The human mind is amazing how it can shift from a traumatic experience of running for your life to laughing hysterically, because you made it out alive with only a few battle wounds and no hospital bills. Our adventure began with my desire to be an excellent host and provide a memorable experience for my US friends who wanted to go hiking. At the trail head we were greeted by a friendly, 10 year old, indigenous boy carrying a machete as big as him. In his native tongue, he warned us not to go any further due to bees. How sweet of him for being so lovingly over protective of “the tourists”. I thought! Taking the proper protective measures, I asked if anyone was allergic to bees. With a unanimous no, we slipped him a few dollars to show our gratitude, and continued on the path to enjoy the beautiful scenery. My justification was the awareness of a Panamanian culture that seems to be notorious for being fearful of things without premise. Kind of like the urban legends that have been passed down from generation to generation. I guess that is everywhere though, not just here!!
Half way into the hike, two men suited in beekeeper’s protective clothing, driving a truck with a smoke machine, passed us. The men warned us not to go up there. “The bees are angry!” they said. Once again, my prideful ignorance of knowing more than the beekeepers kicked in, and we merrily continued on our adventure. Not too long after we passed the truck, we began to notice a bee here and there. Then a few more bees, and then even more, the numbers of bees increased rapidly. My friend’s back was covered in bees. We were sweeping bees off of our arms, backs, clothing, and even in between clothing. They were swarming all around us as if we were life sized, opened, soda cans spilt on a hot picnic day. Ouch! One got my eye. As fast as I swiped it off another one got me near the same spot. They were angry bees, swarming all around us, wondering what we did with their honey comb!!! With a relentless vengeance, they were determined to get it back. As the intensity swelled to the magnitude of my eye, we took off, at breakneck speed, to flee this terror. We didn’t stop till we felt like we were far enough away from danger. Trying to catch our breath we looked around to see if we were in a safe zone. A sinking feeling ran through our entire being when we notice our friend had run the opposite direction. The distance between us seemed impossible to close due to the Africanized nightmare between us. She looked back and forth for another route, concluding the only way was straight through them. With a huge sprint of energy and a prayer in her breath, she charged down the path through the swarm of bees. When she reached our side we began swiping off the bees, and pulling bees out of her hair, and stingers out of her scalp.
Shortly, we were eagerly motivated to resume our hike towards our car! The men in the truck met us on the road and graciously gave us a ride the rest of the way. The driver began sharing the fact that they use Africanized bees, instead of the European ones, because they are heavier honey producers. I had no idea if this was true or not, so I politely challenged him to hear his points, and consider his words; after all, he was correct about the angry bees. When we arrived at our car, we said thank you, and with our goodbyes he gave us a large piece of honey comb. Wow! In our eyes it became a sweet golden victory medal. Under the beautiful clear blue sky we sat down to enjoy the honey in its purist form straight from the honeycomb. While enjoying the sweetest taste I have had in a long time, I began pondering. My eye looks like Mike Tyson’s punching bag. Most people end up dead or deathly ill in a hospital after that extreme encounter. What are my friends thinking about that moment? Well, I did take precautions and ask them if they had allergies. Concern and worry began to spoil the sweet moment we were all enjoying. I looked at the chunk of honey comb in my fingers and thought to myself, Nahhhh! I choose to enjoy this moment of victory.
By the grace and protection of God all of us are ok and survived unscathed, just a few bites here and there that will heal, and an unforgettable memory we can take with us for a life time. This adventure has intrigued me enough to research about honey and more specifically the Africanized flying nightmares that produce it. Honey, in its purest form, is some of the sweetest stuff I have tasted in a long time, and after a little research, I have discovered that it has some awesome properties as well. I am so fascinated by this; I believe my next article will include the health properties of honey and how miraculous it is.
I have attached an informative article put out by the University of Florida about the temperament of two types of bees. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I have.