HomeTravel NewsAdventures and Challenges: Exploring the Changing Roads of Panamá

    Adventures and Challenges: Exploring the Changing Roads of Panamá

    On a fateful day, October 9, 2022, Panamá experienced an unexpected deluge as two hurricanes grazed the region. Though the hurricanes’ eyes remained north of the isthmus, rainfall still poured down, causing significant repercussions. Rio Chiriquí Viejo, the river that had gracefully carved a canyon along the western edge of Paso Ancho, transformed into a raging torrent, reshaping the landscape in its wake.

    The forceful currents of brown, muddy water surged through the canyon, fiercely tearing at its sides and forging a new path for the river. This new route returned the water to its original course, bypassing a previously constructed channel designed for a convenient bridge crossing. However, this transformation came at a cost.

    As the river altered its course, it cut into a cliff wall where a road had been constructed, allowing access to the bridge. The road vanished, devoured by the river’s relentless force. The canyon wall shifted back, eroding not only the old road but also a fence and part of a house overlooking the river. The aftermath was a landscape forever changed.

    Changing Roads of Panamá

    In the weeks that followed, workers diligently worked to restore access. A new ramp was constructed around the river bend, situated away from the original path that had succumbed to the floodwaters. As a temporary solution, a low-water crossing was created within the new river bed until a permanent channel could be built, redirecting the water to the undamaged section beneath the bridge.

    Recently, Pepper and I embarked on a hike to observe the road’s recent transformations. The newly constructed ramp, now covered in asphalt, presented a significant improvement. Walking down the ramp and ascending back up was a much easier task, free from the fear of soil giving way with each step. The asphalt provided stability and reassurance.

    However, doubts still lingered. The nature of the terrain and the region’s rainfall patterns raised concerns about the long-term integrity of the latest road endeavor. Water has a way of shaping and eroding the soil in this part of Panamá. Tales from locals living near the river spoke of boulders colliding and rumbling downstream during intense rainfall. The steep slope of the road, coupled with the heavy rainfall that occurs between May and November, suggested a potential challenge for the newly paved ramp.

    In the event of future hurricanes or torrential downpours, the ramp’s survival might be put to the test once again. While the asphalt brings hope for durability, previous experiences cast doubt on its longevity. The absence of asphalt on the previous ramp had led to its rapid deterioration, rendering it almost impassable. The current ramp, now vastly improved, brings a sense of optimism, but only time will reveal its resilience in the face of nature’s might.

    Changing Roads of Panamá

    As an observer, not an engineer or road construction expert, I cannot claim expertise on the matter. I acknowledge the possibility of my doubts being proven wrong and welcome any positive outcome. Perhaps the asphalt will indeed be the solution needed to withstand the forces of water and time. However, I can’t help but ponder the challenges that lie ahead, knowing the unpredictable nature of the weather in this region.

    The evolving road serves as a testament to the ongoing battle between human construction and the relentless forces of nature. It highlights the constant need for adaptation and the delicate balance between human intervention and the environment’s inherent power. As time progresses and the weather takes its course, we can only wait and see what the future holds for this newly transformed ramp.

    For now, I remain hopeful, appreciating the improvements made and the access it provides. As we continue our journey through Panamá, we will keep an eye on the weather and the road, witnessing the unfolding story of resilience and adaptation in this captivating land.


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