Tagged: islands

Panamania

Well, I promised to write about Panama and although it’s taken me a while, I’m doing it! I should have done it sooner, while the memories were fresh and beautiful, but this will have to do! Of course there are many things I’m not including, momentarily forgetting, and I’m sorry about that…

I spent the first part of my trip traveling with the best travel partner I’ve had in years, who shall remain nameless… It was so much better than I had anticipated going it alone. We enjoyed the old town, getting some amazing ice cream on a stick dipped in chocolate, petting random dogs and cats, and generally having an easy-breezy time. Then we hopped in our SUV and headed to the Darien.

Why, you ask? To visit an American missionary family that has been living out there for the past 3 decades. They had some very interesting stories to tell us of some hostilities and life in the jungles of Panama. I can’t wait to hear more (OK, I can wait and have waited, but it’s all very intriguing). Among other things, they have a moringa farm, which I was interested in learning about. We didn’t get to visit the actual farm on this trip, but we did come away with a giant bag of moringa powder, which I’m still using in my morning smoothies and fruit bowls. We stayed at a cute little hotel not too far away, where we watched hummingbirds flit around as we ate breakfast.

Speaking of food, this was a rough journey. You would think in a land where bags of mangos go to waste, fruit would be easy to find. Not so, not so. I can’t even remember what we ate. Eggs. And on the road, fish and strangely unripe-tasting cooked plantains. But no fruit was ever on the menu, or even in the little stores we would pass by. Only once did we find mangos and boy did I stock up. We couldn’t even find fish as a meal at several places. I’ve learned since then that ignoring an empty stomach actually does not get as painful as you would think, and you can survive several days on a few peanut butter cups. Apparently the reasoning is that mangos (and other things) grow so abundantly in everyone’s yard that there’s no point in selling them at the stores!

We spent a few nights a little closer to Panama City and spent hours enjoying a gorgeously clear and warm river (I’ll show you a picture but I’m not telling you where it is because IT’S ALL MINE) before making the trip up to the San Blas islands.

That little dot in the water is me.

We had a vision of being on a secluded white beach enjoying turquoise water…. well. We were first taken to a very tourist-filled beach with no hopes of any privacy whatsoever, and then to a second one that was not much better, before negotiating a deal to be dropped off on an actual deserted island. We had a very limited amount of time to spend there, so we got right down to snorkling. At one point, some people came in a canoe-like boat and collected water from a small spring on the island. The last to leave was an older woman. We were so caught up in just observing (without staring) that it didn’t occur to me until too late that maybe we should have offered her a hand with her jugs. One more thing to feel guilty about. 😛

My first deserted island

We stopped at one more even tinier island before heading back to shore…. this one had a small hut built on it to claim it… and somehow I managed to get extremely sunburned this time. Of course, when I had my bikini top back on. Blah! Tan lines!

My new home if the world doesn’t get it’s act together soon.

It took us longer than expected to get back home, down the winding jungle roads… our hosts were a bit worried about us but we couldn’t get signal to really reach out to them. But we made it back.

We said good-bye in Panama city, and I was left on my own. Well, with my couch-surfing host, who worked at the Panama canal and took me there to see the new canal that was being built.

From there I took a few days, rented a car, and drove west, over to Coronado Beach to stay at the same BNB I stayed at on my first trip to Panama. It’s a great place to just sit and chill, and that I did.

While there, and also while in a high rise apartment couch-surfing, I experienced the loudest thunderstorms I’d ever heard. One knocked out the internet briefly. The thunder was what I would imagine bombs might sound like. My ears actually hurt. And the lightening was crazy.

You could see the storm sweeping over the city.
You could see the storm sweeping over the city.
I wouldn't want to live up here, but jeez, what a view.
I wouldn’t want to live up here, but jeez, what a view.

From Coronado Beach I also drove up to see the Purely Natural farm, where I’m saving up to invest. Gotta think of the future! It was funny… the girl who gave me the tour said she and some of the others were happy at the idea of someone young investing. Apparently only old men seem to consider this. Also qigong. I’m actually writing this blog from China, where I’m taking a qigong workshop. I happen to be the only one here this month, but the teacher said most people who come are over 40. Am I just ahead of my time with everything? I also really loved my vegetables as a kid. Who knows.

I made my way back to Panama City, and then from there drove to Sabanitas where I was once again couch-surfing. It turned out that two of my future cruise-mates were also staying at this place! Thank goodness, because the neighbourhood was a little sketchy to me. We had a good time together (despite the heat and humidity that kept me awake all night long breathing into a cup of ice) visiting a river muddy from recent rainfall, and a nice little beach not too far away. Then I drove on my own farther up the coast to Portobelo, where I would spend the next two nights before meeting my girl friend in Colon to catch our transatlantic cruise!

Scariest buses ever.
Scariest buses ever.

