Location: Santa Catalina, Panama
February of 2013!
Its been a long while!!!! AND, I apologize, Ive been so busy, I still havent found time to create a Christmas or New Years card. At his rate, I should just try for a Spring Greeting card . Last I wrote I spoke of lots of future plans and visits which have since all flourished into reality. Mike and I had a great three weeks in Colombia together in October. Our first real vacation in years. Even though it was very relaxing, we did travel and see more of the country than we expected to. We started on the Caribbean Coast and flew around a bit, landing in Medellin (5,000 feet above sea level), a bit cooler than what we are used to, but very metropolitan, and actually our favorite area. We made our way towards Bogota, spelunking in caves, and staying along Claro River. The capital which is at 10,000 feet above sea level was too cold for me. I packed for a tropical vacation. We stayed just a weekend, and headed back to the coast for a little more beach time before we headed home, reenergized, and feeling good to get home, realizing the gem of the place Santa Catalina truly is.
Bobby and Katrina held down the fort for us here while we were gone, and continued on with us in the restaurant when we returned. Thank you so much for your help you two!!! Good friends Jay Klingonsmith, his wife April and their little girl Amber Lynn (steal my heart!) came for a week at Thanksgiving time. We had such a great visit with them. They made me nostalgic for California friends, and Mike and I are set on going back for my high school reunion (wont say which one ) in 2014.
We had a great Christmas with Zack, my parents, sister and her boyfriend Charlie. It was fun to share our traditions with them. We decorated the Christmas tree with the local neighborhood children. It was actually a plantain tree, and as always the ornament placement was quite hap hazard which is all part of the fun. We had a big Christmas Eve dinner, and a fun morning of gifts, first with just the family then we practiced the spirit of giving with all the employees and their families. Once all the Christmas excitement began to fade, we spent Amy and Charlies last day together on Bruce and Pattis catamaran. The guys brought the spear fishing gear, but the visibility was low. We snorkeled and had fun. Zack got to help steer the boat, drop and pull the anchor. We then started building momentum for New Years. Zack, my mom and I were stuffing life size dolls with dried leaves and fire crackers to light on fire at midnight. Zack and my dad kept busy inflating tire tubes and air mattresses for our New Years Eve float down the Kate River. This was an epic five hour float, ending with everyone in the beginning stages of hypothermia, a hot dog and marshmallow roast. There was lots of surfing and some basketball played in hot hot weather. It was a great, fun-filled time together.
The hotel and the restaurant are just now starting to slow down from the holidays. We have two new sidekicks in the restaurant, Daisy West (Kodiak) and Zana Hembree (Nashville) who are here to help us out for at least the next six months (hooray!). Theyve been learning the ropes and we are getting reacquainted with Daisy and getting to know Zana. Love them both already. Other than that, we are hunkering down for Carnival or Mardi Gras celebrations here. Its not too crazy, but the hotel will be full, and there will be A LOT of people in town for this long long weekend. After that, another visit from Zack is right around the corner. He will be here for spring break as well in early March, along with Tonya and George Lee from Kodiak and their two kids, Nevin (Zacks age) and Carlie.
Thats all on the up side. On the down, our poor little Busito van has obviously been moving into the later stages of its life. It is becoming too ill to drive long distances. When it comes out of the shop this time, we plan to move it into a beach retirement program and have it be our local vehicle. That also means purchasing another car and another expense, but hey thats life. You all can bomb around in the busito when you come down! OK, check out my new photo albums here :). Im still working on Christmas with our slow slow Internet. Take Care and stay warm! We love you!!!
Location: Santa Catalina, Panama
Hello Up There!
Hi everyone! We hope you are still enjoying a beautiful summer with lots of time outdoors, gardening, family and friends! There is a lot here, so if you are not feeling that ambitious, feel free to check out the pictures, they are worth a thousand words, which is about what I have written here!
