31 Jan 2017

Manta, Ecuador




We started the day with a tour of a button factory (what can I say?). Here they still make them strictly by hand from very hard nuts. These deluxe types are shipped to Italy for fancy designers to use who don’t like plastic.

After we drove a bit to Monticristi, home of the Panama hat. Regarding the name, executives working on the Panama Canal wore them and Teddy Roosevelt made them famous when he was down there.



Each one takes at least three weeks and it is brutal back-breaking work.



The best ($1,000+) can be wound so tight you can pull them through a wedding ring and put it right back on your head and they will look like new.



Allyn bought me one that was a bit small.





Then it was off to a museum to give Allyn a chance to be her silly self with her new Panama hat.

29 Jan 2017

Colombia and Panama Canal



We spent a couple days in Colombia looking for drug dealers. We didn’t see any; ergo no photos.

Next we traveled from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific via the Panama Canal.

Although it is spectacular, we have done it three times. That gave Allyn a beauty shop opportunity.

I saw no reason to rewrite a blog when here is a link to a previous blog showing the interesting transit.

24 Jan 2017

Bonaire, Netherland Antilles



Bonaire is a small Island very far south in the Caribbean, just off the north coast of South America.

Allyn got her exercise with a 12-mile plus bike ride.




It’s population of less than 20,000 hosts 250,000 tourists a year who are either visiting by cruise ship, coming to dive or both.



I, on the other hand, took a Tuk Tuk around today with a guide who filled me full of interesting facts.



For example they grow flip-flops here.

History – Spanish conquered the island in 1499 looking for gold. They found none and lost significant interest.

However, they still fought an 80 year war with the Dutch (called the 80 years war) and finally lost control to them. The Dutch mined salt big time, as they do today.

In 2010 they legally became fully part of Netherlands in all respects.

Prisons – Other than the most outrageous crimes, prisoners are incarcerated locally. Interestingly enough, they are virtually given life sentences because when they are released, they are ostracized from the community so much that they have to steal to eat and get thrown right back into jail. Not very enlightened.



The cemetery is above ground because the surface is lava.



The beach is coral (illegal to take even a small piece.). The only sand is from the poop of the parrotfish that feeds off the coral.



22 Jan 2017




Given that Grenada is known as the Spice Island, and even has a nutmeg prominently displayed on its flag, we thought it made sense to take a tour emphasizing spices.

We were greeted by a fun steel band upon arrival that started us out on an upbeat note.



We visited a major farm where spices and herbs are grown and learned what they cure as well as how they taste.



Then we sampled many jams, jellies, spreads and drinks.




Next up was a rum factory. It’s history and rum making going back 250 years was the most interesting. The obligatory tasting of their seven varieties followed.





We visited a small “relics” museum. I must be really getting old seeing a telephone and a typewriter in a museum of relics.




 Alas, there is just so much fun I can take on one tour.

21 Jan 2017

Martinique, French West Indies



It was a beautiful day, today, in Martinique.


We did kayaking through the mangroves. That allowed us to enjoy the weather, get some exercise, and learn a little bit.


Mangroves are salty wetland found in the tropical areas. They are transition zones that protect the coast from ocean aggression as well as protecting animals and fish.


All over the Caribbean human development has raised havoc with mangroves.






The ship prepared a special dinner under the stars for us 26 people who are doing the entire 71 day voyage.