Panama Adventure Days 4/5 (Aug 2-3, 2018): Ancon Hill, The Pirates' Trail & Sacred Ground in Panama
Summit attempts can be frustrated for a long list of reasons: weather, remaining daylight, equipment failure. Not that a place ...
...with 'hill' in its name would qualify as requiring the lofty associations the term 'summit attempt' brings to mind, but still, I found myself frustrated by the first two obstacles on successive days. Dark, occasionally flashing skies and thundershowers on the first, and a closing time bewilderingly earlier than the hour of 3:30, when I arrived at the first gate guarding the area near the top on the second.
Mind you, it's easy to forgot how in the tropics, and especially near the equator, the sun can seem ...
... blazingly, punishingly, high in the sky right overhead say at 2:30 -- like when I started out after a brief, fitful siesta, since I'm neither a mad dog, nor so much an Englishman as others from Canada may be -- and then seem to be dropping like a stone into the ocean by 4:00, as I noticed while descending from about the midway-up point on my second failed attempt.
So, I suppose closing the gates to the summit sometime before 3:30 if your shift is nearing an end and you don't feel like beating the bushes for tourists while on unpaid overtime.
Not that pirates are above beating the bushes to achieve some worthy booty, and I was on the pirates trail after all; but a truck full of presidential guards had just been let thru the gate, followed by a pair of pretty Latin ladies, who didn't seem to get stopped, so I figured surmounting the place unannounced was best left for another time.
On the third attempt, the following morning, well early, I got a taxi ride to the summit area that first wended thru the neighbourhood of El Chorillo, apparently full of its own local brand of pirates and so to be avoided on foot, I'd been told before by the desk clerk, and was reminded of by the driver.
When I reached the summit happily and not too long later, I was not a little surprised, if not chagrined, that the highest point was itself gated off: occupied only by an impressive flagpole properly adorned for the nation.
So, I was not able to stand on the very ground Captain Sir Henry Morgan had when he surveyed the city and surrounds before plunging in for the coup de grace; but on reflection I assumed that was the point. Perhaps the sacrosanct spot was reserved for presidential guards and pretty Latin ladies.