Close to our Cabañita in Volcan, we stumbled across Raquel’s Ark, a small animal rescue center. In a house with the kitschiest angel fountain I have ever seen, this retired native American woman works close with the Panamanian National Environmental Authority (ANAM) to save animals otherwise doomed to be killed or sold as pets. Raquel was lovely, if only a bit eccentric, and let Max hold and touch most of the animals. The racoon loved Max’s AXE shower gel and tried desperately to sniff him out!
We all fell in love with “Boomer”, the 9-month old Howler Monkey a nun had saved from being sold on the black market after the poachers had shot his mother.
After having lazed around in the sun and lukewarm waters of San Blas, it was time for a change of scenery. This time our destination was Volcán, a small town at the foot of the Barú volcano in Chiriqui, not far from the Costa Rican border. Dormant with the last eruption over 500 years ago, Volcán Baru (3,474 m) is a majestic and fascinating backdrop for our cheap “Cabaña”. Here you feel far far away from the heat and bustle of modern day Panama City and the Panama Papers. People turn to look long and curiously at Molly’s tussle of whiteblond hair and there is not a single Nike poster for Max to drool over. The only thing you feel overcharged on is the Panamanian bank fee at the local cash machine. Surprising? Not really…..
After a rainy end to our hike in the rainforest (I guess that was to be expected), neither of us was keen on another long walk in the mountains. Hence we decided to visit the Janson coffee farm. Curious about the name, I found out that the farm indeed had Swedish roots! The story of Carl Axel Janson is fascinating. Continue reading “Geisha – your new morning mistress?”→
After a long and exciting winter we felt it was time to experience a different type of dream and went sailing in the San Blas islands. An archipelago with, some say, 365 islands, governed by the more or less autonomous Kuna Yala people sounded intriguing. Islands, we felt, are best experienced by boat, so we found a beautiful catamaran, captained by a experienced sailor from Nelson, BC – just two hours South of Revelstoke.
The trip from Panama City to San Blas gave us the opportunity to take the famous Panama Railway along the Panama Canal – a wonderful one hour train ride from Panama City to Colon. From there we took a taxi to Puerto Lindo, where Captain Pete was waiting for us with the 47′ catamaran “Isleña”, a beautiful, spacious boat, which became our home for an exciting week. Continue reading “San Blas – Island Dreams”→
It’s been almost a year ago that we’ve chosen Revelstoke as our first destination of our round the world trip. We’ve been sitting on a balcony in Italy late in May 2015, looked at the various candidates and thought: let’s go to Revelstoke. Our criteria? Decent skiing (well, Revelstoke boasts the highest vertical drop in all or North America – check. Four lifts? Hmmmm.), a proper village (the population is a bit less than 8000 people – check.), good schooling for Molly and Max (three elementary schools in Revelstoke – check.) and affordable accommodation (we found a place to stay on Airbnb for an acceptable rate – check). We got in touch with schools and skiclub with very encouraging exchanges – it started to feel good. Nevertheless, we tried to manage our expectations, particularly with regards to the ski resort (thinking if it’s not that great we can still hop around to other places) and had hopes that we and the kids would meet a few nice people.
Boy, were we up for a surprise! We arrived on Friday, the 18th of December 2015. Saturday was a training day at the ski club, so Max was quite keen to meet the boys and girls he was going to ski with for the next few months. I drove him to the hill and met his coaches: Gill, Filip, Ben and the two Mikes from Ontario and Austria. The following day was Molly’s first training day and we met a whole bunch of people from the ski club and other parents. Pleasantries were exchanged with a few “uh, we have to meet up for dinner/beer/skiing” – I took that for the usual make-you-feel good, but unfortunately rather superficial approach of your typical US American. Little did I know that Canadians are different! Much different! Phone numbers were exchanged and when we came to the ski hill on Monday it took just a few minutes until the first SMS arrived: “You at the hill? Wanna meet up?” – ‘course we did! That was when Darrell gave us a first rated tour around Revelstoke Mountain Resort and we got a first impression of the incredible possibilities on this ski hill. Anna and I were so delighted – we couldn’t believe our luck. Everything was there: enormous amounts of snow and great skiing all around with everything from wide pleasant meadowy lines to steep, narrow couloirs. But – above all: an incredible friendly, enthusiastic, ski crazed community, with all people open, fun and – my impression – happy with their choice to live the ski life in Revelstoke. Thus, my little review starts with the aspect, that I loved most here – the people! Shendra and Chris arranged a fantastic farewell BBQ for us at their incredible place right at the Columbia river – and all our friends, who we had the pleasure to meet in this quarter of a year in BC were there!
The Breadbaskets were sad when it came to leaving Revelstoke – but I won’t ramble on about how much we liked this incredible place; I’ll leave that to a later post.
That said, after almost three and a half months the Breadbaskets jumped into the bad ass truck, drove back to Vancouver and hopped onto a plane to Houston to catch the connecting flight to Panama City. Well, not quite. Bad ass truck – check. Drive to Vancouver – check. Thanks to an overly qualified member of United Airline’s ground staff, who, within a little bit less than 45 minutes, managed to figure out that the reason why she could not check us in was our missing ESTA application (that is an online pole dancing session every visitor to the world’s most paranoid nation has to perform so that all aspects the visitor’s life can be scrutinised – I hope you notice my desperate attempt to stick to British spelling. The strip has to be performed even if you don’t want to visit the country, but just change plane in one of its airports. Did I mention that you get asked whether you intend to commit terroristic acts in the land of the free? Hail Drumpf!) we missed our flight to Houston. Thus, we flew to San Francisco, from there onwards to Houston, stayed overnight and caught the connection to Panama City in the morning of the following day. What an unexpected piece of travel adventure! Or unnecessary?
Anyway, eventually we’ve arrived in Panama City – and we like it! Our choice of hotel, the TRYP Wyndham Panama Centro, was fortunate – a very pleasant place with a superb roof top pool:
The next three days we spent exploring the city and relaxing at the hotel pool, which was a good balance between the elder Breadbaskets’ curiosity to explore a new country and the younger Breadbaskets’ desire to play and swim. Travelling with kids is “slower” than our pace from old times. Experiencing the kids curiosity, astonishment and puzzlement is very rewarding, though. Equally rewarding was our first visit to the Panama Canal: Continue reading “Panama City – First impressions”→
When I was 10 years old I thought a 6-seater gondola was the most luxurious way to access a ski hill. Max, on the other hand, being used to 8-seater chairlifts with a bubble and bottom heating, has discovered a much more interesting way of getting onto the mountain: