20 countries, 38 states

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gracias, ciao, and te amo.

We are going home.

This time, two years ago, we were getting inklings of feelings to begin something new. To trust Him. To start down a different path from anything we've known.

This time, last year, we were adjusting to life with Mike home, a new baby, and preparing for our massive adventure.

And in the past seven months, we've traveled to six countries, become (mostly) fluent in a different language, packed our life into four backpacks, wrangled three rambunctious boys, and managed to keep a man and a woman happily and more in love than ever.

We've rick-shawed on the beach, climbed Machu Picchu, celebrated Argentina's Independence Day with the locals, ranch-handed on a working farm in Chile, drank Mendoza Malbec, cooked fresh chocolate in the Amazon jungle, and eaten guinea pig. We've hiked to a crater lake, overlooked the cliffs of Lima, rode horses through a cloud forest, perused the largest indigenous market in South America, white water rafted through the Ecuador rain forest, and bathed in the medicinal hot springs under a volcano. We've swam in the Caribbean, celebrated three birthdays, antiqued on the streets of Montevideo, watched the snow fall over a mountain lake in Patagonia, sunbathed on the volcanic sand of the Pacific, and eaten more dulce de leche that humanly possible.

We've spent more hours on a bus and on the road than some people do in a lifetime, driven across Argentina twice in three days, visited over 50 different farms, fincas, campos, and chacras in every country, and taken 10 flights totaling over 11,000 miles and nearly 30 hours in the air. We've spent a total of 5 days traveling on busses covering more than 5,600 miles, and countless more hours in taxis, boats, trains, and even on horses.

We made lifelong friends and became closer as a family than we ever thought we could be. I didn't think it possible to be prouder of my boys but I am. I didn't think it possible to respect my husband more but I do. And I always knew that I should trust the Lord more but this trip helped me do just that.

And all because we listened. Listened to the Holy Spirit whisper to us. Listened to God nudge us. And as we sit in the airport, waiting for our flight home, we still hear His voice. Telling us to turn this chapter. Sure, we'll travel more (and are already planning our next trip!) and yes, we'll be back down here soon (more on that later) but for now, we need to rest.  I've loved every second of sharing this adventure with you but we are going to detach from social media for awhile.

When we resurface, we'll be sharing some exciting upcoming news, more pictures than you want of Halloween costumes and various homeschooling crafts, and oh-so-boring boring tidbits of life on a farm.

So for now, gracias, ciao, and te amo.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Valley of the Flowers...Boquete, Panama!

We spent two beautiful weeks in the very appropriately named Valley of the Flowers, Boquete, Panama! Here, the temperatures range from 65-80 degrees (pretty much perfect), the sun is almost always shining except for an afternoon shower, and the breeze is always blowing the scent of tropical flowers to you. Tomorrow morning, we board a 8 hour bus back to Panama City to spend the night and then fly back to Texas on Tuesday morning. But, first, enjoy all the pictures from the adventures we've had in the past two weeks!

we had to wake the boys up to leave for our overnight bus at 11pm!

wonderful outdoor fruit and veggie markets in Boquete

we found an amazing English-speaking church!

we ate nearly all our meals outside on our porch with private garden!

the Panama chickens come with head and feet.

One of the first activities we partook in was the weekly Boquete Community Market every Tuesday. Here, the locals and expats alike sell organic produce, artisan crafts, and specialty goods like fresh coffee, honey, and breads. It's a great place to mingle with the Boquete community and meet new friends. It doesn't cost anything to get in but come hungry...there are lots of street foods to sample!

the beautiful river that runs through Boquete and right next to the market

fresh goat cheese and yogurt!

fresh tortilla!



that lovely goat's milk yogurt with homemade granola on top!
fresh goat cheese on roasted root veggies and chickpeas!

Boquete is also home to a wonderful library that has a large selection of English books. It even has a great children's' selection! And a lovely cafe that serves $.80 local Panamanian coffee and fresh pastries! We took lots of trips here to read our beloved Dr. Seuss and look through dino books. They even had a children's arts and crafts day one day! The boys got to simultaneously listen to a Spanish and English rendition of a kids' book and then do an educational exercise afterwards!

