January 31 all the volunteers east of Panama City had a regional meeting.
To make these meetings more interesting they are held in different locations each time. Our regional leader and a volunteer who lives on the lake organized a trip to one of the caves that border Lago Bayano. We gathered at a small port next to the bridge over Bayano Lake, which is several hours drive from Panama City. After distributing life jackets and face masks (as dictated by PC medical to avoid inhaling bat guano) we climbed into the boats.
We made the half hour trip across the lake in these log boats called pangas. "Panga" is used for any small boat other than the dugout canoes. Dugout canoes are called peraguas.
A short walk from the edge of the lake, the cave begins as a canyon with steep overhanging limestone walls that eventually meet overhead. The stream that carved out the cave varies in depth from a mere trickle to section four feet deep. The ceiling opens and closes a handful of times for approximately one kilometer then transitions into your standard beautiful-stream-flowing-through-untouched-rain-forest.The multiple verdant skylights are striking. I kept thinking that if I had the right camera and knew how to use it pictures of this place could be in National Geographic. The caves were teaming with bats. In one sunny chamber I found a poison arrow frog and on the edge of the lake we saw various birds including large herons and a kingfisher.
We got together for a barbecue at one of the other volunteers houses that evening and early the next morning caught a bus to Torti. In Torti we translated for a group of evangelical doctors from the US. They had come down for a week to provide cataract and pterygium surgeries along with general medicine and other medical services.