Panama

Norris, Becky and Sara went to Panama. Norris had been with the military and wanted to show us the canal and make sure I got to see the birds that are so popular there. We went to the canal the first thing in the morning and it paid off with a ship in progress. It was pretty slow going, so we only watched through one of the locks filling and moving the ship. The well detailed museum explained the rest.

The biomuseo was nearby and showed the natural history of Panama and its culture.

We let Sara take charge at most of the restaurants. Especially if there wasn’t an English menu.

The next step was to board a 12 seater plane to take us to the Pearl Islands- Contadora was our destination.

Yes, that’s the runway you’re looking at. And yes, that’s the full length of it.

To satisfy everyone’s interests, we hired a sailboat to go snorkeling. Norris got to do most of the sailing which he enjoyed most. Sara and I snorkeled around the boat when it anchored near an island, which she enjoyed most. My favorite part was getting back to shore. But I did enjoy seeing one of the 6 manta rays that Sara spotted. There weren’t as many fish as I’ve seen on other snorkeling trips, and this one was cut short for me because we were getting stung by tiny jellyfish. Sara put up with it and actually hung on the back of the boat as we were sailing along one time. She had to use vinegar later to cut the sting down.

A night heron entertained us from our balcony while we interrupted his frog leg dinner.

After two days and three nights on the island, we flew back to the mainland and rented a car to drive to Valle de Anton, from the beach scene to the mountains. On our way to our hotel, we stopped to swim at Los Cajones de Chame, a river chasm.

It’s hard to tell in the photos (and a little hard to tell right there in person), but this is a square tree. There were 3 of them but only a 20 min. walk so it was still worth it. As the trunk grew, it rounded out even more.

Becky takes every chance she gets to sit in a hammock. Yes, she’ll be sitting in this next one very soon.

Capybara we saw on a night tour. The world’s largest rodent.

(Above). This Trojan is digging out a nest from an insect mud pile. (Below) A caiman.

Nothing like being cool by the pool after a long birding trek.

This little document can keep you on the ground or allow you to board a plane. Before leaving Honduras, Sara asked airline agents, and immigration officers about needing a yellow fever shot certificate to return to Honduras. They all told her not to worry, because the requirement was new and agents would let it go the first month. So, we crossed into Panama, had a great trip, and returned to the airport ready to leave. However, we decided to check our bags this time, so we had to report to the check in desk. There, the agent said we needed the document before boarding the plane. Sara explained what she had learned before leaving, so the agent called a supervisor. Sara explained to the supervisor, so the supervisor made some calls. After many explanations and tears, the agents wouldn’t budge and we had missed the flight. We got an airport hotel and tried to decide how to get out of Panama the next day. We got a new flight, and found a clinic that opened in the morning in time for us to get shots.

Meanwhile, we decided to go to the mall to keep from sitting in the room being bored and worried. And I got Taco Bell for dinner there! and Luckily, we found a bookstore that had a wonderful children’s section and was willing to give Sara 15%, 20% and even 50% off certain books. She collected a boxful and spent $500. When we got back to the hotel we had to repack to make room for all the books.

A taxi took us to the clinic at 7:00 in the morning (when I’d rather be sleeping), and the nurse said that only the clinics downtown had the serum we needed. Downtown was an hour and a half away and going there and back would mean we’d miss the plane again. So we hauled our bags to the airport with our online boarding passes and went straight through security and immigration without any questions about a yellow fever document. The worry wasn’t completely over though, until we landed in Honduras and passed through immigration there as well. Whew! I was so glad to be back in Honduras.

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