Saturday, January 19, 2013


"I want to see animals, at least one day in Panama, I want to see animals"

That's what my baby told me and what my baby wants my baby .. er .. um ... OK well this she could get.

Our fifth day in Panama saw us return to the Lake Gatun area. This lake was created in the 1900's by damning the Charges River .  It was originally a valley and in the dry season, when the water level is low, in some places your boat drifts through the tops of trees. That was not the case when we were there but there are many mangrove islands of very thick rainforest, so dense it helps keep the water in its place.

These little islands did provide us with some life forms, very quickly we found this sloth take a nap up in the trees. Earlier when I did my zipline adventure we saw sloths in the rainforest but it was in very thick foliage, this one was right out on some bare branches.

Our next animal encounter was with this baby cayman sitting on a log with his mouth agape. He was either regulating his body temp, waiting to be fed, or yawning after watching an Antiques Roadshow marathon.

It was interesting, we were on this huge lake but the islands are so close together and so thick, the mangrove and trees so high, it felt more like the channels of the Charges River that we had been on the day before. It's kind of ironic; Panama is surrounded by three oceans but were spending most of our time on fresh water.

These animals were cute but hey, let's not be coy, we were going to Monkey Island. Spotting wildlife, even in protected sanctuaries, is never a sure thing. The monkies are protected here but it isn't a zoo, they're left to fend for themselves; they are not skittish of human intrusion but our guide informed us that they were unpredictable; some would come out for a bananna while others would go deeper into the brush. Luckily for us, a troop of howler monkies were having brunch as our boat drifted by

We also saw a couple of spider monkies. I am good with this monkies, they are fine wild citizens of the world. Unlike the Devil's monkey, the White Faced Capuchin monkey; I'm glad we did not see one of those, there was no priest on board to perform the exorcism

Before we returned to the mainland we were taken to a larger island for a lunch break. There were kayaks you could use and they set up a dock with rods and fishing tackle where it seemed easy to catch yourself a nice bass. We decided to explore the forest a little. This is what is termed as dry rainforest but we were just at the end of the rainy season; it was comfortable down by the water but as we went into the thick jungle the humidity crept up on us like a sentient weight.

Back ont the boat and back to the mainland. We get on a bus here for t he day's next visitation. As we waited to board, Collette found more wildlife, this time in the form of a few pelicans, there are lots of them in Panama and you often see them around the places where people convene, much like the iguana .. oh no, winged iguanas!

Our next stop in our quest for animals was the Summit Botanical Gardens and Zoo, just outside Panama City. It has some 300 animals but Collette were equally impressed by the grounds themselves. Not only were they well maintained, but they really showed off the deep biodiversity that this small country enjoys. Like these bamboo, which towered some 30 or 40 feet over our heads

When we had visited neighbouring Costa Rica years before, you couldn't move without coming across a croc. We had not found any in the wild of Panama so it was nice to visit one in the zoo .. and especially nice with a wall between us

If one does not find a croc beautiful, Collette took some other pics that may suit you better

And of course, she always seems to know hot to get zoo animals to give her just that perfect pose

It was time to go back to the resort. During our time in Panama the impact of the Canal is always obvious; for a while it virtually kept the country endentured as the Canal was run by the US and then a series of dictators. Now it is the nation's primary source of income. But there is more than that. The legacy of the Canal is seen in many ways. On our way back to the hotel we passed a huge cemetary, a monument to the Chinese workers who toiled and died to make the Canal. Every cross represent 100 Chinese workers who died building the Canal. There are other monuments of course, representing other peoples and other countries.

A good day, a long one, we were happy to get back to our hotel room only to find that the resort was enacting some kind of cost sharing program. Turns out we'd have to take on a new roomate ... Well, she wanted to see animals

A note on the video: Normally I use Vimeo to upload my videos then I embed them here. I like the quality of Vimeo and they never give me any bullshit about copywrite as Youtube is prone to do so. However, Vimeo has a weekly upload limit and these Panama videos are stretching it just a tad. So I used Youtube for this one. The quality still isn't where I want it and it may be pulled or limited due to copywrite, but at any rate here it is. As always, I reccomend viewing it full screen. Click on the gear at the bottom of the video window and set it to 720, I have no idea why this isn't the default, but that is the native quality

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