Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year...to most of you who follow this blog, you have a couple more hours to go!   Ted and I are in Panama so our night is just winding down!  We had an amazing night, with great new friends, and fantastic food.  We drank champagne and watched fire works.  We had our own amazing celebration to cherish what our life is and what it will be!   We love more then the words mean, we trust more than a day should, we enjoy like all the heavens above want every being too, we love and trust and most importantly RESPECT!!!   Cherish the one you are with, Cherish the ones you love ...most importantly RESPECT ALL!!!!!!


Happy New Year!!   Best Wishes in 2012!


The back light is all the ships lined up to travel the canal!













Happy New Years from Panama!!!

video

Panama's Day 5 treasures

Well here it is Day 5 in Panama and Ted and I have settled into our routine...it is tough I gotta say!!!  We try to get up before 9:30am so that we can have coffee in our room before heading down to a plush buffet of fresh exotic fruit and juices, yogurt, eggs, granola, and another coffee.
Then we head to the towel hut to grab our towels and find our chairs for the day, we set up under one of the cabanas in comfy rattan recliners, before heading for a stroll on the beach to see what has washed up overnight.
We then head to our chairs and bask in the sun, while servers bring fresh water with orange slices and any cocktail you prefer.  We dip in the pool every 20minutes as it is so beautifully hot here!
Around 1pm we head to the buffet for lunch, which always has new fresh tasty treats everyday, after we head to finish another chapter or two of our books poolside.
Around 3, Ted goes to the gym and I jog the beach and finish with yoga and a mini bootcamp, before exploring what the rainforest at the edge of the ocean has to offer!   Today I went back up after my workout to grab my camera in hopes I would see some treasures......have a look!!!





This guy is in the monkey family...Haven't found out what he is yet they have sloths here but from what I can tell sloths have a more pushed in face?  I will try to find out today....he has a long bushy tail and big claws, this was the female, the male was waiting in the tree for her return ;-)


A hermit crab scurries along the beach in front of me moving his home for the night before the tides recede.



This Pelican devoured his lunch in one quick gulp.

Taeya where would you start!!!   Isn't this the most amazing shell searching you have seen!!!




These pink scallop shells are plentiful along our beach!



Our New Resort


It is absolutely gorgeous here, we were greeted by friendly people that lead us to our beautiful room!   We are in absolute Bliss and our dream holiday has begun!!   From our room we can see the ships line up at all hours to get in line to go down the canal....to cool!    I will try to get a night photo as it is so impressive!
Tonight we will be celebrating New Years on our deck with this gorgeous view and the backdrop for our fireworks!   The Westin next door is sure to have a light display as well....which we will be able to see, so I'm sure we will be impressed!!
Here are a few pics to show what Panama Bliss looks like!!!
The beach combing is superb, tons of sea glass and millions of shells!!!




Our View from our room



             These trees are covered in 4 ft of ocean water every high tide....and they survive?

The New Westin Resort


All the ships lined up to go down the canal



Our beach huts


The coconut I found washed up on the beach to carry all of my sea glass & treasures


Off to enjoy the 34' and sun!!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Nightmare comes to an end!


