lunes, 11 de julio de 2011

Panama/Colombia Border - Yaviza (June 30 – July 7)

Chichile, Segundo Sugasti, Rick Morales
Cerro Nique – Cana – Boca de Cupe
Our border to border pilgrimage started officially at the peak of the Cerro Nique, in the bordering region between Panama and Colombia at 10:30am of June 30th, 2011. However, the process of getting there is a hike worth telling, but I’ll reserve that for when we are gathered in the light of a campfire. For now, it deserves to be say it taugth us a lesson in humility. The decision to reach Cerro Nique by first rising through the Serranía de Pirre was in retrospect a mistake, for it turned out to be a long and torturous route. But I’m glad it was that way because it was one of the best experiences I’ve had on the field. While Chichile, our local guide and designated Machetero, Opened our way through the dense vegetation, Segundo and I were trying to direct with the only available map of the area, a letter of  1 in 100,000 out dated and incomplete.
Once we reached the peak, we placed the Panamanian and Colombian flags on the highest point, this marking the beginning of our about 800km route. However, we weren’t prepared for the trip back to Cana, our base camp, where Mike Esquivel y Beatriz Schmitt were anxiously waiting. During the rest of that day we were only able to travel 2km, opening a precarious trail through the entanglement of bamboo, vines, ferns and spongy mosses, typical plants of the tropical cloud forests. El Nique got us literally on our knees in more than one occasion.
We were lucky enough to be in constant communication with Mariella Nieves and our monitoring team in Panama City, thanks to the satellite InmerSat telephone and Spot Connect Sponsored by GlobalStar Panama. Without that connection, the trip would have been devastating and unbearable.
Finally, four days after leaving our friends, we took a lateral edge of the ridge and down into the valley of Cana, to meet them. After a deserved rest, Segundo and I saw them leave on a private flight to the capital, and we prepared to resume the march north to the town of Boca de Cupe.

Boca de Cupe – Yaviza
The 43 km between Cana and Boca de Cupe took us two days through spectacular jungle scenery, making the hard hike more bearable. Once in town, however, we opted to take a day off to recuperate strength and a good mentality, and to organize the next section of the journey to Yaviza. We had definitely left behind the wild and legendary Darien, and we were entering more and more in the fields and farms that demonstrate the omnipresent hand of man. Therefore we didn’t  expect much of this section.

We hired the services of Gilberto Chamarra ("Pica"), who seemed the only person who knew the way to Pinogana. We made excellent time from Aruza to Boca de Cupe. It was barely 11 am and we were already, according to the GPS about  2.5 km from Pinogana! – It was too good to be true.

Soon we meet the calamity; surrounded by Platanilla (Heliconia spp) and each with our own personal cloud of mosquitoes, we got lost even though the browser kept saying that we were just around the corner. After walking in a circle for the third time we decided to stay on the Rio Tuira and wait for some canoe for information about distance and direction of Pinogana.

Leisure took us to build a raft that served only to transport Gilberto to the other side the Tuira where he found a discarded old raft, but it took us for the remaining 4 miles to our destination.
It was getting dark when we let the raft part alone and we resumed the journey on foot, up and down hills until we sighted the first light of Yaviza. It was 21:00.

I do not want to bore you further with my comments. Thanks to our team on base, you can get all this information on maps, pictures and videos-which would not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors, Spot and Sony camera with the wonderful Cyber-shot DSC -TX10 camera passed down to us

Hugs to all,


son tomadas con la SONY Cyber-shot DSC-TX10.

are taken with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10.

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