A Travellerspoint blog

FEB 24 HELLO BONAIRE

Exploring the Atlantic

sunny 30 °C

HELLO BONAIRE

The next morning Don and I drift snorkel along the waterfront for a couple of hours. It is disappointing. Bonaire has been touted as one of the best dive sites on the world, but two big storms have devastated much of the coral in the shallows. We decide to book a sail snorkle trip to Klein Bonaire for tomorrow with Windwind, which has a great reputation. We spend the afternoon walking the town, shopping for food, hanging out in our courtyard, which has a wonderful canopy of trees, and cactus garden, and we delight in watching the iguanas and paroqueets, and other birds that choose to visit is. We make ourselves a nice fish and vegetable dinner and enjoy sitting out in the balmy evening. My guilty conscience begins to conflict with the serenity of the evening, and I decide it's time to learn my lines for the upcoming Solstice Theatre play, in which I perform an over the hill race jockey in Norm Foster's "The Office".

OUR NEW FRIENDS
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EVENING SUNSET FROM THe DECK
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Posted by RDILL 14:47 Archived in Caribbean Netherlands Comments (0)

FEB 22 23 FROM PANAMA TO BONAIRE

Leaving The Pacific for the Caribbean

sunny 30 °C

A lazy last day in Panama talking to Marcella, a guest from the western section of Panama, gettingp caught up on this blog, and organizing photos. Finally downloaded go pro videos including snorkel shots around Isla Coiba. Added some of these to those entries especially my shark swim, though they are now getting pretty dated.

Today we left Panama for Curaçao and then on to Bonaire. We had to go in and out of customs on each Island , and it's not till we got to our rental house that we found out that they are two separate countries, Curaçao is part of the Dutch Antilles and Bonaire has recently seceded and is becoming part of Netherlands

It is interesting making the transition. I began to fall in love with the Panamanian people- so friendly and upbeat and beautiful in spirit and body. Now we are surrounded by an equally interesting mix of Carribean Africanos as well as multitudes of European families. The languages spoken here are Papiemento, Dutch, English and Spanish. Quite a mix to learn them all. Fortunately everyone speaks English. Bonaire and Curaçao are tourist destinations in a way that Panama is not. On the downside the cost of living was very high in Panama City and every restaurant served a basic Panamanian dinner consisting of carne, pollo, pescado o pizza with rice or French fries and minimal salad or veggies. I was beginning to is our garden at home. The range of variations in restaurant offerings here are much more inspiring and when you go into the supermarket, it is like being in Holland. The selection of Dutch cheeses is amazing.

Our place here is real funky. An old fishermans cottage, with a detached sleeping bungalow adjacent. The original cottage is pre 1800's in the traditional Dutch style. We are right on the water with a couple of neat patios outside the front door and off the dining area. All along the beachfront there is a seafront walkway leading into town. We head to town, buy some groceries and have a wonderful meal of mahi mahi, rice with garlic sauce, a nice salad and dessert served by a neat woman from the Dominican Republic that talks with the softest Caribbean accent. We walk home to the lapping of the waves, the rising of the crescent moon and the warm softness of the Caribbean air.

THE OROGINAL FISHERMANS COTTAGE
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OUTDOOR DINING AREA
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KITCHEN
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MY COTTAGE
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Posted by RDILL 14:57 Archived in Caribbean Netherlands Comments (0)

FEB 21 EXPLORING PANAMA CITY

Casco Antiguo (Old Quarters) y Biomuseo Frank Gehry

sunny 28 °C

CASCO ANTIGUO - THE OLD QUARTERS
We take the new metro to Cinco de Mayo and walk into the old section of town. The metro is extremely efficient and costs 35 cents. Just buy a card with time on it and just swipe it. The card is also good for the bus system which we combine with the metro on our return.

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THE NEW METRO

Casco Antiguo dates back to the late 1600s and is going through major renovation to quickly become the new in-place to hang out in Panama City. For the first time we run into tourists and foreign nationals We spend a couple of hours leisurely walking through the old town looking at las Iglesias, recently renovated plazas, reconstructed high end shops and lodging, mixed with street vendors, streets full of shells of former buildings held up by steel posts, and awaitng their turn to be rebuilt. Reconstruction is happening fast and in a few years the whole area will be a mirror of its former glory.

