May 9, 2014

Marvelous Panama

We recently went on a trip to Panama with the whole family.  People have wanted us to share the photos and a few stories so here we go...


Getting ready to go at Sea Tac.  We tried to pack light but it's hard with such a big family.


 After a very long, tiring, draining trip, we arrived in Panama City.  We stayed at a hotel outside of the city and there was a trail to walk along the canal.  It was the first thing we did after we dumped all our stuff in the room.


 The hotel had a fabulous pool for the whole family.  You could see the canal wherever you went.
 
 I was so tired the first day of our trip.  Asher asked what I was doing.  I told him relaxing.  He then laid down to copy me.  When the big kids asked him to swim he said, "I can't...I'm relaxing".


 We visited a local artisan market.  Many of the women were dressed in traditional clothing.  They also had beaded sleeves from wrist to elbow and from ankle to knee cap.  It was beautiful.  Panama was such a family friendly, embracing culture.  I am still struck by the people there.  Interacting with the kids, talking with us, giving Asher hugs and kisses, giving the big kids cookies....so many good hearts we encountered there.


Just hanging out in our room getting a break from the 90 degree weather.



The kids did a great job with eating food.  Anything we bought they tried.  For the most part they ate everything.  We had a lot of empanadas on the trip.  This was this first time having them.  Yummmmmm!








One day we rented a family bike and tried to cycle to the end of the paved canal way.  It was sooo hot.  Almost 100 degrees.  A big jump from home which was in the 50s when we left.  The kids were all good sports...although we all looked like we had taken a shower from all the sweat when we were done.




Our next stop was Bocas del Toro.


After shopping at a market and putting all our food in boxes, we took a small boat to the island we were going to stay at for the week.  We knew it would be remote but we had no clue just how remote it was until we went through the whole process of getting there.





Isla Bastimentos has no roads, only dirt trails.  There are some golf carts people can use to make the trip to the beach and other adventures a little more pleasant.  Every day the golf cart became a chance to see more wildlife.

Every morning we ate breakfast with this view.  It was unimaginably wonderful.




Every morning after we ate we'd enjoy the beach.  It never got old.  We even saw a shark here.






The kids enjoyed seeing all the jungle had to offer.  Banana trees, sloths abounded, so many butterflies it looked like leaves were falling from the trees, monkeys, iguanas, wild parrots and more.
This sloth hung out in our yard for the whole week.
Here is a view of the area we stayed and the jungle surrounding it.


 Every morning I woke up with Asher and Haven and we would hang out here.  I would have my cup of coffee and just enjoy time with my kids.  Nothing pressing me to get going like a normal work or school day.  Fantastic and so peaceful.  I never got tired of hearing all the sounds of the jungle.
 There was a small pool in our yard.  The kids loved swimming here.



 There was plenty of beach time.  The kids boogie boarded.  Asher had to try it by himself ofcourse.
 


 
 


The whole family was able to go on the zip line canopy.  There were 8 lines total.  It took about 2 hours to zip through the jungle.  We all tried going upside down.  Soooo fun!!!!

 We took several jungle walks.
 This trail was from the back of the house we stayed at.




 One day we ventured off to a different part of the island.  The boat rides were so nice because they cooled everyone off from the heat.  They were incredibly scenic, showing us all the mangroves that dominated the island coastline.

 
  We slowly arrived to our destination.  We were hoping to hike to the top of the island to visit an organic chocolate farm.  There were such unique homes on the water. 

 
 We started our hike in a small town.
Up we go.
 
 We finally arrived to Up on the Hill.  The owner was there and we were able to eat cocoa fruit, fresh chocolate brownies and banana bread made with coconut milk.  The entire farm was organic, solar powered and used rain water for all production.  Pretty awesome.

 
 Our other journey was to Isla Colon where we visited Bocas del Toro.  A very Caribbean town.
 
 We walked around and tried local goodies.


 Back to our main spot...we enjoyed so much simple family time.  Beach walks, climbing trees and more.
 



One day we walked to this remote beach.  We were the only people there.

 
 
 
 The kids liked to collect coconuts on our adventures and come back to the house and open them for an afternoon snack.

 One day Paul taught the kids how to surf.  Within 2 hours they were all able to stand up on their own. It's still one of their favorite memories from the trip.



 Asher had to try it himself too.

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 There was only one day where we had tropical rain all day.  We used the time to play games and visit.
  


One of our last walks on the island was to the jungle at the end of a beach.  We were told to walk until the sand ended and then take a trail into the forest.

After 5 minutes of walking on the trail  so many tropical frogs appeared we lost count.  There must have been over 30 or 40 just within the small area we explored.  They were small, about the size of my pinky nail.  Reg Frog Beach, one of our favorite beaches on the island, is how it got it's name.


 Our last breakfast on vacation.  The kids were super excited to have a local dish, fried bread.
 


  We got back to Panama City and our room overlooked the canal while the sun set.  Good bye Panama.  We had a marvelous trip of a life time experience.

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