Yesterday we decided to go out for a drive. Our destination was the Caldera hot springs which I hear are nothing remarkable, but since they are in our area I wanted to see them anyway. We fired up Google navigation and set out up Via Boquete and then down the Caldera road.
We proceeded through beautiful scenery, through the town of Caldera, and beyond. The road got worse. The ups and downs got steeper. We felt more and more like we were far from any civilization. There were no houses and no other cars on the road. Finally though, we came to the intersection where google told us to turn. That road looked quite a bit worse and google said we were still 6 miles from our destination. I was driving our little old Mazda 323, definitely not a back country, rough road kind of car.
I decided we should forget the hot springs and continue on. Eventually we had to end up somewhere, probably Gualaca and from there we could get back home on better roads. So we drove, and drove… no houses, no other cars, very steep ups and downs, hairpin turns, and we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. We climbed and climbed, and the plants and trees were telling me we were at a higher elevation. Eventually we start seeing more houses, and then suddenly there is a good road with painted yellow line down the center. Yeah!! How encouraging.
But still, we drove on, and climbed higher and higher. I was way too busy to take photos so I enlisted Joel for that job. I should have thought of it before but as you will see, we caught the most beautiful parts of the day.
We were thankful for the better road, but we still didn’t seem to be getting closer to anywhere and I considered turning around. There is no internet connection up there and it’s hard to make sense of the little map on the phone. I thought we were headed in the general direction of Hornito which was OK, a town big enough to be on the map, and a place we could ask directions and get oriented, so I continued on.
Finally we started to see a few houses which was encouraging. We were still climbing though, and the views were amazing.
Suddenly we reached the end of the road, and saw that the road it intersected had a ton of traffic. Yeah! I felt like we should turn right but not having a good sense of direction, I pulled over to see if I could make any sense out of the map on the phone. We were headed towards Rambala? No, wrong direction. Thankfully there was a very nice man walking along the side of the road who set us straight. We were right in the first place and shouldn’t have turned around.
We were still high up though, and it took a while to get down to Gualaca. I intended to go straight down to the PanAmerican highway from there. But I took a wrong turn in Gualaca and ended up on a road with very little traffic, so I knew I was off course. The little phone map said we were generally headed towards David so I kept going, and eventually we realized we were either on the Caldera road or headed in that direction. This turned out to be a good thing because it was the most gorgeous scenery of the whole day.
I think altogether we drove about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. I’m glad we went out and saw some areas we weren’t familiar with, and if we go again we will have a much better idea of where we are. I found our route on a map and I think there is a much shorter side road to the hot springs a bit farther down the road. Maybe we will try again sometime, or I’ll just take the offer of other friends who have more suitable vehicles.
It was a great day but of course, it’s always nice to get home again too.
A special thank you to Joel for all the great photos!