Albatross Island was another top secret US military spying operation, abandoned. The police escorted us there. Nothing for miles around. Just this sign
Way down a small road the building and the setting strongly reminded me of a short story by JG Ballard The Terminal Beach.
This is what it looked like when in operation, a gigantic top secret antenna that could listen in on anything in the western hemisphere. That’s the same building in the middle.
Now it’s surrounded by low pampas
A hundred yards back from the sea
And destroyed inside
It was all apocalyptic.
The cool ride in, and inside the building:
Further on that day more abandoned complexes
We said goodbye to the police and headed off to another, crazier destination: Battery Baird, deep in the jungle
The ride in
This is about half of it from above
The other half from below
These are cells
This is a cannon battery, designed to protect Fort Sherman and the coastline. Here’s a photo of a cannon here from WW1
The calculations for targeting were made from here
Going into a passageway was interesting. We explored with Eddie’s iPhone light. It was pitch dark. The shots are nice and bright from the camera flash. Bats flew around our heads
Some tunnels went deep into the hillside
Some tunnels were incredibly narrow
There were wasp or bee nests everywhere
Looking into the mouth of one of the nests
And in one doorway was this beautiful spider. Huge, maybe 3 to 4 inches across. It’s quite famous. Nephila clavipes has perhaps the strongest and finest of silks. It’s being experimented with for numerous applications. A thread is 6 times stronger than steel of the same diameter. Needless to say it’s venomous. It’s web was huge, filling the doorway. I didn’t disturb it.
Then we were off, to yet another destination, through the coastal forest, which looks like this
We got a short mud ride in as the road had washed out
To the mouth of the Chargres River where Fort San Lorenzo was built by the Spanish around 1587. Now the really good news is our pirate hero Henry Morgan, who has looted and burned to the ground every coastal Spanish fort we’ve visited so far, looted and burned to the ground San Lorenzo in 1670 despite being vastly outnumbered. This is really excellent news and if I get another bike I’m going to name it Henry. The river
The fort, the part that didn’t burn to the ground
It had a moat around it. Henry must have have looked at it and laughed.
Then we rode back to Fort Sherman and to the beach
It had been a very long day. In fact we didn’t make it back to Panama City until way after dark, exhausted.