The wake up call for 5:30 woke us up. I tried to call my brother Jay, but got a busy signal.
I jumped in the shower, and then got dressed for the port. I wore my swim suit underneath my shorts. I wore cargo shorts which were nice to store money, cards and passport in various pockets. Helen also got ready.
We headed down to Truffles for breakfast. I had my usual eggs over easy, hash browns, sausage links and white toast.
We then went back up to our cabin to get our stuff, then headed to Jay’s cabin to hook up with them. Then the whole group of us head down towards Deck A to wait to go ashore. We arrived a little later then we thought we would, so then we hurried to shore. We had a handful of men asking us if we were interested in tours. We kept walking telling them we already had a tour planned with Mario. One of them said that he was with Mario, but we didn’t know whether to believe him, and we kept going to the prearranged meeting place. We did find someone that was with Mario of MyFriendMario.com, and he had a list with our names. They said we were early. Apparently there was some confusion between Panama time and ship time. So we went into the one store that was open. They had a lot of various souvenir stuff. Most of it would just get shoved into a box when we got home. They had some interesting paintings, but we didn’t want to be carrying a painting around for the rest of the day. We would come back after the excursion. Eventually people were gathering out front for Mario’s tour and we went back out. But it turned out not to be our tour. But another shop had opened, and we went in. We weren’t in there very long before we became aware that the Mario tour we were signed up with was looking for us, so we went back out. We were led to a small shuttle bus and we got on. It was air conditioned which was nice. Before long we were ready to go.
Lori our tour guide was very knowledgeable. She pointed out many things, and gave us various history along the way. The first stop was to be the waterfall and swimming, followed by the Indian village, and then Gatun Locks.

The bus arrived near the edge of a small lake. There were some long dugout canoes with outboard motors on the back. Then some Indians showed up dressed in their traditional outfits. While we were waiting to go, we noticed a lot of vultures hanging around the water’s edge. We also got to meet Mario who was very nice. Soon we were loaded into the boats, and we were ready to go. We cruised along the water, and soon were going up a wide and winding river. As we went the river got narrower and narrower. The scenery was great. We saw various birds including egrets. We also saw two caymans. As we got farther up river, the water got more shallow. In some places a few of us got out and helped push the boat over the gravel bottom. The water was nice, and this was fun.

Eventually we pulled into shore. We got out of the boats, and stripped off the life vests. Mario was taking people in one direction while one of the Indians waved us towards another path. We followed him. He moved quickly along the path with bare feet. All of the Indians were barefoot. Never talking, he took us along the path. I asked the Indian guide a question, but he never answered. I am not sure if he didn’t hear me, or if he didn’t speak English. We ended up at a small pool below a waterfall. I was waiting to find out what we were going to do, when I found out that this was the swimming hole. I stripped off my shorts, sandals and shirt, and was first in. The water was great. Soon Jay and the others were in, all except my wife Helen. Her shoulder/neck was hurting her from an injury that happened a couple weeks before our vacation. She stood on the side and took pictures. I laid back under the waterfall, and it felt nice. After a while I climbed the waterfall. I am not used to climbing rocks in bare feet and it was slow going. There were a couple more pools of water up above. After a while, people had migrated from the water and we were told we need to get going. So we hiked back to boats. We had some great conversation with Lori who came to Panama from Britain at a young age.

We got back into the boats, and headed back down the river. We stopped at a place we had passed on the way up. This was the Embera-Tusipono Village. There were a host of Indians there waiting to greet us. The men wore loin cloth type things, and the many of the woman wore no tops. Some of the people had painted themselves, or drawn designs on themselves. They played music for us, and the children danced. The first thing we were shown were some crafts they had made. I was drawn to some the wood carvings done from Cocobolo wood. There was great carving of a bird grabbing a lizard. There prices weren’t marked. I asked and was told that piece cost $150. I was told they would negotiate, but I only had a little over $50 and knew they wouldn’t come down that much. We were called over to another building where we were given fresh pineapple and watermelon. We sat down, and women gave us fried tilapia and something else fried in these cups made from folded leaves. The fish was great. I didn’t care for the other yellow fired stuff. We were given some history about how the tribe came to be here. It was all great. Then there was some dancing. Indians were pulling some of the visitors out on into the dance. I teased my niece that this meant she was married now. I did buy another wood carving of an egret. This piece though smaller was still an outstanding piece of woodcraft. I wish I had had enough cash on me to buy the other larger piece, it was so nice.
Then we were loaded onto the boats and headed down river again. We didn’t go far, before we pulled into shore again. We got off the boats, and my brother slipped and sunk his foot into the mud. Then we loaded onto the buses, and continued on our way.

The guides gave us beers, cokes, and bottled water. Now we were on our way to the Gatun Locks. Again Lori gave us tons of info and answered our questions. When she told us that cashews grow freely here, we asked about them since they expensive in the US. They stopped the bus at a couple trees and pulled down some of the fruits to show us the cashew nuts. The red fruit smelled just a like a plum. Time seemed to be getting tight. We were very concerned about getting back to the ship by the 4:30pm all passengers on board time. Since we were not on a Carnival Excursion, we were concerned about them leaving without us.
We made it to the locks, and we got in quickly. We got to see two different boats being towed through the locks. Very cool.
We quickly loaded back on the bus, and hurried back to the boat. Unfortunately we didn’t have any time to shop. Helen and I hurried across the bridge. Jay and gang were searching for their Sign And Sail cards. Helen and I entered he boat, and waited for the rest make it. Jay and crew stopped to buy some tee-shirts. They showed up in short order. We found out later that the ship was late in departing due to some Carnival sponsored excursions being late in arriving.
Mario’s excursion was awesome. The only thing I would change, would be having us back to the ship with some time to spare. This was just cutting it way too close. Other than that, I would highly recommend Mario’s tour.
We all returned to our cabins to relax and get ready for dinner which was in about an hour.
We vegged for a bit, and then headed down for dinner. Dinner was good tonight, but nothing spectacular. After last night’s incredible meal, it would be hard to top. We were also told at dinner that we would be arriving 2 hours later tomorrow into Costa Rica, and that we would be leaving two hours later as well. I hope this doesn’t affect our zip-lining excursion (or Helen’s sloth and canoe tour).
After dinner, Helen and I returned to our cabin so she could take some ibuprofen. Then we headed down to the gift shop. They were giving away a diamond something or other. We didn’t win. They had some gems for sale for $10 a carat. They had Citrines, Topaz’s and Amethysts. Helen looked at them, but we didn’t buy any of them. We returned to our cabin. She took a nap, while I watched The Family Stone on TV, and typed my daily log.
At 9:30pm, I called my brother to find if they wanted to go to Billie’s Bar. He said one drink, so we met them down there. It took forever for a waitress to take our order. Then after giving our order, it took a long time to get our drinks. Then we had to wait to get the sign and sail slips. Meanwhile, the guy is playing stale oldies tonight. When he asked for requests, I yelled out Ben Folds, but he doesn’t play it for me. Maybe he doesn’t know Ben Folds. Tonight, I also yelled out Tori Amos, but that was shortly before left. Just before we left, Christin came down. Jay and Susie headed up to bed. Helen, Christin and I headed up to the lido deck for pizza and ice cream, before heading back to our rooms for bed.

Go to next days log