|Written by Matt|
|Saturday, 08 July 2006 19:33|
discount but it's like living with your parents: cozy, easy, and mindlessly humdrum. Balboa and I were looking for something a little different. We wanted to find someplace new and beautiful and excitingâ€”and we didn't want to travel too far. So we started off cruising along the Pacific coast, where the mountains and the forests and the sea are sexy.
The sign for El Parque Nacional Altos de Campana is deceptively small, veiled by overgrown weeds and droopy palm trees. We turned in without any expectations and the rap song on the radio got me all pumped up. I often like to sing along to rap songs, sometimesâ€”if I'm feeling particularly creativeâ€”inventing new verses and rhymes. Balboa was impressed when I improvised the following verse to a Talib Kweli bit:
Maid service and comfy beds are fine for a while, |
â€œYeah I like to go out to beaches
Las Palmas, you know.
Cheaters envy if I wanna get grimey wit' it at Coronado
Las Sirenas down in Gorgona.
And when I get there, I just sit back and chill.â€
â€œYou liked that one didn't you mister?â€ I asked him. He squealed in a way I can only describe as pure ecstasy. Then, with his little daggers of baby dog teeth, he nipped my elbow.
Soon the road became fairly steep and the views increasingly vast. We passed an old van which had deteriorated on the side of the roadâ€”beyond it some of the most beautiful scenery I've seen, outside of print media and nude beaches. If I was a van, I thought to myself, I would want to rot in a similar place. Junkyards are for common folk.
At the park ranger station there was a man who was shaped like a football. He showed Balboa and I through a few trails, pointing out several toucans and a hedge of Viagra fern. From an overlook, the boulder-studded mountains reminded me of Ireland or Iceland. This crazy mist had settled and my Nikkon captured it in that not-quite-as-good-as-actually-being-there way that cameras do. We thought the park was delightful, but we were hungry and appetite is very important to us.
At this dusty, loveable roadside cafÃ© I worked my way through a whole fried snapper which arrived with three neon green moon wedges of lime, Balboa sticking to milk and a saltine. We were having fun together, but we still hadn't found anything exceptional. Nothing special. Maybe there was no perfect little spot, we thought to ourselves. Maybe our search is useless and we should just go home and play Nintendo. â€œYou think we should continue?â€ I asked himâ€”a question that elicited a quick barklet before his canines sank sharply into my hip. â€œI'll take that as a yes.â€
In Gorgona, down a small, rocky road and over a rickety old bridge lay what appeared to be the perfect little beach: clear water, salt and pepper sand, and only a few wild horses chewing on a plant that resembled green barbed wire. I snatched my iPod and searched recklessly for a book I thought I had thrown in the back earlier, its nonexistence forcing me to grab a bad romance novel from the back seat pocketâ€”the kind with a puffy, almost bulging front cover. Balboa absolutely loves the beach, and when his paws hit the sand for the first time, he jumps and prances around like it's the best thing in the world to him. We wandered down the beach in search of nothing and anything: coming across a spare plastic doll limb and a few hollowed-out coconuts.
The waves were a little too strong and there were sand fleas hurling themselves at my ankles. After a while, the sun was showing the kind of fierce rays that make you squint even when you're looking away, and after a quick dip in the water our attention span was up. â€œOnward and upwards,â€ we cried. â€œOnwards and upwards.â€ People sometimes made fun of us for saying things like that twice, but we like saying things twice and on our trip, we were living by our rules, goddammit!
Somewhere near Coronado, we took this pebbly dirt road which, if I hadn't seen a car go down it before me, I would have discounted as mud pit. There were piles of mangoes and oranges littering the sides of the road; something that the Jersey boy in me found funny and exotic. Towards the end of the road there was a small parking area and a stone walkwayâ€”the kind that could have led anywhere. Narnia, I thought, would be a cool destination. At the end of the path, there was no Narnia, not even a magic centaur. However, there might as well have been men with trumpets and angels giggling, as the sand and ocean and rustling palms of this secret beach were near flawless. The sort of thing secret beach hunters dream about in their dreams.
There was no one on the beach except a smiley old woman wearing a Yankees T-shirt and shucking coconuts. The woman's name was Nancy and she brought me a frosty beer and a huge hunk of juicy watermelon from her little red food shack. Balboa chewed on the rind while I tossed a couple ideas around in my head: Would people worry about me if I was gone another night? Would anyone mind if I just stayed at this perfect little haven forever? Was that sand in my ear or a mischievous centipede?
We propped ourselves up against a heavy piece of drift wood and basked in our pride. â€œWe finally found it,â€ I whispered to himâ€”his response, slightly piercing my finger, my ring finger, drawing the tiniest rivulet of blood out and down my forearm. As the sun was sinking lazily in the sky, a flock of mosquitoes descended upon usâ€”rudely reminding us that it was time to go home. We had found what we were looking for thoughâ€”the perfect little spotâ€”and that made us happy. With smirks on our faces, sand in our toes, and blood on our hands, Balboa and I slowly made our way back home.
See the Panama Photo from this trip.
Get me back to Panama Pictures
More original Panama Travel Blogs
|Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 22:40|