November 11, 2007

This morning it was a bit clearer and warmer. Paul got up about 6:30 am and went outside to look for birds. The hummingbirds were not up yet but the others were. Besides the usual residents there was a small flock of woodcreepers that came by. Rosemary was tired, so she dozed in the warm comfortable bed until about 8:30 am.

We had breakfast, and about 9:30 am Abel showed up to take us for a walk. He asked if we wanted to stay a second night in the cabin, and we said we would think about it. The cabin is a very nice place but there is not much to do there in the afternoon in the rain.

Today we were going to walk the Tres Cascadas trail, which should take about 90 minutes according to the sign. It started out by cabin #3 and went uphill quite steadily for a while. Abel had given us walking sticks, which came in very useful in some sections of the trail. After a while we reached a ridge, where there was a view down to the agricultural land in the valley, and then plunged down to another branch of the Rio Chiriquí Viejo. While following that branch of the river we had to cross it five times, sometimes on bridges but more often balancing on rocks or a fallen tree. Luckily at each crossing there was a cable to hold onto and with the help of the walking sticks we made it across each one successfully. At one of the crossings a Dipper flashed upstream as Rosemary was crossing.

The three cascades were very lovely and luckily for us the rain held off, in fact at one point we actually had sunshine. The trail ended on the road which we had driven up, so we only had a short distance to walk back to the cabin. When we got back there, we told Abel we had decided to return to the lodge, and asked him to come back at 1 pm to take us down there. We used the remnants of last night’s chicken to make sandwiches and ate most of the fruit we had brought up with us, and that took care of just about all our food. We packed our bags and did the dishes and a general tidy-up.

We bumped back down the rocky road in Abel’s truck, then put our packs back into the dormitories. It wasn’t really raining yet, so we decided to take a walk over to Cerro Punta, about 3 km away. We asked the desk clerk to confirm we knew the way, and he said there would be a lot of people there. The walk along the road was a gentle uphill through gardens and vegetable fields. Before long we could hear drums booming up ahead. As we got closer to the sound we could see it was a school band in the road. Beyond it there was another school band, then another. There must have been 20 or 30 bands altogether, from all over the province of Chiriquí. We worked our way along the side of the road past the parade, which stretched all the way into Cerro Punta.

In the middle of Cerro Punta there was what appeared to be a reviewing platform. Each band was to pass here, but the process was incredibly slow, so we decided to walk back towards Guadalupe, stopping along the way to listen to any band that was performing. The rain was now coming down in buckets. Luckily for us we had our plastic rain capes, but the band and drill-team members looked very wet and cold. And judging by the speed of the procession, they were going to be out there for hours. Later we found out that the parade was in honour of one of Panama’s independence days.

Back at the lodge we found we had company in the dormitories. In the hammocks outside them was a couple from New Zealand. We found out that they were planning on walking the Sendero Los Quetzales to Boquete tomorrow, so we compared notes with them. We got to thinking that we might do the trail after all, so with that thought in mind we went down to the grocery store and bought some bread, Gatorade, and sweet buns for our lunch. Whatever our decision would be tomorrow, we would still need a lunch.

After that we went to sit in the lounge to catch up on our journal writing. The lounge was quite warm today and also busy. The lounge is also a public bar, so there were several of the locals having a beer. Perhaps something to do with the independence celebrations. About 6:30 pm we decided to have dinner in the restaurant. Rosemary had the pork chop with roasted potatoes and vegetables, which tasted more like a ham chop but still delicious, and Paul had chicken in red wine sauce. During dinner we chatted with the couple from New Zealand. They were travelling through Latin America for 5 months and were nearing the end of their journey. We sat for quite a while after dinner talking about travel experiences, then went back to the dormitories.

When we left the restaurant it was not raining. And even more amazingly it wasn’t even cloudy and we could see the stars! Maybe a good sign for tomorrow. The dormitories were supposed to be men’s and women’s, but we did a swap so that each couple had their own private room. Before bed we got our packs organized for tomorrow’s hike.

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