I have now been in Panama for over a week and it has been quite an adventure already. The interns and I have met with leading architects, built a sign out of recycled plastic bags, explored Panama City, eaten at 2 fondas in San Miguel, and hiked for 2 hours straight uphill— this all culminated in reaching the valley.
The trip to the valley was much anticipated because I have been hearing great things about it since I landed in Panama City. When I finally reached the valley, my expectations were exceeded. Picture this, 2 small, natively built structures in the middle of a huge field of green, and surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is just incredible place to be. My favorite part about the location of the future Kalu Yala is that it is very close to the river.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the great relationships that the Kalu Yala staff based in the valley have developed with the campesinos (individuals who live near the site). Some of the neighbors have even helped with construction on the rancheros (the built structures in the valley).
I’m really looking forward to starting on my project for the semester- to organize trips for backpackers out to the valley. This part of the country is not usually explored by tourists, so I believe that there will be a high demand for this type of authentic experience.