An Indoor Girl Doing Outdoor Things - Jungle Land Floating Resort

May 28-30, 2017

I knew I should have paid more attention to what we were doing in Panama.  I mean, I had a general idea of what was going down.  We were staying "in the jungle" for two nights and "at the beach" for four nights.  But I didn't actually take into account what staying "in the jungle" really meant.

Before we arrived at the lodge, I updated my status on Facebook.  "I don't know where we're going, but everything will be ok as long as there's WiFi and a hair dryer."  Oh, I was so young back then.

Adele found the Jungle Land Floating Resort on TripAdvisor one day.  It checked off all of the boxes.  Going into Panama for the first time, we didn't want to just stay in the city (or beach, as it turned out).  We wanted to see nature and animals.  We wanted to visit the jungle.  With a name like Jungle Land, it seemed like the best option.

The cool thing about Jungle Land is that if you stay overnight, all of the food, alcohol (important), and excursions are covered.  So we paid one rate and could do it all.  Perfect.

This was not our boat.  But it was another boat at the dock where our boat docked.

We were greeted by the driver at the airport and took the 45 minute (or so) drive to the dock.  Once there, we waited for a few minutes for a covered boat to arrive.  The boat was delivering the day trippers who had spent the day having a great time at the lodge.  The workers loaded our bags with ease and we boarded the boat for our 30-ish minute ride to where we were going to spend the next few nights.

Our journey was about to begin.

Did I mention we were the only two people on the journey to the lodge??  Adele and I were traveling during the low season in Panama.  It was also the start of the rainy season.  Low season would be a running theme in this particular trip.

Arriving at the lodge, it was obvious that this was a special place.  Originally two boats were connected to create a place to stay.  But over the years, the boats had been built up and added to in order to make the place habitable.  And it was.  Everything was rustic but comfortable.

The only pic I have of our room.  There was a lock, but we never even considered locking the door during the day.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of the room.  But it was harmless.  There was no air conditioning or hot water or flushable toilets.  Funny enough, these were not deal breakers.  Then again, it didn't matter if they were a deal breaker.  We were "stuck" at the lodge for two nights either way.  Screen doors and fans provided some air movement during the night, which was helpful.  The weather wasn't horrible while we were there, but I have to believe the hot and sticky times of the year could be a bit miserable for those of us accustomed to the creature comforts.  Like air conditioning.  And a flushable toilet.

Side note, a compostable toilet is better than you think it'll be.  Who doesn't like throwing wood chips into a toilet after it's been used??  It's like kitty litter, but for humans.

Where we spent much time eating and drinking.

We spent time drinking here too.

Our first night we weren't alone.  There was an older couple from Argentina who were also staying at the lodge.  He spoke some English.  She spoke only Spanish.  No matter the conversation, either she or I were excluded.  It wasn't really a big deal for either of us, really.  We enjoyed the night and the dinner.  It worked.

Speaking of the dinner, the food at the lodge was really special.  Just like everything else, I didn't know what to expect.  But when the cook brought out the steak for dinner, most conversation stopped and we all turned our focus to eating.  One night was steak.  The other was chicken.  Lunch was a combination of rice, tamales, pork, chicken and other meats.  Breakfast one morning was pancakes and eggs, the next morning was a frittata.  This was homemade Panamanian food.  And it was wonderful.  It probably would have been nice if I had my phone nearby to take pictures.  But there wasn't a real reason for me to have a phone on-hand most of the time.  We didn't get the wifi password until the next morning.

After dinner the first evening, Captain Carl announced it was time for the night safari.  We changed into comfortable clothes, grabbed our ponchos and jumped into an open-air boat.

Before it started raining stupidly (which is just raining, but while I'm outside), we were having a good time.  Carl would see a crocodile or other animal, try to grab it and show it to us.  He was able to pick up a baby croc (I touched its tail!!) and a newborn croc (did you know newborn crocs squeak??  They do!!).  In general, Captain Carl would shine a spotlight into the darkness of nature to see if there was anything cool to see.  Then the rain came.  And we didn't see much of anything.

I'm not cupping my boob.  I'm trying to cover the mole so Mia doesn't rip it off.

After the night safari, we made our way back to the dining area where we Captain Carl brought out a treat for the crowd of four.  Mia the monkey was a "stray" that Carl took in when the father monkey died.  She has an apartment in the lodge and comes out occasionally to the delight of city-dwellers who don't normally see monkeys.

That's at least how I understood the situation.

Mia was an adorable monkey who promptly climbed on my arm and shoulders.  While she picked at my chest mole, she also took an enormous dump on my back.  I didn't realize it at the time though, so a smell followed me the remainder of the night (which to be fair was only an hour or so).  The tank top was promptly decided to be tossed.  So did the second one that got destroyed when I didn't realize  the poo situation was a thing.  So Mia was a cutie, but I wasn't planning on holding her again in the near future.  I didn't have any tank tops left.

Our first morning was spent hiking.  I think Adele and I both thought we'd be dropped off somewhere and we'd be on our own, finding our way along a well-defined path.  When the guide entered the boat with a machete, we knew we were not on a hike at Starved Rock.  Our guide had to build a bridge over a small stream (river??) so we didn't walk in calf-deep water.

Like other spectacular hikes I've been on, I was at the back of the pack and had a serious sweaty situation happening.  Sure, back of the pack on this day meant I was in third place.  But still.  You get what I'm saying.  There was a reason I brought two bottles of water in the backpack.  I sweat like a freak in the humidity while I'm walking in Chicago.  I'm sure you can imagine what it was like while hiking.

Walking to the waterfall.

Our guide Luiz waiting for someone to join him at the top and jump.

After our hike, we jumped in kayaks and made our way back to the lodge.  Adele was 100% in charge of steering the kayak.  I've never kayaked before.  So I followed Adele's instruction and we did pretty great.  We had another kayak excursion later in the day when the day trippers came to eat and play.  With more people in the mix, we went on a different path, this time ending at a waterfall where almost everyone climbed up the rock formation and jumped into the water.  I was not one of those people.  I'm never going to be one of those people.  So I documented the moments instead.

My view, post hike or kayak.  Not shown, the wine in my hand.

It wasn't all hiking and camping and eating.  On the upper level of the lodge were six hammocks.  Adele and I made ourselves at home on the hammock, napping and drinking wine.  Not necessarily in that order.

Our last real excursion was to Monkey Island.  We went into a covered boat and drove around the island, stopping a few places to shake peeled bananas and peanuts in the shell at monkeys.  It. Was. Awesome.  Capuchin and Tamarin monkeys came out to greet us at different points in the cruise.  The capuchin momma with the baby attached was my favorite.  Our guide, Luiz told us to make sure we didn't have anything loose that the monkeys could steal from us.  Halfway through the first monkey encounter, I realized my sunglasses were still on my head.  I'm happy to still have them.

Before we knew it, the boat had arrived to take us back to the dock.  Our time at the lodge was short, but I don't think I needed it to be any longer.  It's not that I didn't have a good time.  Remember, I'm not an Outdoor Girl.  I'm the girl who brings a flat iron to the jungle.  But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my time in the jungle.  I walked around in nature, stomping around on fallen leaves, trying not to slip in the mud.  I gingerly made my way into a kayak and learned how to paddle.  Though I didn't learn how to get out of a kayak.  My dismount was more like a giraffe being birthed.  Which was not a pretty sight.  I came face to face with a crocodile.  A few of them, really.  This was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the least, but ended up enjoying the most.

If only there was a hair dryer.


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