Rotary Helps Out in Panama

Escuela Buena Esperanza (Good Hope School) Bocas del Toro, Panama is very grateful for the supplies that the Rotary e Club Canada One Peace Initiative recently donated.

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The school of 3 rooms is in a village of about 200 people. There are no roads, electricity or internet. Access is by boat only – mostly dug-out canoes which are hand paddled.

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The government does send some pens and paper, but the Rotary donation of teaching aids and additional supplies was greatly appreciated.

 

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Classes stop at grade six and very few children are able to travel to the next grades. The middle school is 1 hour by boat and fuel is expensive.

Neighbouring expats are hoping to raise the $1,500/year it would take to operate a boat for students.

 

Donations from Rotary Canada One

 

Shopping for the supplies involved a boat ride to town to the one and only store that had school supplies. It was like a very basic dollar store and what they offered was limited. The staff were  helpful and the proprietor generously  contributed two packages of paper.

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Our shopping was very well received and will go a long ways to help Roberto teach his students.

The kids love to sing and they proudly sang the Panamanian National Anthem for us.

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Lots of smiling faces.

Thank You Rotary e Club Canada One, and all those who helped make it work :

Johanne, Roberto(the teacher), President Lynne and Nishchint Bajaj

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The Tranquility That is Bocas del Toro

There is so much to be said about Bocas – our time here has been remarkable, magical and memorable!!

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What seems to be most striking is the quiet that predominates our days. It is not quiet as in no sound,  the jungle is alive with birds, monkeys, frogs and more. It is a tranquility which has it’s own sound – more than just quiet. The pervasive silence sets the backdrop that allows the natural world to be truly heard. We hear with different ears, we see with new eyes and we smell with new noses. It is an awareness, an awe.

The morning after a rain, the aroma of jasmine is absolutely lush. It is as if standing  wrapped in the fragrance. Every time you look up there is something remarkable you hadn’t noticed the last time you looked. Did those brilliant red flowers just bloom, how could I have not seen them before?

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We are certainly very spoiled as the property that we are caring for is a botanical wonder. It was carved out of a jungle hillside overlooking a Caribbean Bay. Toucans, parrots, monkeys, sloths, green frogs, red frogs and dolphins are all regular guests.  The jungle supplies us with fresh oranges for juice, lemons the size of softballs, four different varieties of bananas and pure organic cacao. (We are learning the value of cacao nibs as a super food).

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Maybe some photos will help to illustrate what I can not seem to put into words. There are only so many adjectives for incredible.

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There are tiny communities scattered around this intricate archipelago. The inhabitants are here for each other when needed, yet forever at a distance. Visiting requires a boat trip and it is always WP (weather permitting). It is an intriguing mix of expats that are drawn to this lifestyle. They reside beside the natives that have made this region home for generations. There is a definite spirit to the place!

The sense of being off the grid is very profound, we are  a long ways from any grid out here! This isn’t like going to the cottage for the weekend.

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We are so absolutely fortunate because we are spending 6 weeks on a property that is the jewel of the area.

Check out their website to learn how organic cacao is produced:

Green Acres Chocolate Farm

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Farewell To Old Friends

I am coming to a point where I must say goodbye to an old friend and emotions are welling up.DSCF5326

It is a pair of friends actually, they are my trusty and often dusty TEVA – Omniums sports sandals.

They have served me so well and we have shared some amazing adventures.

Teva, the creators of my sandals, claim it is the Atomic Footbed, 20mm of Hi-tech composite that makes them so damn wonderful. But I know that it is much more than that; when you have shared so much together it becomes personal.

Together we have scampered up the mountain trail to the old logger’s cabin at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet in BC. The trip down was particularly tricky and my trusty friends held fast, through mud and over sharp rocks.

Much of their souls were left on the deck of another beloved friend, the sailing yacht Swan. Fiberglass non-skid decking of a sail boat is coarse and unkind to ordinary footwear. My Omniums were not ordinary footwear! They bravely held their place when the weather soured, keeping me forever safe and on board when seawater swashed over the decks and angles were a challenge.

