Saturday, February 24, 2007

Feb 7, 2007

Im writing from a town called El Valle in the center of Panama. It is BEAUTIFUL here, but very low key, romantic even... and i feel like i should be here on my honeymoon! i should have pulled a carrie bradshaw and married myself before i left, so that way, my honeymoon would be official.

i arrived around noon yesterday, checked into my hotel, and then set off looking for the horse rental. i hopped on a truck full of bratty middle school boys and they were all laughing at me, as adolescents do. the horseback ride was fun, but not as fun and not nearly as spectacular as the one i took in Trinidad with Alexei. My horse, once again, had some mental problems and walked the majority of the time, even though i had asked for a caballo fuerte. it was a beautiful ride though. we saw terraced fields of watercress, and rode through a thicket of banana trees, alongside a river. we came to a prairie at the top of the mountain, took some photos and headed back down. i couldnt see them, but i could hear a symphony of tropical birds. i thought it best to keep my eye on the steep and narrow trail so i could still steer my horse (his name was Tornado... ha!). i was still trying to keep an eye out for wildlife because i was told all sorts of monkeys and sloths live on the mountain, when suddenly i saw a squirrel crawling up a banana tree, and at that very moment, he decided to jump from one tree to the next and nearly scared the wits out of me because he almost jumped right onto my face!

then it was time for my excellent adventure.

after the horseback ride, i thought i would relax my muscles by going to the hot springs here in town. i had just enough time to enjoy them before they closed. so i soothed my muscles for about a half an hour and then realized everyone was packing up and leaving. i went into the dressing room to change out of my bathing suit, and when i came out, everyone was gone, and the entrance gate was padlocked. i was stuck inside the thermal hotsprings!!! I waved my arms and yelled at passersby, but they were too far away to see or hear me. I thought about climbing the fence, but it had barbed wire across it. There had to be another way out! There were two villas on each side of the gate. One of them seemed to have a secret passageway to the outside world. After scouring through brush, I made it out onto a nicely groomed lawn, and hoped no one would see me and arrest me for trespassing (after all, the house was on the street called Avenida de Millionarios). I breezed through the gates and it seemed that I had escaped unscathed. I was so pleased with myself that I now knew how to sneak into the hot springs, that i wanted to make a mental note of the name of the villa that I just broke and entered. When I walked over to check the name, my feet slipped on some loose stones which made a big gash on my right shin and left hand. Ouch. But for future reference, if you would like to visit the hot springs in El Valle after hours, just look for the villa called Estancia and the secret entrance is in the left corner of their garden.

Thats about it for now. Im heading off to do a zip tour of the rainforest canopy.

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