Change in the Wind, Time for a Sale!

With a new boat on the horizon, Brian and I are making some permanent changes to our lives and our cruising plans. Don’t worry, we’ll continue to share our story as it just got as exciting as ever!

At present, we are sailing Rode Trip back to the United States from Panama. This will be our last hurrah with the ‘ol girl – Rode Trip is for sale. You can check out all of the nitty-gritty details about Rode Trip by selecting the Rode Trip for Sale tab at the top of our blog menu; or you can use this link to be directly routed to the page.

Au revoir, Panama!

Return to Bocas del Toro, Panama

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig! It was finally time for us to return to Rode Trip. As we’d learned during our departure from Panama, getting to and from Bocas del Toro is not an easy feat. Our travels home began with a red-eye flight from San Francisco, CA to Miami, FL. In Miami we had a four-hour layover; then a direct flight to arrive at the Tocumen Airport in Panama City. From the Tocumen Airport, we took a taxi (overpriced but simple, cost us $40) for the roughly half-hour drive to the Albrook Bus Terminal. At the Albrook Bus Terminal, we found it relatively easy to purchase a bus ticket for an overnight bus to Almirante. We chose an overnight bus because then we wouldn’t have to spend a night at a hotel in Panama City; in the morning we’d simply have arrived at our destination. (You can also fly to Bocas del Toro from the Albook Airport for about $100 per person, which doing again I would choose in a heartbeat.) The overnight busses run nightly, with the exception of National Holidays, and tickets are first come first serve. Tickets were $27 per person.

Riding a bus across Panama overnight was very odd to say the least; I would liken it to the experience Harry Potter had riding the Knight Bus. Brian and I were seated in the very first row, directly behind the door to the driver’s cabin. Stops were made, people got on or off, the bus refueled, and passengers came to the cabin door to inquire with the driver. The bus wheeled around tight turns, at times swaying me nearly out of my seat. All the while Brian and I were somewhere between awake and asleep. The man seated beside me continued to explain to me, in Spanish, his discomfort while seated due to some kind of accident that occurred four years ago and from what I could render he was wearing a catheter which he continued to adjust around his thigh and knee throughout the ride. The bus stopped for some type of inspection. “Policia,” my seat-mate stated as I tried to focus my fuzzy, sleepy eyes. “Perro,” he stated, “su passaporte,” he continued as he took out his photo idea from his wallet to show me. Ok, we’re at a Police station and the dogs are snuffing out the luggage compartment and maybe the Police will ask to see identification. Where even are we!?! The luggage compartment closed and the bus rolled along. We stopped at a rest stop; my seat mate shuffled me out the door where I waited for Brian at the bottom of the bus steps. We used the restroom and sat staring at the bus so as not to miss it leaving again. It was a very…long…night. At approximately 5:00am we arrived at Almirante. Taxi drivers were already waiting and loading luggage into the backs of pickup trucks. “Bocas!” That’s our direction, we shuffled sleepily into a taxi pickup.

From Almirante a water taxi completes the trip to Bocas del Toro. We were dropped at what seemed to be the home of a water taxi driver, accompanied by about seven other people. It was still dark outside and flashes of lightening were lighting the entire river before us. One of our fellow travelers informed us that we’d wait until sunrise, approximately one hour, before the taxi could leave. So Brian and I got cozy on the plank dock beneath us and waited. At sunrise, the lightening continued now with defined bolts, and a light rain fell. The water taxi driver arrived; he and an assistant put all of the luggage into the front of the boat and filed us into the bench seating. Another taxi pickup brought about seven more travelers bound for Bocas. When the boat was full, the water taxi set out. Rain fell harder and thunder clapped loudly. The water taxi driver and his assistant closed the canvas on the sides of the boat. Driving out of the inlet and onto open water, the skies opened and torrential rain fell. Lightening was striking all around and so closely that the booming thunder was heard over the water taxi’s outboard. Oh dear lord! We were so close, please just let us make it across this bay!

