A Travellerspoint blog

Really amazing young ladies

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From left to right: Sharon, Vanessa, Amanda, Kimberly, Xinia, Dyana, Genesis, Kenya, Carmensita and Josylin. Marylin and Silvia are absent from the picture.

During our short 2 night stay in San Jose, we went to visit an orphanage. Do you remember the yoga workshop I attended earlier in January? The proceeds from the workshop went to support an orphanage in San Jose. Matias, the yoga instructor and his wife Chelsea spend a lot of time there with the girls. They offered for anyone to come to visit the girls and since we had a free day in San Jose, that is what we did.

Chelsea and Matias visit the girls several times a week and help them with their homework, teach them English, take them out on field trips (like to the movies) do maintenance and upkeep as well as many other things around the orphanage. They really do a lot for these wonderful young ladies and I can understand why. You would too if you could meet them. They are truly wonderful young ladies and we were so touched by each one of them.

So now, a little bit about these wonderful ladies. There are about 12 girls living here and they range from age 4 to 16. We spent the afternoon getting to know them. They helped us to learn a little more Spanish and showed us around their garden where they grew avocados, bananas, papaya, and many other things.

We all went for a walk around the block. They just scooped up Kiyoshi and someone carried and played with both the boys all of the way. We went to see some horses, kicked a ball around and then they took us to a mango tree where they climbed up and shook down about 20 fresh mangos.

Sharon was our photographer and took many of the photos except of course the ones that she is in.

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Dyan, Josyln and I.

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Carmensita and Kiyoshi.

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Xinia and Kiyoshi.

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Kimberly, Kiyoshi and Vanessa.

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Kimberly.

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Carmensita.

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Vanessa.

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Sharon.

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Chelsea, Joslyn and Dave.

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Xinia and Kiyoshi.

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Genesis and Taro.

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Taro and Amanda.

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Sharon

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Vanessa and Kimberly.

The boys felt like they were the centre of attention the whole time. Anytime they wanted something like a drink of water or to kick a ball, one of the girls was right there looking after them. Taro was so sad when it came time to leave his new girlfriends. Even the next day, he asked if we could go back to see them. We had a truly fabulous afternoon and were deeply touched by each one of these very special young ladies. We wish them all the best with whatever great things the future holds for them.

Following our visit, we went back to Chelsea and Matias's house and had a lovely dinner. If you'd like to see some of the charitable work that Chelsea and Matias do, here is the link to Matias's website. They are truly inspiring people http://www.yoganirvana.com/en/charity.

Posted by McNouye 09:04 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Just another moving day

Following our stay in the jungle, we started the lengthy trek by bus to Nicaragua from Panama. When I say lengthy, I really mean it. But we were up for it! Our kids are super duper travelers now. No problem. Bring it on...Now, I don't ordinarily like to write about our mundane day to day traveling experiences but here's a little glimpse of how we got from Panama to Costa Rica to Nicaragua.

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We bused it from David, Panama to San Jose, Costa Rica to a town near Granada, Nicaragua.

Our day started with a 20 minute hike down the mountain with all of our stuff (85lbs plus a surf board) to wait at the side of the road for a 7 am bus. Five minutes into the hike, we saw our bus drive by. So we continued down the mountain and waited on the side of the road for the next one. That bus took us to a town called David where we boarded another bus (1.5 hours) to get to the Costa Rican border. We crossed the border just fine to find out that the bus was full and that we'd have to wait 4 hours for the next bus at 2pm. So we melted for 4 hours in a sweltering Chinese restaurant. Missing a bus when you don't have kids is one thing, but missing a bus with a 2 and 4 year old is daunting. But as usual, the kids were great and they killed the time by feeding some goats nearby, watching 80's movies and doing Kiyoshi's favourite sport, eating.

Kiyoshi must be going through a growth spurt because this boy can eat. When we sit down to a plate of rice and beans, he often eats more than I do.

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Think I can eat this much?
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Finished the first plate, on to number 2.
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Is there any more?
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The pigeons need to eat to you know.

We knew in advance that the bus ride was 8 hours, but according to the sign, it was only 350 km. Can you imagine getting on a bus from Edmonton to Calgary (also about 350 km) that took 8 hours? Needless to say, we stopped A LOT! We arrived safe and sound 15 hours later in San Jose at 10 pm with two stinky tuna fish sandwich vomit episodes.

We stayed in San Jose for 2 nights and then left for our next bus at 7am to catch a 7:45 bus. Once we got to the bus station, we were directed to another bus station just a few blocks away. We quickly jumped in another taxi to drive just 3 blocks at which point we were told to go to a different bus station, then a different bus station, then a different station and so on.

When we finally pulled up to our 6th bus station, it was 7:46 and we watched our bus ever so slowly pull out of the station. The bus driver sort of slowed down to tease us as we wildly waved at him to stop. But then I noticed that this bus had no toilets and I couldn't put Kiyoshi on a 6 hour bus without a pee first. So we jumped out of the cab, waved down the bus, threw the kids on the sidewalk and yelled at them to stay there, grabbed our luggage and surf board from the cab, whipped down Kiyoshi's shorts in front of a bus full of people and anxiously waited and waited and waited for him to pee. Poor kid, it is really hard to 'water the sidewalk' in the middle of the city when your parents are stressed out and you have a bus full of people watching you.

