jungle land panama – a family adventure not soon forgotten

Family Friendly Ecolodge Panama

‘ It’s not a hotel, it’s a BOATel ! ‘ shouted my kids as we arrived at Jungle Land, Panama.

I stumbled across this unique local while researching family-friendly ecolodges close to Panama City. For most of them, either my kids were too young to visit, or, as was the case with the better known Gamboa Rainforest Resort, I just couldn’t fork out the money for a place with only lukewarm reviews. Jungle Land’s reviews, on the other hand, were great. Now I am going to say that Jungle Land is not exactly what I would call an ecolodge, it is more of a jungle entertainment experience, action packed with viewings (some staged) of monkeys, toucans, caimains, snakes and more, on Captain Carl’s barge turned floating hotel.  See little video or read on.

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bocas del toro with kids – la loma jungle lodge & chocolate farm

After watching one too many documentaries, we announced to our kids that despite their pleading we would never do a ‘dolphin experience’ or visit Sea World.  We explained, however, that if we were lucky, we might have the opportunity to one day see dolphins in the wild. Well, this magical moment came recently for us on a snorkeling excursion arranged by our hosts at a family friendly eco lodge on Isla Bastimentos in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm, Panama

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creative family travelers – the people who inspire me

airplane travel with kidsOn a sleepless 26 hour economy class jaunt from Panama City to our home in Vancouver, Canada, I had the opportunity to make a few observations. I realized that I am infinitely inspired by other traveling families and am also curious about what tricks they may have up their sleeves to keep their babies, toddlers and young children both comforted and entertained.  I would love to share with you some of their creative approaches.

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teaching children through travel – the aggressive panhandler

In the small Panamanian town of Boquete last night, my husband decided to give our young children an impromptu lesson in saying no to drugs.
Boquete with kids

While killing some time before dinner, we decided to let the kids burn off a little energy in the town square. While they ran circles around the large cactus in the middle, my husband and I were approached by a rather aggressive panhandler who was determined to squeeze a little cash from the new faces in town. So as not to alarm the kids we decided to move on from the square.

About an hour later, my son asked ’Dad, was that man drunk?‘.

My husband replied, ‘Well, I think he was a little more than drunk. He may have been sniffing glue or something’.

Fantastic, I thought….here we go.

‘What do you mean sniffing glue dad?’ both kids replied in unison (my daughter also intrigued).

My husband proceeded to go into great detail about how one might go about sniffing glue, gasoline or other noxious substance to two wide eyed children.

My husband and I sometimes have very different approaches to child rearing (my mother used to accuse me of living in a ‘Polyanna world’).  During his diatribe I tried to stop him with the international hand signal for ‘cut’  (or is it ‘off with your head’?), but he was not to be deterred.  My children were equally engaged, asking reasonable questions such as ‘How much would the glue cost?’ and ‘Where would they get the glue?’.  Sensing my horror, they would periodically reassure me by saying ‘It’s okay mom, we’re never going to do this. We just want to know’.

For better or worse, as I write this, my little angels are sleeping in the next room, and are about to awaken a little wiser to the ways of the world.