World traveling mom visits world traveling son

December 9 to 17, 2013, Panama

Elizabeth, mother of Pete, visited us in Panama City for a (mostly) land-based vacation. Here is her illustrated travel report.

Arrived without a hitch on my side into Tocumen airport, Panama (PTY), until I approached customs, that is. The card I had to fill out asked for Peter’s address and I had no idea. Fortunately they were just a few feet from the customs agent, so it turned out to be worry for nothing again.

The van guy (Rogelio) whisked us through the narrow streets of Panama City to arrive at the apartment. I can’t tell you how many times I thought of Big Bang Theory. Climbing three flights of stairs rather than taking the elevator; the layout was the same; it seemed we should knock and say Penny, Penny, Penny!

Off to the locks; did you realize that those large cruise/cargo ships only have a margin of error of 24 inches on either side of the lock! and it’s 100 years old and still works.

A cruise ship in the locks. It is huge!

A cruise ship in the locks. It is huge.

Gayle showed me around old town and very old town and we shared a wonderful local lunch with a great view of her home away from home. Our outings also include the shopping mall and tiki-tiki shopping.

All in one shot: Gayle, On Delay, and the city of Panama.

All in one shot: Gayle, On Delay, and the city of Panama.

Very different from tiki-tiki shopping was the Abastos Market shopping with other cruisers. On Delay organizes a van to the wholesale fruit and vegetable and the central fish market. The fruit market reminded me of something you would see in China but oh those pineapples, for those alone the trip was worth the ride. The Kuna ladies were also shopping, wearing their traditional dress of mola blouses and sarong-skirts with beaded bracelets around their legs from ankle to knees.

Kuna women at the Abastos wholesale fruit and vegetable market.

Kuna women at the Abastos wholesale fruit and vegetable market.

Cruisers with their shopping (L to R): Ann from Galivant, Timo from Pipe Dream, Werner from Windance, Doug from Galivant, Christina from Windance, Rogelio our awesome driver, Gayle and Pete from On Delay.

Cruisers with their shopping (L to R): Ann from Galivant, Timo from Pipe Dream, Werner from Windance III, Doug from Galivant, Christina from Windance III, Rogelio our awesome driver, Gayle and Pete from On Delay.

Pete and I enjoyed time at the Smithsonian Aquarium saw a deserted beach, is there anything better? A sloth – look how close Pete got:

The best sloth picture yet!

The best sloth picture yet!

My favorites were the sea turtle and this very unusual star fish:

A Pacific starfish -- very different coloration from those in the Caribbean.

A Pacific starfish — very different coloration from those in the Caribbean.

Oh less I forget, Peter’s eel!

Face-to-face with a moray eel at the Smithsonian aquarium.

Face-to-face with a moray eel at the Smithsonian aquarium.

The five of us ventured off to the rain forest and on the way visited a resort that defined the words ‘beautiful in Panama’.

Pete, Jane, and Tony in the spectacular atrium-like lobby of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

Pete, Jane, and Tony in the spectacular atrium-like lobby of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

What do you think of that room with a view #572?

The pool at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

The pool at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. I wouldn’t mind a room with this view.

Gayle deftly played the “my mother is in town” card and got us permission to drive to the top of Ancon Hill to see a magnificent view of old town and the new walkway that will connect with the road the apartment is on – what a walk that will be!

The new walkway viewed from Ancon Hill.

The new walkway viewed from Ancon Hill.

Towards the end of my visit, the crew is ready to venture out of the harbor to check the sails and navigational equipment with a short sail to Taboga for an overnight and some water fun.

Good swimming in Taboga.

Good swimming in Taboga.

The next morning we shared breakfast at the Vereda Tropical Hotel, with a beautiful view overlooking the bay. After breakfast, a walk through town and then onto the beach and sand-bar. I have never seen so much sea glass in one place! What a joy for me. I will share with my friends in NJ: shells for my sister and barnacles for Captain Bob.

View from the breakfast table at the beautiful Vereda Tropical Hotel, Taboga.

View from the breakfast table at the beautiful Vereda Tropical Hotel, Taboga.

After some basic snorkeling instructions, Peter and I ventured off to the rocky shore. He full-speed ahead, but keeping an eye on his old mama. And me, with my sissy gear (life jacket), but it made the snorkeling a completely carefree adventure. It was like swimming in an aquarium; so exciting to see a school of yellow and blue striped fish, a grouper, and many other local fish. Peter was happy to have seen his eels, which were of no interest to me, ugh!

After a hard day of sailing, Gayle found a wonderful shady spot to call her own.

Hanging out in Taboga, Gayle found a wonderful shady spot to call her own.

Even though I almost crashed the dingy into the stairs from hell at the harbor, Peter bravely let me sail the big boat; not much chance to hit anything out here, but it’s hard work staying on course. I more enjoy the sound of the wind in the sails and the smile on Pete’s face expressing his love of the sea.

World-traveling mom and world-traveling son at the helm.

World-traveling mom and world-traveling son at the helm.

With all these memories and more, it was time for me to leave one happy place to return to The Villages another happy place. I leave with the title which I will wear with pride: Most Mature Sailor on On Delay (I think that is the politically correct way to say oldest sailor) and my other award to be the only mother to visit On Delay.

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