We made it to PANAMA!
We made it to Panama! Panama is one of the most diverse and exciting countries. They have it all, from beautiful uninhabited islands, it's world famous canal, the Perlas archipelago, as well as a major metropolis where you can shop for or order almost anything you're looking for! If I think about it, it's kinda a cruisers dreamy place. You can get lost in the beauty of feeling out in the middle of nowhere within a short time, but be within reach of almost anything you need. We loved the rich diversity and culture there.
We met some of the BEST people during our almost 5 months in Panama. Opal found a solid base of fans during her time there and actually spent more time in Panama than we did. At one point during our almost 5 months in Panama, we flew back to the US for a couple weeks and left Opal under the care of others who treated her like a queen. She soaked up every minute. We crewed on a friends boat through the Panama Canal, the kids made some forever friends (as did we), had my sister Ashley come for a visit, Chris' dad came also, and we hosted our niece Lottie aboard for 2 weeks. After that, the rest of her family flew down and we sailed out to the Perlas together for a week. It was amazing. In addition we did some projects on Secret Water during our time at a marina, and went on an adventure an hour up river through the jungle in a dugout canoe to visit one of the 7 remaining indigenous tribes in Panama. That was a real eye-opener since I forgot to tell the boys that they still dress in their native apparel, which only covers the waist, down! Oops! While visiting the tribe we learned about how they maintain their lives deep in the jungle using the resources available to them. We brought gifts of rice and oil as a thank you for their hospitality and purchased handmade items from them.
I could probably write pages about our time in Panama, but a couple paragraphs and photos will have to do. Blogging and cruising are a difficult combination!
Oh, and something else that happened in Panama, is that we decided as a family, for many reasons that once we were finished exploring Panama, that we would turn Secret Water around and head back north to Mexico. We have loved all of Central America, but we want to see the Sea of Cortez again and have easier access to our family and work life. The decision felt right. So that's it! We'll be seeing new places we didn't see as we head north in addition to revisiting places we love, but this is as far south as this journey will take us. And what a journey it has been!