Together we have ventured to some wonderful locations from the extreme to the sublime. I reminisce of the times I sported my sandals through the plush mossy highlands of Otovalo, Ecuador, or the rugged off-road trails of Omepete Island, Nicaragua.

 

Recently, a bath of sweat and salt water has rendered my dear friends rather odious. Stinky in fact, to the point of being rather offensive. Fear not, with a bucket of warm water and a generous dose of Central American All Purpose cleaner, it is mountain freshness once again. I can only hope that when the day arrives that I become this offensive, there will be friends near and dear that will know the proper remedy.

So when the time comes and the last mile is shared, what will be the fitting final resting for my tired companions?

A burial at sea? Tacked to a tree?

To be unceremoniously tossed onto a landfill somewhere seems so heartless and empty.
Omniums you have served me so well; I will sadly shuffle off to the mall, longing to discover a new pair of loyal friends.

 

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Our 4 Legged Friends

As of September 2017, Johanne and I have had the pleasure to care for:

43 dogs, 17 cats, a turtle, a tortoise, various birds and chickens.

Click here to see our happy gang.

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We have certainly learned about a variety of breds and their unique behavior. We have enjoyed every opportunity that has come our way.

Thank you from our hearts to the home owners that have given us their trust.

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Of Pillow Tops and Coffee

Johanne and I have been house and pet sitting for 18 months now and we love every moment. It has its challenges but they a minuscule compared the joys we are experiencing.

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So don’t get me wrong I would not change our lifestyle for anything. I do however want to share with you two things, that when combined, add a sense of pure luxury to any house sit: a fluffy- soft pillow top mattress and fresh local coffee.

Now we have learned that “fluffy-soft” and “fresh” are relative in nature. Much like: “no mosquitoes here” and “my dogs never bark”, these terms are subject to wide interpretation.

Let me paint for you my perfect house sit. The owners have left us the keys to their clean and comfortable home; they will be away six weeks. The fridge is full of fresh local fruits and veggies, the private pool is just a few steps from the living area.

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The delightful pets are low maintenance and a joy to care for. Getting the picture?

Morning sunlight warms my face and a soothing ocean breeze ruffles the curtains. We are lying on a cloud, a king sized cloud at that. Down filled pillows cradle our heads. As we arise, there are no stiff joints or cramped muscles, our entire beings have been thoroughly replenished. Waking on a cloud brings a smile to my existence.

Into the kitchen we glide where the day begins. With care and attention, exotic local coffee beans are ground to perfection. By a simple process their richness is turned into liquid gold and my senses come alive with anticipation.

Pouring the elixir into mugs turns whole milk a lovely teak. The aroma is divine!!

Johanne and I settle on soft chairs and marvel at our surroundings. We hold hands and clasp our prized mugs with the other. Full bodied, full-sized (Vancouver sized) cups of java. Simple indulgence at its fullest.

We share our dreams and contemplate the day in front of us. It is a moment to appreciate the fullness of life. A life so rich that I ask for a top up! On many days it is served with a slice of homemade banana bread. A few simple pleasures have turned this perfect house sit to extraordinary.

I raise my coffee mug to you and hope that all of your future sits are filled with fluffy-soft luxury.

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A Tale of Two Geckos – The Book

Doug’s long anticipated book is:

Now on amazon.com

Click Here

for Canadians amazon.ca

Click here

What readers are saying:

“This book is a must read for everyone desiring to change their lives and pursue their dreams. I’ll have to re-read it over and over again. These two courageous geckos did it!”

*******

“I predict the Geckomana will take off as  the new trend after reading this book”

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“I was just going to read one chapter and get back to what I was doing…I couldn’t put it down.
“Life’s Inspiration” written with love, honesty and experience. Loved it!”

Doug Book Cover

 

It is our story about how we transformed our lives and is written to entertain and encourage readers to consider the changes they would like in their lives.

