Tuesday, October 25, 2011


It's October..and that means Octoberfest – Panama Style. Actually Austrian style with a Panamanian flair. This past Sunday (Oct. 23) was the annual Octoberfest celebration at Rana Azul in Tierra Oscura. The restaurant is owned by Josef and Maria, two Austrians.
They also own a Moody sailboat similar to ours – though their boat is for sale. They hired a band from Panama City, had a dance floor set up, lots of extra tables and chairs, extra restrooms (the men's room behind a blue tarp facing a small stream!), and a dessert and “shots” cabana and extra help. They roasted two lambs and a pig and also offered their clay oven pizzas.
Beers were 5 bottles for $5 (can't beat that!), The place was packed with local ex-pats, boaters and local Panamanians. The band (which we enjoyed a preview of the night before while sitting at anchor outside the restaurant) was quite good.

We feasted on heaping platters of food and drank a few celebratory beers (it was Octoberfest afterall). Lots of folks we've met over the past several months were here and so it was a really fun afternoon. Josef and Maria also celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. It was celebrations all around.
The weather, which had been quite bad the previous several days turned out perfect (although a tad warm). It was sunny but because Rana Azul is a giant covered, but open-walled restaurant, it was pleasant.

We made the trek to Tierra Oscura after a few days near Bastiamentos where we enjoyed the company of some friends in the rainy weather. We had planned to go to the bat cave (that's why we went to Bastiamentos) but got rained out. It poured and poured and the cave gets filled with water (we understand you already have to walk in chest high water). Drowning in bat guana wasn't the group's idea of entertainment so the bat cave adventure was postponed to a later date.

On Monday following the Sunday Octoberfest, we took a group to the Jackson finca for a hike and tour. Having been there a few times we were the scout leaders and had a great walk. We managed to collect some bananas, limes, oranges and even a “biddybot.” . We saw a sloth (a first for us at this place),
hummingbirds and lots and lots of blue frogs and green and black spotted frogs. We trekked for a couple of hours and enjoyed getting some exercise and more social time (along with fruit “shopping”).
Tuesday morning (today), we headed back to Bocas Town. Someone is selling off some parts and bits having cancelled their Pacific plans. We plan on looking at the water jugs, spotlight, and perhaps even some of the tinned food for sale. We also promised some friends some waypoints for places in Providencia, the Cayos Cajones and Honduras so we'll get together with them while here. And as usual, we need to get some food supplies and fuel. So we'll take advantage of the few days here while we wait for our boat documentation papers to arrive on November 3rd. (Thanks Carol for sending them and thanks to Doug for bring them).
It's raining again – we are in the rainy season afterall. The good news is we're collecting plenty so there is no pressure for Michael to re-install the water maker yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Dogs. No Cats. No Chickens.

We left the land life and are back on the water. We survived our "house, animal and plant sitting" experience and left everything alive and well fed and watered. We did manage to get some big boat projects completed while on land – taking advantage of the space and the available water (and washing machine.) We did some major "fall" cleaning of curtains, cushion covers and beach towels. We also took our canvas bimini off and washed it and water-proofed it so now it doesn't rain IN the cockpit (whooppee). We got our rain gear all cleaned up as well.

So with the cleaning projects and the entertainment responsibilities of "Cyndie's Casa" we survived. And we're glad to be back on Astarte.

We left Tierra Oscura on Friday morning to get back to Bocas Town. Bocas Marina was celebrating its tenth anniversary and hosted a large marine flea market on Saturday morning. We had stuff to get rid of and perhaps things to buy. We managed to sell the suitcase that came back with us from the states and some books and charts. Unfortunately a few items came back aboard with us including our folding bicycle. We've carried it with us since Feb. 2009 and never used it. So we decided it was taking up way too much room and needs to go. But it seems no other boater wanted it either...so it came back with us. Getting rid of the suitcase (which we bought at Goodwill) was good. A local bought it.

The festivities of the anniversary celebration continued all day with a seminar from the "Floating Doctors" on CPR and first aid at sea; live music, booths with local crafts including organic locally made chocolate from one of the Indian villages on the mainland. Of course we needed some of that!

Lots of boating friends were around so it was a fun day ending with a few beers before making it back to the boat just before a big storm hit. The storm meant that the fireworks were cancelled – bummer (but mabe tonight!)

This afternoon Is Sunday dominoes at the Calypso Cantina and Barbara has to go and defend her title.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NEW Residence

Well, as they say in the cruising circles – we swallowed the anchor and are now dirt dwellers. Here's our new digs. Its complete with one dog, one cat and four chickens. It's located on an island in Tierra Oscura and has three bedrooms, two baths and a stove with SIX burners (mine on the boat has two!) Michael is re-learning how to use a remote.
Okay, okay – we're not permanent residents – simply pitched in to house (and animal) sit for four days at Cyndie's house. Juanita was house sitting and because she had to leave the country for three days to renew her immigration with a quick trip to Costa Rica, and her backup didn't show, we got recruited.
Its weird being in a house again – and it comes with lots of responsibilities. The animals make you feel like you're on an episode of “Green Acres.” We were left with three chickens and now we have four (one that was thought to be lost has reappeared – better than losing animals on your watch!) But they haven't pitched in on the egg front yet.

The house is a lovely home where we've had the pleasure of dining and swimming in the past. Cyndie is in Europe and has been hospitilized there and so we thought we should do our share to help out. Cyndie is one of the area's most gracious hostesses. So with house sitting also comes all the social mandates. Wednesday, you host the ladies for mah johg. Thursday is the grill night for twelve! Luckily, Captain Ron brings the meat and does the grilling and everyone brings a dish to contribute to the dinner. But it means cleaning and prepping the house and cleaning up afterwards. Whew.

Then we'll take off on Friday morning (after feeding all the critters) and head back to Bocas town for a big nautical flea market where we will try to foist some of our old stuff off on others. Trying to lighten the load.

So it's been a busy few weeks here and this house sitting has added to the “fun.” Michael has been ordering supplies (new chain is ordered Tom, and thanks to Richard *(Barbara's brother) we have the material for a new shaft ordered). When we have a firm shipping date for those things, we'll make our way to Colon for a haul out and the shaft replacement.

Meanwhile, we'll be having our drinks on the deck – only this one doesn't rock.