“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St. Augustine
My husband, Roger, and I embarked on Holland America’s Panama Cruise after a short Sunday flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Our first day was spent relaxing, eating, and playing Scrabble. On Monday, we docked at the cruise line’s private island, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where we were treated to a delicious buffet lunch. They served ribs, grilled chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, mac and cheese, a variety of salads, fruit, lemonade, and cookies. We could also purchase soft drinks and liquor.
While at sea on Tuesday and Wednesday, we socialized with many fellow travelers playing trivia in groups of six people, listening to music, and line dancing. Playing games with the passengers was a fun way to meet new people. At dinner, we met a delightful couple with whom we spent time telling stories about our various travel experiences, our children, and our grandchildren. They enjoy long biking trips as well as cruises. Roger also started teaching me how to play cribbage.
Thursday, we took our first excursion to the National Aviary on Isla Baru about 45 minutes from Cartagena, Colombia. We saw some of the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen. More than 138 species represented the thousands of birds including the Harpy Eagle, the toucan Caribbean, the Pink Flamingos, and the Crane Corona. The Aviary supports three systemic eco environments – rainforest, coast, and desert – to accommodate the wide variety of permanent exhibits.
The next morning, we arose early to see an awesome man-made wonder of the world. We transited the Panama Canal, sometimes referred to as “The Ditch.” The engineering marvel of this canal can’t be overstated. As we went through the canal heading west on the right, we passed a huge cargo ship crossing the canal going east on the left. We marveled at the coordination of the raising and lowering of the water, the movement of the ships, and the “mules” which guide ships through the lock chambers. Mules are locomotives so named because they replaced the many mules which originally helped guide the ships. While many marveled at the engineering, I marveled at who first thought of this process.
After dinner, I attended an intriguing 2001 Irish-American spy thriller. The movie, The Tailor of Panama, starred Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Saturday was spent at sea. Roger played pickleball. I participated in a line dance class. We both played games, socialized, and enjoyed the delicious cuisine.
Our Sunday excursion at Puntarenas, Costa Rica was a Tropical Mangrove River Cruise where we saw crocodiles, macaws, herons, and egrets. Sadly, we also saw numerous tires, debris, and building materials that covered part of the landscape due to severe flooding a few years ago. It was interesting to learn that Costa Rica’s major export is technology. In the evening, we participated in Barry from Boston’s sing along.