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For the 2nd time since we’ve been at the Dolphin Bay Hideaway, our power went out at 4:30 in the morning, leaving us sweaty and sleepless in our non-air conditioned room. Promptly after we’re left with no fans, and no sound machine from our phones (which really helps drown out the jungle sounds,) the rooster starts his cocka-doodle-dooing RIGHT next to our window. I have to say, Texas is sounding better and better by the hour. As of today, I’ve officially started my countdown. 4 nights left.

We shared the usual breakfast with the family that arrived yesterday, then loaded all our stuff into the boat. Erica and Jose are going to take us all the way to Almirante today so that we don’t have to deal with the time and hassle of transferring to a water taxi.

weird clouds
Jose driving the boat to Almirante

kristian boat

When we arrived in Almirante, I felt an extra sense of relief when we drove by the water taxi station and saw a whole bunch of people being herded into a taxi. So thankful for our circumstances.

Drive to El Valle

By 10:15 a.m. we’re on our way towards El Valle. Well, we thought we were, but it turns out, we were pointed in the opposite direction. Thankfully, we realized we were going the wrong way when about 20 minutes in when we passed a dump that there’s no way we would have missed on our way to Almirante the first time.

The dump was quite a sight, by the way. It was an enormous colorful field of refuse, with a couple dozen vultures going to town. There were several people sitting around watching as if it were a drive-in movie. So strange!

We turned around and headed back the way we came. It’s now 10:40 and we think we’re on the right track. About 5 minutes in the new direction, I start questioning that this is even the right way! A couple minutes after turning around a second time, we saw an official-looking guy and asked him simply, “David?” which would send us in the correct direction. He pointed back the way we just came 5 minutes go and FINALLY, we’re on our way. It’s now almost 11 a.m. and we have at the very least, a 7 hour drive ahead of us.

The drive itself was fairly uneventful. We’ve made this drive before, so the excitement of the sights have worn off (on me) and I’m having a really hard time staying awake. Kristian is, too, which is a problem since he’s driving.

We knew there was a cute little cafe coming up that serves up caffeine, so when we came to it, we went in and ordered a mocha and a vanilla latte. The size was like a joke. You know those tiny cups that have the paper handles that you pull out and stick a finger through? OK fine, but $3? Turns out it’s the most expensive coffee we’ve had here and we’re in the middle of nowhere! Here, the way it works is, the further away from touristy places, the less expensive things are. Usually.


teeny cafe
Kristian with his tiny coffee and Kole with his new traveling buddy.

While we were at the cafe, Kole found a friend and brought it along with us for the ride. The butterfly entertained them for a couple of hours before we let it free.


El Valle!

We’re making great time today, so we pulled into breathtaking El Valle at 7 p.m. Not bad! The views are absolutely spectacular. I regret that I don’t own a million dollar camera that can capture all the beauty we’ve seen on this trip. I hope I never forget the images I’ve absorbed so far.

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el valle 3
el valle

Thanks to a friend who recently moved from Austin to El Valle a couple of months ago, we were able to find our way to our lodging quite easily. The owners greeted us as we pulled into the driveway and informed us that we have the whole place to ourselves tonight. Our room is modest, but complete, except for the bed sizes. We asked for an extra cot or something, and received a thin and light foam mattress to lay on the floor. Completely acceptable for one of the boys, and though I expected them to argue over who got the “real bed,” they have decided that the foam bed is super special and argued until mommy settled it. As soon as we unloaded our stuff, the owners showed us into their house where they keep 2 pet sloths!!!

casa mariposa
Casa Mariposa main house

casa mariposa 1
Casa Mariposa – guest quarters

When we first saw the sloths on the fake trees, I thought it was a joke. The way they moved and looked at us… they had to be battery-operated robots. The man helped the biggest sloth off the tree and held it like a baby, as it peered around at everyone. We’re in awe.

sammy 1

sammy 2
Me holding Sammy – she’s so sweet and gentle.

Kristian held it next and it looked into his eyes as if to say, “Who are you?” They’re starting to grow on me. While I had a turn to hold him, the man showed us the video of this 1 1/2 year old being rescued as a baby. It’s mother was electrocuted on a power line, and some Americans along with the fire department helped it off it’s dead mother with a stick that had a hook on the end. The baby fell safely to a tarp below, held up by four corners. Now these kind people have raised it as a pet. They’ve inherited another sloth. The second was rescued along with it’s mother who’s neck was broken. Unfortunately, the mother died 3 days after being rescued, so this baby is being raised as the first one was. What fun pets! By the way, my opinion has changed since seeing this ugly guy.

Throwing this in here because it’s perty!

At this moment, I’m writing this blog post from Ty’s Sports Grill on the main street in El Valle because our room once again doesn’t have internet, though it is advertised. You have to go outside and I’m just not up to getting eaten alive tonight. Anyway, Ty’s is just a block from where we’re staying and has a 50/50 split between American and Panamanian customers. We’re ordering good ol’ comfort food tonight – hamburgers, quesadillas and lasagne. 🙂 There’s a capuchin monkey that’s here during the day, so we’re going to have to come back tomorrow!

Happy Birthday, Dad! Wish I had [a quiet place and] internet and could Skype with you tonight! I love you!