Now we can do anything

Trip Start Jun 27, 2011
Trip End Jul 10, 2011

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Flag of Panama  , Chiriquí,
Saturday, July 2, 2011

    So I know I have ended with a somewhat
silly, everyday is an adventure and I kid you not that this day must
be the epitome of adventure. We love adventure, we like to be up and
about and do not rest well pool side easily for long. But believe me,
this adventure is one for the books. 
    We wake up to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains and enjoy the singing of birds and the screeching moo of cattle on the ranch. It seems so organic, it reminds me of when I was visiting my grandparents one summer. I leaned over to my grandmother in church and asked her if she considered purchasing cows so I could milk them before church started. Little did I know they were such rambunctious animals so early in the morning, no wonder my grandmother didn't want cattle:-) 
    Our guide, Orlando, who we met briefly the day previous, picks us up at 8 am for our
hike. We are dressed appropriately: sneakers, long pants that dry quickly, and mosquito repellent long sleeve shirts. We've packed our rain gear and an extra dry shirt in our backpack. The drive to the mountain is steep and we expect to climb and hike for a long part of
the day, with the reward being, a view of the Continental Divide. 
   We begin our trek over a metal swinging bridge. My first fear conquered, I am ready to hike.
Let me preface, Mark and I are not mountain climbers who rock climb and repel, but we enjoy a good gut busting hike. We climb to the top,especially because we love the views below. So we aren't novices by any means. This is also a wildlife and nature hike to view and
observe nature. Orlando, seems to sense that we feel natural hiking
and almost leads us on a full on sprint up the mountain. We help him
to set the pace and are enjoying the nature around us, although he
isn't telling us much and is calling for birds. At some point we give
up looking for the bird that everyone searches for, the quetzal. This
is the exact point I believe that our hike goes from hike to scaling
cliffs. We've passed through two or three streams and seen two
waterfalls. Ahead of us lays mud stricken paths covered with leaves
and sinking mud. Thank God we took those walking sticks he offered at
the beginning of the trip. Being troopers and not afraid of the
challenge we continue. About fifteen minutes later, I lose my balance
from all the mud on my shoes and tumble off a log crossing a large
muddy, swampy section. Mark thankfully catches me and we avoid being
mud drenched. And however exciting this trail is, it's slowly
becoming a nuisance to have to logically find every sturdy rock, log,
or mud that you won't sink into. 
     We persevere with
the hope that Orlando has told us that the meca of this trail, The
Continental Divide is merely a half hour away. Well after climbing
death valley and calculating about a half hours more worth of hiking
and the rain starting to pour on us, we then ask Orlando if we are
close. Another half hour to forty five minutes he replies. To which
we are seeing tiny waterfalls of water drop down the trail and he
also had pointed out only things that are poisonous and will kill us
that we decide, we can see the Continental Divide tomorrow during our
driving excursion with Hans. 
    Reluctantly Orlando
agrees to lead us back down the mountain which is twice as dangerous
going up. Oh I forgot to tell you, at this point I am almost head to
toe covered in mud. Mark is less scathed and only covered in mud on
his shoes and pants. I wish we took a picture because I kid you not
when I tell you that our shoes were caked so bad, you can't even tell
they are sneakers because the laces are mud. 
     The best part of
the adventure comes on the retreat back down hill. It was lightly
raining when we were battling our life to get down hill and judgment
told me, it was only light rain, it was cooling. When we reached half
way through on our slip and slide adventure down hill, the skied open
up. Our trail turned into Waterfalls with a few rocks exposed for us
to climb on. Covered in mud we laugh it up and continue, but you can
barely see. I know what I'm thinking, "what exactly did I get
myself into? And we certainly can not go out to dinner in town
looking like this." I also know what Mark was likely thinking
too, "I hope we are still married after this hike."
At some point I concede and put on
rain gear, I know, it wasn't going to do me any good except for the
fact that I am so freezing cold I cant barely stand it. After many
more slips, falls, and mud covered shoes, we make it to Orlando's
car. He gives us lunch which is lunch meat and has cheese that has
been sitting in his car on our hike. Mark eats his and most of mine
as we sit in clothes soaked through our underwear with the air
conditioner blowing at full speed. We should have known to pack a
second pair of clothes to leave in the car, we certain now have
learned about preparedness.
We make a long excursion in Orlando's
car to the coffee farm. Which by no means is commercial. It's this
little Chinese man with fairly primitive ways of roasting, growing
and grinding. Not what I was expecting, but inventive and unique. We
learn all about coffee from "what Orlando knows" (You'll
understand the quotes later). We climb back in the car and drive to
what Orlando is calling our 4 x4 adventure. We see a neat rock
formation, because that's about all there is to see on this 'cloud
forest tour' they have convinced us to add to the end of our trip.
Also, we stop at a local strawberry shop and eat strawberries and
chocolate, which I now suspect is how we ended up getting so sick.
Finally, Orlando brings us into town
as a full on monsoon comes through. Mark goes and purchases a few
things from the grocery store because we look like wet, muddy dogs,
we are certain no restaurant is going to want to seat us. We also
pick up a pizza from a local shop (another thing they certainly
haven't mastered) and head for home, tired, cold and mud soaked. We
realize we need to salvage our shoes for the next few days when we
are going horse back riding and exploring through town. The fact that
we washed our clothes and shoes in the shower and then proceeded to
dry them with the hair dryer is certainly the best use of our
scouting experiences.

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