Friday, May 30, 2008

Bocas or bust

Greetings and sorry for the delayed postings but truth be told, the other night I wrote the entire blog update and just before I was ready to post it, my browser froze and closed itself down and I was too tired to start all over.

So to get back to Panama City (we are on a vehicle ferry as I write, heading the the islands of Bocas del Toro) besides the back to back meetings and re-meetings, we made on attempt to get to the Pearl Islands last weekend in a twin aircraft but shortly after take off the weather got so wild that we had to turn back.

At one time the up and down draughts were so intense that when we tried to go down to avoid another plane in the clouds, the strong up draughts were preventing it – though it was a little intense, it was a bunch of fun.

The next day it was decided to rather fly in and back on one of the commercial small planes (an old twin otter) and have a boat meet us to take us to the various islands and sites we were to look at.

The flight over went well and we had to take cover as we landed because it was pouring with rain.

We waited for a break in the weather before piling in a lake boat (Boston Whaler) with a total of 5 passengers on board and headed to the islands with excitement to see the islands.

Not long after departing it became apparent that this was not going to be a joy ride as the boat started pounding the swells with jaw jarring intensity – if this was not enough Angelika and I were asked to move forward to shift the weight forward and stood holding on for dear life doing the “Boston Shuffle”.

Before we could reach destination, the sea was getting so rough that we all started to raise the white flag of surrender and had to turn around.

No one was sorry about this so we headed back but diverted to two islands to visit two amazing island sites that we evaluated.

Strangely on the latter site my old instincts kicked in when I found tracks and saw vultures that led to the discovery of two poached turtles of which one had been totally slaughtered and removed, the other was quite small and was left behind.

Coming back to Panama City in the evening was another beast as the ocean was really cooking, it was getting late, the rain was almost constant and it was an almost a 2 hour rodeo ride.

We got in at last light sopping wet and cold to the bone and ready to have a hot shower and to just be on terra firma.

A few meetings later found us leaving early on Wednesday morning with our friend Nigel, pointing us in the right direction towards Boquete in the NW Mountains – ‘Elsie’ seemed to be happy on the open road again and rearing to go so rode all day getting into the mountains in the late afternoon, having traveled through lots of rain through the day.

The wipers are still shaky but are holding their own but when we got close to Boquete, the heavens seemed to open up and the wipers were no competition to the incessant rain.

Tired and ready to relax we found a cabin with hot water and extra blankets for the bed – yes it was frigging cold!

That night it rained so much that we thought it would be prudent to first check if we had grown webbed feet by the time we got up.

No such luck (cuz it would be handy to have webbed feet when we get to go snorkeling) but we did get up early have a quick breakfast and were ready to hit the road towards Bocas Del Toro Islands and the Caribbean.

Getting off the mountain was a challenge with the constant rain, poor visibility and numerous mudslides we encountered along the way, not to mention that the road was mainly a series of steep turns and switchbacks.

Once on the other side of the watershed, the weather cleared up but the wind kicked up and was pushing us all ov er the road in our already top heavy ‘Elsie’.

We made the town of Almirante and found a cheap room with no view and bribed our way into a space on the vehicle ferry for the next morning at 6.30 am.

So we took ‘Elsie’ to sea for the first time and did a cool crossing to Bocas Del Toro where we find ourselves this tranquil Friday night in the tropics.

We expect to be leaving Bocas by ferry on Monday afternoon and head towards Port Limon in Costa Rica.

Wishing all of you a spectacular weekend.

Paul & Angelika

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Leaving Panama City

Greetings all
Sorry for the lack of updates, it has just that we were swamped with meetings and re-meetings since we got here.
We will be heading this morning to NW Panama to Boquette and then onto Bocas Del Toro.
We will do an update on the last few days once we get to our next base with internet access so please bear with us.
Take care ya all
Paul & Angelika

