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A Travel Filled Life Brings Blessings and Nightmares

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Sometimes it's good to stop at the end of the year to look back and assess how much you've accomplished, if for no other reason than to make sure you've not wasted a year of your life. Life takes on another dimension when you throw travel into the mix.

Had it not been for travel, we might have missed out on everything from the fun of ringing in the new year atop a high rise in Panama City with a fellow travel blogger … to the nightmare of being escorted out of a country.  Here is one year in our lives as travel bloggers, 12 photos, 12 months.

January – Boquete, Panama

After ringing in the New Year, we drove to the other end of the country for a little R&R. Nestled in the mountains is the little city of Boquete. It's a very popular expat community and a great place to relax.

Boquete Panama

February – Carnival in Panama City, Panama

It may be Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but it's Carnival in Panama City. Costumed devils, floats, packed streets, food vendors and a parade made the celebration special in Panama City. This annual event was fun, but our feet were exhausted by the end of the day!

Carnival Panama City

March – Israel tour for 21 days

We spent most of March in Israel and had a blast. After ten days on a fascinating guided tour, we rented a car and set out on our own to see more of this tiny nation, basically everything from the northernmost tip at Tel Dan all the way down to the Gaza Strip near Egypt.

I don't know what we enjoyed most, the food, the people, or seeing the historical sites that we've read about all our lives.

Temple Mount, Jerusalem
You can take in the sights of Jerusalem's Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall from a nearby perch.

April – Casco Antiguo in Panama City, Panama

Our last month in Panama. we spent as much time as we could with the friends we'd miss. Tops on our list is our Dutch friend Farieda. We “played tourist and went sightseeing and bar-hopping in “Casco,” the oldest inhabited part of Panama City.

Casco Antiguo
The old city of Casco Antiguo has charming cobblestone streets and old colorful buildings with a lively nightlife

May – Cuenca, Ecuador

We moved to Cuenca, Ecuador in May. With half a million people it's the third largest city in the country and a very popular retirement spot for Americans because of the incredibly low cost of living and the year-round spring-like weather.

Cuenca, Ecuador
Cuenca as viewed from the top of one of the surrounding mountains

June – Amazon Basin Tour

In June ,we visited the easternmost part of Ecuador, part of the Amazon River basin. We stayed at a beautiful lodge in the jungle for a few nights, traveled on an Amazon tributary.

We even managed to see Banos, a town sitting on the side of a volcano that is famous for its thermal baths. Sadly, Dan missed a unique photo op: Only three days after we left, the volcano erupted.

Colorful fields of quinoa, a grain found in the mid highlands of the Andes mountains

July – back to the USA

In July we decided to return to the US to visit family, especially grandkids and Linda's 88-year-old mom. We enjoyed beach time in Naples, Florida, visited The Biltmore in Asheville, NC, and enjoyed time in Richmond and Petersburg, two Virginia towns with a lot of Civil War history.

Clam Pass, Naples, Florida
Ready for the beach at Clam Pass in Naples, Florida

August – Getting to know Cuenca, Ecuador

Back in Cuenca, we took time to get to know the mountain town better and improve our Spanish.

church and cobbled street in El Centro Cuenca EcuadorSeptember – Ingapirca ruins in Ecuador, Dublin and Southeast Ireland

September through November are major travel months for us. Before heading to Ireland for a press tour and conference, we took a tour of various Inca ruins near Cuenca.

Ingapirca, Ecuador
Main temple at Ingapirca, where the Incas worshiped their sun god

October – Northern Ireland, Germany, and a Mediterranean Cruise

After our conference we rented a car and drove north so we could spend some time touring Northern Ireland. Since we were already in Europe our friends Sven and Tina, who we'd first met in Israel, invited us to visit them in Cologne, Germany for a while.

We then flew to Rome, because we'd found an incredibly inexpensive cruise. It took us to cities in Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Greece. Dan's favorite stop was Burano, an island neighbor of Venice, because of its mega-colorful houses.

Burano, Italy
Burano after sunset still maintains its colorful beauty.

November – Sarasota Chalk Festival in Sarasota, Florida

November began with a few days in Athens, Greece, then a week of downtime at an apartment in Madrid.

We flew back via Lima, Peru, then to Guayaquil, and the immigration in Ecuador kicked us out because we had used up our days in country. So off to Florida to straighten out our visas and spend some time with Dan's family in Sarasota. If you're ever there in November be sure to see the annual Sarasota Chalk Festival.

Sarasota Chalk Festival
Artists start fresh after a night of rain during the Sarasota Chalk Festival.

December – Lights in Bloom at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida

Dan spent much of December going through old photos, while Linda worked on various computer issues and social media.

Our last bit of travel was Lights In Bloom, another annual Sarasota event. This one was held at Selby Gardens. The entire botanical garden is open from 6-9 pm and is ablaze with colorful lighted flowers, butterflies and more. We also managed to visit the gardens during its normal daytime hours. They specialize in epiphytes so they have a world-class collection of orchids, bromeliads, and other air plants.

Lights in Bloom at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota Florida
Lights in Bloom at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota Florida

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Written by Dan

Professional photographer specializing in street, food and travel shots at As We Saw It travel blog. Enjoys catching children at play, showing their innocence in every situation … we all can learn that, to be content with what our Father in heaven has provided. Photography is unique in that it captures light in all forms, and since the Bible says YHVH (God) is light, photography captures Him in many forms.

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13 thoughts on “A Travel Filled Life Brings Blessings and Nightmares

  1. I already visited Ireland but Eduador is only a dream.
    I want to see the ruins there they could remind me of my previous live there.
    I need to know if I can visit Ecuador now in the spring or I better wait for the summer?

    1. Spring is definitely better. If you plan to visit the mountains in June, July or August you will need warm clothing. It’s winter in South America and the cold winds travel up into the Andes.

  2. What a fabulous year! I envy your travels, but don’t know how you do it. When I travel I lose myself and forget what day it is let alone getting a blog post out! I don’t know how you do it, but glad you do 🙂

    1. Yeah, that’s the challenge: if I wait until I get home I forget some things but if I write as I go I miss others. The photos are a good memory-jogger and we try to schedule down time. We spent a week in Madrid before we left Europe and spent so much time working we didn’t tour a thing!

  3. what a fantastic 2013 you had! Unfortunately, mine was full of trials and tough times, so I couldn’t travel much and didn’t even feel like writing a 2013 recap on my blog 🙁 I have high hopes for 2014, though! Many blessings in the new year btw.

    -Maria Alexandra

  4. Ooh even though we’ve had chances to see ruins, we have yet to. That on in Ecuador is quite beautiful! The Amazon basin looks so pretty, what a bummer not to get a photo! Anyways, looks like a very fun year! Cheers to an exciting 2014 🙂

    1. Cheers to you having a good 2014 as well. 🙂

      We do have a lot of photos of the Amazon basin but I could only put one photo per month in our post. If you’d like to see them, they’re in our Ecuador photo gallery. Most of the albums are from our Amazon tour.

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