The Jungle Called and We Couldn’t Resist…

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I’ve written about this very special place in the past…Rambala Jungle Lodge( http://www.Rambalajunglelodge.com ) . This weekend, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to join Eric & Lynn at their beautiful lodge in the jungles of Bocas. We went specifically to lend a hand in the raising of a new cabin. Our good friends Joel & Kris were kind enough to join us on this trip and I think I can speak for all of us when I say, a good time was had by all! I have to tell you that I was tremendously relieved when we arrived to find that their grounds keeper Javier, was prepared to whisk me off to the lodge upon one of his trusty horses. As you may recall, I recently injured my ankle pretty good, and this trip had been arranged before I had my little accident. So, I had prepared myself for a very slow, very careful hike on my injured ankle with my crutches. The hike up to the lodge isn’t horrible, I figured I could make it if I just took my time and went very slowly and carefully. One thing was certain… I wasn’t willing to cancel on account of a little ankle injury! We had packed as lightly as possible because Scott was planning to schlep all our gear and the meal he had volunteered to prepare, without any help from me. On two healthy legs, under normal circumstances, the hike into the jungle lodge is not too far, maybe 20-30 minutes. But had I hobbled in on my crutches it could have been closer to an hour or so. So, as you can imagine I was relieved when we arrived at the spot where we leave our car, and there was Javier with a horse saddled up and ready to cart me in. He also had a second horse all ready to carry all our gear up to the lodge as well, wow! Scott had fully expected to carry our cooler and all our gear and was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events. I should explain that under normal circumstances, when they have guests arrive at the lodge Javier is ready to guide them to the lodge and their belongings get put on the horses. This weekend was an exception because we weren’t normal guests, we were there to work and they had given Javier his yearly vacation time off. But because we arrived on Friday at a reasonable hour, before he was to leave, he was there to help us. Lucky me!

I have to tell you this one thing before I continue with my story about our weekend. Javier is a native Panamanian man in his mid 50’s, he’s originally from a town called Rio Serano, which is located a few hours away from Rambala. His family still lives in Rio Sereno and every year on Mother’s Day (which is this weekend here in Panama) he and two other men , good friends of his, have a long standing tradition of going from house to house in the village, Guitars in hand, and Serenading all the mothers of his village! This has been a tradition of theirs for as long as he can remember and it’s the reason his yearly vacation time off from Rambala lands this weekend. Awwww, isn’t that sooo sweet! He very proudly told me about this tradition as he was guiding me and my horse up the hill to the lodge.

I must admit, we had visited the lodge only one other time and my recollection of the terrain and the distance into the jungle to where the lodge is located was much different than the reality. Given the fact that they had recently gotten quite a lot of rainfall, the ground was quite muddy and slippery. And looking at this with the eyes of one who is getting around on crutches, my perspective very quickly changed. In all honestly, for a normal, healthy person, who isn’t depending upon the use of crutches to gingerly hobble about, the hike in is quite pleasant and just beautiful. However, to me contemplating navigating that hike on crutches….YIKES!! What the heck was I thinking? Well, I was more than grateful for Javier, (as I’ve likely already made abundantly clear), and for that marvelous little horse! Mind you, as I write this, it’s Sunday afternoon and everyone is down there hammering away at the new little casita and we leave tomorrow. As you may recall, my knight in shining armor, Javier, is gone now, along with the horses! Soooo I may have more to say about my journey back down to our car tomorrow morning. But, again, slowwww and steady and It should be fine.

Sadly, the rain didn’t cooperate too much over the two days we had planned to help out, so they only got two walls up on two casitas and instead of making a big dent in the work that needed doing , we were forced to suffer by enjoying the good company and the vast beauty that surrounded us for the weekend. It was torture because the weather kept stopping them from working, but we managed. A bit of ‘corn hole’ makes time fly by so fast! Today, Sunday, the crew hiked down to the sight of one of the new cabins and began to saw and hammer and not too long into the work the clouds rolled in and began to dump rain on them, forcing them to call it quits for most of the day. But as I’m writing this the rain seems to have given them a little bit of time to get back down there and get a bit more work done. I hope they’re making some progress and getting a good chunk of the building done together.

