A Travellerspoint blog

Panama

Paradise Found!

storm 80 °F

Wednesday, 10/27/10 – Friday, 10/29/2010. Things are looking up. When I arrived in Panama Wednesday night, I had a feeling that I was going to like it here. The hostel I’m staying in is nothing to write home about but I have a bed and a private half bath. I stayed up late bound and determined to find a house close to the beach and I emailed several property owners. One, Carlos, and I emailed back and forth and I found out that he is here in Panama City. He said he would drive me out to see his house and any others I wanted to look at. So I rented a car for today and off we went. He was a wonderful tour guide, taking me past the Panama Canal and telling me the history of it and the explaining the necessity of the nearby jungles. He also told me about the mangroves we passed, where crabs and shrimp abound. Good, I thought, I can make the tasty shrimp ceviche that I got a new recipe for in Ecuador. We stopped first in a beach town called Nuevo Gorgona and looked at 2 houses that belonged to other owners. One was an apartment on top of a hotel and one was in a complex of one bedroom places all attached to each other. Also, neither of them had direct beach access. We moved on down the road to Sea Cliff where his house was. Paradise!! He said he knew I would love it. It is a family beach house on about an acre that they rent out. It is a little one bedroom house with one nearby neighbor and a block away from a white sand Pacific Ocean beach. The house is fairly new and well taken care of, clean and cozy. The landscaping is beautiful. The only negatives are; there is no hot water and it is in quite a remote area. Carlos, the owner, says I will get used to cold showers and all I have to do is walk to the highway, about ½ mile, to catch a cheap bus to civilization. He even offered to take me down there on Sunday to move in as he was going down anyway to install a real stove in the house. Also, I may be offline for a while getting internet service set up as there is none there. He is starting a new tour business and I guess I was his first customer. I told him he was a natural and wished him success.

Beach House

Beach House

Posted by Jan Foster 17:27 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Good Bye Ecuador!

Too expensive for a cheap country

overcast 65 °F

Wednesday, 10/27/10. Good riddance to Ecuador! It was very expensive getting out of this country and I will never come back. First of all, when I got to the ticket counter at the airport, I was told I was overweight on my bags. According to them I was only allowed 32 kilos for my two bags and they totaled 41 kilos. What I read on the internet was that the international flight baggage allowance was 24 kilos each. South America to Central America, right? Ah, but they explained, anywhere in Latin America is under the lesser baggage allowance. OK, so I paid $17 excess when I flew up from Cuenca on Tame Airlines, so I thought no big deal. Wrong! COPA airlines charged me $56!

My next shock was I was told I had to have an exit ticket out of Panama. Well, I showed him my AA return ticket back to the States. Wouldn’t fly – the ticket had to say departing from Panama. So I was forced to buy a ticket. I guess I’m going to San Jose, Costa Rica on December 1st - $329.00. Good deal they said because it’s a special in Business Class – cheaper than economy. I’m going to have to really check the rules for getting in and out of Costa Rica and obviously lighten my suitcases by 9 kilos to avoid another overage fee.

Finally, Ecuador (unlike other countries), does not add the airport fee to their tickets so I had to fork out another $40,80.

This has been a very expensive episode in my travels and it was all to avoid travelling thru Colombia. Guess I’ll be eating a lot of beans and rice this month!

PS: Their airport security sucks. I walked thru with two bottles of water and they told me not to take my laptop out of my bag.

PPS: Guess who got tagged for a “random” bag check? I had to go down to the bag staging area, pick out my bag, unlock it and stand there while the policia went thru my things. More great fun in Ecuador.

I liked Cuenca the best.

Posted by Jan Foster 07:28 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Food, food and more food

And TV shows

rain 55 °F

Tuesday, 10/26/2010. Some of you may be wondering, knowing how I love food, how I am eating down here in this third world country. Well, let me tell you, I am eating very well, thank you very much. Ecuadorian food is very similar to the pure, unprocessed foods we had in the States years ago, with a heavy emphasis on rice. Almost every meal is served with it. Now, I am not a very big fan of rice, so a lot of it is usually left on my plate when I am done eating. However, portions of everything are large, so I fill up on the other parts of the meal.

Today I went to the Market to pick up a few things and when I got back, I looked at the menu board on the hostel’s Swiss restaurant. I couldn’t read all of it but what I could read said it cost $5.90. So I went for it. It turned out to be a lovely pasta salad with ham and pineapple to start, tasty fish with a hollandaise sauce peppered with bits of shrimp, glazed carrots and rice (of course). Included was dessert – a wonderful and creamy chocolate mousse. Ummmm! It was great! While I was eating, we had a hail storm. The waiter explained that since the altitude was so high, hail storms were not unusual.

I was so full when I got back to my room that I laid down and took a two hour nap. I eat like this every day and I think I am losing weight because of all the walking I am doing.

