A ring-tailed lemur, many shades of grey, perched on a rock while looking up at another lemur leisurely hanging out in the upper branches of a tree. It was polite of him to pose so patiently for me.
On the other side of Volcan Baru, hidden at the top of a rocky, unpaved almost-impassable road, is Finca Dracula, home to one of the largest private orchid collections in the world. This is the gate that leads to some incredibly exotic orchids, particularly the Dracula Orchid, so-named for Count Dracula because of the blood-red color of some of the species and for the long spurs of the sepals which look similar to a bat when closed.
After visiting one afternoon, we were the last to leave and were asked to please close the gates behind us. There was a spooky element to the photo, made more so by the name above the dilapidated gate.
One of my favorite rustic bridges in Boquete overlooks the river flowing through the valley, tumbling over rocks and huge boulders, meandering alongside high sculpted mountains and vivid green trees and grasses. The weather-worn trestles are covered in splotches of rust.
A day spent in a game park is not something one gets to do too often and I was thrilled to have the opportunity. A beautiful Waterbuck cautiously made his way through the tawny grass, pausing to assess his surroundings for potential danger and keeping his eyes firmly focused on me.
Being so close to this beautiful white lioness reclining in the grass just a few feet from the car helped make a visit to the park even more memorable.
Out of all the hundreds, possibly thousands, of sunset images I have in my collection, I thought I’d deviate from the expected Panama mountain or beach view and post an African sunset. When contemplating sunsets in Africa, what comes to mind is the vast savannah bearing a lone thorn tree silhouetted against a fiery orange sky.
Well…in South Africa I was able to witness several gorgeous sunsets, some of them with an industrial touch as the area in which my sister lives is home to gold mines and Sasol, the world’s first oil-from-coal company, an immense factory that develops technologies, including synthetic fuel technology, and produces liquid fuels, chemicals, and electricity. When pulling into the upper parking lot of the Secunda Mall, the skies over the manufacturing plant were striking with the steam from the massive silos streaming into the sunset colors.
The discontinued gold mine shaft with simple pink and white cosmos flowers in the foreground caught my eye while driving along the highway as the sun sank lower on the horizon one evening.
A few days later, we detoured on our way home to watch the sun’s descent and once again, I caught the gold mine shaft in the distance.
The thunderous Indian Ocean waves crashed ferociously over the rocks on a beach in Kwa-Zulu, South Africa. Over three meters high, they pounded the beach where swimming was prohibited for the day due to their ferocity and the strong undercurrent.
Two people stood holding the hands of a third figure who knelt in those turbulent waves. I was bewildered by their behavior, wondering what they were doing, fully clothed, wading further out into the rough water. At one point, the waves swept the trio off their feet, rolling them in the surf as they floundered, struggling time and again to regain their footing. Other curious beach goers ventured closer, seeming to question whether or not to provide assistance, nobody apparently too keen to intervene. Once the odd threesome were back on their feet, I realized this was a ritual? initiation? baptism? of some sort. I meandered over to another onlooker to ask if she understood what was happening. She kindly explained that the large woman was a sangoma, a healer using traditional African medicine (muti) and divination, and that she and her assistant were initiating a prospective sangoma (by near drowning, from my perspective). The initiate probably ingested a fair amount of sea water during this fascinating ritual which included the sangoma calling out to the heavens and several times holding the initiate face down in the salty waters. I asked my friendly informant if it would be acceptable to take photographs as I didn’t want to offend anyone and have the sangoma cast a hex on me, to which she responded positively with a giggle. I wasn’t the only bystander avidly capturing this OMG moment.