My Time as a Travel Writer for Mondo Explorer

As an erstwhile writer and photographer for Mondo Explorer Panama (erstwhile because my translation career has taken up more and more of my time), I thought it would good to have a selection of my articles together in a Panamajama post. I was so pleased to write for Mondo Explorer – to get paid to gush about the place I love seemed like a dream come true. My other dream is translation, however, and a more lucrative one, so this has taken priority over the past year or so.

A selection of my Mondo Explorer Panama posts – please click the title or the photo to read:

Panama City day tripsJesus atop San Francisco de Asis church, Panama City

Nature Hikes Close to Panama CityOrchids, Parque de la Amistad, Panama

Nature Walks Further Afieldcropped-old-howler-monkey-and-friend-playa-bonita-panama.jpg

Gardens of BoquetePainted Dolphins, Mi jardin es tu jardin, Boquete

Things to do with Kids in PanamaAnteater at Summit Zoo, Panama

My Garden is Your Garden

While holidaying recently in Boquete in the lush West Highlands of Panama we visited Mi Jardin es Tu Jardin, a surreally beautiful landscape of flowers, animal statues, ponds and even a small chapel. It reminded me of Portmeirion in the UK, the place where the (original) Prisoner was filmed.

As we wandered around looking at the hummingbirds, exotic plants, painted birdhouses, I felt we were walking around in someone’s subconscious, in the fully realised product of their imagination.

This tiny chapel was right in the middle of the gardens, in front of a large pond filled with Koi Carp. A most unexpected discovery, but somehow fitting.

You see Hibiscus flowers just everywhere in Panama, but that does not lessen their beauty. This spectacular specimen was overhanging the Koi Carp pond.

There were more than a few painted flamingos at various locations in the gardens – well, I mean, why on earth not?

Followed by painted jumping dolphins!

Altogether, a magical place. We saw so many amazing things here that I may have to do another post at some point to do it justice. But for now, I leave you with a lovely red cow.

Last of the Costa Ricans

Some remaining pictures from our Costa Rican visa trip. There were incredible plants in the zoo, even more otherworldly than any I have seen in Panama thus far. How about this one, just outside the spider monkey enclosure:

And these from the crocodile pen:

Grafitti with a difference!

San José

The above pictures were all taken in the grounds of our hotel, which was very glamorous indeed. San José itself was very “earthy” compared to Panama City. I had heard so much about Costa Rica being like an Americanised, more tourist-friendly version of Panama and it was not at all that way in my experience. A very interesting trip though, and the people were just as friendly, if not more, as the Panamanians.

We took the children to a world-class “Museo por los niños” – “Children´s Museum”, housed in an ex-prison. There was so much to do there we could have stayed the whole day. Regrettably I forgot to put my memory card in my camera, so I missed capturing my toddler´s very first time sitting in a helicopter.

The museum had many fascinating exhibits on the human body, the solar system, electricity – everything under the sun really! In the gardens were the aforementioned helicopter, an aeroplane and a train, all of which the children were allowed to play in, including sitting in the cockpits. This made a very refreshing change from the UK, where the children are requested to “Not touch the exhibits”. Being able to sit at the controls of these machines allows their imaginations to fly.

I managed to save some pictures to the internal memory of my camera. Here is the castle-like exterior of the museum:

And this is the “Boleteria” – ticket booth. Notice the claw scraping the left hand side of the window – I think this might be a last prisoner trying to escape!

Visa Shenanigans

I am writing this from a hotel room in Costa Rica, which we are visiting to comply with Panamanian Visa regulations. Our 90 day Visa Expiry deadline is fast approaching and two out of three of our children start school next week. So we thought it would be less disruptive for them to take a trip out of Panama before this major event in their lives. We must stay out of the country for a minimum of 72 hours before we are accepted back in for another 90 days. The bureaucratic system certainly doesn’t move quickly over here!

I am not mad on flying, I only like to do it if there is a compelling reason, but if we didn’t make this trip we would be classed as illegal immigrants – even though my husband is working on the Canal expansion and we are settled in a house here. It is a bit like the crazy worlds of Gulliver’s Travels and Alice In Wonderland combined. Nothing makes sense!

Anyway, the hotel is stunning with a curvy swimming pool and its own tropical gardens. Within minutes of entering the gardens we spotted a hummingbird and several butterflies. I could get used to not having a Visa if it means a weekend mini-break every 3 months with the company footing the bill. There are worse hardships!

I have taken several photos but unfortunately this hotel computer doesn’t have a card slot, and my new mini netbook isn’t connecting to the wireless, so the below picture is from a holiday website. I will post some photos of this mountainous tropical paradise when I get back to Panama, or when I get my wireless connection sorted, whichever happens soonest.

Gardens of the Hotel Palacio in San Jose, Costa Rica