Well, I’m officially a senior citizen now – I turned 65 this week! Funny, I don’t feel that old (most of the time).
Last week, Tim gave me a great birthday present – a djembe drum. He has been attending the weekly drum circle in Boquete, and I’ve been wanting an African drum so I can join in, so it was a perfect gift! I immediately decorated it with one of the kente cloth strips I brought back from Ghana to personalize it. They’ll be jealous of my beautiful drum this week!
Tim suggested we do something different on my birthday. I’ve been wanting to visit Volcán, a smaller, mostly agriculture-based city about an hour from Boquete (on the other side of the volcano). There’s an exotic animal rescue place there called Raquel’s Ark, where you can see and play with sloths, monkeys, and coatimundis.
It takes a little over an hour to get there, and it’s a lovely drive up into the higher elevations. This region is where most of the fruits and vegetables are grown in Panama, and in some places the fields are very steep on the sides of the mountains. Obviously, all the work is done by hand, because machinery would be difficult, if not impossible, to work in that terrain. The fields are steep in the photo below, but some are even more steep than this.
At Raquel’s Ark, we had fun playing with the monkeys and coatis (Central American raccoons) and looking at the jaguar, who would love to eat us if he could. There was also a small native cat called a jaguarundi that I had never heard of before. This one was tame, but they are native (although rare) to this part of the world. Fascinating! Here is a link to a YouTube video, that shows them better than the photo I took.
More photos from our visit are below. Unfortunately, the only sloth we saw was recovering from an illness, so we didn’t get to play with it.
After visiting the animals, we had lunch at The Wandering Sloth restaurant a short distance away. Tim had a “swine burger” (with both a hamburger patty and pulled pork) and I had a mushroom & swiss burger. Both were very good, and we look forward to going there again.
For our visitors (hint, hint!), this would be a great day trip to enjoy some of the wildlife and scenery where we now call home. Come on down – you won’t regret it!