This is certainly a question I would ask of someone who had been away on a vacation; but would I want the version you would hear on an elevator ride or something more detailed? Well, you are in luck!! We will do both! I’m taking a shot at the quick and painless while Sue will fill in with an expanded version. So remember, we are on a “No Work, No Headache” tour after we retired from our corporate-type jobs and looking at a possible place to retire in Panama and surrounding that with a couple of true vacations. One on the beaches of Costa Rica and another on the beaches of Maui.
Now, for the Lobby to the 12th Floor version… We had great time… (stare at the numbers clicking by)! Ok, here’s a little bit more information! Costa Rica was great on the beach but San Jose (in the mountains) was way too busy and the traffic was horrible! The drivers were worse than any trip through Tijuana that I have ever been in. We were on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast side and made a side trip to Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island) for snorkeling. Not much there except a tourist trap. Nice beach, though!
The time spent in Bocas del Toro was fun and informative. We enjoyed the weather, even the heavy rains at times, the waterfront and beaches. We did take a trip around the islands as part of the real estate research, we were very close to making an offer on some land, and that helped complete our overview of the islands. People were friendly, Sue said she felt safe walking downtown by herself, and there is a great ex-pat community there that we were fortunate enough to enter on the fringes. Taxis into town were $1 per person… sometimes $2; beer was $1.25 except at the hoity toity places it was $1.75; the beaches are soft white sand, and the surfers loved the breaks they were getting out at the point! It would take some adjustment to living there but we could see ourselves doing that quite easily. We finally decided, after a fitful, tossing and turning night that we needed to “Remember our Dream” of sailing and put this decision on hold. Once we have accomplished that dream; Bocas will certainly be on the list of places to check out for our land-based portion of retirement!
When we left the waterfront of Bocas, we traveled to the mountains of Panama and ended up in the small town of Boquete. Lots of activity while we were there since it was the Fiesta de las Flores… Festival of Flowers. The town was over run with tourists and locals from the surrounding areas. Lots of indigenous Indians and their very colorful dress were in town for the fiesta. We had a great time hiking on the Quetzal Trail and actually saw 3 of the beautiful rare birds! Our guide was practically doing cartwheels on the trail he was so excited! We also toured around the farms of a coffee plantation, Cafe Ruiz, and tasted the various types of coffee. You usually use “eye opening” when talking about coffee but this truly was an eye opener about the process and the different intensities of various beans.
From there we flew to the major metropolis of Panama City for a night on our way to the Tocumen International Airport. Way too crazy for us to venture out and we had an early morning wake up call, to boot. Flying standby on any airline is chancy and we were very lucky to be on the first flight to Dallas… that was great because we didn’t really want to go to Miami, which was our other choice. We arrived in Dallas, rushed through Customs and Immigration (there was no one there… other than the officials!!) where we had a short wait to catch a flight to LA. We had decided we could keep going if we got there early enough to catch a flight to Maui where we would eventually meet up with my brother Ron, or we could stay in LA for a day to visit with Kyle & Brittany, or Scoot or Randy. But, no, we were able to walk off the early arriving flight from Dallas feeling good and onto a flight to Maui. Outstanding!!! We finally arrived in Hawaii at 8 PM after leaving Panama City at midnight Hawaiian time. It made for a long butt-numbing day but we were in the land of soft breezes and mai tais!
Ron and Cindy arrived a couple of days later and we enjoyed a wonderful week riding the Pacific Whale Foundation boats on our many whale watching adventures. Toss in some trips to wonderful restaurants and being introduced to Hawaiian Shaved Ice – Ululani style, and it was a fabulous week of being on the water and enjoying the sunshine Hawaii is well known for.
We left Hawaii after a scrumptious dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Paia and returned to LA where we visited with Kyle and Brittany while watching the Super Bowl (commercials rock!… except this year!). Then we took a trip with Scoot down to San Diego to meet up with some cousins, eventually leaving the next day to finally make that final leg back home to Seattle. We had lots of fun and did interesting things, met some nice people, explored foreign lands and cultures; but sleeping in your own bed is a priceless experience in itself!
OK, so I know we are on the 212th floor by now but this has been an experience so far out of the norm that I get carried away! My thanks to my lovely wife, Sue, for not only taking this journey with me; but for also making it a very pleasurable sharing experience! It’s a great life if you don’t weaken!!!