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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Panama Part 13

    Friday, July 28, 2017
    Gualaca, Panama

    The stairs leading down to Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.
    The stairs leading down to Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.

    The beautiful Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.
    The beautiful Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.

    In the early afternoon, I went on nice little day trip outside of David. Around 1:30 pm, I walked out on the road and flagged down a white mini-bus to the David bus terminal downtown. I asked around there for a mini-bus to Gualaca, where there is an amazing canyon / swimming hole. Proceeding out into the countryside, what was supposed to be a half hour ride turned out to take 45 minutes–probably because the bus stopped so frequently to let people on and off. Unfortunately, what had been a bright, sunny day got hijacked by grey skies and the usual afternoon rainstorm.

    A tree trunk bridge at Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.
    A tree trunk bridge at Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.

    Finally, we passed the town square in Gualaca and, a couple of blocks later, pulled into a small bus depot. When I got off, I asked the driver where the swimming hole is, and he pointed me down an adjacent road. Luckily, it was partly sunny by then. After walking past a few homes, the road made left hand turn and down a steep hill. At this point, I could hear water roaring off in the distance. Yay! The road then made a sharp right hand curve, followed by another straight section. I saw a large, light red box on the left side of the road, and straight across from that on the right stood a faded sign announcing Los Cangilones de Gualaca.

    Some rapids at Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.
    Some rapids at Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama..

    As I ambled on down a set of ancient-looking concrete stairs, I saw several locals swimming. This lovely spot, formed by the Estil River cutting a narrow groove-like canyon through a craggy rock formation, is amazingly scenic. In the narrowest section, people jump or dive off into the deep green pools 15 or 20 feet below. A little further beyond that are rapids, where I kicked off my shoes, sat on a rock and soaked my feet in the cool water for a few minutes. I wish I could have swam, but I didn’t set out early enough. I’m sure the mini-buses don’t run very late out here. I wouldn’t be surprised if the last one back to David is at 4:00 pm or 5:00m pm, at the latest.

    Swimmers (upper center of photo) at Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.
    Swimmers on the rocks (upper center of photo) at Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.

    At one point, the sky started sprinkling, so, after shooting a few more photos and videos, I headed on back to the little bus depot. By then, it was around 4:00 pm. After waiting around for 15 minutes, A bus that said David pulled in, but the driver wouldn’t let me on. Maybe he was going in the other direction. Then I asked a lady who worked at a little cafe where I could catch a mini-bus to David, and she pointed me toward town square. Funny, I was going to head over there anyway. As soon as I arrived, a bus that said David on the front pulled up and let me on. Whew! I’m relieved I didn’t get stuck out there and have to pay a taxi cab $30 or $40 take me back to David.

    The bright green-fringed road leading away from Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.
    The bright green-fringed road leading away from Los Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama.

    When I arrived back at the Bambu Hostel, I discovered there had been a blackout, so all of the power was off. I walked a block away to a huge, modern supermarket like Ralphs or Vons back home in California. After I bought a few fruits, vegetables and soup, I was reaching for the yogurt when a store employee asked me to follow him outside to some sort of baggage check room. I was afraid that he thought I had stolen something, and that I was going to be arrested, but he took away the plastic bag I had been putting my items into and gave me a plastic basket. Then I had to re-shop for all of the items again. He refused to put the items I had already collected into the basket. How weird! By the time I made it back to the hostel, the power was back on, but there was no Wi-Fi for the rest of the night.

    Karina from Warsaw, Poland, who has been traveling for 17 years, and works wherever she goes at places like the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.
    Karina from Warsaw, Poland, who has been traveling for 17 years, and works wherever she goes at places like the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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