With our recent three-week trip to Panama still fresh on my mind, I am sorting through some 1,500 photos. The best part about travel photos is that they remind you of moments from your trip that you might otherwise forget, and so I’m recalling the day-by-day highlights (and a few lowlights).
- Howler monkeys waking us at dawn with their whoops and roars.
- Plunging into the gorgeous pool at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort after a long, sweaty hike.
- Watching a stately tall ship sailing up the canal.
- Awe-inspiring tropical rainstorms that pound the roof and create torrents on the streets.
- Feeling the whoosh of a hummingbird’s wings as it flies by your ear.
- Bobbing in the warm waves off your own deserted beach at Playa Blanca.
- A long, slender, brilliantly green snake visiting us on our hotel balcony at Morillo Beach.
- Cheering for tiny baby turtles as they struggle across the sand to reach the sea.
- Ripe papayas, bananas, pineapple, and passionfruit for breakfast.
- Hiking jungle trails at dawn when everything is still dark and silent and the bugs haven’t yet arrived.
- Nutella cheesecake and glorious local Kotowa chocolates in Boquete.
- Seeing the flashes and rumbles of distant thunderstorms in the surrounding hills as you lounge in the mountainside pool at La Brisa del Diablo.
- Superb dinners at La Brisa prepared by Olga.
- Stripping down to your underwear to swim in an emerald crystal river because you didn’t bring a swimsuit and it’s so incredibly hot and you can’t resist and there’s no one else there anyway, so why not?
- Witnessing the life-and-death battle of a hawk and black snake played out just a few feet from the road.
- Tiny frog on the path, smaller than my pinkie fingernail, and giant cane toads bigger than grapefruits sharing our pool at The Golden Frog Inn.
- The excited nightwatchman at our inn calling us over to show us a sloth climbing (very slowly) along the power lines.
- French pastries at the St Honore bakery near Gamboa.
- Flocks of gregarious and noisy parrots and parakeets congregating at their night roosts each evening.
- Enjoying the technological majesty of the Panama Canal locks at close quarters.
- Not stepping on a miniscule snake along the trail, a snake that I first thought was a big worm until it slithered away rapidly in typically snake style.
- Mosquito bites on top of “chagira” bites on top of other bites. I don’t know what those chagiras are, but despite their size (a pinprick), they bite like horseflies and leave blood, swelling, and maddening itchiness behind. Oh, and did I mention the ticks? Yes, it’s a jungle out there.
- Traffic around Panama City. Unbelievable. Multiple lines of cars, buses, taxis, trucks, and motorcycles fighting to move forward a few feet. The only guidelines seem to be: try not to hit anything or anyone. Beyond that, anything goes.
- Potholes. The main roads are mostly good, with just the occasional pit to keep you on your toes, but some of the side roads are more holes than flat surfaces.
- Losing my monopod. Sigh. In the excitement of trying to photograph a mixed flock of birds, I must have dropped my monopod and forgot to pick it up. It’s probably still lying in the grass at the road side.
- Mexico City airport security confiscating the tiny Allen wrench from my photography kit. This was a piece of metal about two inches long and half as thick as a pencil. It has passed through many previous security scans without comment. “No pasa,” the guard said sternly. Mark commented later that they were clearly afraid I was going to attempt to disassemble the plane.