This is one of the most beautiful countries I've ever seen. It is lush and tropical. We took a private tour up to the Veragua rain forest using OkeyDokey Tours (http://nanada.com/tours/index.htm). They were pretty good. The tour guide was cute and told us all about his mother-in-law. The ride up was terrible. It took about 1 1/2 hours and the last third was over unpaved roads. We were in 10 passenger vans. I don't know how the big buses make it up here. However, once we got up there it was wonderful. There is about a 20 minute cable car ride down into the rain forest, about a 20 minute walk thru the rain forest, and then about a 20 minute cable car ride back up. We saw Toucans, monkeys, leaf-carrying ants, and all sorts of other stuff. We had a wonderful guide thru the rain forest. When we got back up they took us thru exhibits showing the native frogs, amphibians, snakes, butterflies, and insects. It was quite a wonderful experience and SHOULD NOT BE MISSED!!!!! For the more adventurous, there is zip-lining up there as well. Note that admission to the park is $40 per person for groups of 10 or more, and $55 per person for smaller groups. Admission was included in the price of the tour ($90 per person.) On the way back down, our tour guide stopped at some places and brought out various native herbs and plants for us to smell and look at. One of the more interesting things was a plant which looked something like an orange coconut. He opened it up and inside was a pod of very large seeds covered in an edible stuff. They dry the stuff off, roast the beans, and grind them. And that's how you make chocolate. Afterwards they took us for lunch to a restaurant in this really idyllic cove. You felt like you were in paradise. The food was local fare and very interesting. Back in the port there were vendors selling souvenirs. This was the best shopping of the entire trip. These were all local people selling local crafts at very reasonable prices.
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