The thunderstorm eased just as we were arriving at a dock at Bocas del Toro. Wow, welcome to rainy season! We walked out onto the vacant streets. It was still very early in the morning, we didn’t know what time exactly but nothing was open. Brian and I were tired and hungry. We meandered around the streets of Bocastown amidst newly arrived backpackers seeking out their hostel for the night. After what felt like hours, lights came on at a cafe we’d been eyeing for breakfast. We ducked inside just in time to escape another passing downpour. Breakfast lifted our spirits. We got a few staple items at the grocery store and then took our second water taxi ride out to Bastimentos where we’d reunite with Rode Trip at the Red Frog Marina.

We’d returned! All we wanted to do was drop our bags and collapse onto the v-berth for a few hours of horizontal sleep. Not so fast…the rainy season had attacked our poor boat. Without being home to keep the interior ventilated (we’d left a very clean, dry boat) the dampness settled and every surface had been coated with a film of mildew. EVERY SURFACE. There are not words that I can share openly here to describe our reaction to this homecoming. And so, we dropped our bags and began cleaning…

A Day in the City – San Francisco

It was a beautiful, summer day in San Francisco! Brian and I arrived in the city via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and went directly to Fisherman’s Wharf where we felt very much at home among the boats along the oceanside. Here we had planned to meet our friends, Paul and Emily, for a fun day on the town before we all departed California.

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That morning, Paul and Emily had gone on a whale watching excursion. They’d actually asked us along and we’d briefly considered until realizing that it would be silly for two cruisers to go onto a hired boat in search of whales. We’d hoped, however, that the wales would give Paul and Emily a good showing. We had some time to meander along Fisherman’s Wharf before their return from the sea…and it didn’t take much to keep us occupied. At Ripley’s Believe It Or Not I was thrilled to find a life-size donkey sculptured completely from wine corks. And Brian made a chum with an old sailor.

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The whale watchers had returned! Smile for the camera, your photo will be available at the end of the docks for just $25.

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It had been a disappointing day for whale watching. Paul and Emily’s boat traveled 38nm out to sea and spent an additional hour searching for whales. All they saw was fog! All that searching had made them HUNGRY! This called for a warm, bread bowl full of chowda’ at the Boudin Sourdough Bread Co.

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After lunch we took a walk from Fisherman’s Wharf to visit a popular tourist site, Lombard Street. This street ziz-zags down a very steep San Francisco hill; eight hairpin turns in one block. Lombard Street was beautifully landscaped. Walkers and drivers all seemed enthused to traverse this windy road.

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Lots of walking, talking, people-watching, and window shopping incurred on our way from Lombard Street back toward the night’s main attraction. Of course, we detoured through the Ghirardelli Square to pick up a sample of chocolate at the factory. We admired the waterfront at the base of Fort Mason Center. The waterfront was bustling with walkers, rollerbladers (those never seem to go out of style), and cyclers. Fort Mason Center was abuzz with picnickers and frolicking dogs. It was Friday, a busy night at Fort Mason Center because on this night through summer months this is the host location of Off the Grid.

Off the Grid was the main event for our evening in San Francisco; an event that Christy and Steve had boasted about since their move to California. Now we could experience this ourselves and share the experience with Paul and Emily. Self-described as, “your roaming mobile food extravaganza,” Off the Grid is precisely that! A conglomeration of mobile food vendors featuring culturally authentic, gourmet, and comfort foods. This was a delight! We walked the grounds of Off the Grid reading each menu carefully to see what struck our fancies for dinner that night. There were over 30 options from which to choose! We had a group pow-wow, made an attack plan, and split to retrieve our choices.

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Our selections included: one Korean fried-chicken waffle sandwich, one dish of sexy fries (sweet potato waffle fries topped with the works), one Indian samosa party (topped with tasty curry, chicpeas,and yogurt), one gourmet grilled cheese with apples, brie, almonds, and honey, and finally one order of the crispiest tater-tots topped with garlic and rosemary. Mmmm-GOOD!

It had been a great day in the city! As we hugged Paul and Emily goodbye, we all wondered in which state or in which country for that matter we would visit one another again.