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Panama City

Greetings this morning on our second morning in Panama City.
Weather has been really nice the last few days with not so much rain in this city jammed with high rise buildings around the edges on the numerous bays.
After heading the other day (we seem to loose track of time sometimes) towards Panama City, we left very early and were lucky to miss the afternoon showers before getting to the city.
'Elsie' ran just perfectly all the way through and we did not stop for much except for the odd pee break in obscure places along the way.
We had one appointment, Nigel, who had found a room for us in a small hotel, who were going to meet on the waterfront and follow back to our 'base' for the duration of our visit here.
On getting into town we missed the turn off and we found ourselves trundling through the slums of Panama City, not a pretty site to be sure and Angelika was nervous about even taking pics at the time. Be that as it may, I stopped to ask a cab driver for directions and he kindly lead us out to where we needed to be but through the insanity of Panama City traffic where little or no road rules apply.
Crossing over the Panama Canal Bridge was really cool as we have heard so much about it and to be there to see all this tankers lined up out in the ocean waiting the get through was quite a sight, as was it when we saw it last night from the heights of a tall hotel club.
Nigel has been incredibly kind to us and has facilitated numerous meetings and contacts for us since we have been here and run us around town on our errands in his very compact little car.
Once we go to our hotel we hit the road running and went directly into our first meetings.
As we have much to accomplish in the City, we tried to get as many appointments into the first full day here so yesterday was back to back meetings, most all of them kindly came to meet us here at our hotel except for one where we had to look at a site on a 14th floor terrace of a high rise.
Panama is incredibly friendly and literally every person we have met has asked us if we are enjoying and like Panama or have welcomed us in their opening words - there is truly a pride here and the hope that every visitor will enjoy their visit here.
Today is Saturday and we have only a few meetings but also need to get 'Elsie's' fluids changed because the engine oil looks like tar and we have had little time to deal with this issue until now because of all the other vehicle hassles we have had recently.
We also need to stock up on some supplies today but got our all our laundry cleaned yesterday for only $4 - it is a lot cheaper here than in Costa Rica and they use the US Dollar so it is easy to know what we are spending without making mental conversions all the time.
Tomorrow we will be out most of the day visiting sites on two islands to the south, called the Pearl Islands. we will either be going out by plane or boat depending on the weather - we are very excited about this vist as the projects there are pretty exciting with much uniqueness behind them and the folks we are working with are very nice and interesting people.
We also have a few follow up meetings in the next few days so we do not expect to be getting out of town before Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and will then be heading towards Bocas and Bocas Del Toro in the NW of the country before reentering Costa Rica on our way west through Central America.
I am sure we will be updating this blog again before we leave the city, so please keep checking back.
Pics, In the boat heading the other day to Cebaco Island with Joe, Angelika's lobster dinner, the famous island hotel and just a shot from the beach the morning we left.
We hope you enjoy.
Paul & Angelika

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Panama City

Greetings once again from a very wet Panama
Yesterday we were on this incredibly beautiful island doing a site evaluation for our client Joe, one truly fascinating and peaceful character.
We spent the night in a "fishing hotel" on the island after stopping the boat at a tiny village to haul some poor lobsters butt out of a holding crate for Angelika's dinner.
For a princely amount per night, we got 3 fans that ran at full speed all night on a generator in a bed with a mattress that was so hollowed out one had to virtually use climbing gear to get out of bed.
The shower had 3 speeds, cold, cold and cold - your choice!
We awoke bright and early to watch the day break and with enough time to meet the boat picking us up at 8.30 "Central American Time" which is much like "Africa Time" :-)
As a result we got off the Island late and with too little time to make it passed Santiago where we are spending the night.
Another reason for our delay is that the windshield wipers gave in again and we had to drive really slowly, pulling over at times when the rain got to heavy.
Be that as it may, we found a hotel room and Angelika and I made some "Heath Robinson" repairs and got the wipers going again but for how long we are not sure, so long as it gets us through to Panama City tomorrow.
To all of you guys in Panama City, we hope to be in town by noon tomorrow (Thursday) and if anyone has suggestions of a cool place to stay that is quite, inexpensive and where our vehicle will be secure, please do not hesitate to let us know - USA international mobile number +520-465-7078 or
Lastly to friends and family, we are both doing fine, seeing beautiful places and having the time of our lives meeting some truly amazing and hospitable people.
Paul and Angelika

Monday, May 19, 2008

Into Panama now

Finally greetings from Panama,
What an ordeal of scams and schemes to get out of Costa Rica and into Panama but here we are tonight in a town called David.
We left the Osa today and headed to a real quaint town of Golfito to meet with an Ex Pat selling properties there - it is on the gulf of Dulce and has a very different but very nice laid back atmosphere.
As usual the rain was on and off all day and "Elsie" was enjoying getting passed 2nd gear after we did some final welding on the roof carrier which now seems very secure now.
After getting into Panama, we tried to make as much distance as we could as we have about 200 km to do tomorrow to meet up with our next appointment.
As we were entering the town of David, the rain was pouring and the wipers decided to die on us, so it was back to another workshop but the bottom line is that we will have to try and replace two of the components tomorrow before heading out in the morning.
have two properties to visit with the client on both north and the south coast so we will not know until we meet up how long this visit/appointment will take until we meet up tomorrow.
We do know we will most likely be on the island of Cebaco in the gulf of Montija at some time tomorrow.
We will update you all again soon
Take care
Paul and Angelika

PS Costa Rica is a very expensive country to visit, Panama is way better even the Diesel is cheaper

