In order to take full advantage of my time in Panama, I have been taking fun trips in my down time in addition to working for Keteka.  For one of these trips I headed up to El Valle de Anton, a quiet resort town nestled in the mountains, two hours outside of Panama City.  The town in surrounded by beautiful forested peaks, with tons of great hiking opportunities.

The best of which, I have heard, is the hike up the India Dormida mountain (which literally translates to “the sleeping Indian woman”).  I asked a local guide where the name comes from and he told me that legend has it that an indigenous woman fell in love with a Spanish conquistador, but he spurned her so she went up into the mountain and went to sleep for eternity, and that the peak of the mountain then took on the shape of a sleeping woman.  The shaky geology of that aside, I find it a bit odd that with the conquistadors essentially raping and pillaging their way through a continent, that a lot of the local women would really be feeling left out.

Weird legends aside, I was really excited to go on some hikes up the mountains and a break from the oppressive heat and humidity of the city.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the downpour that we received for the whole day and a half that I was there. I was able to get in a good morning canopy tour and zip-line adventure, before the rain really set in.  Well, to be fair, I was able to get in half of a canopy tour before the sky opened up.  At first it was just drizzling, which actually feels pretty cool as you zip from one platform to the next, and the tree cover at the platforms offers a fair amount of rain coverage.  It was right before the longest line that it really started coming down; the line where they have an extra rope attached to you to let the guides help you brake in the middle so that you can look up at this impressive waterfall (its actual name is “El Macho”, which in common American parlance translates to “The Macho”).  This meant that I zipped out to the middle of the line then was stopped to admire the waterfall, in the middle of a full on deluge.  It did have the cool effect of making me feel like I was actually in the waterfall, so I definitely got more of a full sensory experience than the usual visitor. Zipline in El Valle

Showing off a bit of man thigh in the rain

By the time I got done with the canopy tour I was soaked through, so I figured there was nothing to lose and took a quick walk around the rope bridges.  This would have been pretty forgettable, had the guides not offered me a walking stick to take with me.  Which, while the path was super easy, I of course took, since as a rule of thumb you never turn down a sweet walking stick.  There are tons of fun things you can do with them as long as you’re not encumbered with things like maturity, and fear of looking ridiculous.  With my bear, the wizard staff sized stick they gave me, and the sweet rope bridge I crossed, how could I resist reenacting Lord of the Rings.   All in all my trip was a lot of fun, though I should probably stop planning trips places during their rainy seasons.

Stephen Channels his Inner Gandalf