El Valle de Anton
If you remember, we had left Agape in a marina nicknamed “the torture chamber”, so we were a bit apprehensive about what we’d find when we got our first look at our beloved floating home.
We were right to be nervous, as we made our way cautiously down the floating docks, progressing slowly as they violently jerked back and forth in the wind chop, we immediately noticed Agape’s bow swinging wildly to and fro. Two deck cleats, the port bow and midship, had been ripped out of the boat, and of the three lines holding her off the dock, two had broken and the other had been loosened so much it was doing nothing. We also had two fenders missing and one that had been popped.
This is not how you want to be welcomed home after three months away and a long day of traveling, but it was what we faced. After adjusting the lines and getting Agape re-situated in her slip, something the marina employees should have already done, we focused on unpacking and getting ready to start a new season.
Luckily, other than the cleats, fenders and lines, Agape was in perfect condition. The air conditioner we left running in eco mode had kept cool, dry air circulating throughout the boat, and all our hard work cleaning before we left ensured that once again Agape’s insides where clean, tidy and mold free, just as we left her.
We still had a two weeks of work ahead of us recommissioning the boat before we’d be ready to push of the dock and start cruising again. During the remainder of our stay, on particularly torturous days at the dock, we’d flee to the near by mountain town of El Valle de Anton to stretch our legs and do some hiking.
El Valle de Anton, also know as El Valle, is located only 38 kilometers away from the marina but feels worlds away. On the outskirts of this small mountain town is one of our favorite hikes in Panama, La India Dormida.
India Dormida means “sleeping Indian woman”, and if you look at the mountain range from just the right angle, in just the right light and squint out of only your left eye, you can totally make out a profile of a woman lying on her back.
The trail head for hiking in these lush mountains is easy to find with a quick google search or asking around in town. The entry fee is $3 a person and includes a hand drawn map of the trail, although not to scale and slightly misleading, showing petroglyphs, three waterfalls and a beautiful lookout at the top. At the entrance you can also find a local willing to guide you on the hike and tell you some legends of the area.
The first stop along the trail is La Piedra Pintada, a massive boulder decorated with pre-colombian petroglyphs. Locals sometimes fill in the grooves of the petroglyphs with chalk to make them easier to see, but the meaning of the petroglyphs isn’t clear; some think it is an early map of the area, while others think they are religious symbols or a harvest calendar. Local children love giving their interpretation of the petroglyphs for a few dollars.
La Piedra Pintada is not the only stone with petroglyphs in El Valle de Anton, but it is largest and most accessible. Along the trail there is another small rock with enigmatic carvings, and it’s fun to use your imagination to interpret them.
The trail was beautiful, winding through the jungles and over streams, near waterfalls and along rolling hills. Monkeys, sloths and blue morph butterflies call this valley home and if you are lucky you can spot some wildlife along the way.
Weather can change very fast up here in the mountains, and although back down at the beach normal attire is shorts, tank tops, and flip flops, make sure to dress and pack for all climates here! We recommend bringing a rain shell and good hiking shoes, as the trail can get very muddy and slippery when it rains. Sunscreen and bug spray are also highly recommended!