Amidst the high rises, the traffic, and the slums lies a gem in Panama City. It is in fact, the lung of the city.
A few days ago, Matt and I went to the Metropolitan Natural Park / Parque Natural Metropolitano de Panama for a short hike. The fact that you can hike in the city was pretty awesome. Even more awesome though?
The animals that we saw!
When we first entered the park, there was a pond to our left full of very curious turtles. If you know me, then you’ll know that I just LOVE turtles. Basically, my love affair started on a cruise through the Eastern Carribean when my mom, sister and I went snorkling. I think we were off the coast of St. Thomas but I was a total tourist for that week and I can’t remember where we actually were. Anyway, during our snorkling adventure, I came across a magestic sea turtle who was eating sea lettuce all alone.
It was love at first sight – and my love for the sea lettuce eating sea turtle has expanded to a love for every turtle. Even normal pond turtles.
Which is what I think that the turtles at Metropolitan Natural Park were. Possibly they were red ear sliders because they had some red on their ears. But to be honest, I’m probably making up the name of them.
Anyway, these guys were awesome! They were so curious. They poked their wise old faces out of the water when we were near, and swam-shuffled up to us! It still makes me smile and laugh thinking about them!
I’m not totally naive, and realize that there is the possibility that they’re frequently fed by humans and have thus become accostumed to humans…and associate us with food. Still, I like to think they’re simply curious.
One animal that we saw was definitely not fed by humans. At least judging by how scared one of them looked when we were near.
Matt and I had been walking through the park for about 2 minutes after we hung out with the turtles (and missed a sloth in the tree above, whoops), when we heard this sort of chirping noice. We both thought it was a bird. What the heck else chirps?!
Geoffroy’s tamarin, that’s what!
These little tiny monkeys were up in the trees, chirping and chitter-chattering away.
Until about 5 minutes ago when I was reseraching for this blog post, I’d never even heard of a Geoffroy’s tamarin. It’s such a cool feeling when you see an animal that you don’t know the name of. It instills a sense of awe and wonder. It’s basically what I imagine children feel like every single day until they grow up and get bored with the norm. That’s why I think it’s important to travel!
This first-hand realization that the world is still a mysterious and intriguing place is pretty powerful. Do I sound like a mad-man right now?
Anyway, as we continued our hike, a little 4 legged creature ran across the path behind us. It was about the size of a little pigglet. I don’t know what it was, but maybe it was a capybara or a lowland paca. It was a quick little guy and had no intenion of being seen by humans. I didn’t get a picture of it, so no, you’re not overlooking it in the picture below!
Besides the benefit of giving city dwellers a break from the concret jungle, the forest in the middle of the city is home to so many animals, and types of plants, and the trees help clean the air and give oxygen. Every city should have one!
To get to Metropolitan Natural Park / Parque Natural Metropolitano de Panama, we took a taxi for about 15 minutes from the Marbella neighbourhood and it cost us $4 one way.