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THE OLD TOWN SET AGAINST THE NEW PANAMA

There is some wonderful whimsical art on the street and in shops. Here are some examples.
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We stop for lunch. Prices are high here - three times that of Las Tablas, but people are super friendly and upbeat. In fact the mood in the country is optimistic - with only 3% unemployment rate and a rapidly increasing middle class. The people are some of the friendliest I have met travelling and proud to be Panamanian.

[b]AMADOR AND THE MUSEUM OF BIODIVERSITY[\b]
We catch a cab and spend the late afternoon exploring the new Museum of Biodiversity. Designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry. It is his only work in Latin America - both playful and dynamic and just opened in the fall of 2104.

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Once inside, displays show how Panama welled up from the sea and became the bridge that joined North and South America and the land through which plants and animals from the Southern and Northern continents passed through making it one of the richest areas in the world in terms of biodiversity. The different number of hummingbirds identified here could fill a book.

We return to our El Carmen district, have dinner, and retire early, my goal to get caught up on the blog. This should do it.

Posted by RDILL 11:25 Archived in Panama Tagged city panama exploring Comments (1)

Feb 20 A TRIP TO AN EMBERA VILLAGE

A Panamanian Indigenous tribe

sunny 28 °C

THE EMBERA
We are picked up early and transported to the edge of the Chagres River, about a one hours drive from Panama City. We get into a longboat carved from a single tree , and motor upstream for another hour until the river begins to narrow. The ride takes us deep into the jungles of Panama. Our destination to spend a day with the Embera peoples.

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THE LONGBOAT- OUR WELCOME

The Embera are an indigenous tribe that originally migrated north from Columbia after having been defeated in battle by the Spanish. They still live in custom in small villages in south eastern Panama. As we approach the village they stand on the river bank and welcome us with their flutes. The men wear a simple loincloth and the woman are topless with a scolourful skirt. We are welcomed and led to the ceremonial house and seated, where their leader explains to us the customs of the village. They are a community of 129 living on about 5 acres of land surrounded by a national park. They live off the land, fishing in the river for tilapia, growing food, and hunting with spears and darts. They live a simple life in thatch huts, but now have a school on site and all the kids go to school. It is an hour plus boat ride down river to get any supplies - mainly oil used for cooking.

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THE VILLAGE -THE CHIEF- THE SCHOOL TEACHER - THE MEDICINE MAN

We ask all kinds of questions which are translated by Harry our guide, an interesting Panamanian descended from Caribbean slave ancestry. The Embera live in a traditional family relationship with the men having one wife. Each family has about 6 kids. When a kid is ready to marry, they can decide whether to marry someone within the village or someone outside the village. If they marry outside the village they are welcome to come and visit and stay for short periods as often as they want, but must live permanently outside the village so as not to dilute village customs.

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THE EMBERA

While we talk, a couple of the women are making us a delicious feast of tilapia and patacones along with an array of cut fruit. After lunch, the village medicine man takes us on a tour of the woods, pointing out various medicinal and utilitarian plants and herbs. We return to the ceremonial house and the men play music while the woman and children entertain us with dance and song.

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LUNCH -SCAVENGING CURASSOWk - A NEW DUGOUT CANOE

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EMBERA MUSIC AND DANCE

They Embera are richly tattooed and invite us to get tattooed. Here is my new tattoo. I hope Mani likes it. We spend some free time exploring the village, going for a swim in the beautiful river water, and watching the men build two new dugout canoes. It is a fascinating day away from the city. Reluctantly we get back in the canoe and retrace our path back to the big city. A day well spent.

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MY NEW TATTOO

Posted by RDILL 11:11 Archived in Panama Tagged the embera Comments (0)

Feb 18 19 CUIDAD DE PANAMA

The Buses are Great

sunny 28 °C

[b]BACK TO PANAMA CITY[\b]
We pack and catch the morning bus. Concerns about the thousands all leaving at once are unfounded. As soon as one bus is filled up another arrives. By the time we have our tickets, we are ready to board. 4 hours later we reach Allbrook Station, flag a taxi and are at the Baru Lodge, our home for the next 5 days. It is a comfortable little B & B with all the amenities - comfortable bed, running water, air conditioning, light to read by, even TV ( which I have yet to watch). We settle in and it is an easy walking distance to Via Argentina where I hung out the first night I was here. In the evenings I try to get my travel blog caught up to date. The goal is to be caught up before leaving. I take the next day and relax and write before starting new adventures.

Posted by RDILL 21:28 Archived in Panama Tagged and move settle Comments (0)

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