Everything looks so different in the dry season. The ground is a clay brown and firm. You don’t need to watch your step as much for fear of falling into a deep mud pit. It looks like we (I mean CC) won’t need to spend half an hour cleaning our shoes after today’s walk!
Bizarrely, there is so much green! There’s less green grass, but the plants are taller and greener. There are more flowers on the trees and plants making the jungle filled with splotches of brilliant colours. There is an abundance of colourful butterflies which add to this natural painting. Orange, yellow, white, turquoise and the most brilliant luminescent blue of the most gigantic butterflies I have ever seen.
Take a deep breath in and close your eyes. Ahhhh… The smells. The flowers and lack of rain add so many scents to the fresh air. The wind carries them to me as if their scents are wrapping me in a cosy blanket. I can smell lemongrass, sweet flowers and the smells of mandarins. When we cross into the fields, I smell fresh grass and manure.
Don’t forget the sounds! There is so much life and so much peace. Listen close, there are too many different bird songs to count, the sound of crickets chirping, the gushing of the water forming rapids in the river, the monkeys howling in the distance, the sound of the wind blowing in the trees, the cows mooing from the farm, the sound of the rain showering the leaves.
We are back at Rio Chagres and it is truly a full sensual experience. The last time we visited here was in the rainy season and it was great to experience it in it’s other clothing.
I am still in a quiet mood so I am walking slowly without the urge to speak. I just want to enjoy where I am. I am ready for a big change and this often means I spend time in my head working out how to make it happen. I welcomed the break from my thoughts and enjoyed being at one with nature.
This walk is so unique for so many reasons. Firstly because hardly anyone knows about it. If we see people, it’s the farmers. Secondly, it has different terrains. The first half an hour is along a riverbank which has lots of forest trees with jungle plants thrown in. You cross the river twice, cooling your feet off and relieving any insect bites you may have gotten. Then you reach a farm and walk in the green rolling fields for another half hour. Today, the field was full of cows who were brave and came to greet us until they realised we weren’t scared. They quickly walked away while watching us as if we were going to steal their prized possessions.
Then you reach a huge tree which must be 500 years old. It is so tall and the trunk is so thick five people would need to hold hands to circle it. The trunk is the host of beautiful huge spiders who spin elaborate webs. When you step back and look up, it looks like the tree is wearing a skirt made of ivy. Look up even higher and you see her beautiful green Afro swaying in the breeze. It looks like the trail ends here, but this is where it gets good and private…
This is where the true jungle comes in. The river goes the other way as we work our way around the branches of the trees. It’s important to be on the look out for snakes as they are here and poisonous. Always look before you touch and for goodness sake, if you’re going to stop, make sure it’s not on the home of fire ants. I did that only once!!
Here the sounds of the howler monkeys become longer and I take more breaks to look up and see if I can spot any. No luck today. Last time the monkeys came right above us and Captain Cool made the best monkey howls which they answered and became excited about. It was a one of a kind experience! The air is cooler, there is no need for sunglasses and the smells change once again. It smells more like leaves and vegetation than fruits and flowers. I take all of it in.
After an hour, I can once again hear the river and I know we’re getting close. I start thinking how it will look. The water levels will be lower and I wonder if there will be just as many fish. We arrive quicker than I remember and quickly throw our belongings to the side. After all this saltwater, it is so refreshing to jump into cool fresh water. CC dives in but it looks to shallow for me so I go over to the nearest rock and slide in. How refreshing! It is so cold and the water so heavy. I have to work to stay afloat here.
We discover a little hut made of palm leaves and a fire pit. We go to explore and decide this looks like a nice place to spend the day. After chilling ourselves in the river, we find a rock which looks like a sofa to warm our cool skin. This is our private freshwater paradise. Here we can do as we like and wear nothing as we know no one will disturb us.
We spend the whole day together but in our own worlds doing our own things. CC discovered some fish stranded in a tiny pool of water so he made a canal for them to pass into a bigger pool of water. I discovered a great rock to sit on and watch the rapids. That sound brings me back to my childhood. When once again the sun overheated us, we made a spa in the rapids and sat so the cool forceful gush of the water massaged our backs and necks.
It rained on and off all day using the river as a musical instrument. The light rain sounded like various people snapping their fingers. The heavy rain sounded like a mother shushing her baby to sleep. The showers were always brief and refreshing.
I am not in the place where I would like to be or in the situation I wish to be in. Yes, I am ready for a change. However the universe is telling me it’s not yet time for me to jump this ship and climb onto the next sailboat to explore new waters. So I will be patient and enjoy what I have in front of me. After all, it is in abundance all around me.