Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Beautiful Boquete

Boquete, Panama just might be the most beautiful place I've ever been. We endured several hours of construction and marginal roads to get there. But, it was worth it! Even though we only saw one rainbow on the drive up the mountain to an elevation of around 4,000 feet, locals enjoy them by the pot of gold full. They also enjoy spring like temperatures year round. Boquete sits along side the Caldera river and I was comforted to know, given my love of Costa Rica, that it was actually only 40 miles away. Just in case I got antsy! But I didn't.

Boquete is nestled in-between lush mountains vistas and is overlooked by Volcan Baru. But the town isn't too shabby either. We drove by these gardens every day on our way into town. Beautiful. And boy do I wish I could visit the farmer's market again that sets up next door. It was chock full of handmade goodies.

I love this photo.

So cute.

We took four scenic drives during our stay. Each one funneled us through the mountains on a different breathtaking route. And each one seemed to surpass the last one. What I wouldn't give to be starting all over again.

Boquete has a growing expat community. But someone's dreams seem to have dried up.

This sign always made me nervous. Is it warning us of a steep descent? Or, is it insinuating that if we keep driving, we'll be falling off the mountain, like this car appears to be. Uff da.

The view down into the valley, from the foothills of Volcan Baru. The top of Volcan Baru is the highest point in Panama. At Around 11,000 feet. Give or take.

There are 900 species of birds in Boquete. Like this resting hummingbird for one.

We didn't see any Quetzals. But I enjoyed seeing this mural almost everyday as we walked around town. 

My husband said that if he was going to retire anywhere in Central America, Boquete would be at the top of his list. Here are 5 random reasons to retire in Boquete...

1) Mike's Global Grill. It has live music, lots of liquor, odd ball people and amazing food. Nuff said.

2) There's great pizza. And that is a must. Eating at Il Pianista nestled right by a delightful waterfall, was like falling through a wormhole to the Italian country side.

3) It's damn beautiful.

4) The farmer's market sells locally made bling.

5) You'll never run out of locally grown coffee and honey from Meil Boquetena. And there's great bread from Sugar and Spice to lather said honey on. The honey was so good in fact, that I'll be ordering all my honey from there now. It's that good!

The story continues...A dark, real life mystery unfolded in Boquete in 2014. Learn about the Gone Girls over on The Chorus of the Crows

The links:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Togo at Farallon

On our second day in Panama, we left the bustling city behind, and headed over the Panama Canal and a lush, jagged landscape to reach the Playa of Farallon. It was a pit stop on our way to the Swiss inspired town of Boquette. Boquette is a rough, 6 hour drive from Panama City. And at an elevation of almost 4,000 feet, needless to say, it is more than a hop, skip and a jump from the beach. So, it was nice to soak up the Panama sun for a sultry afternoon and vibrant morning.

We stayed at a nice little oasis called Togo. The first thing that occurred after parking on the dusty dirt road in front of the hotel, was an errant car swerving around a tight corner and ultimately side swiping a car right in front of us. Good grief! And on our drive from Panama City, we had a couple other close calls with crazy ass drivers. We've driven in Central America for 9 years without incident. Panama, on the other hand, was nail biting. 

So, it felt nice to relax.

We dined at Cosa Nostra that evening. A rustic beach pizza place a mile or so down the beach. We were starved, (it could be no other way) and since we speak almost 0 Spanish, sometimes, things get lost in translation. Like our pizza order. We were the first tourists in the joint, but eventually other people arrived. And then, finally, the first pizza arrived. Except, it breezed right by us and landed on the next table. Turns out, they never made us a pizza at all! I'm not sure what transpired during our order, but, we did get our rum drinks. Thank God. Well, after awhile they brought some leftover, cold pizza scraps to our table. A mish mash of dried up ends and rejects. They didn't speak English, so we weren't able to ascertain just why we were on their shit list. Did they expect us to eat some cold, day old scraps? When the next table was already dining on steaming hot pizza? We just about left. But, knowing Central America like we do, luckily, we stuck it out. Eventually, they brought us a delicious pizza. I guess the gnawed scraps were just to tide us over. 

Cosa Nostra cat.

The next morning.

We had a wonderful breakfast at Togo. And a peaceful, relaxing walk. Then, we reluctantly got back in our car, and headed for the verdant mountains and Volcan Baru. More on that later. 

But for now, be sure to head over to The Chorus of the Crows for some flying monkeys. And a few other characters...

