Crossing the Panama Canal

After we returned from our overland trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, we spend Easter weekend in Bocas del Toro and then made the trip down south to the port town of Colón. Before we left though, we met up with a friend from our super yacht days, Peter, and invited him to join us as crew for the Panama Canal transit.

Colón was a bit of a shock compared to Bocas del Toro. We came from beautiful jungle covered islands, surrounded by clear waters and we arrived in a dirty dilapidated "post apocalyptic" city. It was, however fascinating to watch all the massive ships in the port and we had friends with us to help pass the days waiting for the canal passage with lots of laughs and good conversation.

We arrived in Colón on the Wednesday after Easter weekend, Melody had her appointment to be measured the following day by one of the Panama Canal Officials and 5 days later wefinally  transited the Canal!

It was our first transit and there are so many horror stories passed between yachties that we were rather nervous, not to mention the seriously high price tag to go through and the fat deposit you have to put down in case something goes wrong in the canal...

In the end it was actually completely relaxed and most of our time was spent waiting - for the big ships to catch up and join us in the locks, for each lock to be filled or drained, depending on which side we were of the lake etc.

It was a victorious moment motoring out into the Pacific as we exited the last lock of the Canal. We are finally here!

Next stop: French Polynesia!!!!

Family Farm Life in Costa Rica

And we are BACK! If you follow our page on Facebook you will know that my MacBook charger took a walk in Bocas del Toro so my photo editing/blogging station has been down for a while. Luckily Panama mainland is not short on malls and electronics shops so I finally found a replacement and I am back online!

The last post was on our overland trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. We traveled by water taxi (from Bocas del Toro Islands to Panama mainland) and bus from Panama to Costa Rica and on to Nicaragua and back again. In Costa Rica we stayed with friends in the area of Tarbacca, just outside of San José. 

What I didn't mention previously is that the main reason we decided to take this trip now was to visit these friends, since we were so close and we weren't sure when we would be back in this part of the world. We had originally met the Jensen family when we hosted them on a sailing charter in Belize the previous year. We got on so well with them and stayed in contact ever since. They had offered to host us if we ever visited Costa Rica and so we took them up on the offer!

Andreas is from Denmark and Andrea is from the US, of Columbian and German descent, with two beautiful adopted daughters from Columbia. The family relocated from the US to Costa Rica some years ago and have been living on their lifestyle farm in the hills of Tarbacca ever since. They have horses, goats, pigs, sheep, geese, ducks, chickens, turkeys and they grow their own coffee! 

Andreas and Andrea hand make a variety of delicious cheeses from their own goat's milk and from time to time their own pork and lamb. They spoiled us daily with delicious meals from mostly their own produce - cheeses, meat and veggies - as well as including us in all the daily happenings of the farm and family life. 

We rode horses in the mountains, witnessed their stallion mating (which is a lot more dangerous complicated than we ever expected!), got to milk the goats, ride quads, help dry coffee beans and spend wonderful hours chatting and relaxing with the family and their friends. It was also an extra treat because of the warm fresh water showers!

I think we, especially Rufus, must have driven Andreas and Andrea crazy with all our questions about the farm and Costa Rica but they were so patient and generous with their time and their home. Thank you Jensen family for your hospitality!

The first morning we arrived Andreas put us to work milking the goats - so much fun! photo: A.Jensen

I loved the small details and thought that goes into every aspect of their farm and their home

Rufus peppering Andreas with (more) questions about farming with livestock

Andrea and Nicol spending some quality mother-daughter time in the kitchen

one of the delicious breakfast made with Andrea's own ricotta cheese

Andreas giving us the tour of his land

it's time to ride! photos: A.Jensen

Laura in full farm girl mode ;)

cutest little kid 

Rufus was a hit with the lady goats...

the resident stallion getting new shoes

resident mouse catcher

Surfing Kusapín

In the last post I mentioned that during our island hopping trip we stopped at Bluefield Lagoon and did a short overland walk to the well-known surf spot of Kusapín.

Two years ago, while we were in Trinidad, we met a Brazillian guy by the name of Manuel Alves. We became fast friends and when we came to Panama he offered his help and connections, as he also has his sailboat based in Bocas del Toro. He is away working right now but he kindly loaned Rufus his surfboard for our time here, as we gave away all our boards in Guatemala, when we thought we would not be returning to Melody last year :(

There wasn't much swell and the waves were teeny when we arrived, but that didn't stop the four of us from having fun in the water anyway!

Here are a few photos from the day and the local indians from the Comarce Ngäbe-Buglé Indian Reserve on the island.