Thinly sliced between the Atlantic and Pacific, Panama is the deli meat that holds the two bready continents of North and South America together. I indulged myself in its geographic, ecological, biological and canal-magical marvels until I was ready for a quick jaunt to nearby Cartagena, Colombia, where I met and fell in love with Pepe the Sloth.

What a harpy new years trip it was! The harpy eagle is Panama’s national bird, a fierce predator on the edge of extinction. These powerful birds snag sloths like Pepe and monkeys from treetops in their humungous bear-sized claws. Don’t worry, Pepe, I’ll save you!