Thursday, April 5, 2012

Boquete Home Stay

This past Sunday we had a long travel day to move from the town of Bocas on the Caribbean to the town of Boquete in the mountains.  To get there we took a boat, two buses and a taxi.  For one of the legs of the trip we traveled with a family from Australia with an 18 month old named Felix.  It was fun swapping stories about traveling with kids.  It is crazy how different that little guy was from our kids though.  So much changes in children over such small increments of time.

Harper and Cal traveled like champs that day until Cal threw a major fit the last hour of the second bus ride.  We were crammed in tight in an American school bus with three adults to a seat and Cal had had enough.  Thankfully after 9 hours and lots of snacks and treats, we finally arrived at our home stay.

Our hosts, Yira and Evelio, are in their late 50s/early 60s.  Their son is staying next door at the grandparent’s house with his wife and two-year old daughter.  A seven year old granddaughter is also living close by so Harper and Cal have made some new friends.  The grandparents are really sweet and welcoming.  The grandma has taken a special liking to Danny and they have talked a lot with one another this week.

We have learned a lot about the plants and vegetation of Panama because Evelio is a gardener and he runs a nursery on their property.  I wish I could pack a bunch of the flowers into our pack and take them home with us.  He is growing tons of colorful lilies and creeping vines.  Evelio also taught us about a new fruit this week, called marañon.  It looks like a bell pepper and Yira made it into a sweet juice one night for dinner.  We were surprised to find out that it  comes from the same tree as cashews.  They grow like crazy here.  Evelio couldn't believe how much we pay for organic cashews at home.
Cilantro- It looks much different than our version at home. It grows like a weed here and has prickly leaves.
The cilantro leaves for eating grow under the sharp spiny leaves shown in the previous picture.
Limon Rojo- to the untrained eye it looks just like an orange, but wow is it sour! 

 Each day we have breakfast and dinner with Yira and Evelio (and sometime other family members.)  In general the food has been really good- lots of typical Panamanian meals of rice, beans, meats, fresh fruits, plantains, etc.  A few times we've been surprised though.  Two nights ago Yira served hotdogs and pulled chicken over spaghetti with a side of white rice and bread for dinner.  (no low carb diet here!)  Then for breakfast yesterday we sat down to a bright pink bowl of heated and thickened milk called Strawberry Cream (it looked like a huge serving of Pepto-Bismol!)  I think the kids' favorite new strange eating custom though is red jello in the morning for breakfast.  Fun fun!

Playing soccer with our neighbor, Michele
Our room is comfortable and we share a bathroom with Yira and Evelio.  In the yard is a swing set with a double swing that the kids pretend is their gondola.  Evelio has also promised Harper a ride on their horse but currently it is out at a different pasture and should be back here soon.  Besides the granddaughters another little girl named Michele lives at a neighboring house so Cal and Harper have lots of playmates in the afternoon and kids to speak Spanish with.  We really couldn’t ask for a better situation.

I guess our only complaint is that Yira and Evelio watch a lot of television.  If we could change one thing it would be the constant blare of the TV when we are trying to speak to one another at meal times.
This loud and obnoxious puppet is one of the morning newscasters!  

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