As I arrive in the town of Sapzurro, Colombia after a relatively long hike over a steep mountain the Darien Jungle heat, my body begs me for a moment of reprieve from the heat, humidity and muscle aches. I pull up a chair at a tiny restaurant off the main sidewalk in town and ask for a water. The girl who serves me looks confused as to why someone would order water before telling me they only have soda. In need of something to cool me down I order a bottle of Postobon (apple flavoured soda) and a freshly squeezed glass of lemonade. When the sweat begins to dry on my skin a sense of tranquility sets in. Watching the kids playing marbles on the grass in front and enjoying the shade for the rest of the day would be the easy thing to do.
Against the wishes of my already battered body, I hand the young lady, tinted in Caribbean tanned skin, a couple thousand pesos and continue on to my destination: La Miel, Panama. I’ve been told this is the most beautiful beach in the region, and one that is well worth the hike. My feet scamper at a trotting pace up the steep steps towards the official border between Panama and Colombia. I reach the top of the footpath and, short of breath, hand my passport to the young military officers at the desk. They laugh at my pain, jot my digits down on a piece of scrap paper and tell me that I am free to proceed.
On my way down the hill I can already see the beauty has settled itself in the bay below. A Panamanian military officer races past me with a backpack attached and a rifle tightly gripped in his hands. It’s easy to forget that this place is still often frequented by both Guerrillas and narco-traffickers coming up from Colombia. This beautiful section of the rainforest is, essentially, a military zone. When I reach the village, I pass a wanted sign with a price searching for the head of a certain member of the Guerrilla and walk past an army outpost in the direction of where I’m told is the beach. As I cut past the palm tree wall that has blocked my view I get my first view of it: Paradise.
La Miel, Panama is about as secluded a spot as you’ll find in the Americas. Closer to Colombia than it is any other Panamanian town or village the real only way of arriving is from Colombia on a day trip. Some people, like me, arrive on foot. Others arrive on boat from the Colombian town of Capurgana. Regardless of how people arrive they are guaranteed to be wowed by the piece of heaven that lay calmly before them. Below I have included some photos of La Miel, I can only hope that they do this place justice.