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Sanchez leads us to a van where our young guide Leignadier “Len” Santos awaits. At twenty-one Len has four years experience with Chiriqui River Rafting and is one of those seen in company video skillfully maneuvering big rapids. We pile in with our gear, wave goodbye to Sanchez, and head south for hour’s drive to Esti. Near our put in point we pick up another young man who will drive leap-frog route down river meeting us for lunch and, we trust, an end-of-day ride back to town of Boquete .
This part of Panama still feels quite wild, and as we approach river, we see it is wide and moving very fast. We don our life vests and helmets take charge of our plastic paddles, and with some trepidation slide into surge. Len works to get us oriented by calling out a number of commands and soon we are doing 360s down middle of flow. Over next two hours we handle rapids well, gain confidence in our abilities and feel relaxed for most of morning’s ride. Along way we see egrets, kingfishers, cormorants, blackbirds, hawks, and impressive vultures hovering overhead. We joke about how they are working this part of waters in anticipation of our demise. On river banks we see lizards and large iguana. Thriving in massive shade trees overhanging river are numerous epiphytes with varieties of purple and red flowers. We watch a river otter catch fish and then swim alongside close enough for us to look into his eyes. Twice we see Ngobe-Bugle (Guaymi) Indian women washing clothes along river’s edge. The air smells soft and fragrant with flowers that surround us. Of climate in this part of country it is said to be like eternal Spring. We climb inside our thoughts for brief stretches of time and soak up Panama's luscious nature. In silence we seem to acknowledge that we are somewhat awed by where we find ourselves on this particular mid-week day.
After shooting two hours worth of Class II rapids, Len guides us to a landing under a highway overpass and we meet our number-two man who has lunch already set out. We make sandwiches with cold cuts and fresh bread, slurp sodas like we’ve been in desert, and polish off sweet treats as though they might be our last. After thirty minutes of rest we are back in raft and heading for homestretch.
Underway only a few minutes we get sideways in what appears to be only Class III section
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Jim Hollister, Jetsetters Magazine Editor – Read Jetsetters Magazine at www.jetsettersmagazine.com To book travel visit Jetstreams.com at www.jetstreams.com and for Beach Resorts visit Beach Booker at www.beachbooker.com
Jim Hollister, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at www.jetsettersmagazine.com