Tortillas & Miracles

Tortillas & Miracles

  Tortillas and miracles…sometimes they are one and the same. A lot of you know that home made corn tortillas are a staple for my family back home.  Many a kind Mexican woman has attempted over the years to help we Sonntag girls learn the art of corn tortilla making.  Camille particularly put forth a lot of effort into studiously applying the many principles offered by these women.  We had many failed attempts over the years and eventually, success!  Now that we know what principles seem to work (most of the time), and because the ingredients are simple (special corn flour, regular flour and water), tortillas are something we make quite regularly. The Maseca corn flour, though readily found in our area of Washington state,  is not something that...

Old Bank Bastimentos

Old Bank Bastimentos

We have been quite busy over the last week, haven’t had much time to blog.  Spending time seeking God on His purpose, plan and direction.  We have some big decisions before us and we are prayerfully discerning God’s will, we would greatly appreciate your prayers. About a week ago we visited Old Bank Bastimentos looking to go to a Thai food restaurant.  We asked around, talked to the chinos (Chinese at the store) and next thing you know, we spotted a sign on a tree of the restaurant we were looking for, which also said, closed Sundays.  I ended up talking with a Afro-Caribbean man, I asked him about good places to eat.  He was happy to help, said he wouldn’t tell me no lies.  With every word he spoke cigarette smoke leached from his lungs,...

Sharks! No Wait, Dophins

Sharks! No Wait, Dophins

As we headed out one day in the boat we were surrounded by dorsal fins, hungry shark-looking creatures.  Scenes from Jaws played through my mind, remembering how in the movie, which is based strictly on fact, the shark was able to bite through the hull of the boat and eat the passengers.  Well, that was not happening on my watch!  There was no way that would be our fate, and the main reason for that was, well, because these were dolphins, and to my knowledge, dolphins don’t eat people… yet. Honestly this experience was awesome!  The dolphins were swimming with our boat, jumping into the air, and putting on a show for us. As a part of Ellie’s home-school, she had an assignment of writing a report on dolphins. Here is her report, everything...

We Traded Our Minivan For A Panga

We Traded Our Minivan For A Panga

    Back in the states, which honestly feels like a very long time ago, we had a minivan.  Here in Panama we have a panga, a small boat.  Our panga was made in Panama City by CaribePro in 2006.  Its 25′ long, 7′ wide, weighs 1,300lbs (empty), has a 100 gallon fuel tank, a bazillion fishing rod holders, down-rigger set up (for fishing), live well or bait well tank, and currently has a 115hp Suzuki 4-stroke outboard motor on it and has a top speed of about 33 mph.  The boat can easily carry more than a ton, if not two, and has lots of storage compartments for keeping life jackets, the anchor, rope, tools, drinking water and naughty children. The boat is equipped with GPS, which is very necessary in this area for this newbie due to the...

Isla Bastimentos Property Visit

Isla Bastimentos Property Visit

A few days ago we trekked out to see the 50 acre property on Isla Bastimentos owned by my friend Bram.  This property is about 25 minutes away from where we are living.  The weather was beautiful but the water was very rough.  High winds from the South created quite the wave action.  We booked it through the rough open water, while avoiding the coral, to find protection near the islands. We arrived at the property where there used to be a dock which was wealth redistributed to the neighbors over time – if you don’t use it here, you loose it.  The mangrove was pretty overgrown so the boat didn’t fit so well next to the pilings of what remained of the dock.  I hopped into the water to pull the boat in as close as I could get it, then got...

Pseudosphinx Tetrio

Pseudosphinx Tetrio

We have em’, Pseudosphinx tetrio all over our Plumeria tree, probably over 60 of them.  Pseudosphinx tetrio, otherwise known as a Tetrio sphinx moth or caterpillar (depending on the stage).  Brightly colored, beautiful, kind-of scary looking caterpillars with what looks like a spike that moves forward and aft as they walk.  Bella wanted to hold them, but I said hold up, lets google it, like the pioneers did back in the day when they came across similar situations.  Sure enough, its a no-go on the holding of them, they bite. Later I checked with some locals who in turn said they “pican”, or sting. Here are some photos: Plumeria flower – awesome fragrance! Plumeria tree. Check out the eating this one has done to this leaf. Look...

Shu Mani Tutanka

Shu Mani Tutanka

“Shu Mani Tutanka O Wachee” is “Dances with Wolves.”  (Proper spelling is “Sunkmanitu Tanka Owaci” in Lakota.) If you’ve seen this movie, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Over the last few days we have lived out a chapter of that story, with a Ngobe family.  We call this chapter, first contact. A few days ago, in the evening, Falco and three of his kiddos stopped by for a visit, to play (Falco is the Ngobe man I met on my maiden cayuco voyage.)  On that voyage I told Falco, “mis hijos necesitan amigos”, my kiddos need friends.  Falco responded by saying he would provide my kiddos with friends.  Cool.  They played and played, running from place to place like a herd of wild chonchos (pigs). ...