The bus in fact did drive away but at least we didn't have to wait 4 hours for the next one, just an hour and a half. The bus from San Jose to Nicaragua was 6 hours and we finally arrived at our hotel in San Jual del Sur at about 6pm, a short 11 hours later, piece of cake.

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This is how we get around. It works great for lengthy border crossings.

Posted by McNouye 16:30 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

A tale of two "Eco's"

When we first arrived in Costa Rica in January the first clue that we were not in Asia anymore was at the airport when I had a scrap of paper for disposal. I asked the clerk if they had a garbage handy and he proudly responded , “We recycle” and took the paper and placed it in the appropriate bin. Wow, recycling,what a novel idea.

Costa Rica likes to market itself as an eco paradise. There are development restrictions for beaches, recycling bins in the airport and it seems like everyone is trying to out green each other more than the other. Most of this is, of course, marketing bullshit created by “eco” businesses. And since Costa Rica has been so successful at cultivating its tourist industry it is not surprising that other Central American countries have been imitating it's eco marketing.

Panama has a number of places that are also marketed as eco lodges. The first that we stayed at was Eco Venao which is part eco accommodations and part forestry project. It attracts a very mixed crowd of people from shoestring backpackers to high end vacationers. Not surprisingly, also have a wide range of places to stay ranging from $12/night dorm beds to a high end house at $265/night. They did their part to recycle and compost but they did not go over the top in trying to be super “eco”. People had cars and drove to other beaches, and often drove the 5 minutes to the beach instead of walking for half an hour. The nearest town was a half hour drive away and there was nowhere to buy food other than two overpriced restaurants on the beach. We had a car while we were there and used it every for outings and to drive 5 minutes down the road to the restaurant that had a trampoline.

The second eco place we stayed at was call the “Lost and Found” (www.lostandfound.com) and this place was definitely hard core eco. It was in the middle of the jungle in western Panama and getting there was a bit of a challenge. You need to take a bus heading toward a certain city and tell them to stop and let you off at the “yellow rocks.” Sure enough there are some rocks painted yellow on the side of the road with a little path heading up the side of a mountain. You then need to trek twenty minutes up a steep hill to finally get there. Did I mention it was a steep hill?

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I don't think you can tell just how steep this hill is.

Now picture us with our bags that weigh 25lbs and 48lbs and they were built to be roller bags first and backpacks second making them relatively crappy backpacks, plus our handbags, plus our kids, plus a surfboard, plus being at the end of a long day, plus being dusk. I kept asking myself “what the fuck are we doing here, what was wrong with 50 feet above sea level?” Amazingly, the kids did the entire hike all by themselves without being carried at all.

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This is the view from the top.

Once we got to the top we were greeted by a friendly group of people that were wonderful with the kids. Although it was cold there. Audrey wore her yoga pants like long johns under her pants. Taro got to wear his jeans all day everyday and all night every night. He essentially never took them off. Kiyoshi on the other hand didn't wear the same clothing at all. He peed through all of his two pairs of pants and his only sweater. It wasn't like we could just wash them by hand an hang them to dry, it was too cold for anything to hang dry. I would compare the climate to our annual camping trip to Kaslo, BC each Victoria Day weekend where you need a winter coat at night and can wear a tank during the day. So you can see why we found it a little uncomfortable and yearned for la playa (the beach).

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Two sweaters, long johns and pants.

It was also hard core eco. Everything was composted or recycled except a small amount that would be hiked back down the hill. One of the owners, Patrick, is originally from Edmonton and has built this mountain retreat in the middle of a Panamanian forest reserve. He can go on for hours about how evil Hydro Quebec is (they own the dam nearby) and has had a challenging time getting permits to operate even though they own the land.

As a result of there being no way to access the place other than local bus and hiking up an epic hill the place attracted a certain crowd. Most were in their twenties, “eco”, and there was a definite new age feel about the place (hence the reiki inspiration).

Which was our favourite? Eco Venao hands down. We definitely jived more with the people in Venao as there were lots of kids and people seemed to be a lot less flakey. We definitely enjoyed both experiences but even though the hill got a little easier every time it was still a huge pain to tackle every time you wanted to go somewhere.

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Here's a picture of Rocky, the resident Kinkajou.

Posted by McNouye 18:31 Archived in Panama Comments (2)

The Pirate Shorts

Here is a poem dedicated to Taro´s favourite pair of clothing, his pirate shorts. They were his favourite and only shorts he wore for 2 solid months. They went in the bin today as they were totally worn out. I thought they deserved an honourable mention.

This poem is for you my faithful friend
I will wear you and only you till the very end
You are the only shorts I wish to wear
You think I´m joking, I´m not I swear

When I get up in the morning, the first thingk I say
Is "Can I wear my Pirate Shorts today?"
My Mom and Dad understand why I love you so
When I ask to wear you, they never say No

But lately I¨ve found that the waist is too tight
And that hole in the butt just doesn´t seem right
These size three shorts, I can wear no more
I will trade them in for a brand new size four

Posted by McNouye 20:41 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

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