The rain is really starting to set in now, but weve had a fairly sunny wet season so far. Mikes parents experienced mixed weather during their visit with us in early June. They had a great time with Zack first in St. Charles, then Florida and finally the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in Panama. Zack is big as we expected! His feet have exceeded mine, and he can wear Mens swim suit sizes! Immediately after Denny and Mary Lous GREAT visit we had good friends Laura and Erik Hanson here with their two younger boys, River and Finnbarr. These guys came fully equipped with skate boards and scooters, ready to tear up the new road! They also brought their spear fishing guns and we all got to try free diving this summer! This quickly became Zacks new passion. Dad bought him a nice gun of his own, but he also made a Hawaiian sling from an old fishing pole, bike spokes (which are sharp) and surgical tubing! What fun, even on land! He was wandering all around the restaurant and yard with that thing. After a lecture or two of the dangers of his new prized procession, he used packing tape on the prongs, so he could continue to bring his sling everywhere he went hazard free.
Thanks to Doug and Heidi, the super helpful, generous Canadian couple who have been running the restaurant for us (and more), we were able to have our days free to spend more time with Zack and friends. We got lots of beach time in, the boys played quite a bit of football and they surfed together more than ever before. Zack went to surf the point over half a dozen times with his dad.
The Hansons tuckered us all out with their enthusiasm for the hot weather, swimming, and projects in their yard at Casa Finnbarr. They were even starting to feel it themselves after two weeks of maximum play time in the hot sun. We cooked great meals all together every night and with Kodiak friend John Sullivan, plus an occasional other friend or two, so always a big group at La Buena Vida dinner table. Johns been coming for years, and loves it here. He partnered with Laura and Erik on their house, The Boarders Haven, and they have all agreed on some exciting changes next door. As I write, the wood workers are installing new doors and windows to their now air conditioned rooms. Yep, moving on up.
During the midst of all this, Mike was finishing building the house next door for Darren (who also came in for a visit). Zack refers to it as a dream house so Ive included a photo here. You can see the fruits all of Mikes labor! As Darren was going out, Danny Rosen was coming in. Danny was a guest who was here over Christmas with his parents, who we loved. He is 12 and reminded us so much of Zack, that we invited him to come back on his own during the summer, and he did! His parents are great, and we thoroughly enjoyed his comical company! He and Zack were buds from the start, and they are hoping to make it an annual thing. Plus, Zack has an invite to come to their house in Colorado to ski sometime, which we think to make happen for them (Zack and Danny) at some point. After Danny left, things got quiet around La Buena Vida, and we had just two weeks of Zack time remaining. During his last few days, Zack got to meet Seamus the 10 year old scuba boy who stayed nearly a month with us. His mom Danielle came to teach a yoga workshop, play and relax. Then we were off to Panama City together, again, for the fourth time over summer! Zack stayed one night with my parents in Miami where he got a little more pool time and saw my sister. Then he was back with his Mom and little brother Luther for a few days in Wasilla before he headed to Kodiak Island to see his Grandma and Grandpa Kozak and his Auntie Mikie. Where a whole nother adventure of camping, fishing and hunting awaited him.
Meanwhile, we were hosting the Yoga Mini Intensive and Darrens first visit in his finished house with his wife and family. Danielle shared lots of yoga knowledge with me while she was here, pushing, pulling and stretching me into postures I never thought possible. She left me with lots to strive for (or be depressed about not being able to do :), but I will definitely need a major assist to grab my foot like that again. Our friend Anna, who rode her YES bicycle here from Alaska, is (actually was) quite an acrobat so she and I have been pulling and pushing on each other a bit, trying to keep up our practice. You are probably curious about a woman who rode her bicycle from Alaska to Panama and as she has been here nearly a year now and become a good friend, I feel moved to include more here. Australian born, having lived in England and the Czech Republic, she set off from Alaska in the Summer of 2009. It took her two years to finally arrive in Santa Catalina, which I believe was calling to her for the diving originally. She has been slowly achieving her Dive Master certification here, and had a few jobs hostel and house sitting. With a year long break, I dont know how long it will take her to bicycle around the world, but you can read more about her and her adventure at www.wishfish.org AND hear her take on and see her professional photos of Santa Catalina. Plus Ive included a photo of Anna here as well.
