Mia Weighs In

Finally the long awaited and much antici……..pated post from Mia. Although we have had it for some time it’s taken this long to get it on the site because we have been computerless for over two months. Here it is then and what a lovely compliment she has paid Heather and me. We don’t have kids ourselves and although we seem to get on pretty well with our friends kids there is always that nagging doubt that the memory of a great relationship some time ago was either a freak event or that in the intervening time said young person will have grown past us. In the event all was just fine and we had a great time with Mia and her sister Frankie but it seems that it’s not just the oldies that were harbouring feelings of angst pre-visit.
Tesoro Verde by Mia
As a teenager I am naturally afraid of leaving the warm and internet-connected confines of my bedroom and therefore, I, as the cool and experienced individual I am – 13 and a half whole years of walking this planet – was reluctant to venture half way across the globe, away from familiarity, friends and my idea of normality.
I was worried about many things: the bathroom (What were the ceiling-less showers going to be like? Would the water be clean to wash in?), the beds (Were they going to be too exposed? Too close to nature for my taste?), the climate(How much was the change from the standard 10° of the daily British overcast sky to the intense Panamanian sun going to affect me?) and the food (Was the food safe? Would I like it? On a similar note – was the water safe?).
However, I needn’t have worried. The bathroom had tall walls ensuring privacy and the water was beautifully clean and clear. Although it’s unlike the generic bathroom I and many others are used to, it’s beautifully built with idyllic feng-shui curves and rustic furnishings, and most certainly no harder to relax in whilst surrounded by the stunning rainforest. The little hut my bed was in is made of bamboo and is on a safety ensuring raised platform. The bed itself is surrounded by a mosquito net, somewhat providing security against the jungle as well as keeping all insects out. I had very good night’s sleep every day, despite being woken by howler monkeys most mornings earlier than one should even contemplate rising.

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The lovely bamboo huts for sleeping, surrounded by jungle and a protective mosquito net.

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The Howler Monkeys we were often woken by
The climate for my coldly accustomed body was hot at times, but was mainly manageable. We never did too much in the middle of the day and I always had the hammock, which I claimed on the very first day as a comfortable retreat, improved by my book and the beautiful view (obviously).

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MY hammock (with my sister in for some reason)
The food was absolutely delicious, with Heather and Jim both proving to be EXCELLENT cooks. One of my particular favourite meals was “Full Moon Pizza”. This is an event held at Tesoro Verde every full moon in Jim’s home built pizza oven, where Heather and Jim slave over preparing dough and toppings all day and invite friends along to share pizza with them. In the course of 2 hours, I believe I roughly had a slice of (at least) 12 pizzas, each one delicious and prepared and cooked unbelievably fast in the super-efficient oven.
Water was not an issue, as big 5 gallon bottles were provided and sufficiently quenched my thirst all holiday.
I had many crazy and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities whilst staying at Tesoro Verde. One of my favourite experiences was horse riding and snorkeling at Playa Blanca, a breathtaking secluded beach with excellent snorkeling and right next to the raw jungle. The horse ride was the right length and temperature and great fun – at one point we came almost face-to-face with a wild capuchin.
The snorkeling was great not only at Playa Blanca, but the Kuna island of Banedup in the San Blas.

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The stunning island of Banedup
During the course of just an hour in the water, roughly 100 meters off the shores of Banedup, we saw more fish than I could have ever imagined, and an abundance of beautifully coloured and vibrant fish that made the manky seaweed and grey fish of the UK look even more manky and grey. Some of my favourite sights under-water whilst snorkeling of Playa Blanca and Banedup were the Porcupine Fish, a Green Moray Eel and more starfish than I even knew existed.
Another great experience was our trip to Jungle Land, a floating hotel in the Panama Canal. The hotel was great to swim off and they had a platform especially to jump off which was hilarious. They offered many experiences as part of the stay. One of which was a “Night Safari” where we went hunting for crocs and caimans. As part of the trip we stopped at a little island where we had a bonfire and, after many minutes of looking we at last found and caught a baby crocodile to hold.

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The Floating Hotel that is Jungle Land

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The crocodile we caught on the “Night Safari”
On the next day of our stay at Jungle Land, my family went off fishing and caught numerous Perch whilst I stayed at the hotel and swam. Later that day, we went kayaking along the river to a waterfall that we could jump off and swim in the pool at the bottom – another hilarious and brilliant experience.
One of my favourite parts of the holiday was waking up to see a sloth up a tree right beside the hut. Throughout the stay we saw numerous sloths and after a few minutes of deliberation we have decided that they are the most chilled out animals, with their “whatever” persona and incredibly slow actions. Another highlight of the trip was meeting Dooger, a local tame sloth who was sadly being moved away the day after we went see him. Dooger was very cuddly and adorable and one animal I will never forget stroking.

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Dooger the Sloth
By the end of the holiday, my opinion on Panama had completely changed. It is one of the most exciting places I have ever been and certainly housed the most exuberant wildlife. The experiences I have listed, alongside many others (like zip lining 80 ft up through the jungle canopy and trekking through the rainforest) ultimately equated to a stunning and unforgettable holiday. Heather and Jim were excellent hosts and always ensured we had what we needed and looked after us brilliantly, as well as showing us the hotspots of the local area and showing us all the coolest stuff. Tesoro Verde was a beautiful place and truly was, a slice of green treasure.

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