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Greetings from a gloomy Sunday afternoon in Puerto Jiminez.
We just got in a while ago from Carate, nursing Elsie along but she is doing actually quite well with only a few more things to do on her her tomorrow before we head to Golfito and then onto Panama.
This side of the Osa Peninsula is also so incredibly beautiful and the forests tall and dark in places that even the GPS goes into night mode and loses sat. contact from time to time.
on Saturday very morning we were awoken by a cacophony of sound from the howler monkeys - these dudes make such an amazing ruckus that reverberates throughout the whole forest.
We also went through lots of rain and at one river crossing Elsie's hood (bonnet) was under water but she has been holding up really good.
In Carate yesterday we met some potential clients and later set up camp on the high water mark on a really beautiful beach.
The ocean currents were really intense and it was hard to stand upright even in the shallow water - the sand was actually a course sand and in 5 minutes, it had scoured one of my toes to the flesh and had to get out.
This morning we woke to a looming storm so we quickly broke camp and headed back to Puerto Jiminez
I hope you enjoy these few pics
Take care ya all
Paul & Angelika

Friday, May 16, 2008

Next Panama

Warm wet and friendly Friday greetings from Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula,

We have had a few more vehicle hassles in the last days that kept our attention in the wrong direction be we have got on the move again and have driven through some truly amazing rain and cloud forests. We have solved the problem of being flooded in the vehicle during the frequent downpours of rain by using a strip of duct tape (this stuff is a low tech winner).

Back to our movements and other stuff, we really met some amazing clients in the small town of Uvita and did site evaluations on two very stunning forest properties, one small and the one large but so diverse in vegetation and features that it was quite breath taking.

Yesterday, in crossing the Osa Peninsula we drove mostly in the rain on a track so studded with potholes, it took us a long time to do the 30 odd Km in mostly 2nd gear.

At one point I realized we had another problem with the vehicle and we stopped to do an inspection only to find out that our roof carrier with the tent, spare gas & water cans together with our 2nd spare wheel was so loose that it was on the verge of falling off.

We did what we needed to with the relief that it did not because there was no way Angelika and I would have ever been able to have got it back up again, not to mention the damage that it would have caused on coming down.

Today we head back to the other side of the Osa and will spend a day or so there depending on what we find but expect if all things are equal, we will be entering Panama on Sunday or Monday.

Paul & Angelika

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Greetings all, we hope the be in Palmer Notre today but still have issues with the vehicle that needs urgent attention.
If things go well with the vehicle we will also try to push on the Drake bay area.
We can be reached by e-mail krazy@exclusivetents. com or out US mobile +1-520-465-7078.
Will update this again soon
Take care
Paul & Angelika

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Greetings from Estrillo Este on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica on our first morning of the Exclusive Tents Expedition.

As you all know we arrived in CR about 10 days ago and expected to get going in a few days.

Little did we know the frustration of the last 10 days to get the Land Cruiser (“LC” aka Elsie) prepared for the expedition.

Without getting into too much detail, the workmanship was so poor that things that were added or repaired had do be redone on numerous occasions, most of this in a variety of backyard workshops of San Jose and not to mention that the smallest repair can take hours to do.

We were fired up to leave yesterday morning but first the brakes needed to be bled as they were rather squishy and the reverse lights redone because of some short in the wiring.

Finally LC was done and with great excitement we loaded her up in a hurry that we could ‘burn some rubber’ and make some distance.

This turned out to be more true than we imagined because we had done less than a Km to realize the rear suspension was too soft and the new tires were rubbing against the vehicle body that it would not be possible to drive any further this way.

Long story short, we found ourselves again in a backyard, huddled in the rain while the dudes extended the rear shackles and inserted an additional leaf into the rear springs.

In the process it was discovered that one of the leaves was clean broken and a replacement had to be cut and fitted, this after we assured by the same guys a day earlier that it would be just fine.

Finally we made our second departure with revived excitement and headed to the mountain passes that would take us to the coast.

Not long into the passes the rain came down, some of it trickling through the back of the dash over our feet making puddles on the floor and shorting out our alarm and whoever knows what else.

Apart from getting used to driving a slightly top-heavy vehicle, we traveled well until the car in front of slammed on brakes to avoid some road digging that was not cautioned and LC was fishtailing all wheels were squealing and the same with the vehicle behind us.

The vehicle in front of as pulled over in his skid giving me enough time to recover and get around the obstruction safely.

Because we departed late we decided to overnight in a small beach hotel for the night instead of the place we had planned on camping at.

Today Sunday, we have decided to take a day off once we get to our camp site and decompress after the last too may days of frustrations.

Tomorrow, Monday the 12th we will be on the road again and be meeting up with our first appointments and hopefully we will have no further vehicle hassles.

Keep checking on this blog for more updates on our progress.

Paul and Angelika

Friday, May 2, 2008

Arrival in Costa Rica

We've arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica today May 1st. We have meetings with clients in San Jose beginning next week. We are looking forward for the final kitting on the Land Cruiser to begin our expedition to Panama. Keep checking back for further updates.

Paul & Angelika