Showing posts from October, 2013

Embera Children Playing In The Rain

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children are the mirror for the soul of a culture. Wherever I travel, observing children supplies me with more information about a place than any guidebook. The Embera are one of 7 indigenous cultures in Panama and they maintain traditional villages with raised, thatched-roof huts with no walls. Peeking out from one of the huts, I watched children play in the rain. No adult cautioned them or called them into a hut, as they squealed with the delight of feeling the raindrops splatter on their little bodies. The joy and unrestricted freedom to play and explore (We caught a few peering through a hole in the village outhouse as we took turns using rain forest facilities.) that these children expressed reveals a lot about Embera culture. They are clearly valued and encouraged to discover the world around them. Although the children only spoke their native dialect, they communicated their happiness to me very strongly.

A Galena Getaway

I love exploring the globe and experiencing different cultures but sometimes, a different world can be discovered just a few miles outside of your home. Galena, Illinois is only a few hours drive from my home but it offers another lifestyle of laid back, small town, living. A charming spot in Northwest Illinois known for 18th century architecture and as the hometown of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, Galena is just plain pretty. Covered with rolling hills, green valleys and bluffs, I seem to relax as soon as I step onto the cobblestone streets. Voted one of the ten best small towns in America by Forbes  magazine, Galena was also named the second friendliest city in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler and I understand exactly why. It may be a cliche but small towns really do nurture caring and helpful attitudes. My favorite place to stay in Galena is Cloran Mansion Bed & Breakfast and the owners, Cheryl and Carmine, are masters of Galena friendliness. Homemade cookies and an a

Visiting The Panama Canal

I confess, I'm not usually excited about visiting huge tourist attractions but the Panama Canal proved the exception for me. Everybody heads to the site whenever they touch down in Panama and now I understand why. Viewing one of the most difficult engineering feats ever established is an awesome sight up close. The experience begins with a stop by the Miraflores Visitors Center, which supplies four floors of extensive history and interactive displays about the Panama Canal. Miraflores Locks is the tallest of the three sets of Panama Canal Locks, measuring over a mile long.The Panama Canal unfolds for 48 miles between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans so you can only view a portion of it at Miraflores Locks but it's still a jaw-dropping sight. Looking down from the observation deck, I witnessed a ship enter the waterway. '  Gatun Lake forms part of the Panama Canal, carrying ships across the Isthmus of Panama. I watched as the canal gates gradually opened and c