So here we are tired, but full of hope....that is quickly diminishing, standing in front of a girl native to Panama dressed all in pink, continuing on with her rudeness... straps on our ‘all inclusive wrist bands” and tells us to go for lunch, she then turns and walks into the back room!  Our jaws drop, we look at each other growing more frustrated and angrier by the minute!   All we want to do is check into our room, and get some food because now it is almost 4pm and our last attempt to eat was at 11am.
Ted and I both look towards our bags which are not being loaded we look to one another and then we look at the empty RUDE receptionist desk....we think that the bell man must have our room key, so we walk over to him and ask....he motions ‘no’ and points to the front desk again.....we decide to somewhat giveup until she returns and walk the 10 steps to the lobby bar to grab a bottle of water.   We open our waters to which the bartender says cinco (5) dollars?  Pardon?  We say “no we are all-inclusive!”...she replies....”aqua no included!!!”   You are Kidding!!!!   We had been advised not to drink the water here and now our ‘all inclusive’ “resort” does not provide bottled water in our package?   We pay and then head straight back to the front desk to ask for the key to our room!   We stood in line to wait as there was still no one at the front desk....we waited....and waited....the desk started to pile up with other visitors to the resort in search of help/answers/complaints???   and although we were in line first and others were lined behind us....our kind front desk attendee dressed in pink, called for the people behind us!!!!!!!    Again we glance at each other in shock, the couple that  had been called to come in front of us also looked confused....they said “please you were hear first”  
Our friendly host in pink said “yes”,
we replied..”could we please have our room keys”
“I told you to go for lunch first” she answered.
“We do not want to go for lunch we want to get our room please” Ted replied.
She turned without a response returning to the back room behind fogged glass.......
sometime after she came back holding an envelope in her hand..”2 keys and 2 towel cards.”  She hollard for a bell hop, but did not make eye contact with us and handed us the keys?????......what had we done....we did not understand why we would be treated this poorly, we then asked what time the (Vacation Carrier - I will not Mention) will return to their desk as we noticed his hours today were 2:30 - 6:30 and it was around 3:40?....she said without raising her head ‘try around 4.’
We got to our room while the staff was just leaving from cleaning it??  If you were expecting us last night why is our room being mopped and sheet being changed?....we had been guaranteed a King suite Ocean view....we had paid for a King suite Ocean view.....we opened the door to find a double room...overlooking the speakers for the beach!......We thought hey we have arrived lets just go eat and we will feel better....we walked down to the only buffet/restaurant they have and it is closed!!!   We asked where we could eat and they pointed to the pool bar....which was serving nachos....and not fresh mexican nachos but the nachos that you would find at 7-11, they taste great at 3am when you have just left the bar....but besides that you would not touch them!!!   Also due to the extreme humidity here their nachos are soggy and wet and the cheese has a layer of condensation on it.....we declined!!
We decided to head to the beach even though we were in a very low mood.....the beach was sandy and windy, and if all of you can believe it I was the more positive of the two saying how nice the sand and the beach was......it did not work....but it was now 4 so we headed back to the front desk (which is about 10 minutes away) to talk with our Vaca Rep!   4:05, 4:10, 4:15 (please keep in mind the rep was supposed to be there from 2:30 - 6:30)  Ted and I had agreed that we will catch more flys with honey...yet it was growing harder to keep this attitude....a crowd started to gather and finally at 4:23 he arrived!  He asked how could he help?.....we replied “where do we start!” 
We start to tell the story of our experience so far due to his company and this resort....he continually interrupted, and when we commented on our room he had said we do not guarantee rooms.....(however while in wait for this gentleman we went to the counter, to kill two birds with one stone, and asked about our room...our friend in pink informed us ..”that due to your late arrival we gave your room away, we may be able to move you tomorrow or the next day) we informed our rep of this, and he tried to back track....we were not going to argue even though we had already paid for that room so how could it be resold....we also realized that this is why we could not check in when we arrived they had to clean a different room for us!!)  Our Rep was very unwilling to listen and then we decided to throw up our white flag and say we have had so many problems finding this resort is it called the ‘Smile Playa Blanca’ he responded “yes”...to which we responded “then how come no one in your country has heard of you including your own front gate.....” he stammers and cannot find the words - he has no answer!  to which we reply we would like our money back!  This is not what was advertised to us, and therefor not what we paid for or what we were expecting!   He stood up and said you will have to take that up with representatives in Canada and walked away!!!!!!   What happened to finding a middle ground, hashing out differences, making customers happy...!!!!!   I will tell you that is not what Panama is about!!!!!!
We walked back to our room, defeated, back to separate beds on what was supposed to be a romantic relaxed holiday!!!  We decided to call Rewards and (the carrier) directly!   Rewards was great! extremely sympathetic and helpful.....within 20 minutes we had our room moved we had our King suite with the ocean view....things were looking good and the dinner buffet was about to open!
We called to thank the front desk and the rep for the move to which we were hung up on 3 times, before we realized there probably wasn’t a problem with our phone and we had been ‘black listed’ 
We headed for dinner....un-edible....we chalked it up to being in such horrible moods and decided to sit on the beach with a cocktail to watch the sun go down before retreating to our room.  
We came to the conclusion we would look for a place to move to just in case, so we pulled out the computer, Ted walked up to the lobby (10 minutes away) to buy internet for the next 3 hours for $8USD so we could sit in the comfort of our room while we searched......it didn’t work!!!  We headed back to the lobby with our computer to sit there, they would not give our money back as we will still be using it in their lobby...blah...blah...blah!!!!   We found 4 other hotels that may be what we were looking for, we wrote down the numbers and headed back to our room to call, we were unable to call out, we called the front desk and they informed us that we would need to put down a $30 deposit even to make local calls.....it was now 10:30 and we figured we would be better off calling in the morning due to our language barrier.  We went to bed with the attitude we would wake up in the morning and give it another try, !
We tucked in and then at 11pm it started....our room overlooked the outdoor grass hut ‘disco’ (bar....with speakers and bass that rattled our room)...that ended around 2 am which was more enjoyable then what was to com... the rooftop door right above us that doesn’t close because there is no handle started slamming in the wind every 15 minutes or less....It sounded like a gun shot rattling the room every time!!
We awoke at 7am to the groundskeepers right below our deck....not sure why this wing gets the latest night music and the earliest pruning but hey....it was all about par!
We decided to head for breakfast because if we missed it we would not eat again until 12:30 (that is another thing with Panama...All-Inclusive...your meal times are very structured, there is no in between service like you would find in Mexico)  We sat down and ordered our coffee...optimistic for the day!!   I got up to start on breakfast, ‘fresh’? fruit was all I found to eat...and I’m not picky!!!!  I placed my fruit down, made my coffee to my liking and then told Ted I was going to stand in the very long fresh made omelet line....(which side bar....they keep their eggs in open cartons in the hot air all day long and you buy per egg here?...) Ted came up while I was half way thru the line informing me that he had to go back to the room to grab something.....when I turned back our table had been taken over...COME ON!!!    We sat at a new table and got new coffees...and rolled through the motions of trying to choke down the food on our plate.....it was done.... we had to leave!!!!
We headed to the front desk to put our deposit for the phone, to which the man at the front told us there was no need on local calls....to which we explained we had tried last night and it hadn’t worked, so when we called the front desk they said we did need a deposit.....he took our $30 USD....probably just to please us at this point....we then walked to the bar, I ordered a coffee with Baileys....”Bailey’s is not included” the bartender replied....to which we had to laugh and walk away!...we headed back........... and sure enough our phone still did not work!  We called the front desk AGAIN (joking now that we couldn’t even get out of this nightmare)  and they asked who we wanted to call...we had to lie and say friends at the INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYA BONITA (our saviors...and thanks Aunty Sue as I still had your email and knew you would hook us up with something sanitary and comfy).... we got thru and they had room...before Ted got off the phone I was packing our bags!  We were free.....lets get out!
Through all of this I did not take one photo....I didn’t feel the need, except perhaps the collections of hair and grime on the sink and toilet, the cracked shower tiles full of pink bacteria....the broken plastic patio chairs, the worn out, stained bath towels...I couldn’t show you face cloths or hand towels do to the absence of those all together!!   I could show you an empty fridge and was crawling with mold or bed linens that looked dingy and unwashed.......but hey who is really looking ;-)))
Even checkout was a gong show they had no idea who we were still or what room we were in.....so off we went for another 2hour and 15min (this time) cab ride to our new destination!   
We arrived and knew we were here!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We have arrived!!!


