Panama City Stories and Tips

Not Quite the Wildlife We Wanted to See

So far the El Charco trail had been disappointing. The suspension bridge at the beginning of the trail at the Soberania National Park had been full of promise and potential. I felt like I was in one of those tropically themed sections of an amusement park, except this was actually real. I was sure we would spot all kinds of wild life on the trail. I wasn't counting the mosquitoes that were constantly dive bombing me due to my lack of foresight to bring bug spray. We traversed over slippery rocks, slogged through mucky waters and sweated through our t-shirts, and yet the only thing worth noting were some rather impressive fichus trees. In the distance we heard screams. Not terrified screams. It was more like a child’s screams of joy. There was our explanation. Some overly enthusiastic children had sent all the wildlife scurrying away in fright.

Approaching a ridge, we could hear the sound of laughter intensifying. I peered over the edge and suddenly became frozen in my tracks. I starred for a few seconds unsure if I should believe what I was seeing. Was that really someone’s naked behind? I motioned for my husband to be quiet and he too peered over the edge. There in a little water reservoir a young man and woman frolicked, their clothing and towels sprawled out on a concrete ledge. They would alternately go from passionately embracing and kissing to childishly running and splashing around in the murky water. The water was unfortunately shallow and when standing they were covered only up to the middle of their thighs, leaving everything that shouldn't be exposed bouncing about quite liberally.

Not wanting to appear like weirdo tourist voyeurs, we backtracked on the trail so we could no longer be seen. Somewhat panicked by this set of rather odd circumstances, we took a minute to collect our thoughts and plot out some sort of plan. The trail ahead clearly involved walking across the slab of concrete, scattered with articles of unworn clothing. Certain that we were close to the end of the trail, backtracking to the suspension bridge was not a desirable option. Maybe running around naked in standing bodies of water was no big deal here. Maybe we could just walk by and pretend like there was nothing unusual about them being naked. Maybe they would leave soon and we wouldn't have to worry about it at all. That seemed as likely an option as any. In the end we backtracked on the trail a bit further. The plan would be to make as much noise as possible to announce that two gringo tourists were coming down the trail and perhaps this would prompt our Adam and Eve to hide their nakedness.

Stomping the ground and kicking leaves as hard as we could we made our way down the trail giving the lovers enough time to jump up on the concrete slab, she laying in his lap to cover him and he covering her with one of their towels. "Hola," they greeted in unison as we passed.
"Hola," we responded, making absolutely no eye contact with them. The concrete slab ended in a clearing. The young couple watched with stifled giggles.

I glanced at my husband in desperation.
"Where is the path?" I asked under my breath.
"I don't know. I don't see it.
Where is it?" he uttered slightly panicked.

We looked left then right and for the life of us we couldn't figure out where the path continued. I frantically rushed to the edge of the tree line trying to figure out how we could escape this increasingly embarrassing situation.

"Here it is," I exhaled, washed with a sense of relief.

Once our feet touched the trail we ran for it. We could hear the couple’s laughter echoing through the trees. As we had suspected we were very close to the end of the trail. We came shooting out of the rainforest and didn't stop until we were safely inside the car.

We were slightly out of breath when my husband asked,
"Did that really just happen?"
"I think it did," I replied.
"That wasn't the kind of wildlife I wanted to see."

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