Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The end of the World

We are now the southern part of Argentina and Chile. Patagonia is a very vast and open area. Every day we have wind and then we have more wind and more wind. It is always from the north and west.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Oops, pictures didn't attach.

Above are the additional pictures that the blog refers to.

Panama City and Bocas del Toro

January 21, 2008 we hopped on a bus to Panama City. (Biking wasn't an option because we needed to meet the mission group on the 26th). The 18.5 hour trip only cost us $23.00 each and this time we had a bathroom, air conditioning and movies. After the 3rd Kung Fu movie on the bus, Jacky was ready to be Jacky Chan. Panama City was a great opportunity to see the huge surge in new construction and historic building restoration. From the Casco Viejo area of Panama City you could see at least 12 high rise construction cranes in use.

We spent one day at the Panama Canal - the Mirraflores Lock. I had dreamnt about going to the Panama Canal for the past 40 years...(I hope you realize Ward wrote this). It was worth it. The Panamanian Government took over the canal in 1999 and now they plan to expand the canal to handle more of today's ocean going vessels.

January 26, 2008 we met Pastor Bryan and a group from Decorah in Panama City, enroute to Bocas del Toro. We were going to help do mission work on some of the small islands. Our mission was to install water catchment systems so that the native indians would have clean drinking water. Our accomodations were like Gilligan's roads, surrounded by water, solar collectors for electricity and mosquito nets at night a must. It was another great experience helping people.
(2 photos above. For more details see the e-group. If you can not sign on to the egroup please notify us at and we will send it directly to you.)

January 31, 2008 we headed back to Panama City where we would be departing for South America. We took in a little of the pre-Carnival excitement at this time as we observed artists designing and preparing their floats (photo above).

Recap of Central America: They revel in their loudness and artistic nature (see bus photo above). Both home and car stereos are constantly blairing and the automobiles run straight pipes with no mufflers to help increase the noise. Semis use their jake brakes constantly. Emission controls are non-existent and the cars and buses spew out black exhaust. The culture is alive and the constant temperature of 85-100 degrees makes outdoor life very easy.

January was a month of lots of work and great time spent with friends.

Pictures from Costa Rica

Ward and Jacky working on the bikes. Ward mountain biking on a path.

Off to the Tropics...Costa Rica

From the icy, snowy, frigid cold we arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica on January 3, 2008. Stepping off of the plane let us know we were back in the tropics.

We had another small stent of working for Trek Travel in the city of Allajuela, Costa Rica...33 bikes to get ready for the upcoming Trek Travel tour season. Jacky helped by doing the major cleaning of the bikes and I did the mechanical repairs. Our work area was a small warehouse at Tomasita Chavey's personal residence. This was also the place we set up her lawn. This had many great benefits because Tomasita was like a grandmother to us. She would insist that we have coffee and breakfast with her and her family. This was the same for lunch and afternoon coffee time. We developed a great liking for pinto (red beans, fried rice and cilantro). We didn't so much like the cow stomach though. We learned alot about a traditional style home in Costa Rica. We also met many of Tomasita's children and nieces. Costa Ricans are very family oriented.

Our work schedule allowed us daily rides to explore the mountainous region around Allajuela. The full suspension Trek mountain bikes (the ones that we were fixing for them and borrowed) were a must with the bad roads. When I say bad I mean...narrow, rocky, full of pot holes, no shoulders and huge concrete ditches.

Jacky's sister, Connie, and her family met us in Allajuela for dinner one night. Coincidentally they were there at the same time we were and staying only 1.5 miles away! We were also able to meet up with Jim and Jane Kirchner (biker friends from GRABAAWR) and their family a different evening for dinner. Our friends from Decorah, Doug and Gina Mello, Dale and Jody Ellickson and Tom and Teresa Bockman just happened to be at Doug and Gina's house in Playa de Panama, Costa Rica. Everyone seemed to be in Costa Rica in January. We spent two days with them on the Pacific Coast. It was alot of fun, very hot and relaxing.

Things were reasonably priced in regards to food and transportation. Our bus ride to the Pacific Coast (to Mello's) cost us $7.50 each for a 6.5 hour bus ride. This was not a luxury bathroom, 97 degrees and packed. People were standing in the aisles. However, once we reached the coast (tourist area) the short taxi ride from the bus stop to Mello's house cost $20.00.

The landscape in Costa Rica was beautiful with mountains, volcanoes, coffee plantations and rain forests. The flowers are vibrantly colored. Wildlife was easy to see. Our temperatures were in the upper 80s to low 90s every day.

After camping in Tomasita's lawn for a week we finally found an apartment to rent. It was very reasonable at $15.00 a night and included cable TV! We enjoyed this affordable luxury for a week and then ended our time in Costa Rica by watching the last Packer Playoff Game (-3 F in Green Bay, 85 F in Costa Rica)., chips and salsa, Packers....can it get any better? (Only if they would have won!).

Now, it is time to move on.