Volcan Baru National Park – Cloud forest

sunny.gifTodays weather has been very different all depending on where in the country I have been. Down in David there was about +27C, sunny and nice. The wind blows up to stormy but hey… at least it was warm.
Then on tour we were around the volcano and it rained about all the time we were there. Back in David it was nice again and then at night when I went to Boquete where it also rained. Boquete and Volcan are highland and the areas are agriculture areas. They also have a lot of rainforest and cloud forest up in the mountains.

barriles.JPGJeny and I had breakfast and since she had to work she had prepared for me to go with her bf, Tony, Tonys cousin, Jose, and her brother Jorge on a road trip. We let Jen of at her work and then headed off for a city called Volcan – named after the nearby volcan Baru.

At Volcan we made a stop because Jose met a friend from school (this friend had a car that had broken down) and to buy something to drink. We saw Guayami indians in their costumes. Oh. Only the women use the traditional dress. It is very colorful and nice. Jose arranged to have his friend tell us where to go to find an archeologic place called “Sitio Barriles“. We went off to this place and veni vidi vici (we came – we conquered – we left). It was a small garden with some rocks that had some archeological value. It was nothing impressing but my travel mates made the trip very worthwhile. They played guides (Not knowing about things – they invented).

From there on we went back to Volcan and ran into Joses friend again. No help with the car and then we decided to tow him to a “taller” to get his car fixed. Then we went off to an Argentinian restaurant run by a Colombian around Cerro Punta. We had lunch here. Real gourmet food and due to the price we all had half size plates instead of full size plates.

baru.JPGWe took off heading in the direction Cerro Punta and whatever small store we passed they sold Strawberries. We were actually running around with no purpose not knowing where to drive and not using maps. We did manage to end up in the Volcan Baru National Park. This because Jose decided to make a turn to the right and then he said we were going to follow this road till its end. That was before he saw what the road looked like !!! hehe.. But then… there was this other car trying to decide wheather to dare to go or not and I think Jose wanted to show off over this older dude in the other car so he started going up. Most of the way had a 45 to 55 angle. It was no asphalt nor sand. It was huge rocks and smaller stones and heavy rainfalls had washed away the middle of the road. We were all very exited to see the car manage the road and that the other dude actually followed our example. About 1 Km up the road flattened and we found out we had lost “the others”. Soon the road was angling very much again and Jose was not sure that he wanted to go on but both Tony and Jorge was joking him “chicken” – “chicken” – “This is nothing” – “you can do it” – “dont be a whimp” and Jose took off. Slow it went and none of us were sure that the road actually led somewhere, but we did not see anywhere we could turn the car around either. After a long trip we came to a plateu and – the entrance to the national park volcan Baru. Volcan Baru is a cloud forest national park. It is well known for its quetzal population (guatemalas national bird), toucans, hummingbirds and mammals like jaguars, panthers, pumas and tapirs.

Throughout all the uphills I was amazed by the moss growing on the trees. All the trees, not only trees, but fences, houses and everything made out of tree was covered in moss. It looked quite mysterious with the clouds that where at our level and the rain dripping. On the top we payed our entrance fee of 3 US$ for foreigners and 1 US$ for locals. We hiked around in the rain for a little while, but it looks like the Gods were with us today because it cleared up and we got a fantastic view over the valley. There was a nice litte rangers house up in the hills and they do take in travelers for the night if you reserve first. It is a 5 US$ fee for sleeping there.

When descending we brought an extra passenger with us, one of the national park guards that had just ended her 8 days shift and was on her way back home to her family in Volcan. We also stopped to buy strawberries and since it was several hours since lunch and my travel mates were hungry we also stopped at several bakeries on our way back to David.

polleras.JPGWell back Jose let us off at Jeniffers and Jorges house where we watched a movie before having dinner. Back in David the sun was shining and the wind was blowing.

In the night Jennifer, Tony and I went to Boquete where “La feria de las Flores” had just begun. It is a huge flower and coffee festival with lots of vendors of all kinds of artifacts had shown up. There were carousels and discoteques, food shops and traditional dancing in the traditional pollera.

We also saw heaps of Guayami indians and it amazes me. So many of them looked so young!
15 years with 2 kids and a third on the way. My travelmates told my that it is a Guayami tradition to marry the girls just as they are able to produce. Then they have many kids and grow big families. It rained the whole time we were there. The city of Boquete, like the volcano, are located high up in the mountain. Actually Boquete is on the other side of the Volcano Baru than the actual Volcano and Cerro Punto that we were at earlier today. Therefore it is a very humid climate there.
We got back around 1am and went straigt to sleep.

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