Then, at night, I just have a light snack while I’m watching TV on my computer. Yes, I couldn’t stand going without my favorite TV shows, so I learned how to download them and watch a couple every night. Next I’m going to try to download movies.

Well, tomorrow I am off to Panama. After a great amount of struggle, I finally found a hostel I could afford. Panama’s supposed to be cheap, but not in Panama City apparently. However, I won’t be staying there long; I only booked for 3 nights, as I want to head off to the beaches. I am looking forward to the warmth after the chill of Quito.

Posted by Jan Foster 15:47 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Quito, Ecuador

Exploring in a new city

overcast 60 °F

Sunday, 10/24/10 – Monday, October 25, 2010. Well, I discovered something about myself and that is sometimes whenever I get to a new city, I immediately don’t like it. I flew into Quito from Cuenca yesterday and riding in the taxi to my hostel, I decided I didn’t like Quito at all. When I got to my hostel, I resolved that I hated it because I thought it wasn’t near anything like I thought. However, when I woke up this morning, after spending many hours unsuccessfully searching for a new hostel, I got a map and realized I was in the middle between Old Quito and La Mariscal. La Mariscal is nicknamed gringoland because that is where all the gringos are. So after having breakfast (very good omelet) and getting a map from the front desk, I went exploring. Of course, I went the wrong way first because I have lost my sense of direction. So I turned around and headed to La Mariscal. About 3:00 pm I was starting to get hungry and decided I wanted American fare, so I stopped at a place called Adams Ribs where I had a wonderful meal of BBQ chicken, cole slaw and French fries and really good iced tea. I knew I would feel at home when I heard Willie Nelson playing. It was expensive by Ecuadorian standards but slightly less than US prices. I was really winded when I got back to the hostel. I don’t know if it is because I am horribly out of shape or because of the altitude here – 13,500 feet. It is cold here too – about 60 degrees and overcast. I really wanted to stay in bed under the covers and stay warm.

What really freaked me out was trying to get to Panama without going thru Colombia. I was all over the internet looking for buses, boats, and flights to anywhere in Central America that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. No luck, so I bit the bullet and made a reservation to fly from Quito to Panama City. It would have cost me almost the same had I taken the bus to the Colombian border, flew to a safe city, bussed it up to the northern border, and flew into Panama (there is no road border between Panama and Columbia-did you know that? I didn't). Plus a lot of hassle. It is going to play havoc with my budget this month, but better to be safe.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to go on a tour to Octavalo which is supposed to be the center of the earth.

Posted by Jan Foster 14:58 Archived in Ecuador Comments (2)

Beautiful Cuenca Ecuador

Up and running again plus lessons for the wise traveller

semi-overcast 49 °F

Wednesday, 10/20/10-Saturday, 10/23/10. Sorry I have been offline. I arrived in Cuenca Wednesday night after a looooooooong bus ride, ate dinner and went to bed. When I got up Thursday morning, my computer wouldn’t boot up. I took it directly to a repair shop where I was told my hard drive had crashed. Lesson #1 – Always back up your computer. Luckily I had done that just before I left the States so there wasn’t much to lose. Anyway, I just now got the computer back and am ready to bring you up to date.

Cuenca is one beautiful city which rests 8200ft high in the Andes. The bus ride up here was harrowing as there were mountains on one side and a cliff drop-off on the other. We rode to Guayaquil from Bahia (5 hours) and then took the bus to Cuenca (4 hours). Lesson #2 – if you are carrying something valuable (in this case, it was my computer) do not put it in the overhead. Always keep it under your feet or on the empty window seat next to you. Nothing was stolen, but I have heard many stories from people getting robbed while their cameras, etc. were in the overhead bin.

Thursday, we took the tour bus around Cuenca and got to know the city. It is the 3rd largest city in Ecuador and is sprawled out. It is also the newest looking and cleanest city I have seen in Ecuador. Maybe because of the huge expat population? We walked around some afterward, had dinner, then came back to our rooms. We are staying at The Macondo Hostal. It is fresh, beautiful and ultra clean. Friday, we visited some churches and museums. For dinner, we went searching for the restaurant owned by a sister of a girl we know in Bahia. She was happy to see us and served us a typical Ecuadorian dinner. Afterwards, she and her husband gave us a tour of all of Cuenca and took us to their house (this is a great honor). Saturday, I slept in then got up and retrieved my computer. We headed to the Inca Ruins, which were closed and then went to another restaurant we had heard of for an early dinner.

I will be flying out of Cuenca tomorrow to Quito where I will spend a couple of days. Lesson #3 – Flying in country is cheap, but country to country is expensive. Hence, I will be riding the bus a lot.

Posted by Jan Foster 16:06 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 44) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 9 »