by J. Robertson Miller, September 2023
On Saturday, Angel Barsallo drove Danae, Tom and I to the Museo Parque Arqueológico in El Caño, not far from Penonomé. We drove into the countryside past local houses. The road ended in a cul-de-sac turn-around that was also the parking area.
It was a typical Panamanian day: hot and humid. The mosquitoes were hungry. We tried not to feed them much. Tip: bring insect repellant.
Our guide, Ronaldo, told us the site is 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean. It was a ceremonial and funerary site, but native peoples lived in the area.
The dig is run by the National Geographic which has featured it in some past issues of their magazine. We visited the small museum. Everything on display are copies because the place is isolated and without security. The real gold, ceramic and other finds are kept in a safe location off site. There is an electronic quiz game to test your knowledge and is popular with visitors.
The rest rooms are behind the museum. Also in back of the museum is a small store where you can buy snacks and bottles of water.
After buying bottles of water, we walked across a meadow to the burial excavation site. Several skeletons are displayed. These had been buried about 4 meters deep. A wooden fence keeps you from falling into the huge hole but you have a good view of the burials as you walk around. A metal roof protects the dig from the rain and provides welcome shade.
Tip: Wear a hat and good walking shoes. You will be walking over grass, weeds and maybe some mud.
From the funerary dig site, we walked over to the line of standing stones that marked a long, curved processional path. There are signs that tell you what you are seeing.
We returned to Penonomé to enjoy a meal at the Gambrinus Pub and Grill. Then it was time for the drive back to Panamá City. The day was long but worth it. We stopped at some other places (subjects for future blog posts), learned a lot, shared stories and ate well.
Another interesting and informative field trip.