We laughed, and laughed, and then laughed some more. I am still a bit dumbstruck at how easy it is to press pause and play with good friends. Time passes by and sometimes you don’t see each other for years, but when you press play again, it’s as if no time has gone by.
We love the change, the challenge, and the variety that comes with constantly being on the move, but we do occasionally miss knowing our way around. Stumbling upon this family-run restaurant in Quito helped us feel grounded. We found comfort in their food and their company and felt truly welcomed. Sometimes what seem like the most banal, everyday moments, like having breakfast, can become some of the most powerful memories, if you’re open to it.
The unexpected upside of buying cheap plane tickets with our miles was that we got to fly over almost every major city in Colombia. From the sky, we were able to appreciate just how diverse Colombia is. We saw the beginning of the Andes, the ocean, coffee plantations, the high-altitude capital city of Bogota, the red brick city of Medellin, and much more. By the time we landed in Cartagena, I couldn’t wait to get off the plane, to be in South America, to taste the food, meet the people, see the colors, get carsick on the windy roads, admire the landscapes, and feel the climate change as we move from one city to another.
Traveling is all about new things. New places, new faces, new foods, new languages, new weather, new bus systems. Traveling with family is about spending time together, taking in all these new things, and grounding them in the familiar. It’s about taking the time away from your regular lives to connect, share experiences, and enjoy. After several months of wandering around Latin America, I really appreciated the chance to be “at home” for a few days.
Although it’s no one’s travel dream to spend a night being jostled around on a bus, we’ve found it kills a few birds with one stone: it’s a great way to cover some serious ground (at least 10 hours of travel), get (some) sleep, and avoid paying for a night at a hostel.
It’s funny how you can burn through all the major attractions a city in a day or two if need be, or stay an entire month and still not see it all. We only had 10 short days in Panama, but we filled them up well with beach, mountains and a big city!
Eventually, after a few missteps, we made it to Uvita. The bus station is not quite a bus station, it was more like a large parking lot outside a restaurant.There, we waited for a taxi to the jungle for quite some time, and made it to Selva Armonia just in time for sunset. s we were walking to the tent that would be our home for the upcoming weeks, it finally dawned on me that I was in the jungle. On top of that, I would be sleeping in a tent in the jungle. I am a city rat and this sudden realization made my heart skip a beat. As the last rays of light of the day faded away, we had just enough time to drop our things and get our flashlights out. As night fell, the jungle began to wake up. The toads came out, the spiders awoke, snakes surfaced, and I…. I… I freaked the fuck out! What had I done?!
Whether we’re huddled together at a bus station making a game plan, at the beach, or in a nice hostel, we always have our phones handy. We’re using Android phones and these are the apps we just can’t travel without.
Panama has a great mix of things to do and they’re all within easy reach of Panama City. Personally, we soaked up the sun in Bocas del Toro, got in some great hikes in Boquete, and then settled into the buzzing metropolis of Panama City for a few days.
Costa Rica is probably Central America’s most popular tourist destination, and for good reason. Although the country is quite small, it’s absolutely packed full of biodiversity, things to do, and places to visit.