Latitude Adjustment

Two Wanderers in Panama and Beyond

A Panama Road Trip

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Almost two years into our life in Panama, we’re still discovering new things about our chosen home. This year we’re making an effort to branch out and explore areas we keep hearing about, but haven’t had a chance to visit yet.

A few weeks ago we got to tick another one off our Panama bucket list when we visited the Azuero Peninsula – the big land mass that sticks down into the Pacific west of Panama City. The Azuero is the true the heartland of Panama, a vast agricultural district where the pace of life moves a little slower, at least when people aren’t partying. Las Tablas is one of the biggest towns in the eastern Azuero, playing host to one festival after another throughout the year – the two biggest being Carnival (one of Panama’s largest) and the wonderous Desifile de las Mil Polleras (Parade of a Thousand Polleras).

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Havana has cemetery stories, too

arch_detail_colon_cemetery_havanaIf you’re a regular reader of this blog (sure you are!) you know we love cemeteries and couldn’t get enough of our visit to La Recoleta in Buenos Aires. In Havana, we loved wandering around the sprawling Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón, resting place of many an ex-president, dictator, and revolutionary figure as well as countless ordinary folk.

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Volcán Barú: Another tick off the bucket list!

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Barú from our neighborhood mirador (lookout) yesterday morning. If you squint hard you might be able to make out the antennas on the very top.

I’ve been captivated by Volcán Barú since the first time I laid eyes on her on our first trip to Boquete in 2010. Even then, the idea to climb Barú someday got stuck in my brain and she landed on our bucket list.

Finally last weekend, after almost two years of living here, I got my wish. (John wisely took a pass on this one because, to paraphrase him, he’s saving his knees for Machu Picchu!) The “road” to the top is mostly a horrible, rutted, and rocky dirt track that can only be managed by extremely tough, high-clearance 4WD vehicles with huge tires. It took us about 7.5 hours to hike the 9.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,500 feet. I can honestly say the hike was one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done, and also one of the most rewarding.

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So, you want to go to Cuba? Here are some pointers.

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The Club Nautico in Cienfuegos

Susan and I have been fascinated by Cuba for a long time, but I think we first got the bug to go there years ago after watching the movie “Havana” starring Robert Redford. Something about that movie captured our imaginations, and we’ve had Cuba on our radar to visit ever since.

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The Cuba Conundrum

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Was it Winston Churchill that described something as a “riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma?” I think he was talking about Russia, but the same could be said for Cuba. After spending 10 eye-opening days there, we’re left with a profound sense of wonder, and an abiding respect for the spirit and resilience of the Cubanos.

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A Very Boquete Christmas

 

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We love sweet Boquete town, especially at Christmastime. Under the current mayor, Boquete citizens have really spruced things up, and their pride is evident everywhere. We haven’t even been here two years, and we’ve noticed a big difference  – from the shiny new garbage trucks to the dazzling Christmas display in Boquete’s main plaza that grows more elaborate every year.

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Our resident piggies

img_7868This hummingbird feeder is BIG – it holds about a quart of sugar water. But lately we’ve had to fill it every day, thanks to the voracious little beasts that have taken over our back terrace.

Pretty much any time of year we can count on an invasion of Rufous-tailed hummingbirds, ubiquitous in Panama. But in the past few days we’ve been enjoying some new visitors, a flock of red-legged honeycreepers. The males are conspicuous by their cobalt blue plumage and a dazzling spot of turquoise right on the crowns of their little heads, and the females are a more camouflage-able yellowish green. Not being much of a birder, I had assumed the honeycreepers were migrating from parts north as the season changes, but my friend Wikipedia assures me they’re native to this area. As are many other types of tanagers.

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The Great Outdoors

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Volcan Baru on a especially gorgeous early-summer morning. The weather is just now changing from rainy to dry, and we’re coming into the time of rainbows, starlight, and fabulous skyscapes.

Heavens to Murgatroyd – where did November go? And December, for that matter. With 2017 staring us in the face, it’s a good time to look back on some of our best moments this year. So many of those moments have been about spending time with friends and our fur kids in the cloud forest paradise known as the western Panama highlands. Every time we get out, it’s like re-discovering our wonderful home all over again.

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It was a dark and stormy night

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Not really. The first time we visited the world-famous La Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires, it was a beautiful, sunny spring morning (since we were there in late September, right on the cusp of winter into spring for that latitude). My first impression: this is the creepiest place I’ve ever seen. But as we wandered around, gobsmacked by the incredibly ornate mausoleums in every state of repair and disrepair, I began to feel more reflective. It doesn’t really matter how much money your family spends on an elaborate tomb – once you’re gone, you’re gone. And eventually, we all end up in the same state whether we’re in a stunning marble monument created by the best Italian sculptors of the day, or a pine box in the ground.  We’re all just . . . . (sorry) . . . dust in the wind.

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Buenos Aires: “Architectural Disneyland”

buildingsThat’s how one of our tour guides described Buenos Aires’ architectural heritage. The city is a dazzling wonderland of architectural styles, and some of them – the French revival buildings, for instance – are not so much authentic (how could they be, seeing as how they’re not in France) as they are eye-poppingly, over-the-top gaudy — a kick to look at and to walk through.

Buenos Aires retains very little of its colonial heritage (one notable exception is Our Lady of Pilar church next to La Recoleta cemetery, built in the early 1700s). That’s because the city went through a

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