Daily Archives: May 7, 2010

A Trip To Boquete

When I first started mentioning that I was planning on retiring to Panama a lot of people said I would probably like Boquete since thee is a large contingent of English-speaking people who have settled in the area. I would tell them, as politely as possible that a bunch of gringos wasn’t a positive selling point for me. Another sales pitch is that at an elevation of 3,700 feet in the mountains to the north of David the weather is almost Spring-like the year around. It’s also a mini-business center for the residents of the mountains and one of the places where I would be able to pay my utility bills.

Well, today I decided to take my rental car and do some sight seeing and actually visit Boquete. You take the same road out of town as you do if you were going to where I’ll be living in Potrerillos. When you come to the town of Dolega the road vees off. To the left is Potrerillos and to the right is Bouquete. The mountain range is actually the continental divide and home of Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama at 11,398 feet, and driving up there you get spectacular views of the mountain range with clouds obscuring the tops and descending into the valleys . Unfortunately the road doesn’t have shoulders so there’s no where to pull over to cop a couple of pictures.

When I finally got to the village itself and found a parking space at the central park I have to admit I wasn’t impressed with the place at all, and let me tell you while it was already hot and muggy down in David at 8:30 in the morning it was chilly up there. Like the first days of Spring after the Winter, not like the last days of Spring before Summer. I walked around a little bit, stopped at the Duran (Panama’s leading brand) coffee shop for a very nice cup of espresso. The Boquete area is Panama’s leading coffee growing district. I decided to drive a little further up into the hills beyond the town and a couple of miles up came to the Ruiz coffee plantation. From what I have read Ruiz gives tours and produced some of the finest coffee in the Republic. I stopped in and bought a large bag of espresso roast beans but haven’t tried it yet, and my grinder is at the house in Potrerillos.

Here are the photos for the day.

Volcan Baru and the village of Boquete from Wikipedia

The mountains around Boquete

The river that runs through Boquete

Last year the river flooded causing the banks to cave in and several homes, native places and expensive gringo McMansions were washed away. As you can see they’re working installing huge stones in an effort to forestall another disaster.

Another view of the mountains from Boquete

A field of yellow flowers outside a gringo ghetto development below Boquete

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The Hostel Experience

Practically everyone I know would hate the hostels I stay at. Most of them are pretty much dumps but the thing that makes them enjoyable, besides the fact that they’re cheaper by at least half than hotels, is the variety of people who patronize them. They’re especially popular with the young back packer set, but others stay as well. In hotels you really don’t get the opportunity to meet and interact with the other guests the same way you do staying in a hostel.

Last night the crowd here in David threw a barbecue. When the fish monger (great word, monger) came to the restaurant across the street some of the guests here went over and bought four beautiful, corvinas (sea bass) for less than five dollars a piece. They also went out and bought steaks, chicken and corn on the cob and then cooked it on the huge grill near the swimming pool. It was a United Nations of hostel stayers ranging in age from their early 20s to myself in my late 60s with some 40s and 50s mixed in. There were people from the States, Poland, Austria, Australia, China, Panama, Argentina, Costa Rica and Slovenia.

One of the three Gringos was a Chinese guy from Toronto who lives and works in Springfield, Mass. He was riding his BICYCLE through Panama with a final destination of Texas. Robert is 41 years old and has cycled in a lot of countries, including Pakistan (which he said was the worst place) France, Spain and England. He’s cycled across Canada and the U.S. from coast to coast and his ultimate goal is to be able to say he’s biked around the world.

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