With Zack settling into the seventh grade, and the rain setting in, we are preparing to do a bit of exploring ourselves in the Colonial City of Cartagena, Colombia. Its official, we will be Flying, not biking, spending three weeks exploring the North Atlantic Coast, the first Spanish Colonial City in The Americas in Santa Marta, and Tayrona National Park. Its our first real vacation together in years, so we are really looking forward to it. We have an American couple coming to Hotel sit and take on the restaurant for the next busy season (Brett and Jordan). They will be here in a few weeks and we are looking forward to meeting them.
Other bright news on the horizon is that my long time friend, Jay Klinger, his wife April and their little girl Amber will be here during the Thanksgiving holiday. And Zack will be coming for Christmas this year along with my parents, sister and her boyfriend (a holiday first for my family). So far the hotel looks like it is also filling up with friends then too including the Treat family, John Sullivan and John John (next door), plus Darren and his family at his house. Its looking like a big crew. Should be fun, big dinners, and our New Years Eve River float is going to be a go! Having Zack here during Christmas will really break up the long school year apart for him and his dad (and me too). HOORAY! Lots to look forward to and prepare for, plus lots of other projects in the works! Ill save you from all those details though. Thanks for checking in on his here! Have a look at our new pics, and stay tuned for a vacation update and project report! We love and miss you all
Location: Santa Catalina, Panama
OMG! I guess that was the quiet before the storm in November. I had no idea it had been so long since I last posted! We had a great Thanksgiving dinner here. Mikes college friend Neils was here as well as DJ, Don Johnson, a surf buddy from Kodiak. All the usual suspects turned up as well. Jordan and Lindsay helped a bunch. Jared, Diane and their kids. Christmas dinner got a little more risqué with Mikes special adult tire wear. Weve been making really cool recycled tire tube purses and wallets (shown here), but Mike took it to the next level (not shown here). We had lots of laughs.
Ive been very dedicated to my four times weekly yoga schedule, which gives me little free time. That leaves me three afternoons a week which can easily get filled with massage appointments or not getting out much. Ive been making a point to get at least one girls beach day in a week, sometimes two. I cant allow myself to be too pale living down here, and its great therapy, swimming and laughing with friends. Whom I am very grateful to have.
We plugged along through January and February working really hard. I took a much needed break the first week in March and went to see my family, mom, dad and sister south of Miami. Ive seen my parents more often, so it seems impossible that I hadnt been there in two and a half years, but I hadnt seen my sister in that long. We had a good visit, mostly shopping (hey, Im so deprived here). Ive posted some pictures from that trip.
Mike continues to manage the construction of a house next door. For another American, Darren, from Illinois. Hes been surfing some pretty big waves, and broke his two favorite boards in the same week. He was having another board made to spec, but when it arrived it wasnt exactly what he wanted. So now hes on one of Zacks LITTLE boards, trying to do more tricks. Zack says, If you break it, you buy it.
I taught my first solo yoga workshop last weekend which kept me very busy planning and promoting. Now Im making changes to the new website, which friend Sammii created for us and I can manage for the most part. Check it out: www.santacatalinapanamahotels.com We will have the .biz site rerouted to the new one, but it could be a few day process, so we will do it in our slow slow slower time as to not be without our main website right now. Another yoga instructor from Yoga BodywoRx in Canada will be teaching a mini intensive in August, so now Im beginning the media and marketing for that. I enjoy it, its fun and challenging.
Zack just finished his first middle school year. He did really well in school with mostly As and won first place in his Valley Youth Basketball Tournament this year. He is in Chicago with Mikes family now, and will be here in less than a week! We all rendezvous in Panama City where we spend four nights at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort together! Woo hoo! Were looking forward to that. Friends Laura and Erik Hanson are coming again with their two boys around the same time. Another 12 year old boy we met as a guest last year and loved is coming back down on his own to spend two weeks with us and Zack in July. With so much planned time is going to fly this summer
so I guess this in another entry right before the next super busy period in our lives.
We hope you all have a great summer! Take time to stop and smell the roses! XXOO MMZ