Because of its large expat community, Boquete has several well-trained and affordable dentists and doctors. We took advantage of the low prices and got another teeth-cleaning and check-up for all! And after, we enjoyed a cupcake and haircuts for Mike and Michael! Jack just made friends :)

Right down the road from our condo was an adorable little shop called Fresas Mary. Boquete is known for their unbelievable strawberries and Mary based her sweet shop on them! She serves strawberry splits, strawberries in syrup with cream, and strawberries with natilla, a Panamanian version of condensed milk! We visited twice and loved every sticky and delicious minute!

We definitely knew that we wanted to visit the beaches of Panama while we were in the country so one day we loaded up a picnic lunch and headed to the Pacific side, to Las Lajas. Normally a very quiet beach with the smallest of breakers, we happened to go on a day where the swell was very large and we got to enjoy some huge waves! The undertow was quite strong so we only took the boys out to knee-deep. But they loved getting pummeled by the waves and we had a great day. We were literally the only ones there for most of the day and we had the black volcanic sand almost to ourselves!

a tiny cabana on the beach that serves cold cervesa and delicious hamburgers!

Jack making friends, as always!

the boys got super cool tatoos for the beach day :)

a seashell '6' for 6 months of traveling!

the boys passed out before we even hit the highway!

and we got to see this beautiful display of creative packing on the ride home!
 Another day, we decided to visit the famous Caldera thermal baths, about 30 minutes outside of Boquete. We were told it was "a bit tricky to find" but we were surprised when it took over an hour, on some crazy rough roads, and then a 20 minute hike (in flip flops!) down to the river and hot springs. But it was really worth it. It was a beautiful, secluded river with huge boulders for the boys to climb on. The thermal springs ran right into and actually bubbled up from the earth in various spots! The red volcanic sand was gorgeous and while the springs were too hot to sit in directly (although I did...I love a hot, hot bath!) and the river too cold (although Mike floated down it!), the little pools where it mixed together was perfect for the boys to play in!

beautiful views on the way there

scary one lane bridge!

having a blast splashing!

the hottest pool...I was a lobster!

climbing with the big boys!

and the baby not too far behind!

a cool water buffalo on the hike back

Las Lajas is on the Pacific side of Panama and Bocas del Toro is on the Caribbean side. We decided for Gabe's 1st birthday, and as our last hoorah, we would drive north to Bocas and see the white beaches and turquoise waters! We rented a car (only $35/day, including everything) and got up early on his birthday and drove the three hours to the northern coast. From there, we parked our car in a secure and gated lot ($4/day) and boarded a ferry to Bocas Town ($6/adult). The half hour ferry was bumpy and fast and wet, everything little boys love! From Bocas Town, we hired a private water taxi to take us the half hour to Estrella Beach, for about $45/day. We skimmed over the crystal clear sandbars and past the over-water cabanas (Mike decided that he and I will come back someday, without the kiddos) to the appropriately named Starfish Beach. There, our captain pulled the boat right up on the beach and we spent the day splashing in the water, lounging under the shade of the palm trees, and combing the beach for the gigantic starfish! It was a lovely day and we headed home that afternoon for showers and bed.

the interior of Panama

gorgeous mountains!

we drove through a national park

kinda looks like East Texas!

a mountain lake in the national forest

waterfalls everywhere!

but all that windy driving makes our poor oldest son very carsick :(

a friendly local who showed us to the docks

enjoying the bumpy ferry ride

our private water taxi

Estrella "Starfish" Beach!

one years old!

a tiny bottom watching the jugglers ;)

our first starfish!

fresh coconut for $1.50!


not a bad way to end a 6 month long journey!

sweet brothers on the ride home
Since we were up so early for the Caribbean on Gabe's actual birthday, and home so late, we told the boys that his birthday was actually the following day. So, when the boys came tearing into the room, singing Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs (sorry, neighbors), we got up to make our traditional m&m birthday pancakes, complete with candle! Gabe loved them and proceeded to smash them into oblivion in Daddy's lap! That night, after dinner, we enjoyed watching him smash his little birthday cupcake...into his face, hair, lap, and floor! A great day!


a bit of birthday boy reading


happy birthday, big boy!

But, even with all this fun, some days we just relaxed, enjoyed the cool breeze on our porch, and just reveled in the very last of our grand adventure. We took longs walks, wrestled, played dress up (as monsters, of course), and thanked our Lord for such a lovely place to end our trip.

We are heading back to Panama City tomorrow to fly to Texas on Tuesday but until then, as always, check our instagram (#dclandromomania) or our facebook (MikeandKatieDeSas) for daily updates.