A Travellerspoint blog

My Garden is Your Garden and Grease

February 3

Today was Tuesday Market so, of course, we had to go to market and also shop in several different stores for all food we need. By the time we were done, it was lunch time. We were thinking of going on a hike after lunch, but the weather wasn't too good - quite rainy for so early in the day. So instead we drove over to Mi Jardin, Su Jardin, which is a private garden that is open to the public for free. You can go in and wander around, enjoying the flowers, waterworks, and birds. Apparently it was created by a man who loved gardens and just wanted to share it with everyone. A great idea!
The entrance has a lovely waterfall and koi pond, with a nice bridge to cross it.

Waterfall

Waterfall

Bridge

Bridge


Then we drove over to the library where the Jazz Festival activities were starting. There was a new Art and Music exhibit opening and the International School presented students performing numbers from Grease. While we were waiting for the music to start we had hot chocolate from the library cafe. Imagine a library which allows food and drink! It was delicious and only $1.00!

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate


The students did a good job of their performance, with a wide range of ages - the drummer was only 8 and was very good.

Grease stars

Grease stars

We went upstairs to see the art exhibit after the performance. Some very interesting art and a chat with some neighbours we have met here. Time to go home and have supper.

Posted by katdill 18:38 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Home from the Beach

February 2

Don got up early and went off snorkeling and fishing with a group. They traveled by boat to Bolanos island, about 25 minutes from our hotel. It was a small island with a beautiful sandy beach and good snorkeling sites. The three women got off there to snorkel, while the three men went out farther in the boat to try their hand at fishing. Although they had several hits, they did not catch anything. Then they returned to the island to snorkel and have lunch. When snorkeling after lunch, Don saw 5 sea turtles, the Olive Ridley and the Loggerhead, although these identifications are not for certain.

Setting off on a snorkeling expedition

Setting off on a snorkeling expedition

Bolanos beach

Bolanos beach

While they were off in the boat, Maria and I walked down to the beach and had a swim and enjoyed watching the little crabs on the beach. We packed up and had a nice lunch while waiting for the snorkelers to return.
They got back to the hotel just in time for us to leave to take Maria to the airport to catch her flight back to Panama City. We also gave a young woman from Ireland a ride from Boca Chica to Boquete. We got Maria there in plenty of time for her flight and said goodbye. We had enjoyed her company a great deal.
While driving along the Pan-American highway, we saw these signs warning of monkey and armadillo crossings. A first for us.

Monkey and armadillo crossing

Monkey and armadillo crossing


We arrived home and found out that someone else is going to move in next door tomorrow.
Here are the movies of the praying mantis (thanks to Susan for pointing out that it is not "preying") and the monkeys from yesterday.

Posted by katdill 17:09 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Going to the Beach

February 1

We had planned to spend one night on a little island off the Pacific coast of Panama, called Boca Brava. Maria decided to accompany us, and on our way back to Boquete, we will drop her off at the airport in David, to start her trip home to Montreal. The road between Boquete and David, is a new four lane highway, so is very easy. The road from David to Boca Chica, is not so good, but good enough. We stopped for a bit at the bus terminal in David to check on which buses we will need to take to get to Las Tablas, when we leave Boquete for good.
We arrived at Boca Chica just before lunch and got a water taxi to take us over to the island to our hotel. After checking in, we had lunch and Maria went for her siesta. Don and I walked down the trail to the beach - there are two alternatives, the rocky beach and the sandy beach. We chose the sandy one, which was also the farthest away. Of course, the trail goes up and down, sometimes quite steeply, but we got to the beach and went straight in the water to cool off. Except the water wasn't very cool - even though it's the Pacific, the water in the bay warms up a lot. While we were sitting on the beach in the shade, we were visited by a preying mantis. He appeared to have one wing broken or something, but could still walk around.

Preying mantis

Preying mantis


On our way back to the hotel, as we walked along the trail we were visited by two different groups of howler monkeys. There was a mother with a baby on her back, several smaller monkeys and a large male in each group. They were very close to the trail, at times sitting in trees right above us or crossing the trail from tree to tree.

