The Travel Year

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Washington, DC, USA

Preparing to Leave

bothSince we decided to go on this trip six months ago, we have been planning, researching, plotting our course, packing, and preparing. But now there are only a few short days to go and we are off! We have our belongings in storage, supplies bought, shots obtained (OW!), and are saying our good-byes. We are excited, a little nervous and very anxious not to work for a whole year! We will miss D.C., especially our family and friends, but we are very excited for the adventure in store for us! World here we come!

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Saying Goodbyes

timMy mother hugged me good-bye. "I'll be back in a year or so," I said. My father compared his feelings to the day that I left for college. I agreed.

My parents live almost 1000 miles away from me, so I don't see them very often. But I will miss them while I am abroad. I'll say good-bye to all my friends, family, and everyday life. Say good-bye to everything that feels comfortable and normal.

There is something magical about tearing apart the status quo. You know the times in your life. Maybe when you started fresh from the end of that long-term relationship? Or was it when you started that new job? You look forward with uncertainty. Your nerves feel raw, your mind is on alert, and a sense of excitement surrounds you. Years later you scan your memory to find out who you are, and these times shine through the haze as clear as though they had just happened. top

Panama City, Panama

Airplane to Panama

timFirst flight of our trip...

Sunset over Cuba. A universe of stars in the darkness below. Crescent moon hangs in deep blue sky. A bright redyellow horizon splits my vision. top

Skyline of Panama City.

Island of Taboga, Panama

On an island

michelleSince our arrival in Panama, we have been relaxing and enjoying ourselves as guests of our friends Gordon and Antonio. Their comfortable apartment in the heart of Panama City has a wonderful open feel - with walls covered in Gordon's colorful paintings.

They have been wonderful hosts, taking us on tours of Panama City in a luxurious blue Mercedes. Forget the city bus!

My impressions of Panama City - vibrant, chaotic, horns constantly beeping, wild drivers, and signs and conversations in a language that I don't understand.

Today we woke up early for a 45 minute ferry to the beautiful island of Toboga, 20 km south of Panama City. The majority of the island is a wildlife refuge. The ferry docks into a small quaint town tucked lazily into a small harbor facing the entrance to the Panama Canal.

We spent the day sitting by a pool, occasionally getting up to stroll the gardens and gaze out over the ocean. In the late afternoon, Gordon and I took a wonderful stroll through the town. We admired the small colorful houses through winding lanes. The people were simple and unassuming and with everyone we passed was a friendly 'hola!' Amidst flowers and hummingbirds, Gordon and I dreamed about buying a house here and starting our own artist commune. At every point you could look out upon the ocean and see a multitude of ships dotting the horizon waiting to enter the canal.

Unfortunately, Tim was sick most of the day. Pale and weak, he spent most of the day lying in the shade. I was thankful to get him home safe and get him to bed. He felt much better later in the day.

We leave tomorrow for a week at Gordon and Antonio's beach house 90 minutes outside Panama City to bask in the sun, read, paint, and drink lots of wine.

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Playa Blanca, Panama

The Beach House

timOff to the beach. Gordon, Antonio, Michelle, and I packed into a 4x4 with a ton of groceries and a dog. One and a half hours later, we arrive.

Through the front gates stands the house we will stay in for the next week. Two stories of white Panamanian concrete topped with a corrugated metal roof and floored with red tile. Hammocks stretch lazily between the posts of the wrap-around porch. Tropical plants grow everywhere. Mango trees in peak season drop ripe fruit across the yard. A background palm tree provides a ripe coconut for our coconut-rice dinner. Mamon fruit provides something fun to nibble on at any time of day. A live-in cook/gardener/maid named Santiago makes the leisure-class lifestyle whole.

We relax here day after day - reading books, writing, painting, talking, sleeping, eating, tanning, drinking wine, and playing cards. (You notice, cleaning and cooking are not on this list!) We've been here four days and it feels like two. We could stay here a few weeks without a problem.

 

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A closeup of a palm leaf. A closeup of a palm leaf. For the lack of a real name, I will call this plant the Pokemon fruit.

El Valle, Panama

Craft Market

bothAll good things must come to an end - so we left the beach house.

On the way back to Panama City, we had an opportunity to visit El Valle. "The Valley" is surrounded by beautiful mountains and is known for its Indian crafts. Unfortunately, the mountain view was obscured by the torrential rains we were stuck in!

Thankfully, the market was covered. The Indian crafts, tropical flowers, and vegetables made the trip worth while. top

Panama City, Panama

Cyber Cafe

bothPlanning, planning, planning - we are spending today plotting our trip through the interior of Panama to Costa Rica.

We leave tomorrow and plan to arrive in San Jose by Thursday. More later. top

Skyline of Panama City.