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Friday, April 04, 2008

Barrels of Fun

On a piece of paper posted at Cielito de Sur are more than 40 things to see and do in the Chiriqui Highlands, but for some reason, Chris and I had a tough time mustering the strength to do any of them. Instead, we lounged on the grounds of the six-acre property, napping and reading for a good part of the afternoon.

We did finally decide to pay a visit the archaeological zone of Barriles (or "barrels"), which is located on a private farm just outside the village of Volcan. The pre-Columbian site was discovered in 1947 and subsequently excavated by a team of National Geographic archaeologists. Unfortunately the only description at the site is the article that appeared in the magazine a few years later. Otherwise, we had to guess what things were all about. What we did surmise is that ash from the Volcano rained down on this area and a culture disappeared as a result.

When we drove up, we were greated by a pack of friendly Dalmations. A woman emerged from the house and invited us up to the porch. She didn't say much at all and she said there were no guides to show us around. She said we could go out back to the museum for a look around. Hmm...okay.

All I saw in the backyard was some rusting farm equipment hanging in a large shed. We wandered further back on the property and found a big ditch--probably where most of the artifacts were found. Wandering back, we stumbled upon a small sign that said "museo" and walked in. An underwhelming collection of artifacts sat on shelves in a room no bigger than my upstairs bathroom.

It appears many of the more interesting artifacts are in a museum in Panama City, so what remains in situ is a collection of pottery shards, some tri-footed pots, statues and grinding stones. Also on the property is a collection of petroglyphs etched into large stones, some of them barrel shaped (thus the name of the site).

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