18 months in 3 minutes…

It is hard to summarize our time abroad, but Señor Luma did a great job through videos that he had taken while we were away…

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Hammering Out Our Travel Itinerary

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It is less than 10 days until we head off and start our exciting adventure of travelling through Central America, before returning to Peterborough, Ontario. I want to share with you our (current) itinerary. (you can click on the above map for a larger version so that you can see the details a bit better).

A) We leave Boquete on March 2 and catch a bus from David to

B) Quepos, Costa Rica. We arrive that day in Manuel Antonio National Park for 4 nights. This park has been high on Señor Luma’s priority list for our travels so we are excited to have a bit of time there. From there we head north and stay somewhere overnight en route to Nicaragua (we’ll find a spot).

C) We arrive in Granada, Nicaragua where we will have 10 days or so to explore the colonial city and the surrounding area.

D) From there we will take a bus to Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras) where we will stay a night before catching a flight to

E) Roatan, Honduras (this is now March 21). We have a week booked in Roatan and have managed to rent a condo at the Roatan Backpacker’s Hostel. We are looking forward to hitting the beach, snorkelling, and relaxing at the pool (!!). Señor Luma has also gotten in touch with a lovely resort that has invited all of us to spend a day while he talks retreats with them. On March 28, we are flying from Roatan to

F) Belize City and then heading right over to Caye Caulker where we have 3 nights booked. We are looking forward to one more snorkelling extravaganza before heading inland towards

G) San Ignacio. We have 4 nights booked just before the Guatemalan border and we are excited to begin our introduction to Mayan ruins. On Easter Weekend, we head to

H) Tikal, Guatemala where we will stay 2 nights in Tikal National Park where we can explore the amazing biodiversity of the area as well as the spectacular history of this magical area. From this point on, we have a very loose itinerary (we felt the urgency to get reservations for the first part of our trip since we are travelling to highly touristic areas in high season.After our Tikal reservation, we have about 10 days to get to our final destination in Southern Guatemala for April 15).

I) Once we arrive in Antigua, Guatemala, Lumita and I will take a workshop with Mayan weavers, using the traditional backstrap loom as well as spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful colonial city.

J) On April 15 we arrive at our rental in Santa Cruz la Laguna where we will relax and explore the area for the next 6 weeks (and we hope to host some dear friends from Peterborough for a couple of those weeks!).

On June 2, we fly from Guatemala City to Toronto and we are very excited to return to Ontario at one of the most glorious times of year and have the whole summer to enjoy being back, before school starts up in September

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Hospitals – not your usual tourist destination!

Did you know that tourists receive 30 days of FREE medical coverage in Panama? Well, last week we decided to try it out…

Hanging out in the Emergency Room at the San Felix hospital in Panama!

Hanging out in the Emergency Room at the San Felix hospital in Panama!

On our first morning at Naturalmente (BEAUTIFUL boutique cabañas in Las Lajas, a lovely little beachy town), Lumito tripped in the room, fell, and hit his head on the edge of the leg of a table. The poor little gaffer was BAWLING – rightfully so! There was some blood around his eye. I took out our trusty (little) first aid kit and cleaned up the blood around his eye. He stopped crying and we thought we had fixed everything. We headed over to breakfast to enjoy the AMAZING spread of food that Chantal and Gabriel (the owners of this fabulous place!) had laid our for us!

Señor Luma had just proclaimed “WOW! This is going to be a GREAT breakfast!!” when I looked over at Lumito and noticed that he had just been touching his head and that there was now blood on his fingers… I took a closer look and YIKES! It turns out that the blood that was around his eyes came from the gash in his head and he must have spread it from his head to around his eyes… Chantal and Gabriel pulled out the much larger first aid kit, but we quickly realized that a trip to the local hospital would be our first tourist destination in Las Lajas!

