Wednesday 16 October 2013

Day 4 - birds, beasts and a hike

Still jet lagged and after an early night, our 5:30 alarm was easy as pie and we lay in bed for a while listening as the night sounds gave way to the daylight ones. Then it was up, dressed and down to breakfast before discovering what Eliecer had in store for us today.

Our morning outing took us over to La Mesa which was a combination of secondary rainforest, cleared pasture and land starting to be reclaimed by the rainforest yet again. This mix of terrain made it particularly good for spotting a wide variety of birds and animals.

We started off in rainforest similar to what we'd been in the day before (second growth), and almost immediately we started spotting small birds.


And butterflies


Then all of a sudden, we came out into an area that had been cleared and was now mostly pasture.


Things still had a tendency to grow, whether you liked it or not. Like fence posts


It was here that we saw a number of the birds of prey, including a tree full of vultures.


And more butterflies than you could shake a stick at


After that we got back into the forest proper, and spotted more hummingbirds


Then it was back to the Lodge for lunch and a bit of a rest before our afternoon outing. Rather than something strictly dedicated to bird/wildlife spotting, we asked for a hike, and Eliecer recommended a relatively short trail that would take us up to the rim overlooking the valley. We thought this sounded a treat so it was off through town to the trail head leading to La India Dormida (The Sleeping Indian Woman), named for the outline of what the locals think looks like a sleeping woman. 

Over and through secondary rainforest, it was quite steep at times (including a decent bit of scrambling), but worth it, not only for the waterfalls that we came across intermittently on our way up,


And even some pre-historical petrogyphs


but also for the stunning views from the top that indeed showed us the entire valley almost at a glance.


It was particularly picturesque as the clouds started rolling across the hills.

IMGP5423.jpgAside from being beautiful to look at, we soon learned that this also meant that some of those clouds were bringing rain, and given the hour we also needed to get off the mountain before dark. So with one last glance at the 

We made it about half way down before the heavens opened and our ponchos got their second use of the trip. Still, in the twilight under the canopy with the rain bucketing down, it was rather a more challenging descent than we anticipated, but we made it with a good 15 minutes of light to spare. Just in the nick of time. We even managed to spot a frog (smooth sided toad) by the side of the path that we would never have seen had it not been for the rain. And after all there is something rather fitting about ending a hike in the tropics being soaked by warm rain.

It helped that we didn't have to be wet all that long either, since it was a quick ride back to the Lodge for dry clothes and another tasty dinner awaiting us. 

In our discussion with Eliecer on our hike, we had learned that Panama was playing the US in the regional World Cup finals that night. Having seen a sports bar on our way through town, we made plans to head down there and watch the match with the locals, thinking that would be rather fun. Unfortunately, the sports bar didn't appear to be open. Something to do with the fact they closed when the weather was bad (?!?). So while it was a good idea in theory, didn't quite pan out in practice. 

It turned out to be just as well, because being well fed, well exercised and with the sound of rain, we found our eyelids drooping sooner than expected. Not having anything else pressing to do, we figured if we were sleepy, it must be bedtime regardless of what the clock said - after all, that's the luxury of being on holiday. This time, the night sounds didn't even register.

(as always, these are only a selection of the pictures I took on the day. For the rest of the set, head over to my flickr page. You can also see Stephen's pictures too here.)

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