Invasion of the Bugs
Well, we're gearing up for another rainy season. The humidity has already kicked in, and the insect population is burgeoning as it always does at this time of year. The house is full of flying brown beetles, and small moths, and out in the yard the cicadas are stuttering and droning like little air raid sirens. Fireflies appear at this time as well. Sometimes a firefly gets into the living room and I can see its glowing eyes milling about at night. Last but not least, the sugar ants are making their first forays into the house, sending out scouting parties into every room.
We returned our friends Gillian and Elliot, who had been visiting us from California, to the airport last Friday and saw them off. We enjoyed their visit and I think they enjoyed themselves as well. They're preparing for a marathon and they spent their days running or hiking in the mornings. One morning they ran the dirt road behind Hotel Campestre that goes to Mata Ahogado and Altos del Maria. I believe they ran all the way to Altos and back. Afterwards they'd sleep or sit in front of the fan eating pineapple, watermelon and papaya, and reading magazines. Gillian would walk over to the market every day and buy the fruits herself, then cut them up for us all to enjoy.
Their flight was very early Friday morning so we actually went back to Panama on Thursday and spent the night at La Estancia. It's listed as an "author's choice" hotel in the 2006 Lonely Planet guide to Panama, but it was not what I expected. True, it's on the side of the forested Cerro Ancon, but it's basically a former apartment building in a row of other apartment buildings. Not exactly the forest hideaway I imagined. The hotel is hard to find, the rooms are quite small, and they could not provide us with a cot or small bed for Salma, so Laura created a makeshift crib out of two chairs and a pile of blankets.
On the other hand, the place has a homey feel to it. There's a common area with magazines on the table, Kuna molas on the walls, a piano, coffee and tea, an internet terminal for guests to use, and a balcony with a nice view of the Bridge of the Americas. In fact, each room has a good view of the bridge, which is lovely at night when it's lit up and glowing. In the morning the owners lead a 6 am hike up to the top of Cerro Ancon, where you may be lucky enough to spot some wildlife. G&E naturally went on this hike, and I naturally did not - not because it's an especially difficult hike, but because it's at 6 am, for goodness sake.
The kitchen staff makes breakfast to order, and Mi Pueblito is just down a trail.
I might stay there again sometime.
I've become increasingly fascinated with the Darien, both the province and the forest. I've spent a lot of time looking at maps of Lago Bayano (technically in Panama province, but on the way to Darien), the little towns along the InterAmerican, La Palma, and some of the more obscure small towns along the Pacific Coast near La Palma, like Garachiné and Playa de Muerto (the Beach of Death).
Nico has been saying that he wants to make a trip to Darien to buy crafts from the Embera and W ounan Indians who inhabit that area. I may go with him.