Another week, another inspiring solo female travel story. For those who don’t know, Women Who Wander is a travel series I have on my blog where other bloggers can share their stories of Solo Female Travel. It’s something I personally have not done enough of but reading all these incredible stories inspires me to no end! This week, Javon shares her story of Glamping in the Panamanian Jungle, and her photo hunt for the elusive Iguana.
Hi, I’m Javon. I’ve been traveling to Japan and a few other countries for over 15 years now. These experiences have given me confidence to share hard-fought resources that I’ve often learned the hard way. I love Japan and I love the Japanese people. So I want to use the fun experiences, fearful times, unnerving bits, zen moments, just all of it. I’ve been blogging and journeying since 2012 but have never found a more efficient, and fun method for sharing my experiences in Japan. I’ve written countless articles about Japan and what they can teach us about simple living. As a researcher, I truly love making travel and connections to Japan better for people. You can follow my travels on One Green Bicycle
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Glamping in the Panamanian Jungle
No matter where you have traveled, whether to the grocery store in the adjacent county or to the far flung reaches of the Italian alps, you understand trips rarely go as planned. As atypical lodging, Glamping has made scheduling all kinds of lodging a reality from huts to lighthouses. As a travel blogger, I love adventure and saw glamping racing up my bucket list.
I like to travel back to the places I have visited in the past. Unless it’s Italy; I never want to go back to Italy. Japan often calls my name as well as several European countries. But, with a desire to travel outside of my latitude rut (a 30 degree latitude albeit 12 countries), I found a friend and a glamping site in Bocas del Toro, Panama far outside of my latitude rut.
We boated up to an the most idyllic . A thatch roof hut built over a coral reef on a private island. Oh yeah, with a living octopus right below in the coral reef. Did I forget to say we saw manta rays and dolphins daily? And daily views while strolling were sloths, toucans, and a host of bioluminescent life like lizards and bacteria (meaning the water lights up at night as you swim).
Treated like royalty from our host, he made fresh fruit smoothies every morning while we snorkeled without a care. The compost toilet, lack of enough sunscreen, and Jurassic Park bugs added to the adventure.
But there was one elusive animal I had yet to meet, the supposedly dog-size iguanas. But I didn’t plan ahead. My host was busy so I decided to take his great directions and find my own way.
Setting off on an Adventure
OK, let’s do this. I’m off to see the lizards, the wonderful lizards of Bocas. Oops, I still have flip flops on. Better run back and change into boots. OK, back on the trail. Walking along finding swarms of bees and mangroves encroaching into my wettening trail. Good thing I switched to the boots. I side-stepped up into the side of the trail. Okay, I got to the large clearing with the largest tree on the island. Behind it is where I should take a right, and up a 90% degree slope. Hosting myself with trees, OK, all good.
Trudging up the trail, I grab trees for support. I hear something! But, with all the vegetation crunching under my feet I’m too loud. I wait behind a tree. I hear it again. OK, my iPhone camera is out and ready. Quickly, I see a glimpse of something and snap, take a picture. A waving tail is swiftly running up the tree. Looking at my picture it is fuzzy, but I got it! Success. I bet I can get a clearer shot if I can find another one, thought the naive traveler.
So I keep going, around a curve, over a broken fence, until the hill starts to level off and declining. This can’t be right. After 45 minutes I should’ve found something, I’ll turn around. Back to the broken fence, wait, where is it? I think it was through this grove of banana trees. No? Maybe the next grove. No. Let’s go back to where the hill was declining, nothing looks familiar. I couldn’t find that earlier spot but I can get to the other side of that fence right here, right? Climbing over precariously I made sure not to disrupt the thick brush where the strange bugs are hiding. Shoot, the brush is thorny and making my legs bleed. I bet i can just hop over and to, yes, the trail from earlier.
Feeling accomplished, I had a trail again but it starts to go in circles. It leads me into a thick bramble. Later I found out I had followed an iguana trail back to the iguana nest. I ran away, very quickly, and thankfully no iguanas followed. A nurse by day, I knew I was sweating quite profusely, and I would find my way back or die from dehydration. No pressure.
Lost in the Panamania Jungle
So I kept walking, sometimes crying. After another 2 hours I started yelling help. I never thought I would need to shout like that. No one heard me, other than the iguanas. Walking outside the brambles meant walking those 90° slopes up and down trying to get back the way I came.
The farther up I went the thicker the vegetation was. But the farther down I went, the muddier it became and caged me in by the mangroves. Once, my feet were pulled under the mud and I sunk to my thighs before I grabbed onto a nearby tree for leverage. Pulling myself out I needed a major self motivation talk and water. At that point, I expected I wouldn’t make it out. I got out my phone and recorded a video about my life and my legacy. Sharing the purpose and goals I had and my love for Jesus making everything worth it. Afterwards, I decided to keep walking while I still had strength.
I kept walking, feeling the many episodes of salty tears dried to my cheeks. Then I recognized it, that one grove of banana trees! I ran up that slope and was overjoyed. I knew it was only a 30 minute walk now, I returned, muddy, sweaty, tired, and bleeding. Telling my friend everything, then I guzzled water and jumped into the clear water.
I still love adventure and glamping! Although I don’t think I’ll ever try to navigate a Panamanian jungle on my own ever again. But I will revisit the urban jungle of Tokyo, Japan for my next crazy adventure.
Finally, If you are interested in writing for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to share your stories
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