Nestled in the picturesque Chiriqui Highlands, approximately an hour west of Boquete, lies the town of Volcan. Drive four miles farther down the road and follow the sign, to Sitio Barriles, a combination working farm and archeological site. There you’ll find a perfect blend of history and nature.
Edna Landau, who’s family has owned the property since 1924, will lead you on a tour of her land, and tell of lost cultures and their remaining artifacts.
It is believed that Africans and Asians lived harmoniously in the area as far back as 600 BC. Then, without warning, two nearly simultaneous volcanic eruptions completely obliterated the settlement in the 7th Century, leaving only a thick layer of ash and lava.
The most stunning examples of the people who once occupied this land are stone carvings: a map of what the area once looked like, sculptures of single individuals and a carving of a stylized African man, carrying an Asian on his shoulders. As with most of the artifacts, no one is certain of its meaning.
Barrel-shaped stone objects bear hieroglyphs carved into their surfaces, which can only bee seen when wet. Again, no one knows their exact purpose, but one theory is that they functioned as aides in moving large objects.
A small museum containing funeral urns, obsidian tools and drinking vessels will draw you deeper into the past. The smooth oval-shaped, table with a dip in the center and a grinding stone, was used in ancient times to pulverize maize and other grains.
Edna’s family continues a long tradition of excavation and preservation for future generations, allowing organizations such as National Geographic to unearth as much as possible.
The tour alone is worth the $5.00 price. But you can also enjoy rich vegetation, exotic birds and a stunning view of the tallest mountain in Panama, Volcan Baru.