Last January, the need to escape the dreary Canadian winter was much stronger than in previous years as 2013 had been a particularly rough patch in my life. I had gone through a separation and my holiday season had been overshadowed by family health concerns. By the time the New Year rolled in, I had finally emerged from a couple of months of dark solitude and all I wanted was some space to regroup, clear my head and spend some quality time by myself. While I normally preferred more off-the-grid adventure travel, I recalled loving the all inclusive resort I visited in Costa Rica, so when my travel agent suggested Panama, I jumped on a plane and left the cold behind.
The next week turned into a self made retreat. I meditated and did yoga on my balcony each morning, ate platefuls of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish, went for long runs along the beach, and read and wrote my heart out. I also went on a day trip to El Valle de Anton, a small Panamanian village nestled on the site of an extinct volcano. In the valley I visited the peaceful, rustic El “Nispero” zoo, home to an impressive biodiversity of species and a beautiful collection of birds. I also hiked through the local rainforest to the Chorro del Macho volcanic waterfalls and relaxed in the natural hot springs.
However, I was really looking forward to the second excursion – a partial transit of the Panama Canal.
I spent the day drifting along the canal and experienced crossing through two one hundred year lock systems: Miraflores and Pedro Miguel. The Panama Port operation was quite impressive and it was pretty amazing to see how quickly the chambers filled. To learn that over 25,000 workers died during the canal’s construction was pretty shocking, and to me the canal felt more of a cold, industrial traverse than a wonder of the world.
This inspired me to play around with the contrast and saturation in the photos I captured, attempting to bring out some of the darkness and sickness that plagued the canal’s history.
Panama was a fascinating place to visit. My soul healed in the beauty of its rainforests, and I loved learning about the unique history of the country. Driving through Panama City on the way back to the airport, the twisting sky scrapers loomed over me. The Dubai-like architecture reminder that even though this city is very much in the international spotlight, I will always remember the quieter moments that I shared with this country on my little wooden perch on the beach.