It often happens that when you travel for work, you forget about the place you are actually visiting — the location is a grey backdrop to days of work and nights of exhaustion. Then you add the sailing component, and you have an entire population that shuns going anywhere but the boat and the yacht club.
Last you saw me, I was driving on the left side of the road, wipers going full blast while trying to make a right.
The radio in our rental car is blasting Born in the USA and other such American tunes thanks to a Kiwi station’s Fourth of July homage. Ironically, we were trying to find some local music only to be thwarted by Springsteen.
This will be one of the last times the radio will pick up a frequency.
Our route to Queenstown would take us by Geraldine, where we stopped for some coffee and cheese, and Lake Tekapo.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One of the perks of living in Los Angeles is the relative ease of travel to far away destinations. Higher availability of routes and destinations results in good deals for international fares, while direct flights equate to less travel time. That’s huge for us silly Americans with little to no vacation time.
But there is no way around the long journey to New Zealand.
Growing up in Panama City, it was uncommon for locals to venture to the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of approximately 368 islands owned by the indigenous Kuna. Well, the area was called Kuna Yala when I was growing up, but recently the Congreso Guna General decided to clarify their alphabet, and as a result concluded their native language has no ‘K’ equivalent. The region is now officially called Guna Yala.
Until recently, there were no roads across the cordillera — no easy way of going from Panama City’s Pacific shore to the San Blas Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. It still remains a rather isolated part of the country, with one winding road that has been washed away in some parts. Only 4×4 SUVs are allowed to go beyond a certain point. Another option was flying into El Porvenir, but I heard conflicting stories about the airport being closed, and the airline flying the route going bankrupt.
On my last Monday in Panama, I wanted to get out of the city. Originally, I had planned to go to the San Blas Archipielago, but this plan didn’t developed outside of my mind till the last minute, so I called a few tour operators to see if anything was available. My uncle remembered he had a coworker who ran his own tour agency. So I contacted Manolo, but unfortunately, the one-day San Blas tours were all full. He gave me some other interesting options, and I chose to check out the Embera indigenous community along the Río Chagres. It was fairly close to the city, but even so, it would take us on a hike deep into the rainforest.
For years I neglected my people because when vacation time would roll around, trekking all the way to Panama from either North Carolina or Phoenix, required stops in random places. Those stops ate away at my precious days off. Also, if I was going to drop big bucks on a plane ticket, I wanted to go somewhere new, places I hadn’t visited. Finally, now that I’m in Los Angeles, I can do a non-stop flight to Panama City, and I can find some great deals on plane tickets.
Iglesia del Carmen: I remember going there to church as a kid, and their sound system was so awful you could not understand what the priest was saying. I had the perfect excuse to not pay attention during the sermon. Paty=1, Hell= zero.
Pizzeria Italia: a favorite of my parents. But damn, it’s gotten expensive. Everything has gotten expensive in Panama. I was shocked at the amount of money I was dropping on eating out — $20, $30 at some places. That’s expensive here in Los Angeles!
Every once in a while, you come across these perfect weekends spent not only surrounded by incredible scenery and weather, but by amazing people. In my last trip up to Santa Barbara, I met Doug, who sails with Sleeper — a Lindenberg 26. He arranged for me to come up this weekend, basically for a trial run — to see if I was game enough to go on an overnight race out to Santa Cruz island this upcoming weekend.
I left a little later than I would’ve liked, so my choices leaving Santa Monica were to sit in traffic on the 405 or to sit in traffic on the PCH.
Obviously, I chose the PCH. It’s a gorgeous drive north, first through the coast and then some picturesque farmland.
I stayed with the co-owner of Sleeper, Cheryl, in her stunning Santa Barbara home. I walked through the door, and was speechless with the view.
Out of my own volition, it would have never occurred to me visiting Santa Barbara. I had heard of it, but I had no idea what people do there, or why one would go there. Thankfully, I have friends who not only know of great places, but invite me along on their adventures. My friends drove from Phoenix, spent a day in LA, picked me up Friday night, and we drove north. Although the posts on this Web site don’t show it, there have been tiring and stressful moments trying to start a new life out here in Los Angeles, but seeing familiar, welcoming faces made me feel so at ease and happy.
The next day, we found a Farmer’s Market. It was full of life and color, and the feeling of community. I’ll have to find one near me, so I can get fresh produce and flowers.