At the end of August, almost half-way through my time single-handing/Damon’s working time in Austin, my Mom came to visit! It was a quick 10 days, but we packed a whole lot in: 3 days in the Highlands sandwiched by 3 on either side in Bocas.
This visit was actually the second time she came to visit us in Panama – the first being last year, when were travelling overland and dropped the big bomb on her that we had no plans to return to “the real world” but instead planned to sell everything buy a boat and return to Panama. What a difference a year makes . . . we had done it and were back were we started, showing her sights she hadn’t seen in 2011 and, in general, what our life was like on the boat (or at least what my life was like singlehanding on the boat until D came back from working in the States).
And, of course, in between showing her the sites and in’s and out’s of our new life aboard in Panama, we had this totally typical Mother-Daughter conversation:
- Me: “Soooo, do you have any big questions for me?”
- She: “ehh, no” (she’s a totally bad liar)
- Me: “like, maybe: ‘What am I going to do with my life and how am I going to pay for it?’”
- She: “sure”
- Me: “Man, I don’t know. But, I’ll when I do, I’ll let you know!”
- She: resigned, “okay”
I had a great time showing her my life aboard in Bocas, including the local flora:
one of my fave jungle plants. Doesn’t it look like a sparkler in slow-motion?
the bamboo cathedral at Jim Jackson’s
shampoo ginger at George & Sue’s
and, the local fauna:
a dolphin & sea bird in Tierra Oscura
moon jelly – you can actually pick these up and the feel like breast implants, weird
Mom got to see the process of turning cacao into chocolate from my friends George and Sue:
Cacao on the tree
cacao aka pre-chocolate
cacao bean to nibs
frozen chocolate, yum!
And, some practical solutions in the Banana Republic:
bathroom key in the jungle is an actual banana
She also got to see what life on the boat is really like, 8 months in:
doing dishes* 11/12 update: when Damon got back he installed a salt-water pump in the galley so this is a thing of the past!
getting around in the family car;
driving the dinghy
Mario & I (ok, mostly Mario) fixing the motor when it refused to start;
fixing the engine
me, fixing the head when it slipped a nut;
classic plumber shot
and, me (again) pulling up anchor (while Lorenzo supervised) when it was time to go sailing.
I am the windlass!
But, ultimately, the tropical heat did not agree with Mom.
Mom cools off
So, we headed to the hills where we could enjoy some R&R in the cooler climate in Boquete and I could do some major provisioning in David.
One water taxi and one five-hour bus ride later and we were up in the lovely, lush mountains of Panama. And, boy was it a lot cooler than Bocas – about 30 degrees cooler!
how much I like cold weather
But, it was also a beautiful change of scenery. While it was so much cooler than Bocas, it seemed just as wet; allowing Boquete’s gardens to really thrive in this temperate rain forest.
it’s wet in the rainforest!
But, oh so pretty . . .
“downtown” Boquete from across the river
these hanging lillies were everywhere!
We had heard that in addition to the beautiful gardens, many folks come here to bird-watch, especially hoping to see the ever-elusive Queztal. Can you believe we saw one without even trying???
A rare queztal spotting
OK, well, we didn’t really. It was just some fun painted rocks
That evening we took a bumpy ride several kilometers outside of town to stay even higher in the mountains (read: colder). We stayed at The Boquete Tree Trek (named for it’s ziplining through the trees, which we did not have time to do).
to/fro town from the mountains in the back of the ziplining truck
the main lodge and cabins
in the main lodge
With its log cabins, roaring fireplace, and super-comfy beds, it was the most cozy and romantic place my mother and I ever stayed, together.
looking into the Boquete valley from the lodge
They even had tame rabbits roaming about – yes, tame rabbits roaming the grounds!!!
One thing Boquete Tree Trek also had on site was an amazing suspension bridge (which I think are so cool, as long as I’m not on them).
suspension bridge at Boquete Tree Trek
as far as I went (1 foot)
Our stay at the lodge was wonderful. I would love to return (this time with my hubby): they had great food in the main lodge (pork chops with fresh cherry compote, etc), the cabins were beautiful and the grounds were amazing.
But, we were on a whirlwind tour and headed out to David so I could do some power shopping aka treasure hunting for everything not available in the islands.
First stop was La Casa de las Baterias, which is exactly what it sounds like: The House of Batteries. Basically, the battery bank on Mother Jones was fried. So, we needed new ones. For any of you cruisers out there who are curious about our new bank, after many, many conversations with other sailors we ended up going with three, 12v sealed, deep-cycle batteries mainly because of where ours are located (we can’t top them off easily, which means we won’t top them off regularly).
battery shopping – about as fun as it sounds, plus it’s expensive!
Another project on my to-do list was re-upholstering our boat (re-covering all the salon cushions and making new curtains for each thresh-hold – my clever idea to use lightweight, affordable muslin for the old curtains was foiled by mold, which loves the sugars in natural fibers).
I was so happy to find a wonderful fabric store in David. The owner was super helpful: he showed me lots of options, made sure I had everything I needed for the project (piping, good thread, etc) and he even helped me re-calculate all my measurements when I thought “maybe I want the stripes to go the other way . . .”. Needless to say, I’m super excited to get started with the makeover on Mother Jones!
If you’re keeping track (like I was), we had only been to two places but I now had about 60 lbs worth of batteries and 15 pounds worth of fabric to schlep home on the bus – which was not going to work. Luckily, there’s a super-advantageous service for Bocas residents where you drop stuff off in David to be trucked to Bocas in a weekly shipment (with everyone else’s goods that won’t fit on the bus) and then when it gets to Bocas, you run the truck down and get your stuff = amazing!
So, each shopping errand actually turned into two: one to get the stuff and one to drop the stuff off. By mid-day, we were ready to re-charge our (human) batteries, which we happily did at the best restaurant in David, Cuatro.
Shopping fuel: somebody likes sangria @Cuatro
Next stops were Novey’s (home & garden store), Pricesmart (Costco) and Conway (Target) – man it felt good to get a few t-shirts without boat smell on them, it’s the small things in life!
treasure hunt find #863: dowels
Yep, I found the Panamanian Costco!
treasure hunt treasure #6489: Panamanian TARGET!!!
And then, after a good night’s sleep, it was back to Bocas for just a few short, sweet days with Mom before I was back to single-handing again (read: installing the new battery bank & starting to re-upholster, pfew!).
Mom and I at the mirador at Red Frog Beach just before she left