Today we had a full day of tours of the Mayan Ruins. The first one we drove to was 2 ½ hours away and it was called Dzibanche with its pyramids and landscaped grounds, and the multi-leveled Mayan city of Kohunlich, surrounded by magnificent Cahoon palms. This town was once known for its beautiful pottery and splendid temples hidden within the jungle.
We had the chance to climb the tallest temple to get a view of the “Temple of the Owls” and the “Temple of the Captives” before it’s time to head off to famous Kohunlich. The next one we visited was the recently excavated archeological site of Kohunlich is named after the giant Cahoon palm trees that inhabit the immense site.
The next ruins we drove to were called Chacchoben, “The Place of Red Corn” Here, in this lush tropical setting, the excavated sacred temples and other structures gave us a sense of wonder picturing how it must have looked centuries ago when it was a thriving cultural center for the Mayans. We saw the original red paint on the stucco walls of one of the pyramids and the temple where a mural was found showing the astronomical positions of the planet Venus. We also had a chance to climb the Gran Basamento which took us above tree level and is where archaeologists found ceremonial offerings dating to around 1000 B.C.
Today is John’s birthday, and he doesn’t know that when we get back to our suite on the ship, the general manager had them decorate it with balloons. While off the ship we drove to the Big French Key Beach on a motorboat and relaxed on the sugar-white sand. John had a chance to go snorkeling on a reef that was nearby. Our tour guide told us that Big French Key hadn’t changed much since Christopher Columbus explored the surrounding Bay Islands in 1503 and he described them as “incredibly green and fertile.” While there are a few new buildings scattered about Big French Key, the nearly 12-acre island remains a lush, beach-rimmed paradise caressed by gentle trade winds which makes it private and unique.
We drove from the pier to a private dock and boarded a pontoon boat which is designed to navigate the coastal river system. We cruised through the Tortuguero canals.
This ride into the jungle habitat serves as an excellent prelude to your next stop in the pristine Veragua Rainforest. The rainforest adventure begins with a guided tour through several exhibits housing indigenous animals such as snakes, frogs, and butterflies. Next, we rode an open-air aerial tram that will carry you into the rainforest canopy. It’s a window into a world that we couldn’t have experienced otherwise. At the halfway point, we got off the tram, and we walked the Trail of the Giants, which is a jungle path that winds past towering 300-year-old trees to a 65-foot waterfall. Then, after riding the tram back into the canopy, we had a nice lunch before returning to the pier.
Today it was our turn to sail through the Panama Canal Locks we visited yesterday. This was a very cool experience because we took a tour of the Gatun locks and saw exactly how they work so being on the ship made it that much better.
I couldn’t believe how close we were to the wall on either side of the ship its pretty amazing.
Today we took a unique tour of Fuerte Amador. Just imagine traveling down the tracks of the first transcontinental railroad in a comfortable domed railcar, while viewing what is widely considered to be the 8th wonder of the world; the Panama Canal, as well as spectacular Gatun Lake. This was a cool experience of traveling from one ocean to another, crossing the amazing continent of the Americas in just over one hour!
Once we arrived at the Pacific side railroad station, we boarded the train for a 75-minute rail journey. The glass-domed car gave us an outstanding panoramic view while traveling through the lush rainforest.
Crossing the Continental Divide, we were on the Atlantic side, where we disembarked the train and got on a bus to the Gatun Locks. Once at the locks, we climbed the 78 steps to the observatory platform where we were lucky enough to see a cargo ship passing and observed the functionality of the locks.
Here’s a little history about The Panama Railroad was the brainchild of a group of New York Financiers who wanted to create an easy passage for the increasing gold rush traffic. The railroad took five years and eight million dollars to build and was completed in 1855. During its first 12 years of operation, the train carried over 750 million dollars worth of gold and silver and collected one-quarter of one percent of each shipment as the duty. The railroad was rebuilt in 1909 during the construction of the Panama Canal, and without it, the canal could not have been built.
Today we flew with another couple to Costa Rica for our friends 60th birthday. We met Ben and Nancy at JFK airport at 6am to catch our flight. After a 5 hour flight we arrived at the airport and rented a car. We stayed at the JW Marriott Guanacaste in Tamarindo.
We really didn’t do much on this trip it was more of a relaxing by the pool vacation. There was only one day that we decided to drive to the rain forest after a four hour drive we finally got to the rain forest and it was closed due to too much rain. You can’t make this stuff up!
The next day John went horseback riding he said it was the best riding he has ever done. The horses were in great shape, and he was able to run and run not just walking ride.