We have arrived at our new destination...we had to let the other one go and hopefully battle to get our money back when we return to Canada!  As of now it has gone to the wind...or perhaps the cockroaches in Panama!

It was completely and disgustingly awful!  We should have known when they did not have a direct website...but we trusted the website that came up and the resort looked great!.   We wanted all-inclusive, carefree, and on the beach....so technically that is what we got!   However, if I may, and Taeya, I know you will be all over the drama we went thru....although, trust me you would not have liked to be in it!!!!

We flew from Kelowna to Vancouver on the 26th - stayed the night 10 min from the airport - which was so great as Ted and I were exhausted from getting home, doing laundry from Mexico, having Christmas, setting up and hosting Christmas dinner, Which I can safely say was thoroughly enjoyed by all !!!   On the morning of the 27th we were up at 4am to get to the airport for our flight.....which turned out to be almost 8 hours instead of the 5 we were both thinking....but it was smooth and beautiful....I kept it together and we arrived into Panama, with sunshine, 31', a smile on our face and hope in our hearts ;-))))

We got off the plane very hungry as we had had a bagel and coffee from Tim Hortons at 5am then we had something that looked like eggs on the plane at 8:30am (our time)..........and that was it until we landed at 5:53 current time ( 2:53....on our time)   We spotted a Subway right off the plane, so Ted was going to get us subs and I was going to go to the bathroom.......The line was 15 women long, ladies changing clothes, one women trying to potty train her 2 year old son for a good 5 min. etc etc.....with only two stalls!   I waited for 26 minutes to go pee, and I knew Ted would be panicked.......that panicked I did not anticipate on!!!!!   However, we had been worried about safety coming here and that just exasperated the situation.   

