Panamom

Not everyone on a longish, arduous bike trip gets to "take five" and live with mom. The timing just sorta worked out. Dory moved to Panama (from Alaska) after doing a report on the country in her Spanish class. The extra credit assignments were insufficient so she took immersion matters into her own hands. Impressed by my mother's act of independence, brimming with curiosity, crossing paths [with her] on our way south seemed a given. We'd initially planned to be bellied up to Dory's table in Panama for Thanksgiving, because Columbia by Christmas, of course. That, of course, did not happen. Our spontaneous (read naively unaccounted for) 6-month trip extension put us nowhere near Panama or family for the holidays. We spent Thanksgiving alone, in Guatemala, dining on bagged beans, nursing a freshly pulled groin. The two unrelated.
 
Our trip timeline revamp had me nervous that we'd miss Dory altogether as her remaining months abroad dwindled. Relax, we reprioritized and made it happen, but only after establishing boundaries. "No more than two weeks," Aidan and I agreed. Enough to rest and recuperate while avoiding excessive downtime and a potential in-law imposition. That agreement was made a month ago. And here we loiter. In Panama. With Dory. Aidan drew a parallel between house guests and eggs having the same shelf life. Or was it milk? Either way, they'd both spoiled after two weeks. Seems generous. I resonate more with Ben Franklin's impatient perspective, "Guests, like fish, start to smell after three days." Three days seems more realistic, although, I'd argue that we smelled from the moment we arrived on Dory's doorstep.
 
Dory/Mom has been an outstanding host. Tolerant, enthusiastic, welcoming. We express our gratitude by carrying the heavy groceries and humoring her 6AM, 6-mile loops through the hills. It's still dark when we leave the house, but "there's a little bit of lightness in the sky," she points out. Aidan's response, "Not really." Aside from the occasional wisecrack, he has complied with the pre-dawn exercise routine largely complaint-free. Commendable as I know he prefers sleeping to power walking. Anything to power walking actually. Attendance incentivized either by the planned (post walk) donut stop or the occasionally damning, but consistently entertaining, slow reveal of why I am the way I am. Tara-isms that are, in fact, Dory-isms disclosed one by one, day by day.
 
Watching Dory and Aidan getting to know one another has been downright endearing. Fast friends. Future family. One minute Aidan is telling Dory to "CRAM IT" amidst a tense hand of gin rummy, and the next, patiently explaining basic football strategy during one of the most exciting Super Bowl games, ever. Dory was perched on the edge of her seat, graciously offering enthusiasm and camaraderie while I slept soundly, offering neither, occupying valuable sofa real estate.
 
Unfortunately, for now, it's time to bid family, fuzzy sheets and weekly farmers markets farewell and get on with what we set out to do. Later this month we'll skirt the infamously impassible Darién Gap on a sailboat, traversing through the San Blas Islands before eventually docking in Cartagena, Colombia. And from there, South America...

 Good with kids.

Good with kids.

 Emotional support animal. 

Emotional support animal. 

 Enjoy the monkey mom, grandchildren are a looooong ways off. 

Enjoy the monkey mom, grandchildren are a looooong ways off. 

 Raquel (upper left) provides refuge for a variety of animals with the intent of releasing them back into the wild. Some more snuggly than others. Not pictured is the raccoon-like Coatimundi that chomped through Aidan's finger. 

Raquel (upper left) provides refuge for a variety of animals with the intent of releasing them back into the wild. Some more snuggly than others. Not pictured is the raccoon-like Coatimundi that chomped through Aidan's finger. 

 Bring it in, bud. Bring it in.  

Bring it in, bud. Bring it in.  

 Picking up core strength tips. 

Picking up core strength tips. 

 Contrary to our near-non-existent sloth knowledge, these fellas are always on the move. Albeit slowly.

Contrary to our near-non-existent sloth knowledge, these fellas are always on the move. Albeit slowly.

 A refreshing day ride after almost three weeks out of the saddle. 

A refreshing day ride after almost three weeks out of the saddle. 

 Into the cloud forest, up against Volcan Baru.  

Into the cloud forest, up against Volcan Baru.  

 Mostly mossy. 

Mostly mossy. 

 Exercise enforcer. 

Exercise enforcer. 

 Long sleeves are a privilege in Central America. Boquete offered ample opportunities to bundle.

Long sleeves are a privilege in Central America. Boquete offered ample opportunities to bundle.

 From Volcán Barú (highest point in Panama) you can see both the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific.

From Volcán Barú (highest point in Panama) you can see both the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific.

 Sunrise, eastern standard time.

Sunrise, eastern standard time.

 A 2AM departure and four-hour slog in the dark will get you a real nice sunrise.  

A 2AM departure and four-hour slog in the dark will get you a real nice sunrise.  

 Volcán Barú's nutrient-rich soil is ideal for growing some of the best coffee in the world. Would have been nice to have a piping mug of it up there...

Volcán Barú's nutrient-rich soil is ideal for growing some of the best coffee in the world. Would have been nice to have a piping mug of it up there...

 When ya hands too numb to access the sandwiches.

When ya hands too numb to access the sandwiches.

 Highly anticipated warmth at first light.

Highly anticipated warmth at first light.

 Crossing another volcano off the list.  

Crossing another volcano off the list.  

 What is it with guys peeing off high places??

What is it with guys peeing off high places??

 Volcán Barú summit. 11,400' 

Volcán Barú summit. 11,400' 

 Carrot enthusiast. 

Carrot enthusiast. 

 I'm gonna lean up against you, you just lean right back against me. (Rio Caldera, Boquete)

I'm gonna lean up against you, you just lean right back against me. (Rio Caldera, Boquete)

 Neat.

Neat.

 Welcome to the jungle.

Welcome to the jungle.

 Desktop wallpaper. (Click here to download high res.)

Desktop wallpaper. (Click here to download high res.)

 We played around on this thing for 30 minutes. Biggest Air: Aidan. Best Crash: Dory.

We played around on this thing for 30 minutes. Biggest Air: Aidan. Best Crash: Dory.

 Mother/daughter moment.

Mother/daughter moment.

 Coffee pickers at Finca Dos Jefes wear deep red reference bracelets to ensure only the sweetest cherries are harvested. Quality control.

Coffee pickers at Finca Dos Jefes wear deep red reference bracelets to ensure only the sweetest cherries are harvested. Quality control.

 After a comprehensive coffee tour, our appreciation for the insane amount of work poured into each pound of (responsibly produced) beans has grown.  

After a comprehensive coffee tour, our appreciation for the insane amount of work poured into each pound of (responsibly produced) beans has grown.  

 Dog days on the coffee farm. 

Dog days on the coffee farm. 

 "We" brought a picnic to the beach.

"We" brought a picnic to the beach.

 Boca Brava beach day. Thank you Stefania!

Boca Brava beach day. Thank you Stefania!