I just looked up from my typing to see an amazing bird that I’ve been looking for for hours…a Rufous Motmot!!! Wow! I didn’t get a photograph but I took a picture of the rendering in the Panama Birds book. What a beautiful bird! I wish someone else had been up here with me to witness this sighting! I saw so many animals , and birds this weekend and I never even left the Main house! Here’s the impressive list of what we saw this weekend…
1. Agouti.. this is an animal that looks a bit like a giant rat,
with no tail. There were two of them and believe it or not, they were pretty darn cute.
2. Kinkajou…they also call this guy a honey bear because it looks like a tiny little moneyish-bear! Cute big eyes and Scott and I spotted it outside the bathroom one night, hanging upside down , eating bananas…mannnn was he adorable!!
3. Armadillo…I didn’t see this guy, everyone else saw him living near the woodpile at the new casita.
4. Oropendula…this is a bird that is mostly black with a bright yellow tail feathers . They make these amazing nests way up in the trees that hang down and are kinda teardrop shaped!
5. Three toed sloth…we saw three of these but we aren’t sure if the one who normally lives in this particular tree may have moved all the way over to the other side of the lodge to a different tree with another guy. They are just amazing animals and the two in the tree near the lodge were close enough to see them eating.
6. laughing falcon…a bird of prey
7. Three different species of toucans…Collared Aracari ,
Keel Billed toucan and the Chestnut mandibled. all three were soooo incredible to watch as they flew from tree to tree. What a spectacular bird! Really a highlight for me.
8. Rufous Motmot…A big , beautiful bird, with a really long tail feather, it’s amber colored with green on the bottom, again…magnificent

As you can see, the list of wildlife is just unbelievable. And most of them were seen from a hammock in the lodge! It’s amazing what will come so near to the house. Eric and Lynn have made a great effort to create a safe environment around their lodge for all the wildlife. Before they purchased the land many of the animals were hunted for food by indigenous workers and now that they own it they forbid killing of any animals. So as a result, they are beginning to see the return of an endless array of wildlife at Rambala Jungle Lodge. It’s truly a gem of a place, I feel so lucky to have had the chance to visit it two times and I hope to go again in the future.

Once again, our adventure here in Panama has provided us with new and amazing experiences and such great people to share them with. Our friends Joel & Kris had never done anything like this before and it was a pleasure to see their joy at seeing and experiencing it all.
And Eric & Lynn are the most wonderful hosts, they made us all feel like we were at home in their jungle getaway. I must also mention their good friend Brenda who was staying with them. The main house where Eric & Lynn live has a spare bedroom/bathroom where she was staying. When we arrived and she realized it would be near impossible for me to get down the path to the guest cabin everyday, she very graciously insisted that we take over her room, and she moved into the other cabin for us. This one, generous, caring act made this whole weekend for me! As soon as I got off that horse I just stayed in the lodge, never having to leave until today. And, now I even have another new friend, because she lives here in Boquete so I’m sure I’ll see her again soon.

I must admit, I was a bit nervous about the hike out of Rambala Jungle Lodge on my very weak ankle. But I knew all I had to do was just take my time and go really really slow. Eric carried down our gear and Scott stayed close by my side as I very cautiously navigated the slippery , path. It took us awhile and I was really sweaty but we made it back to the car without any further injury to my healing ankle. Eric, Brenda, Joel & Kris were waiting by the car cheering for me as I came to the trailhead, I felt like a Winner!! Yippee! I’m so glad we got to go this weekend, it was a great place for me to just rest and hang out. I know Scott was happy to have the chance to lend a hand and get a bit of exercise as he prepared to build his own casita really soon. And any time I have the chance to spend a weekend with great people, especially in close proximity to a kinkajou sighing….I’m all in!! No ankle injury can stop this girl from an Adventure with friends! Nope….

Rambala Jungle Lodge…

4 responses »

    • Hi Elaine…I know you don’t want to hear this, but, the answer is , NO…:) If it doesn’t begin to improve I will go but so far Ive been very careful and Ive been icing and staying down as much as possible. I am also going to join a local gym that has a nice swimming pool so I can get some gentle exercise. I’ve got good range of motion so I know it isn’t broken, I can tell that it’s a torn or strained ligament or muscle. It is improving everyday so I feel okay. Thanks for worrying about me. Love ya!

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