Monkey mother

Monkey mother


We do have videos of both the preying mantis and the monkey but the internet here doesn't seem capable of handling the upload, so maybe another day.
Once back at the hotel and cleaned up, we went to the bar/restaurant and joined the table of a couple from Washington state. He (Greg) and Victoria were organizing a snorkeling/fishing trip for tomorrow. So Don joined the group. We had a very nice supper with them and Maria, and after they left to join the Superbowl crowd, Maria showed us pictures of former tenants of our casita, that she had known. Before we knew it, it was time to say good night and get ready for the morning. I did get a chance to grab a shot of the moon with Venus? underneath it.

Moon with Venus

Moon with Venus

Posted by katdill 18:54 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Quetzal, quetzal, quetzal

January 31

We set off to walk the Pipeline Trail this morning. We drove to the trailhead, parked, and paid our admission fee. A whole $3.00 each! It was a wonderful hike, mostly slowly uphill, not too steep, except for the very end where it was quite wet and very rocky just below the waterfall. It took us about 3 1/4 hours to do the hike, mostly because we spent so much time taking pictures and looking for birds, etc. There were quite a few other people on the trail and some of them shared their experience with us, like telling us where they had marked the path to show where the sloth was in the trees.
At the start of the trail we noticed a little field of parsley. This is the first time we've seen it grown for sale. Looked great.

Parsley field

Parsley field


They had great metal bridges to get across the little streams which crossed the trail. There was lots of water around, we were never out of hearing range of the streams. The trail gradually narrows as you climb and is quite muddy in some places, but it was not a problem for us.

We reached the waterfall and were quite impressed. It is about 300 feet tall. We weren't inclined to go and stand under the water like some of the young people there.

Waterfall with tiny people at the base

Waterfall with tiny people at the base


On our way back down the trail is when we saw the quetzals. There are areas of the trail that the quetzals like to visit to eat the fruit of the wild avocado. They have a sign marking one of these areas. So we stood and waited and they did show up. We saw 3 or 4 fly over and saw a couple land for a little while. Then we went further down the trail to another spot and got to watch them for a long time. Males and females flying and sitting in a tree quite close to the trail. We were thrilled to see them so well.

Male quetzal

Male quetzal

After taking lots of pictures, we went on down the trail and eventually found the spot where the sloth was curled up in the tree. Apparently they are only awake about 2 hours a day, and he was not conscious at the time.

Sloth

Sloth

We drove happily home for lunch and felt that we had a very successful day.

Posted by katdill 17:08 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Orchids, Orchids, Orchids

January 30

After having breakfast at Mary's Restaurant, (and you could do it much better, Mary) and observing public employees at work, we headed up to Cerro Punta to visit Finca Dracula, the orchid farm. Cerro Punta is located on the slopes of the volcano and is the center of much of the vegetable production in Panama. They have fields on slopes that are unbelievable, because land at an altitude to get the right temperature for growing veggies is so scarce.

How many men does it take?

How many men does it take?

Fields everywhere it's remotely possible

Fields everywhere it's remotely possible


The drive up was so beautiful, green rolling country with lots of fields. We found Finca Dracula (finca is Spanish for estate) and paid for a tour. We had a young woman guide who was very knowledgeable and patient with our endless picture taking. First off, she showed us a Quetzal, up very high in an wild avocado tree. We got to see it move around and fly onto another tree, but could not get a good picture of it. Check it out at http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/quetzal/. Then we toured the garden area, seeing the orchids they have growing amidst many other plants, all very interesting. And then we visited the greenhouse, where the orchids they have potted up are on display while they are blooming. Apparently, there are 25,000 species of orchids occurring naturally and 100,000 man made cross bred ones! The variety is absolutely amazing.

The gateway

The gateway

One of the many gorgeous orchids

One of the many gorgeous orchids

One of the greenhouse benches

One of the greenhouse benches


One of the Dracula family of orchids

One of the Dracula family of orchids


After getting some advice about walking trails, we left and drove back down to the flat land at the bottom of the volcano. We drove over another awful road to the end of the Quetzal trail, which runs over a shoulder of the volcano from the Volcan valley to the Boquete valley. We walked a little bit of it, but we were warned repeatedly about it being too dangerous to do without a guide. It is also about 23 km from start to finish, so there was no danger I was going to walk it all.

The country at the start of the Quetzal trail

The country at the start of the Quetzal trail

We had lunch in Volcan fairly late and then drove back to Boquete, over the wonderful new smooth paved road!! Just in time to have a beer and make some supper. Another great day in Panama!

Posted by katdill 17:26 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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