The links:


Heaven's Gate

I added Heaven's Gate to Sharon's Studio this spring. I like to mix it up and add something new seasonally.  And kitties roaming around outdoors seemed like the purrfect choice. I painted Heaven's Gate when my cat Baby died. She was no longer on the outside looking in.  Or on the inside looking out. But hopefully she is somewhere. I can't imagine Heaven being very fun with out our beloved pets.

Wood is the theme this week over at www.illustrationfriday.com  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Bridge of the Americas

Finally, my first Panama post! You may not have been waiting around my blog. Impatiently. But I couldn't wait to start sharing. Panama was our 9th trip to Central America. Obviously, there's something about the beautiful beaches, the avian skies and rolling jungles that we love. A lot. We started this year's adventure at The Bridge of the Americas. It spans the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. Here's more info for avid readers. Skip it if you bore easily...

 The Bridge of the Americas crosses the Pacific approach to the Panama Canal at Balboa, near Panama City. It was built between 1959 and 1962 by the United States at a cost of 20 million U.S. dollars. From its completion in 1962 until the opening of the Centennial Bridge in 2004, the Bridge of the Americas was a key part of the Pan-American Highway. The Bridge of the Americas greatly increased road traffic capacity across the canal. There are two earlier bridges which cross the canal, but they use moveable designs and have limited traffic capacity. The earlier spans include a small swinging road bridge (built into the lock structure at GatĂșn) and a swinging road/rail bridge (constructed in 1942 at Miraflores.) The Centennial Bridge was constructed to eliminate this bottleneck and reduce traffic congestion on the Bridge of the Americas.
The bridge is a cantilever design where the suspended span is a tied arch.[1] The bridge has a total length of 1,654 m (5,425 ft) in 14 spans, abutment to abutment. The main span measures 344 m (1,128 ft) and the tied arch (the center part of the main span) is 259 m (850 ft).[1] The highest point of the bridge is 117 m (384 ft) above mean sea level; the clearance under the main span is 61.3 m (201 ft) at high tide. Ships must cross under this bridge when traversing the canal, and are subject to this height restriction. (The Centennial Bridge is also a fixed obstacle, but its clearance is much higher: 80.0 m (262 ft)).
The bridge is an impressive sight, and a good view can be obtained from the Balboa Yacht Club, where many small boats tie up before or after transiting the canal. Throughout the day and night numerous vessels pass under the bridge, either entering or departing from the Panama Canal. There are wide access ramps at each end, and pedestrian walkways on each side.

The first thing we did after surviving late night customs, was hail a taxi upon arriving in Panama City. The driver needed to make 3 stops, just to clean his windshield. Only in Central America!

When we arrived at the hotel, we showered in a dark bathroom (no light bulbs) and went to bed. With the air cranked on high. I woke up semi-refreshed at 7 am, ushered the heavy curtains to the right, slid open the door to our balcony and wham! I was accosted in a delightful way, by humidity and a chorus of birds. It was so humid that the lens of my camera fogged immediately. As you can see in the two photos. Top and bottom.

We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites. But just for one night. It was a little rough around the edges. But that being said, after my husband went down to check out the breakfast situation, he took one look at me in my fat pants and said I better dress up for breakfast. No way Jose! But, even though the hotel was nothing special, the dining experience was kind of fancy. People really were dressed up for a breakfast buffet. Not me. 

Our foggy view of the Canal.

My husband snapped this photo of me (taking photos) with his I-phone. Suddenly, after years of waiting to get smart phones, he's a great photographer too. I love this photo.

I tried out my fish eye lens. 


And of course, if there's a portal of any kind, I photograph it. I love this one too.

The first morning is my absolute favorite time of our travels. Because, after an exotic breakfast, you have the whole trip just waiting to unfold. And Panama was a great trip. More on that over the coming year. And beyond...

But for now, be sure to stumble over to The Chorus of the Crows for some drunk ramblings. You'll be Mad if you don't!

The links:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Magical Mist

We had a lot of foggy mornings at our high rise rental in Orlando last winter.  

I was mesmerized by the mist.  

It was so quiet and surreal.

And picture perfect.

Suddenly, there was a blush on the horizon.

 So what did sunrise look like as the fog dissipated?  Pow! Dramatic. A blaze of Orange. Fire.

I'm so glad I'm not prone to sleeping in. 

But there was magic at night as well. I do love a full moon

Orlando is full of artificial magic.  But I still prefer the natural kind.

The links:

Be sure to head over to The Chorus of the Crows for a dose
of spooky silliness.
You'll be scared shit-less. Literally. (Sorry)