Showing posts from November, 2006

Panama - From the Canal to the Kuna Indians of San Blas.

I am not really sure as to exactly what I was expecting of Panama....but I have been pleasantly surprised. I kept hearing that it was really Americanised or westernised, but thus far, I have not found that at all. What we have found however, is a multicultural metropolis in Panama City (where we have hooked up with an Alaskan called Robert, aka Paco, and are really enjoying his company) , and an Archipelago called San Blas which appeared to come out of a time machine .

Our first few days were spent in Panama City, just strolling around, and taking in the city sights. It is quite a big city, with lots of variety. The business district, with all of its commercial to-ing and fro-ing could well be Melbourne.....just more hectic! The Old City centre (Casco Antiguo) is a fascinating labrynth of cobbled streets and colonial places, many dilapidated, dating back hundreds of years. And the the Panama Canal is an engineering feat of mind blowing magnitude!

No trip to Panama could possibly be comp…

Florida Getaway!

Travel is often go, go, go! Sometimes it's also about being quiet, and in the moment, but it's a big world out there with so many opportunities, feelings, sensations, cultural practices, and most importantly, people! The challenge for us, each day, is how we will tackle the way in which we wish to interpret what we see! There is no formula, or bar code, except to go with the heart. I believe that each day brings a plethora of opportunities, and our destiny helps with what we will "get out of " that particular day! It has been a gift to be able to experience what we have thus far, and I feel overwhelmed with the knowledge that although we have a year of travel, we will barely scratch the surface!

The flight from Santo Domingo to Miami was pleasant, the wait in passport control was not! 1000 questions, fingerprints, and eyeball scanning! "The freaks" were asked if we had jobs, and how it was that we were travelling for a year.......our salvation was that we we…

Recovery, Constanza and farewelling the DR!

When we woke up the day after the hike, we felt like we had been body-slammed and then run over by a semi-trailer.......which then hit reverse to run back over us to make sure that we were totally crushed! I can categorically say that I have never felt that kind of pain before in my life, and I have participated in several other walks and hikes. When I got up, the pain in my calves was unbearable, and it took a couple of days of R 'n' R (rest and relaxation) to start feeling human again. Needless to say, these two days, were filled with eating, watching TV and seriously short distance walking.

We lived to tell the tale, however, and on day 3, we felt human again, and capable of venturing out into the world! A couple of days earlier we had chatted to "Negro"a moto-concho (motor bike) driver who told us that he did tours to the local waterfalls, so we took him up on it. That day was pleasantly spent visiting Jimenoa Waterfall 1, Jimenoa Waterfall 2 and Baiguate Waterfal…

Climbing Pico Duarte, the Dominican Republic's highest peak!

After an amazing few sun drenched days on the coast of Samana, relaxing on some of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches, we decided that we would go to the country's interior. Indeed the Dominican Republic is known for its beaches, but we wanted to also experience the Republic's less famous but, as we would later find out, equally beautiful sites.

So, we decided on Jarabacoa. At 88 metres above sea level, it has a mountain setting, and coolish climate....well certainly cool compared to the rest of the country, which is decidedly hot and humid!

As usual, we had to take a couple of local mini-vans (gua-guas) to get to our final destintion. Although this usually consists of being crammed in with other people and objects, it truly is the perfect way to experience the local people and culture. I cannot reiterate how affable and warm Dominicans are, and although we have usually been the only foreigners on the local transport, they are always willing to chat.

As we neared ou…

Trick or Treat?

Back in early October, when we were staying with Alex's auntie in Chicago, we noticed a lot of Halloween preparation going on! Although Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October, preparations start early!

As we strolled through the streets surrounding the area we were staying in, we took the opportunity to observe, interact with, and take photos of the "street art"!

Have a laugh and enjoy!


Dominican Republic please, with no resorts on the side thanks!

Cabarete? Sosua? Puerto Plata? Las Terrenas? Punta Cana? No thanks, no thanks and no thanks again! All the above mentioned places are highly touristy, and mostly filled with resorts. As Alex once said to me not long after arriving in Australia, "It's not your cup of coffee, is it Ombs?" No, it isn't actually! Lets say that neither of us are into resorts and hanging out with our own, on the other side of the world. It kind of defeats the traveller's motto of experiencing the country and it's people!

Our first point of call after Santo Domingo was the Samana Peninsula, in the north-east of the country. We arrived there via Caribe Tours, one of the country's two national and public bus systems. After finding a place to sleep......Alex guards the backpacks whilst I go and "explore", we were free to wander around. I should mention the two "must haves" in any room we choose - a clean bathroom, and a bed which is comfortable and has…

Dominican Republic - the heartbeat of a passionate nation!

Exotic, hot, humid, passionate, breathtaking and heart wrenching! These are only some of the adjectives that I could use to describe the right side of the island of Hispaniola, known as the Dominican Republic! It is a land of beauty and of contrasts; a place where the beats of bachata or merengue can be heard anywhere; where men play dominoes on any table they can find; where cockfights are the norm rather than the exception! A place where you can see more four wheel drives than in Toorak, and only metres away see people begging for food! Amongst the beaty and the pain, however, rises the crown jewel of this fascinating country......and that crown jewel is......the people! And this has undoubtedly made this country one of my favourite places on earth!

What is the country best known for? Cigars that rival Cuba, and Amber and Larimar; two semi-precious stones, the latter which can only be found in the Dominican Republic. Most people are surprised to find that Amber exists here, think…