Where does one find love this Valentine’s Day or any day for that matter, in the heart of Panama. Evidently, the producers of show The Bachelor think so too.
My husband and I celebrated his milestone birthday recently by going back to “his glorious roots,” Panama City, Panama, where he was born. He was only a newborn when his father was stationed in the Panama Canal zone so he doesn’t have memories from this time but we had fun visiting where he and his family had connections and created some new reflections on a modernized Panama.
We started our trip in the heart of the Gamboa Rainforest at the Gamboa Resort – pretty nice and really the only place to stay on the Chagres River right at the point where it cuts into the Panama Canal. From our observatory perch from the jungle tram, we were able to see many cruise liners, tankers and various other sea-faring vessels pass through the Panama Canal. We learned what a major engineering feat it was to build and how thousands of lives were lost in the process. Panama is currently widening the canal to further increase traffic and commerce.
We passed Noriega’s new home on the way there. He was our neighbor, just down the road from where we were staying.
We had to go over the railway which had been converted into a one-way bridge by covering the tracks with tar. Gamboa is a birder haven and they were everywhere, including in the jeep in front of us, going very slowly, scouting for rare birds.
In fact, there is plenty of wildlife from tropical fish to brilliantly colored birds, even toucan, which we did see flying from this view, and capuchin & howler monkeys to agouti (large rat-like squirrels), sloth & iguana in trees and caimen (small alligator) and crocodiles, which swim freely in the river.
Click this link to see ways you can stay healthy with the Panamanian lifestyle and diet, with the abundance of fresh fruit and good food that we enjoyed.
My favorite nature encounter was a toss up between seeing actual blue morpho butterflies in flight and leaf cutting ants at work. I love the blue morpho; it’s my company’s logo. I have painted them and I have mounted ones to remind me how beautiful they are but nothing truly captures them in person. The list of varieties of butterflies in Panama is endless.
Then there are the leaf cutting, worker ants that we came upon while walking on a forbidden trail — without a guide, “because it can be peligroso – dangerous.” Well, oops…good thing we didn’t venture too far on another path at night. We actually got scared to go further on that one after we saw bats and thought we hear growling. There are jaguars in the jungle here.
We did however, wander upon a two-toed sloth which was very close to us near the ground. He saw us and then he started slowly but faster than you think a sloth could go right back up the to the top of the tree. We later found out that two-toed sloths can be very dangerous and they only come down from the tree about once a week to do their business….Poor guy. I’m sure we left him in a bad fix.
I could go on and on about this trip but I just want to give you a few more highlights with pictures and suggest that the secrets that we discovered in Panama may no longer be secrets now that The Bachelor was filmed right where we were for last week’s episode. They stayed at the Trump tower (see the last couple of posts). It was uncanny seeing on TV the same indigenous Embera tribal village that we visited in the jungle and even the same Las Clementinas restaurant that I thought would be lovely to return to, for it reminds me of New Orleans and is also a B&B. We had the best food of our trip there and the most friendly service. Our waiter even knew Peter’s godfather in Panama. Here’s the nutshell of our remaining Panama trip (without even cracking the full nut) in pictures.
On our tour back in the city we got to see where Peter was baptized as well as a day in the life of living in the San Felipe or Casco Viejo, old city of Panama.
It was hot while we were there — about 87 – 90+ degrees and humid in the rainforest. We were forced to cool off — many times and Balboa was our refreshment of choice.
You can’t beat the sunsets in Panama, particularly poolside.
I’ll leave off where I began with a look at Panama City — our final view before leaving — until we return for it’s a romantic spot to leave your heart in Panama.