We got thru customs and then headed to where our transfer would be waiting.................................1.5hours later we were still trying to figure out how to get to our resort after all of the other shuttles/buses had left!   We called our resort and carrier numerous times to see what they could do to help us out!  However, no one in Panama had heard of our resort????  The lady at the airport called all three Playa Blanca Resorts she thought it could be but we were finally informed....

            THAT WE WERE NOT REGISTERED AT ANY RESORT, OUR                                   CONFIRMATION # WAS NOT VALID, AND OUR RESORT DID NOT EXIST!!!

Here we are stuck in Panama for two weeks, with currently no accommodations, no idea where to go, no idea how safe we are!  what the language/currency/  or anything else is!!!!!

We decided to check into the closest hotel so we can figure out what to do next!!   We got in a cab that wanted $50 USD to take us to the nearest hotel, a Marriott....needless to say we decided to get out of his cab, and all of a sudden our cab fare dropped to $15 USD   We checked in around 8:45pm just in time for last call for dinner!   We ate...kinda.....all we could think was we had made a huge mistake coming to Panama...this was not the holiday we were looking for!

We went back to our room to call our reward representative to see what had gone wrong....we were on the phone for 30 minutes at least...on long distance charges....they said there must be some confusion, that we are registered...can we make it out tonight?   We replied " no we were already here and we're now to tired to make the 45 minute drive, but we would be out tomorrow. "  

We slept in ~ exhausted from our travels and emotional ups and downs, we had breakfast included in our stay at the Marriott, however due to time changes we had slept right to 10:30 (7:30 our time) and had therefor missed breakfast and the hotel's restaurant was closed.  The front desk said they would keep our luggage while we headed across the way to the cafeteria for some food...we did that, it was hard as no one spoke english...so we ordered a club sandwich and a tuna sandwich.  We ate part of each and headed back to our hotel where a cab was waiting to take us to our Panama Resort!!! 

  We were feeling good, we would soon be in our resort, on the beach, in the sun.....there still seemed to be some confusion though!   No one had heard of our resort, and therefor no one knew where it was.   I pulled out the address we were given last night as well as an emergency number for the package carrier (which I will not mention in hopes that we still might get some return)...still no one knew, but we headed to the spot that the hotel and cabby thought it might be located in....We were told it would be 1.5 hours and $120!   We had to go, get there and have this nightmare be over with!!!!!!!

It took 2 hours and 32 minutes to get to our 'resort', we arrived at the front gate and our cabby told the front desk we were here to check in...although Ted and I were sure we were not at the right place, and the front gate had never heard of the Smile Playa Blanca...we continued thru the gates down through the apartments, town homes and finally the hotel that looked to be about 45 years old....not what we were expecting, to young to be enchanting and to old to be welcoming.   We got to the hotel front gate and our cabby once again tried to announce who we were and what we needed, we once again gave out names and confirmation and the resort we were said to be staying in 'Smile Playa Blanca'   The very nice men at the front gate had not heard of said resort, did not have the Rippel's checking in and did not have the confirmation number on file.   We were then told to drive to the next resort 15 minutes down the road....perhaps that is where we were staying?.

Our very kind cabby and translator thru this all did as we were told!   We went thru the whole thing all over again....until finally we said that is enough, could we come in and pull up our resort on-line and perhaps you will know it to see it!  Ted went in to do so, as I was afraid to leave on our belongings in a strange cab (even though we had now been with this man for roughly four hours)...I pulled out the laptop as well and tried to get a signal in the cab, as I could see Ted was getting nowhere inside!   I walked in with the computer, with the photo....that they could not pull up......and AHHHHH!!!!   They knew the resort and now knew where we were going!!!!     YAAA!!!!   It was the one we had just been too, but now we had a name of whom we had to speak with.......  we arrived at the front gate, gave our confirmation, our cabby told the gateman what had happened and who we were????  We did get the gate opened.....we then pulled up to the final gate, to the men we had talked to for about 15 minutes, prior to our run around, and again our cabby translated the mess we were in!!!!

We finally got to the hotel where we were greeted by ......  "We were expecting you last night".......no smile no friendliness, no sympathy, no common courtesy, NO RESPECT!!!!!     As I'm sure you are all tired with this rant....I will let you wait in anticipation to see how day two and three of Panama evolved!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Panama!

Well we have arrived finally..Kinda....it is the 28th at 6pm .. Staying not quite sure...Ted is looking to moving us back into civilization!!!   My mom said if I have nothing nice to say I shouldn't say anything at all.....so I will report when I can ;-)!!!!!!!!

We will update when we are both calm enough and have a beautiful destination to report positively from!

XOXO to all back home