Please enjoy our story and kindly share it with a friend.

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Celebrating Our 1st Year as Nomads

April 7th – As of today Johanne and I have been slow travelling throughout Latin America for 1 year.

It has been a fabulous experience- the best year on record.DSC03764

 

We have lived on the rim of a volcanic craterDSC01736 - Copy

come to experience wonderful Colonial Cites:

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swam on deserted beaches in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and in pristine cenotes.

 

DSC03812 We have climbed Mayan Pyramids and gazed down the throat of el diablo.DSCF4279

 

 

 

We even took a break to honeymoon in Cuba:

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We have met hundreds of people along the way and have  nurtured many lasting friendships that we value immensely.

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Discovering Quintana Roo, Mexico

Although I have been in Mexico more than a dozen times I always find pleasant new surprises. It is a country so rich in history and interesting geography.

Currently we are vising Quintana Roo, the state that forms the eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula.

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Chetumal

According to the guide books Chetumal was suppose to  be a place that was not worth visiting however Johanne and I found it to be most enjoyable. It is very safe and largely overlooked by the Cancun crowd.

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Clean and quiet a wonderful malacon stretching for miles along the Caribbean shore.

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How can you not love a place that  has a statue of Bob Marley?

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Bacalar, Pueblo Magico is our next stop, a small town perched on an stunning fresh water laguna.

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The laguna is 42 KMs long and fed from  below by two deep water cenotes.

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Bacalar is rich with history from the days when pirates lurked in the mangroves raiding the Spanish settlements.

The Spanish built a fort here in the 1700’s which was later captured and held by Mayan rebels in the Caste Wars.

 

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Great food and affordable accommodation are abundant.

 

 

 

 

Cenote swimming

 

We are very pleased that we took time to visit this often ignored corner of the peninsula.

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Uxmal – Mayan Magic

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Gazing out over what remains of a once great civilization, so many questions arise.

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Pyramid of the Soothsayer

Many of the answers remain a mystery today particularly what transpired to cause such a rapid and dramatic decline to this once powerful civilization?

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Founded  around 700 AD the  Mayan center of Uxmal was the home of  approx. 25,000 people. It is said to be the most majestic of all the Mayan  cities. There is much Mayan mythology about the city once being ruled by Dwarfs.

I found it interesting that this center was built where there was no cenote for water as is the case with other site.

 

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Getting up is the easy part.

We were extremely impressed at how well preserved and presented this UNESCO  location is and  our 3 hour walk about was very enlightening.

More Information

 

Getting There:

Uxmal is 65 KMS south of Merida and there are many tours offered stopping here and the other sites on the Puuc Trail.

Johanne and I chose to take the local bus from downtown Merida- it takes about 1.5 hrs. and was  just a few dollars one way. There is also a local bus tour on Sundays

There is also very comfortable  accommodations and restaurants just as you enter the site. Maybe stay a few days and experience this area by moonlight.

 

Make sure you put the ruins at Uxmal on you “Must Do List”.

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Merida, Yucatan, Mx.

Johanne and I have found this to be a very safe and comfortable city offering many enchanting plazas and parks. Strolling the tree lined streets we discover a variety of interesting nooks and crannies.

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Street Performance
Street Performance

There is free nightly entertainment at various locations in the historical district where you can experience a real local flavour.

Every  Sunday they close off much of the old city around the Plaza Grande so that families can ride bicycles together.

Artists and musicians add to the relaxed atmosphere and there is great street food to experience.

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It is a city steeped with culture and tradition, plus it offers a high quality of life to its residents and guests. We are always greeted with warm and welcoming smiles.

The city is also an ideal starting point for visiting the pristine beaches

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Uxmal.

“We can highly recommend Merida as a place to visit and enjoy”.

Hint: (It is very HOT in September)!!

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Resource: The Yucatan Today is the best Travel Companion magazine we have seen. Great maps and current events.