Friday, August 27, 2010

Today we went horseback riding in the Azuero Peninsula. Rolling hills, muddy trails, and crossed several rivers. We could hear howler monkeys in the trees as we passed and saw a huge Jesus Christ Lizard walking across the water.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Azueros Peninsula / Isla Iguana

Yesterday we made our south along the Pacific coast of Panama. We stopped en route to visit a local artist who makes traditional devil masks first used over 500 years ago as a way of introducing
Christianity. The masks are still used today during Corpus Christi. Then some local people performed the traditional dance wearing the masks. We arrived at our villas yesterday evening and settled in walking the beach and watching the waves crash. The surf is a little of the rough side today as apparently we had a full moon this week. Our villas have full kitchens so Mica wiped up dinner while we set up the hammock and tried a Panamanian beer, Balboa.
This morning we drove 15 minutes into town. The road we take is past farms and lots of cows and horses. We even stopped to look at a few troops of howler monkeys in the trees. We picked up our snorkel equipment and rode to the beach. Our captain James (not Bond as he said) took us out about twenty minutes later there were four huge humpback whales breeching and jumping around us. It was one of the most amazing things any of us had seen but at this time it was raining quite heavily so cameras were away. Unfortunately there are no pictures but I don't think any of us will ever forget it!
We arrived at Isla Iguana and the rain stopped and the sun came out. We hiked around first and explored. Though I did see 2 iguanas I think they should rename the island Tropical LandCrab because they were EVERYwhere!! So colorful and look plastic. Bright orange and purple hard to believe they are real! We snorkeled off the beach and the water was so warm!!! After our picnic lunch and so relaxing we took the boat back to the beach where we bought a giant red snapper he had just caught. It was still alive. A 12 1/2 pound fish for $12. We are having a BBQ on the beach tonight and we are cooking it up then. I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

El Valle de Anton

This morning we left Playa Bonita and drove 2 1/2 hours south to El Valle de Anton stopping on the way for cheese at Queso Chelas for cheese empanadas and chicheme (corn milkshake). Then we went to the cloud forest for hiking and then a zip line. After we checked into our hotel and went to visit that a serpentarium where they had snakes that are rescued from the wild and and rehabilitated before being put in the world. Later we had an amazing dinner near the hotel. Today we are driving south to the Azueros Peninsula.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finally arrived into Panama City!! I feel like this trip took longer than the trip to Fiji. Well... Almost anyway. After two attempts flights out of Boston yesterday and over six hours at the gate they ultimately rescheduled me for today. Good experience for dealing with stranded guests anyway. And though the flights were on time and basically seemless I am so happy to be at my destination! It occured to me in the flight that my last trip to Panama was five years ago this month. (and we had some major delays then too come to think of it...) I loved Panama then and am sure I will again now. And tonight I'm staying at the Playa Bonita Hotel... Which is really nice. I am in a suite which frankly is larger than my condo. The only problem is that I arrived after dark and cant see the beautiful beach I know is right outside my window. Cannot wait for sunrise! Tomorrow we leave the hotel in the morning and start the trip south along the Pacific Coast. I'm super excited about our new itinerary and can't wait to tell people about it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Aran Islands

The best day in Ireland was the day we visited Inis Mor, Aran Islands. We took a bus (30 minutes from Galway) to the ferry (45 minute ride, a bit choppy!) to the island. It is a Gaelic speaking island and we rented bikes for the day to explore. We went to Dun Eochla... a ring fort located at the highest point on the island. This was built sometime between 550 and 800 A.D. This was a very long and steep road to climb - we quickly abandoned our bikes at the base and went on foot. (One nice bonus is the island is so safe they laughed at us when we asked about locks!) The views from the top were amazing.

Next we visitied Dun Aonghasa - a 2500 year old circular fort standing on 300 foot cliffs. There are no guard rails and you can lay down and look over the edge. Of course I tried it and yes, it was terrifying!

After we rode our bikes along the coast just in time to meet the ferry. I found out after this trip that my grandfather's family was actually from the Aran Islands - which made me really happy since I very much loved it here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ireland: Dublin to Galway

For the first week of August me and Jenny went on a holiday to Ireland! We flew on a red eye and arrived at our hotel in Dublin at 6AM. Luckily we were able to upgrade to a deluxe room for only 25 Euro and so we had a few hours of sleep before venturing out to explore. We bought a 2 day bus tour ticket which was a great way to get our bearings around the city. You can get on and off as much as you want. Eventually we found our way to Temple Bar for a pint of Guinness while listening to live Irish music. Ahhhhhh.

The next day we toured all of Dublin, including the Guinness Storehouse and the Jameson Distillery. We looked at the famous doorknobs of Merrion Square and shops on Grafton Street. After two days in Dublin we took the train to Galway - just 10 Euro this was the deal of the trip! 2 1/2 hours from city center to city center. When we arrived we just walked to our hotel. (Where we had wi-fi for the first time of the trip!) As much as we loved Dublin, Galway was much more "Irish".