Trains, busses and ships: traversing Panama three ways, part two

One of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal traverse did not disappoint. We had no idea what to really expect and knew embarrassingly little about the Canal itself when we woke up in the queue to make our way up the Gatun locks on the Atlantic side of the Canal. Cruise ships get to skip ahead in line and so we busted to the front of the many carriers with whom we sat for the early part of the morning. The Canal was finished in 1914. A man-made lake (Gatun Lake) was created to make the…

Trains, Busses and Ships: Traversing Panama three ways, part one

If our stop in Costa Rica was about natural beauty and wildlife, our time in Panama has been about the awesomeness of industry. Where Costa Rica has tourism, Panama has shipping. Since the Panama Canal opened in 1914 when about 1,000 ships passed its 48 mile stretch, in 2008 about 15,000 ships made their way from Atlantic to Pacific (or vice versa). But more on the Canal in our next post… On our first morning in Panama we docked in Colon. Our guide tells us that the city is basically being torn down and rebuilt and that, seemingly, is a…

Afloat on the Tortuguero Canals, Costa Rica

I could write, but the photos speak for themselves. Put this on your list and you don’t have to be on a cruise ship to experience it, lots of tours operate here. We saw sloths (including a mama and baby), black vultures perching atop trees with wings spread, snowy egrets, terns, a kingfisher and a “Jesus lizard” (he skims or walks across water). An amazing day.

Limón, Costa Rica

We docked early on a Saturday morning in Limón, Costa Rica a commercial and tourist port on the central east coast. A few Costa Rican tidbits: Costa Rica was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus on his last trek to the West Indies in 1502. Costa Rica may have gotten its name from the bejeweled native people Columbus encountered when he landed here. It may also have gotten its name (rich coast) to fool explorers and pirates as there was no naturally found gold here. Costa Rica has been an independent country since 1838 and a democracy since 1869. Costa Rica’s major…

On Roatan, Honduras

When we’ve traveled to port cities on our own we’ve often come away with the impression that where the port is doesn’t really give you the flavor of a place. To us, Coxen Hole in Roatan Honduras fits that description. The contrast between the cruisers deboarding their fancy ship and the poverty of the port city is striking. Like many poorer areas reliant on tourism we were accosted with a wave of offers to buy trinkets, take private tours and for taxi rides to “anywhere we wanted to go”. We were entertained by “William” who wanted to show us his…

Belize: Top 5

We were not on shore long enough to really judge, nor develop a more exhaustive list. Nonetheless, these lovely people deserve a review. Here are our top 5 things from our day on shore: The aforementioned people. Once the British colony of “British Honduras”, and a mixture of creole, Spanish, British, African and Maya, these folks are lovely. They pride themselves on being a diverse hodge podge of races and cultures. 60% of the populace makes their livelihood from tourism and they act as such. I mean, just lovely. The jungle. 70% of the land of Belize is covered by…

Eying some Maya Ruins

In fifth grade (ish) I did a school project on the Maya. (Yes, Maya, at least according to “Dr Dave” resident anthropologist on board and even more convincingly our Maya tour guides, so I’d take it on good authority). I was fascinated by their piercing/blood letting rituals (male nipples, genitalia and what not), their calendar and astronomy, their ritual of human sacrifice and their ritual of flattening their foreheads and crossing babies eyes on purpose (a sign of nobility and beauty). As such, I’ve always wanted to check some of their ruins and temples out and today was the day….