Day 23 – Monkeying around

Day 23 – Monkeying around

I will apologize in advance for a longer than usual blog post but we have internet back and yesterday was EPIC! We started off with a 5am wake up call to take a 2 hour and 4 minute drive to Gamboa. Gamboa is primarily a natural reserve that has sprung up on the coast of the Panama Canal. It is there to protect the jungles and wildlife that border the canal from the potential ravages of being a global shipping hub.

That doesn’t mean they are above turning a profit and Gamboa includes animal sanctuaries that are open to the public and a beautiful hotel that overlooks Lake Gatun and the Canal itself. As seen from the first three pics the place was stunning and had us immediately pricing out our next vacation. The flora and fauna were rich and we spotted a Coatimundi on the drive to the parking lot. We were so excited that we couldn’t wait to hit the internet and learn more about our new furry friend. Imagine our deep chagrin upon learning that it was in fact the Panamanian version of a raccoon. To quote Connor “I got up at 5:00 so we could see a trash panda?”. The kid pulls no punches.

The van picked us up from the hotel and took us to our boat which would be our conveyance for a tour of the Canal and it’s unique ecosystem.

Needless to say there were many pics to take inside the Canal but these stood out for me.

First off that yellow tree is my spirit plant. It normally blooms in April forming a yellow canopy over the jungle but because of the rain some of them have blossomed early. What I take from the few that we are seeing pretty much sums up what I have learned from this world. Bloom when you can because there is no guarantee that it will still be raining in April and go ahead and be yellow when everyone around you is green.

The pictures also don’t do justice to the sheer size of the ships that float lazily through the canal. I honestly thought Bigger Boat was some crazy apartment complex until it came fully into view. It is hilarious to see the tiny tugs pushing them along and the massive cranes needed to unload them. Tons of history in the Canal as well but that crazy giant crane was actually spoils of WW2, taken from Germany and sold to Panama for the low low price of 1$ (I’m assuming some cigars and hats were also demanded but 1$ is the list price). They are about to retire it and make it into a museum since then newer models are capable of the same lift with a more discreet profile.

The Canal was also teaming with wildlife. Some, like the crocodiles were easy to spot others harder. We actually saw several crocs which in no way deterred my son and niece from dragging their hands through the river. Some of them were much harder to find like the Tucan in the trees. This pic was courtesy of Rita and was the best any of us got. No amount of praying could get the Jesus lizard to do his famous run across the water (which is where they got their names).

The Capuchins were a different story. They were very conditioned to come when called to enjoy the free buffet of grapes and bananas the tour guides bring. These guys were happy to hop on board and say hi. I accidentally recorded him in slow motion which actually looks very cool though we lost resolution getting it to the blog.

Final stop was the sloth sanctuary. I think it is worth mentioning that sloths are not lazy that is just a harsh label given by a cold and unfeeling world. They have a very slow metabolism and are saving their energy for important things like their once weekly bathroom trips down the trees. Turns out Sloths are also a popular target for poachers; and the sanctuary is much needed with a primary function of raising orphaned babies and returning them to the wild.

They had frogs that were clearly named by Panamanians. Despite the warnings implicit in the names we still had to stop the kids from licking them. Chalk that one up to exhaustion.

A quick post sloth lunch and we were off on the 2 hour drive back to our rental. You know I am getting comfortable here because it was a struggle to stay awake despite the rolling hills and beautiful scenery, but we arrived safely home to nap and fortify ourselves for our next adventure.

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