To watch the fury of a tropical rainstorm in a rainforest: there is nothing like it in the world. Sheets of rain rake a green landscape, making it greener. Bright blossoms unfurl, capturing nourishing liquid. With each massive lightning strike, tropical birds cry out. Thunder echoes throughout the river valley with a rumbling moan.
We’re in Panama on a family trip, joining John’s parents on a journey across the Panama Canal Zone. It’s a structured tour with Caravan Tours, so we don’t have much free time. Our perch at Gamboa Rainforest Resort feels like a dream, the rainforest landscape laid out across the horizon and at our feet.
A fruit bat strafed me this morning on the way to breakfast. We watched small creatures, rabbit-sized, like miniature capybara, rustle under the plants below our room.
Baby iguanas sunned on the tiles along the pool. We stood in amazement watching the strangest of creatures climb up and tear bark off trees; we found out later it was an anteater.
I’d hoped for hiking trails, but the two we found were not maintained, and when you discover an army of leafcutter ants making their own trails almost everywhere you look, well, the desire to step into a riot of tropical jungle fades a little.
We contented ourselves along the edges, enjoying the weirdness of unknown birds and the “this is like home” recognition of tropical plants like wild coffee, mahogany, Jamaican dogwood, and Guzmania.
Nearby is a national park which, were we not with a group, we’d explore. But it’s not near enough. A deeper look into Panama remains for another time. However, we did scout around a lot. The hotel provided a tour through their orchid gardens, which John, his mom, and I enjoyed.