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Games and stakes in playgrounds

Games and stakes in playgrounds

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After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!

Posted by Flo et Romain on November 10 2015, 02:13am

Categories: #Ecuador, #Panama

After our 12 incredible days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we're back on the South American continent ... but not for long! We first went to Mindo, in Ecuador and where we could swim in the (very cold) river in the middle of tropical forest, but also learn how chocolate is made.

After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that grow on the trees. These trees grow in large quantities in Ecuador because there is the right temperature throughout the year. Besides, long ago, the cocoa beans were used as currency.

The trees have flowers, and if those flowers are pollinated (by bees or other insects) then they turn into fruits (beans). If not, they die. One tree can yield up to 40 fruits every 20 days. Each fruit contains about 50 beans.

Once the fruit harvested, they are dried in the sun, roasted, cleaned of their "outer skin" (too bitter) and then crushed. (These steps take between 10 and 20 days, depending on the humidity of the place). When the beans are crushed, you can either extract the cocoa butter (which is used to make white chocolate but also beauty products) and recover cocoa paste (used to make dark chocolate) or melt it directly and add sugar ... and then you get a perfect chocolate for cakes ... !! We tasted the brownies and they were delicious!

After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!

We ended our Ecuador trip in Quito (a city we did not visit because of the rain) ... and we went through "Mitad del Mundo". This city represents the "Middle of the World" because that's where the equator passes. A monument was built to symbolize "the middle of the world" that had been calculated by the Incas ... but the GPS coordinates have shown that there is a gap of 300 meters with reality.

And now, South America is over for this time, we are now going to Panama (just 3 days) before going to Costa Rica.

After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!

After a night in transit at Bogota airport, we finally arrived in Panama city ... And even if we were only passing through, we took the opportunity to visit the locks of the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal connects the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean; Today it is a maritime route used by 14,000 ships a year. But this channel was built by men, and this is one of the most challenging projects ever undertaken. These are the French, who, in 1880, embarked on this crazy project to link the two oceans. Facing diseases (mainly malaria and yellow fever), landslides that have claimed the lives of many men and after 20 years of hard work in harsh conditions, the French had to leave ... It was only at the beginning of the 1900s that Americans have taken this crazy project again... and this time they succeeded. The canal was opened in 1914! Only "snag", the Americans imposed their authority on the channel, "colonizing" part of Panama. A treaty was signed between the two countries in 1977 to restore full sovereignty in Panama but it was not until December 31, 1999 that Panama has officially obtained the right to manage the channel.

We saw a boat crossing 2 of 6 locks that are on the channel. As the boats are becoming larger, they “just” fit in the lock and are helped by locomotives that allow them to stay in the center and brake (as the boats use their own propulsion). The longest part it is to bring the boat inside the lock as it takes only 8 minutes to empty the room. Moreover, they are emptied and filled through the principle of gravity so it is environment-friendly ;-) !!

After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!

It was interesting to see how the channel works (a boat takes 8 to 10 hours to cross 77 km of the canal) and we ended up in by going to see "the place of French" (commemorating the French having undertook the construction of the canal) and enjoying a good ceviche with scampi (prawns marinated with onions and lemon) !!!

Now we’re going to Costa Rica until November 26 ... (Hopefully customs make stamps in the corners of pages (not in the middle) as our passports are almost full)

After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!After the Galapagos: few days in Ecuador and Panama before going to Costa Rica!
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