If you find yourself in a small mountain town in the Chiriqui Highlands of Panama, look for the ice-cream store boasting fresh strawberries and frozen treats along the main street. If you walk past the seating and into the parking area, a friendly lady will greet you and show you to a wooden garden gate. For 50 cents you can pass through and begin the hill climb along a path lined with bursting blooms not uncommon to this region. The trail zigzags steeply with recycled tires stepping up, on a good day, into brilliant sunshine. The flowers and the views will reward you with each upward motion and eventually, when you can see around the bend, the trail will plateau to a resting bench. Have a seat, soak in the sun and take in the views of the small town of Guadalupe, Panama, the surrounding farms, the hillsides, the mountains and valleys beyond.
On my way up the trail was already in shadow. To capture the flowers, I squatted down and pointed my camera up, isolating them against the blue sunny backdrop. I played with the light filtering through the petals. I delight at capturing Panoramic views of my surroundings, keeping an eye and ear out for an unobstructed hill climb. This one was a gift from a fellow traveler. I passed by the strawberry ice-cream stand many times without noticing the sign. Sharing stories with locals or other people passing through yields fresh perspectives!
Beauty is all around you. Look in, look out, and follow the light! ~Louise
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As a little girl, I loved to gaze up from the ground at the light filtering through the trees. I dreamed my dreams and felt the sunshine dance across my face. I got lost in the rustling sounds of the leaves, the twittering of the birds, the busy bustling noises of the squirrels. I squinted my eyes and the leaves and branches became intricately woven patterns of delicate lace. To this day, when I look up, I am mesmerized by the patterns, the layers, and the natural sun screens.
Sometimes when hiking through the jungle, the light filtering through can be harsh, the shadows hard, and the speckling distracting. I remind myself to look to the skies every so often. When standing next to a tall canopy tree or walking along a trail, look up. If you find yourself short on wildlife sightings, look up. Instead, you might find, jungle umbrellas and jungle sky rivers.
For more images of natural screens visit my photography blog here.
There is beauty all around you. Look in, look out, and follow the light! ~Louise
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The day begins with a bumpy tractor tow ride. We pass the mini super and take the fork in the road to Las Cabañas Los Quetzales. As we climb, the road turns to rocks. We bounce and lurch and slide, all grateful for the extra bars to right ourselves and grasp our hands around.
We reach the site of the Cabañas with all parts and possessions intact, stroll past the pools up the trail steps to the cabins. Our guide Abel outfits the crew with rubber boots and fills the hummingbird feeders with nectar. Already the tiny birds are swarming and buzzing. They fight for position, they dive, they flutter, they zip inches from our ears and eyes. The energy is captivating, the magical mid-air dance is hypnotizing. We are lured away with promises of other interesting animals and sights. Las Mina trail is chosen for ease to accommodate the entire crew.
We stay alert for replies to the bird sounds as Abel calls to them. We keep our eyes peeled for a Quetzal but one does not appear. We follow the trail of a large Tapir revealed to us by its muddy tracks. We listen to tales of adventure and exploration while we squish through the mud and hop over tree roots. We learn about the variety of local animals and get excited at the prospect of seeing them.
Our hike ends at a waterfall where I become enchanted with a Dr. Seuss like plant reaching across my view of the rocks and the water. Abel points to the birds we have seen on our walk, not perfectly visible to the amateur or mere bird admirer, but certain to his keen ears and eyesight.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and in keeping with my tradition, I will be running up a mountain. This year that mountain trail will be another trail close to Los Quetzales Eco Lodge. The Los Quetzales trail travels from Cerro Punta through Baru Volcano National Park and ends at the town of Boquete. Enjoy your Pre Thanksgiving Hike this year!
There is beauty all around you, look in, look out and follow the light! ~Louise
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