Portobelo wasn’t exactly what I had been led to expect, and a quick trip around the town was enough for me. I stayed in a bed and breakfast which was not currently offering breakfast because the owners were in the hospital expecting a baby, leaving me in the care of a foreign volunteer, 3 dogs and 2 cats. We had a good time together, and even found veggie burgers at a more American place in town. When I arrived at the bnb, I discovered that there was an incredibly steep incline to climb, with a car parked perfectly in the way. And it was raining. So my new host drove me and my luggage up on a four wheeler and we later got my car. Then I was afraid to leave. But I did, once. For internet. Because other than the internet on the cruise, this was the worst internet I have yet encountered. I finally braved the steep driveway and found a seaside bar with wifi on my last day.

From Portobelo I made my way to Colon, to find my cruise ship at the dock. Everyone had warned me, “don’t stop the car! Lock the doors! Don’t talk to anyone!”… apparently it’s dangerous there, so I was a little freaked out at the possibility of getting lost. Which I did, because my GPS kept telling me to drive down streets that all ended at a fortress. A wall. I forget what it was called… a duty-free zone… well I asked the guard where to find my rental car place, found it, took ages to return my car (and witnessed some cruisers pouring alcohol into a giant water bottle… silly… should have taken the Monarch, free drinks the whole way across…), and hopped in a taxi for the 2 minute ride to port. There I met my couchsurfing buddies and my next adventure buddy, an old friend from Los Angeles. The Panamanian adventure had come to a close, and the transatlantic adventure was about to begin….

-Oh no, will I have to raise my arms for all of our photos? -Yes

Island Hopping

I’m a terrible adventure blogger! I’ve been having adventures and haven’t said a peep in months! But seeing as it’s the last day of 2015, I felt it was an appropriate time to play catch-up.

Back in October, I took a little vacation from France to where I assumed would be warmer and dryer. Mallorca. I spent about 4 days there, two of which it rained, but I did get to spend some time at a few little (crowded) beaches and wandering around the city. I was surprised to find several vegan places (including a vegan bagel place), though I ended up eating a lot of pizza and Indian food!

mallorca

I would definitely return, although I would love to see some other parts of the island that I couldn’t get to by bus (I tried – and then that day turned out to be a holiday and the bus schedule had changed). The nearby island of Ibiza is also on my list…

My gosh, I just realized how many islands I’ve been to this year. Three! In Panama, Spain, and the US! It’s a record for me! I guess I finally really realized how much I enjoy tropical water…

 

mallorca ocean

In November came the shocking attack on Paris, and since then I’ve wondered if I wanted to say anything here about it, or not. It was definitely a frightening night. I stayed up until 3am texting and calling and pinpointing my friends. Only weeks later, walking around Republique, did I realize that one of the restaurants that was attacked was on the corner of the first street I landed on when I moved to France in 2011. It was jarring to come face to face with the shattered glass , drooping roses tucked into the bullet holes.  So much ignorance, fear, and hate in the world… so many innocent people affected by it.

Paris

In December, I headed back to Los Angeles for the month, and also ended up going to Maui for 5 days. It wasn’t originally on the agenda, but how can you say no when you have the opportunity to go to Hawaii? I hadn’t been since 2005, and was thrilled to seek out the rainbow eucalyptus trees again. It definitely brought back memories of my ex and his kids, but new memories were also made, and… a new ukulele bought.

Mele ukulele
How could I NOT buy a ukulele in Hawaii??

It was a lovely trip. Breakfast at the bnb was amazing every morning. The weather was lovely (only a bummer on the day I went down the road to Hana and wanted to swim in some waterfalls but couldn’t because of a flash flood risk). I saw whales for the first time. I saw rainbows every day. The water wasn’t as warm as I remembered it being, but it’s December, so perhaps that’s why. I’ve been cooking coconut banana pancakes nearly every day since arriving home (thank goodness I don’t really put on weight!).

rainbow

And now I have less than a week left before waking up in France again.

Every time I get on a plane, I think about the blank pages ahead of me. Every trip is like it’s own book, with an airplane as the front and back cover. I read it from cover to cover and then tuck it away on the shelf in it’s own special spot. I’m always sad when I reach the end… Yet I always gain something that gives me joy, too.

Part of me wanted to write something about starting a new year, but… every day is the start of a new year. Every day is ripe with exciting possibility. I haven’t been particularly productive this month, but I have so much I’m itching to do. I’m finishing up a little web series (for children). I have a beautiful new ukulele to play with, so much music to make. I have renewed my excitement for acting and film and have new goals and plans. I have new friends. My YouTube channel (the ASMR one) is growing as I put more serious effort into it. And every day I get closer to knowing what my purpose is. There’s so much more… too much more… too much to even remember, sometimes.

Gosh, I don’t know what else to write, right now! Well… Happy new year!!

Happy New Year from Anna and Elsa!
Happy New Year from Anna and Elsa!