Cayuco

Cayuco

This week we purchased a cayuco.  A cayuco is made from a section of a jungle tree, it is hollowed out and shaped into a boat, all with hand tools.  There are a couple Ngobe on each island that seem to have this skill.  Most cayucos have a standard size of about six feet in length, cost $100, but that’s only Ngobe to Ngobe.  If they know they are selling to a gringo, that price doubles, if not triples.  I purchased about a ten foot cayuco that is at least 50% wider then the standard.  This is mainly because I am a gringo, I’m heavier so the boat sits lower in the water and my balance is horrible compared to the locals, so a wider bottom boat helps me in that area, I hope.  Alvaro found me a cayuco and purchased it from the Ngobe builder, so he...

Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica or touch sensitive plants are all over the place here.  Ellie noticed that much of the lawn we have here is touch sensitive.  Now that we know about the plants, we are in awe every time we walk through the “grass.”  God really got creative here in the tropics.

Ethan vs. Gecko

Ethan vs. Gecko

Our house is filled with Geckos, which we love.  They eat the many insects that also fill our house.  These Geckos are smart.  At night the congregate around any lights we have on and wait for the bugs to be reeled in, and just as they get close… slurp – they’re gone. The Geckos range in size from 1/2 inch long to about six inches long and come in colors from black to almost clear.  They have awesome suction cups on their feet, which feel super weird when they run across your skin.  This afternoon I grabbed a plantain to eat and noticed there was a gecko on it.  I went to show it to Ethan, who LOVES them, and that is where our video begins.  Gecko: 1 – Ethan:...

Red Frog, Police, Chocolate & Parrots

Red Frog, Police, Chocolate & Parrots

Over the last few days we have been doing some traveling around the area, getting to know the islands, people and boating routes.  We headed over to Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos from our house off of Dolphin Bay in Tierra Oscura, which is about a 35 minute boat ride, since I don’t know my way around the mangrove, rocks and coral yet. The Red Frog public dock. There was a sloth at the entrance of the park.  Last time I was here in January there was a sloth here too, but it obviously infected with a disease called Leishmaniasis, which is transferable to humans.  It is a nasty disease and requires ten days of IM shots of a chemotherapy drug.  I have met many people in the area who have had the disease and still have the scars from it.  Needless to...

Learned So Far

Learned So Far

The random things we’ve learned so far: Luggage is fully insured by the airlines when traveling, except for the following items; wheels, handles, zippers, the physical case and the contents. Sharper Image luggage has a hidden advertising campaign to advertise from the garbage dump. Kirkland and Brookstone luggage is by far the most rugged luggage we’ve used. Lightweight clothing like REI or Columbia quick dry clothing drys very quick but also stinks about as well as it drys. Check for chicken poop in the shower before walking in. Buy flour in plastic bags, even if they are smaller, they have far less bugs. Roosters in Panama have no internal clock or an ability to know it is dark out and therefore they crow every 20 minutes to make sure they are...

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

We have howler monkeys living next to our house.  When we talk to him, in his language, he talks back quite forcefully, sometimes spitting while howling. Here is a video of the male:

Shirlene’s First Blog Entry

Shirlene’s First Blog Entry

How’s that for a title? :)  Bobby and I have both pretty much always considered ourselves “non-blog” people.  I enjoy reading things other people post and like everyone, I have my favorites.  You and I both know there are those really talented bloggers out there and those tend to be the ones I find the most entertaining and my mind finds great delight in.  Those are the bloggers that could be writers and aren’t, you know the the ones I’m talking about.  They write mind tantalizing posts with just the right amount of wit, humor, creative writing and interesting facts that your mind just gobbles up what has been written and you’re left feeling a little more informed, a little more inspired, and a little more alive inside. ...

Welcome to Island Life

Welcome to Island Life

Our last post was uploaded in the central square park in Bocas, tethered 3G to my cell phone, for all you technology geeks.  Soon after that we took care of many errands and headed back to our boat.  We loaded up and headed out.  We were feeling good, beautiful weather, fairly smooth sea, sunburned but relaxed, and then it happened – the boat motor all of a sudden went from 5,000RPM to 3,000RPM, then hesitated, to put it in technical terms, the boat motor was unhappy.  At this point, honestly, Shirlene and I weren’t stressed, only one of our children was feeling quite stressed, thinking we were going to die, I won’t mention any names, I’ll just say this, she is the oldest one. I cut back the throttle and it seemed to run fine, no...