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March 29th, 2010
March 29th, 2010

Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico and home

Hotel Victoria in Cuenca-a tempting business prospect!
Hotel Victoria in Cuenca-a tempting business prospect!
Having skipped El Salvador on our trek south (and Nicaragua which we explored 2 years ago) we arrived in San José, Costa Rica, and rented a four-wheel-drive.  In no time at all we wound our way down the mountains and found ourselves in muggy, hot Puntarenas on the Gulf of Nicoya on the Pacific Coast.  Puntarenas was well known to us from three previous visits by boat so we booked on the ferry across to Bahia Naranja after looking briefly, but fruitlessly, for our old friend Ramon the marine pilot.

Finding our 4WD a great asset on the back-roads we stayed two nights in a delightful little hotel above the surfers haven of Montezuma and then worked our way up the west coast of Costa Rica to the Nicaraguan border enjoying modest, but scenic accommodation at three beachfront hotels before returning to San José and catching our short flight to David, Panama.

Since we had thoroughly investigated Panama on our last visit we simply checked into the Las Olas Beach Resort, 30 minutes out of David on the Pacific coast where we stayed for a week and took daily walks on the 14 kilometers of nearly deserted black sand beach.

Flying on to Ecuador we were given a VIP reception at the Quito airport (thanks to daughter Esther´s connections with the new airport being constructed further down the valley) and were met by Esther, Juan and nearly three-year-old Maria Leticia.

We spent a delightful weekend together at an old hacienda in San Francisco (horses and spring waters), revisited the old city of Cuenca (looking for cheap colonial hotels to purchase!) and traversed the entire Pacific Coast from Manta to Salinas, experiencing the hospitality of all-inclusive resorts and bug-ridden “eco-lodges”.

Returning to Quito for a last visit with the family we flew directly from there to Mexico City and took a bus to Acapulco.  Though somewhat dated, this ageing dowager of a resort city still seems to beat the party drum with surprising vigour and we stayed at the reasonable La Casa Hotel plugged with heavily tanned French Canadians, Italians and others of advancing age.  Many it seems return year after year for stays of up to 3 months at a time.  After a few days, however, the favourite pastimes of our neighbours - sun tanning and fast food - didn´t seem like enough of a reason to stay so we caught another bus to Zihuatanejo, heading north up the Pacific Coast.  Surprisingly, this is one place we have never visited before despite the ease of flying directly from Vancouver or Calgary.  

A former fishing village turned holiday Mecca, Zihua (as everyone calls it) sports lovely beaches with cruisers anchored off the gentrified “malecon”.  We stayed in a hotel which one guest described as “an ocean liner run aground” which was reasonably priced and boasted great views and a good beach.  Purchased by Canadians it is in the process of being transformed into upscale condos.

Finally, we had one last visit with Rachel, Roycito and Valentina in Monterrey at the home of Rachel´s mother-in-law, Norys.  Monterrey is a very modern and bustling city and the home of a world-class university (Monterrey Tech.) where Rachel´s husband Roy, graduated.  This home is where Rachel met Roy while teaching at ´the tech´ and learning Spanish while living at Norys´ home. Taking the youngsters to an animal park, riding on boats in the city´s new waterways and dining on barbecued baby goat at the famous El Rey del Cabrito restaurant were highlights of our brief visit.  

Returning to Canada via Miami and Fort Lauderdale (where we looked at some Bank-owned properties to gauge the market) we felt that after 5 months of travelling we were really ready to move back aboard Passat and tackle a list of projects (including Passat´s spring outfitting) with a lot of enthusiasm and energy.

“Where next?” we are greeted by friends, family and fellow-boaters.  Who knows, but it won´t be long before the open road beckons and we reach for the atlas; the first sign that a new course is being charted and we´ll soon be slipping our lines for distant harbours.



More Images

The beautiful countryside of Ecuador
The beautiful countryside of Ecuador
Maria Leticia enjoying her first horseback ride at San Francisco
Maria Leticia enjoying her first horseback ride at San Francisco
A working shipyard on the beach at Manta
A working shipyard on the beach at Manta
Maria Leticia enjoying the uncrowded beaches south of Manta
Maria Leticia enjoying the uncrowded beaches south of Manta
Acapulco at sunset
Acapulco at sunset
Roycito getting ready to feed the giraffe at the game park in Monterrey
Roycito getting ready to feed the giraffe at the game park in Monterrey

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