El Rio Chagres





               After spending nearly two weeks in Colon and continuing to fail with generator repairs, we decided to take a break and head west along the coast to the River Chagres- A short river finishing in a dam that joins onto the Gatun lake in the Panama canal. After a tense entry through reefs and shoals outside the river mouth, we found ourselves in the glassy calm water inside. Both banks were totaly covered by trees that loomed across the sky, and vines that hung down into the water. After only half an hour in the river, we heard a far-off roaring that we knew for sure was a pack of howler monkeys in the distance. We anchored on a short stretch in the river that had a small tributary coming in from the left that just begged for a visit.

            The next day we took a trip up the tributary and saw monkeys jumpingMonkey Spotting between trees over the river, crabs, iguanas, and we even caught a small fish on the line that we were towing.

            On the third day, we moved further up the river and anchored just outside the small lake next to the dam with three other yachts nearby. We took the dingy across the lake and landed on the beach in hope of taking a look at the dam and visitors centre… no such luck… we were stopped within five minutes by a passing polices patrol pickup and sent back to the dingy (but not after they had taken our names and addresses, and joined by some more police men who stood in the background glaring at us). Whilst driving back across the lake we spotted a suspicious looking rock by an island- it was moving… After taking a closer look we saw the telltale eyes and nose of a crocodile just beneath the surface… we upped the revs and kept our limbs out of the water after that. We picked up a thirty foot long trunk that had become entangled in our chain.

            We went on two small trips into the jungle and saw more monkeys, capybaras and enormous hanging termite nests. The following morning we woke up and were startled to see a sloth sitting in a tree on the opposite bank… we quickly raced over in fear that it would move before we got to see it properly. We watched it for a while from a distance and it seemed totally disinclined to show any signs of seeing us, so we moved in a bit closer… no response… finally we stopped the dingy right underneath its tree to watched it scratch itself, yawn, stretch out, and fall asleep on the branch!

            This brought it back to us that, yes, we were sitting in aSloth, he stayed in the same position for at least three days. river with sloths on one side of us, monkeys on the other side of us (the monkeys came the following morning) and crocodiles underneath us, wow…Very difficult to get a decent picture of the monkeys into the sun, this is our best attempt.