to wake with butterflies in my stomach, that’s the “more mature age” jitters… The Fear Factor