Chapter 1:  Farewell

Budget backpacking has distinct advantages over upscale forms of travel…budget travelers put currency directly into the hands of the villagers and develop friendships with individuals of all stripes. This amounts to community-based tourism. Not content just to sightsee, we expected to integrate, live as the locals did, have real-life experiences that would enhance our understanding of the culture.

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Chapter 2: Baby Steps

...“hot” showers are achieved courtesy of a contraption colloquially known as a “suicide shower.”

Chapter  3:  Parismina

As part of a hands-on biology lesson for Jocelyn and Natalie, we devoted three weeks to assisting an organization called ASTOP (Asociación Salvemos las Tortugas de Parismina) in saving endangered sea turtles.

Chapter  4: Tortuguero

At the end of their outstretched arms, we spotted lizards, iguanas, frogs, lanky spiders spread-eagled in webs between trees, as well as parrots and butterflies, including the famous blue morpho. Out on the main tributary, the brothers pointed out branches swaying in the treetops, indicating the presence of one of the three species of monkey: spider, howler, and white-faced capuchin.

Chapter 5: Puerto Viejo

With my Spanish still mediocre, I unwittingly invited my whole family to spend one night with Abril, Ignacio, and their five children in the KeKoldi Indigenous Reserve.

Chapter  6:

Entering Panama

On my darkest nights back in Canada when I entertained thoughts about danger, I never imagined sidestepping tanker trucks by clinging to a bridge overlooking a rushing river.

Chapter   7: Panama City

Stationed at a strategic international crossroad, Panama City is, hands
down, one of the most geographically privileged metropolises in the world.

Chapter   8:  Jacó,

Costa Rica

For three months we lived rough, camping and learning about the locals’
way of life.

Chapter   9: Settling Down

The itinerary we had roughed out over our dining room table back home came to an end in December. It was time to settle down and stretch our dollars and learn to live like the locals.

Chapter  10: Summer Vacation - Back to Panama

...it seemed tricky at first, but after shambling down a steep hill for twenty minutes, crossing a wobbly rope bridge, slipping and sliding uphill over muddy terrain for about fifty meters, crossing a stream by way of a log, then turning left at the goat...

Chapter 11:

Winding Down

Near the end of the rainy season, Natalie developed recurrent fevers that waxed and waned for about ten days and that I initially dismissed as a simple virus.

Chapter 12: Nicaragua

We were slack jawed at people riding on top of tractor trailers, holding down tarps and eating their lunch as the truck hurtled down the highway

Chapter 13: Honduras

Then we caught sight of a printed sign behind his seat that read, roughly translated: If you wish to vomit, please request a bag from the driver.

Chapter 14: Belize

The next day, for a lark, we went to Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce factory to study Belizean cultural practices, of course. The popular sauce, topping every restaurant table in the country, comes in the following flavors: Mild, Hot, Fiery Hot, Comatose, Beware, and No Wimps Allowed. We preferred Mild

Chapter 15: Guatemala

Star Wars fans get ready . . .

Chapter 16:

Back to Belize

Without question this was the best location on the island, and at thirty dollars a night for the four of us, a treasure.

Chapter 17: Mexico

Lloyd choked on a mouthful of beer when I warned him that drinking was expressly forbidden at the motel.

“What?”

“Didn’t you see the sign behind the reception desk?”

“No!”

Someone knocked on the door.

Chapter 18: Home

In taking our children on this adventure, we hoped to instill a lifelong interest in the miracle of planet Earth.

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Observing a pizote