The remainder of our time in Chile turned out to be really special - we spent some time in Valdivia eating fresh seafood, in Villarrica with the amazing family of Jessica and Hartie, and Santiago with our good friend, David.
We ended up skipping Puerto Montt after our thirty hour, backtracking bus ride - we ¨jumped ship¨ at Osorno and made our way north to the college town of Valdivia where we experienced some of the freshest seafood that we´ve had in a long time! Afterwards, we weren´t quite ready to give up the mountains for the beach so we decided to head to Villarrica instead of our original plans of Valparaiso.
Upon our arrival to Villarrica we were met by Jessica who offered her backyard to us as a campsite. This turned out to be the best place ever! We spent the next four or five days cooking local dishes with her family and really getting to know the Chilean spirit. The time spent with them will forever be remembered - thank you again to Jessica and Hartie for so kindly opening your home to us!
|Hartie & Mark Roasting the Pig|
Our flight to Bogota was a real treat compared to our hundreds of bus-rides previously taken - with lunch, wine, movies and more all included, we were tempted to stay on for the connecting flight to Miami! But, of course, we were also excited to explore the beautiful country of Colombia.
|La Candeleria Neighborhood of Bogota|
|The Plaza de Villa de Leyva|
For not being an originally planned destination, Colombia turned out to be an excellent last-minute decision! In total, we spent three weeks exploring the capital Bogota (thank you again to Joyce & her mom for such a wonderful day!), the colonial buildings of Villa de Leyva, the beaches near Santa Marta, the serenity of Palomino, and the historical sites of Cartagena. Something about Colombia and the people is truly special and you really feel alive there!
|Beautiful Beaches of Palomino|
|Old Town of Cartagena|
Due to real dangers in the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, we were left with two options of transportation from South America to Central America: Fly or Sail. We chose the latter for the chance to experience the open seas and to check out the San Blas Islands! What started out as a five-day adventure quickly turned into nine days as we made our way from Colombia to Panama. We chose the Ave Maria sailboat captained by Paul and ended up with an amazing group of nine people to make the journey with.
Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong! We were without an engine after Day Two, seasick in bed for a good couple of days, without a toilet after about Day Five, and just about to run out of water and food by the time we arrived in Porvenir, Panama. But, despite all of this, we turned out to be the fortunate ones after hearing that another sailboat had actually sunk during it´s crossing (everyone survived, thankfully). Plus, how can you not have a good time when you are surrounded by beautiful scenery, fun people, and experiencing an adventure of a lifetime? If given the chance, we would do it all over again! Thank you to Paul and the crew for a wonderful (for the most part) nine days!
|Miraflores Locks - Panama Canal|
We have been in Panama now for one week and have visited Panama City and Boquete. We met up with our sailboat crew in Panama City for a night out and also spent a day at the Panama Canal (I wish you were there, Dad!). This Sunday, we arrived in Boquete and have found it hard to leave! The town is really beautiful and is situated between many forested mountains. So far, we´ve enjoyed a great coffee plantation tour at Cafes de la Luna, Finca dos Jefes and a zip-line tour through La Amistad National Park.
|Boquete Tree Trek - Zip Lining!|
Today, we are heading one hour south to David to spend the day at the International Fair, which is supposedly full of street markets and rodeos! We will return to Boquete for a few more days (for some hiking) before heading to the beaches of Bocas del Toro.
Our countdown to our return home has begun - we have less than one month to go! But, until then, we will be ¨living it up¨ in Central America!