Sunday, November 20, 2005

An Adventure in Boquete, Panama

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I went on a ‘Tree Trek’ canopy tour today. What is that? Well, here in Boquete it means that a group of excitement seekers (crazy people) and five guides drive for about forty minutes up a steep mountain. Then they all hike another ten or so minutes to the first platform situated on the side of a mountain. There, the guides strap you into a nylon harness, hook you up to a thingamajig that allows you to roll at break-neck speeds down steel cables strung between treetops, then push you off from the platform and hope that you will arrive alive at the platform at the other end of the cable. On one hand, you wear a special leather ‘brake pad’ that you pull down against the cable to slow down.

The system is really quite sophisticated, with safety measures galore and competent and knowledgeable guides. It is also an absolute blast. I hadn’t had so much fun in years.

The Boquete Tree Trek brochure says that the 11 cables that make up the complete tour extend to a total length of 3 kilometres between the anchoring trees and are from 30 to 60 metres (100 to 200 feet) above ground. How’s that for a thrill? How fast do you go? Think Meatloaf. Remember that guy, the one who sang “Like a Bat out of Hell?” That’s how fast.

One of the guides was kind enough to take the photograph above. Yep, that’s me. I had to have proof of what I had done so that my wife and son would believe me. If I look inelegant in the photograph, remember that I’m sixty years old. You have to make allowances for us geezers, you know. For those of you who know about such things and would point out that one of my hands should have been on the harness, you’re right of course. At the time the photograph was taken, I was following the instruction that when your velocity approaches the speed of light, you should place your harness hand over your brake hand and pull down with all your might, so you don’t end up knocking all the people who went before you off the platform when you arrive there.

The Tree Trek is a ‘must do’ item if you are in Boquete. If I can do it, so can you. Here is their website so you can read more about it.

I met some great people on the trek. There was a couple from New Smyrna Beach, Florida and a group of three from San Diego, California. All were young enough to be my kids. We all had a lot of fun and I would definitely relive the experience again.

After a nice lunch with the couple from Florida, I ran into Reinhold again. We chatted some more. He sure gets around. Fascinating chap. Then, I drove for miles around the Boquete area to enjoy the natural beauty everywhere. Eventually, I pulled into the parking area of a local real estate developer to check what time his office opens tomorrow. He happened to be in the office with a client of his, so he invited me in and we all talked for a while. The client came to Panama prepared to spend a million dollars or more. He feels that there is still lots of room for capital appreciation in the real estate market here. I think the market in this area is a bit on the frothy side, but I will check out some listings tomorrow to see what is available.

I can’t express enough how nice the Panamanians are and how beautiful the country is. I can see why so many people are drawn here to retire or invest.

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