Chantal kindly loaded us all up in to her truck and drove us the 5 minutes to the hospital in San Felix. She then helped us to navigate the hallways and find the ER (cause let me warn you, signage in Panama appears to be “optional” with most cities, roads, and buildings, opting NOT to waste money on piddly things like signs!), and then she happily waited with us while Lumito got treated. We could have easily (and happily!) taken a taxi back when we were all done, but she would have none of that!

Taking advantage of this free healthcare was easy! We presented the little flyer that we received at customs, handed over the passports, and voila! I had to laugh when 1) we were called in to the examining room and 2) when I saw his file. Lumito has 3 very Spanish names and then my last name as a middle name… They managed to change the name “Scherz” (a difficult enough name for English speakers!) in to “Sanchez”! 🙂

Stitches are new to me (I once had my knee glued up) so I am assuming that it all went well… I stayed with Lumito for the procedure and I had to (inwardly) laugh about the differences in the medical system. Naturally, things were a lot more relaxed then I imagined they would be in Canada. The doc was wearing ripped jeans with his “doctor” shirt, he was chewing a candy the whole time, and just before he gave Lumito the anesthetic, a friend of his walked by so they gave a sort of high five (you know, the kind you give when you are wearing surgical gloves and you are holding a needled in your hands!) and got side tracked talking… Finally the nurse waved the bottle of anesthetic in his face to draw his attention back… 🙂 After the stitches were all done, they took an X-ray of Lumitos head to make sure his skull wasn’t cracked (which is HIGHLY unlikely, but they like to be thorough and I am ok with that!) and the doc offered us to take the x-rays home, if only we had a jump drive!

Lumito spent the rest of the day sporting his “special” hat” to keep the bandage in place (which he actually loved so much he didn’t want to take it off until the next day!). And after such a traumatic experience, we figured we deserved some ice cream so we treated ourselves to some locally-made gelato – it was DELICIOUS!

Our well-earned treat - Chiricream gelato - locally made by Italian ex-pats!

Our well-earned treat – Chiricream gelato – locally made by Italian ex-pats!

This wasn’t how we had intended to spend out first day in Las Lajas, but all things considered, we had a great day… We did manage to get a day at the beach and it was GORGEOUS – there is a big tide and the water is nice and shallow which was great for Lumita to run and play in! We plan to go back to Las Lajas and Naturalmente – but we hope to skip another trip to the hospital!

Panama

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If you’ve ever had a baby, you might remember the feeling of euphoria once that babe is finally out. There is this euphoria that you feel that erases all of the pain and work. That is how I am feeling. After such crazy weeks leading up to our departure today, I have been so focussed on heading off that now that we are gone, I am in this euphoric glow that we ACTUALLY did it! Seriously, I can’t believe it!

We flew in to Panama City on Wednesday and are settled in to a lovely bed and breakfast for the next few nights before we head off for a 2-week tour to get us to Boquete. We are exhausted (especially the Lumitos – after an exciting fortnight of time with their cousins, and staying at the house of their super-close-friend-she-might-as-well-be-a-cousin) we intend to take it s l o w . . .

We got off with out too many hitches… Without the generosity of family and friends, I can confidently say that we would not have made it. Seriously. To my mum who hosted us for just under 3 weeks and our wonderful friends (who happen to also be our next-door neighbours) who hosted us for another week, we are so thankful for the beds and home that they shared with us in the time from when we left our house to when we flew out. To the friends who helped with getting our house ready (dump runs, cleaning, painting, taking our children so we could get more done, etc…), we were so happy to receive your help as we could never have gotten things ready. To the friends who hosted us for meals, goodbye gatherings, and sent us beautiful goodbye notes, thank you for this love! To the friend who has gone above and beyond the call of duty as our property manager, without you, we would not be able to feel so at ease, knowing that you are taking care of our house so well (dare I say better than we do!).

We are overwhelmed by all of the positive response to our adventure. Thank you all so much for supporting us as we do this!