Posted in cross cultural living, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Panama Canal

Years ago I bought Paul a DVD collection on the 7 greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century. One of those recognized was the Panama Canal. It was an inspiring story of persistence, ingenuity, and ultimate sacrifice.

Now living in the United States we had a cruise to use and decided on a cruise through the Panama Canal visiting Central America on the way. For Paul it was an amazing life dream to go through it and I have to say I was also a little excited to witness the spectacle.

I won’t go in to the history of the Canal but as I said it was a story of persistence, intrigue, ultimate sacrifice of many who gave their lives not only in the building and landslides etc but also from yellow fever. Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer, eventually led the way in creating a healthy environment which helped stem the tide of deaths from this mosquito borne disease.

We stood on the deck and watched the sun rise around 5.30 am along with a few gathering observers. Taking the best position we could we watched as the ship sailed skillfully into the harbour amid the rolling tropical mountains on either side.

There are now 2 canals the latest one built to accommodate wider, larger vessels including aircraft carriers. The cost to traverse the canal is phenomenal to the ship owners, and requires years for advance bookings!

I have always found locks confusing but we had a wonderful narrator and position to watch as we waited and then were led up into the first lock by the “mules”, little electric carts that act as guides pulling their cables like cotton connections, relative to the size of the monoliths passing through.

The bravest most daring thing we saw all day though was two men in the smallest of row boats collecting the lines from the ship to hook up to the mules. We all held our breaths as we watched them disappear out of view under the decks only to reappear victorious rowing for their lives as the bow of the ship surged passed,  her lines now connected to the mules. We could only wonder why in this day and age a safer method could not be developed! I wanted to know how much they got paid!

All day we stood transfixed with the ever growing numbers on the bow, only stopping finally to have food and drink, (and toilet break) around lunch time and get some extra sun protection from the now tropical sun bearing down on any exposed skin.

The most profound section for me was where the landslides occurred, persisting to this day . The area swallowed thousands of lives as they carved their way through mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Ghosts seem to wave from the hillsides as we glided through. These men and their families suffered yet persevered. I considered the leaders who led and succeeded, or failed along the incredible journey for the sake of posterity: an inspiration to aspire to.

It wasn’t just a day of watching but also of reflection on how any task no matter the size requires all of the above criteria – ingenuity, persistence, and sacrifice.

Paul finally had his fill of our crossing about 6 pm that night as we watched and waited for the city lights of Panama City to light up the surrounding hills, showing us the modern life built on the blood, sweat and tears of many before them.

We left the deck, in awe of the dedication of those before and those now who continue to build and work for the generations to come. 20171024_08430120171024_084333

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Heading in to the first loch. The row boat getting ready to head out.

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Heading towards the lines of the ship
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The Row boat has disappeared!

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They’re out! The cheers and claps went up!

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The Panama Champions hooked the lines so that the “mules” can guide the ship into the lochs.

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Until next time!

Blessings Narelle

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Posted in cross cultural living, health and wellness, travel, Uncategorized

Silence of the Blog!

Travels, bomb cyclone, new store – VOIAJER, bees, gardening – Wow! No wonder I have not written a blog since September last year! Life really got the better of me in lots of ways – mostly good ways!

In June/July last year Naomi our youngest daughter wanted to open a store selling her cereal box jewellery and other fair trade products in her store called “VOIAJER”  the phonetic spelling of the word “VOYAGER”.

For around 8-9 years Naomi and I and some others have been selling the beautiful jewellery crafted by her “Kado”  girls, keeping them employed, building houses and looking after around 100 children through the profits.

Last year was time to develop it further. She now has a shop front where we are enabling support of more groups through sales and profits. It is very exciting but not without its challenges.

Between setting up the store, travelling back to Australia for business and family and cruising through the Panama Canal, then a very hectic Christmas time for VOIAJER; writing took a firm back seat! But now I am back on track and will be posting more regularly as winter keeps my life stationary.

We started our year with an incredibly cold “bomb cyclone” which caused blizzard conditions! We were snowed in for a few days but welcomed the rest! We didn’t even go out for our “bread and milk” – the crazy things people buy when they think they will be unable to get to the store for a few days!

Kids loved the snow days but are a bit bummed because now they have to make those days up – going to school on some public holidays!

These are some of our fun pictures from the bomb cyclone! Even the Chesapeake bay froze! So it was a refreshing,  freezing, fun-filled few days!

So the year began slowly for us and we didn’t set goals or even wonder what the new year held. Eventually we did and I will start sharing some of those to encourage others to consider and plan their year – considering we are nearly into February already!

So the Silence of the Blog is broken and I am back!!!!

See you again soon!

Blessings Narelle