It was a slow day at Los Cuatro Tulipanes in that the only guests staying with us were a geriatric couple who moved like snails, so Keenan and I decided to drive into the interior of the country, where life seems to move at a slower rate and Coca Colas only cost a quarter.
We drove out to Campana which is, in my opinion, one of the next destinations for residential mountain development outside of Panama City. Because, much of the region is national park, the mountains afford this great sense of mystery and intrigue: the sort of feeling that—not unlike a really good flea market—you never know what you might find.
We devoted our day to hunting waterfalls, which in truth, is just a very exotic way of saying you don’t know where you’re going. We liked the concept, and more specifically the terminology, of waterfall hunting because it made people think we were adventurous and daring, our trips characterized by wild beasts and magical shaman men. When in reality, our hunt was more accurately represented by cold crates of domestic beers. There was no cutting of paths or dangerous snakes to avoid. In fact, the only unsafe thing about the trip was the Paris Hilton song on the radio: what is she thinking?
Through small rivers and over rocky terrain we drove, waving to old men and women whose several teeth stuck out from their gums like mini white bibles. The people out there are so friendly and we even got to watch as one man induced the reproduction of his two pet squirrels, Brutus and Caesar I think they were called. Squirrel sex isn’t something we had set out to find, but in the life of a waterfall hunter, we’d learned to be prepared for anything.
In and out of the road would run dogs whose saggy utters were not unlike those of a small cow: floppy and pink. Neon birds would dart in and out of the forest and chickens scampered this way and that. There’s an unknown law in Panama that if you hit one of these chickens, you are supposed to pay the owners five dollars, and while I’m not terribly sure who came up with that number, it does seem like a reasonable price.
We also passed several large groups of cattle grazing beside the road. “Why do the cows have humps?” Keenan asked. It was true, that Panamanian cows have humps like camels on their backs, and while I knew the humps were not used to store fat like those of a camel, I wasn’t sure of the true answer, so I told him the humps were where the owners liked to keep their valuables like wrist watches and rolls of cash. “It’s every cows dream” I told him, “to have his hump used as a cargo space.”
Eventually we came to a picturesque little swimming hole with a “waterfall-like” gush feeding a peaceful pond. We were waterfall hunters sure, and yes this was merely a small rivulet, but the day was getting late and we were getting desperate. We jumped off rocks and even did some snorkeling, then collected a bunch of beautiful flowers to put in each of the rooms upon return. It started raining so we stopped for ceviche at a small rancho just off the highway and listened to a jukebox blaring tipico music—way too much base.
On the ride home, it started raining and by the time we actually reached the Casco, small-scale flooding was in effect. But the day was a nice reprieve from the hotel and from the city. I’d recommend it to anyone for a daytrip: just venture into the interior and explore.