Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Quick Peek At Boqueron

I rented the house in Boqueron without the slightest idea of what the town looked like. In a lot of ways it really didn’t matter. What DID matter was that I needed to find a place that would give me a six month lease. It had to be furnished with a functioning kitchen consisting of at least a working refrigerator and a stove with an oven. It had to have easy and close access to transportation and fit within my limited budget.

One place I looked at would actually be in sight of where I’m living now if it wasn’t for a line of trees in the way. It’s right across the street from where I catch the bus to go down to David and Dolega.

I’ve always liked this house with its attractive landscaping and when I was told that it was furnished and available for $175 a month I couldn’t wait to take a look at it. Well, it gives meaning to not judging a book by its cover. The interior left a lot to be desired. What pass for rooms are more like cubicles. The walls, made of painted cement block, extend up from the floor to a height of about seven feet and there are no ceilings. In fact there are no ceilings at all, simply the tin roof topping everything and there’s no telling what it must sound like in the nearly daily deluges we get here. The kitchen, such as it is, consists of a refrigerator that probably saw better days a couple of decades ago and the cooking arrangements are a two-burner contraption similar to what I kept in Fort Lauderdale for hurricane emergencies. To get to the toilet you have to go out the back door to a facility that could only have been an after thought. Not exactly an out house but pretty damned close. The front and back doors are secured with padlocks.  And there is no hot water, either.

Fortunately I was able to beg off giving an answer right away by saying, truthfully, that I had made an appointment to see the house in Boqueron the next day and since I’d given my word I had to go.

Today I decided to go check out the town where I’ll be living. The transportation situation is a bit better from David to Boqueron than it is to Potrerillos Arriba. Here there’s a bus once an hour. The buses run from the terminal in David to Boqueron on the hour and half hour. It costs me 90¢ to take the bus from here to David. It’s 45¢ down to Dolega. From David to Boqueron is a half buck with the Jubilado discount. There are some alternatives if I wouldn’t want to wait for the bus that goes directly into Boqueron. I could take the buses that go to La Concepcion, Puerto Armuelles or La Frontera and get off at the intersection where the road from Boqueron meets the Interamerican Highway. But then I’d have to take a cab to the house which is about two and a half kilometers from the main highway.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found Boqueron to be. It’s slightly smaller than my favorite, Dolega, with a population of about 1,500. Like Dolega, the place is clean. The residents obviously take pride in their town. You won’t find huge, gringo-style homes here. Rather they are generally medium-sized, well maintained and, once more, would fit right in with most middle-class residential neighborhoods in southeast Florida.

As in Dolega, the streets off of the main drag have a rural feel to them.

Incidentally, about an hour later, waiting at the bus to go back to David, I talked with the girl in the photo. Her tee shirt said something about being an English student. She’s been studying for about a year and does quite well. She says she writes English very well but has a problem with the spoken word since none of her fellow students want to speak it outside of class. She wants to be a teacher and apparently it is now a requirement in Panama for teachers to be able to speak English.

I kind of like the idea of City Hall being called a Palace…

There were two paintings on the face of the building:

God – Country – Work

For the Benefit of the World

In the first crest there’s a reason for the machete. The things are everywhere. Riding on the bus the Indian men often have one as they go to and from work. And they are artists with them, too. Over the weekend two Indians chopped back the vegetation around the house and they accomplished it in about a third of the time, or less, than it would have taken me to do with the weed whacker. A while back there was a youngster on the bus going to some pageant, apparently, dressed in traditional country garb and sporting a toy machete stuck in his sash. But I’m wondering if the book over the machete in the crest is trying to send a subliminal message like: “get an education or you’re going to be using one of these for the rest of your working life.”

The central picture on the second crest is obviously the Canal the country is so rightfully proud of, but what’s with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle patch in the lower right?

Right next to the Town Hall is a covered basketball court. As it was noon time when I was there, several municipal workers were sitting on the bleachers having their lunch.

Down the road aways, and though I didn’t visit it, there is a baseball stadium.

Naturally the center of every town here in Panama has a church. The one in Boqueron is modern and, I think, quite attractive. Unfortunately there was no way to get a shot of the whole church and its bell tower without those damned electric lines in the way.

Of course no town would be complete without a central park and I think the one in Boqueron is pretty nice.

Down a pretty steep hill, which I didn’t try to negotiate today. is the town’s Fair Ground but I’m curious what Club Lazo is about. Anyway, they’re waiting for us.

There are a couple of small “tiendas” in the town as well as the local “Chino’s.” Most of the small markets in Panama are owned by Chinese. Here you can get most of the staples you need, a limited supply of veggies and meats. For major shopping you need to go to David, or, most likely since it’s closer, La Concepcion.

Naturally, since Boqueron is only 300 feet  above sea level it’s going to be a lot hotter than it is up on the side of the mountain. But not to worry, there’s plenty of cold suds at Bar Beny. Wonder if the Jets drink here?

Overall I think Boqueron is equally as attractive as Dolega, but there are warts to every thing of beauty. In this case I found it at the bus stop waiting to go back to David.

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Boqueron today. It was clouding up fast and I wanted to get out before it started raining. I managed to avoid it until I got back up on the hill, but I never leave home without my umbrella. I’m looking forward to spending the next six months in this pretty little town.





Filed under Boqueron Panama, Living Abroad, panama, Retirement Abroad

A New Place To Live

One month from today the owners of the house I’ve been living in for the past five months return.

My first choice for a move would have been to Dolega, a small town about half way between Potrerillos Arriba and David. Click here to see my previous post about this village. But I couldn’t find any available houses of apartments for rent there despite asking people at the stores, in the park and strolling around.

Daily I checked craigslist both for houses and apartments by themselves as well as the possibility of finding a shared place. One ad caught my attention, the price was right, the location seemed fine (in David itself), but when I inquired about who I might be sharing the house with it turned out that the other occupants were in their 20s and 3os. Wouldn’t have worked. I did check out one place that was offered by someone I met on a visit to the hostel where I stayed in David. The young man, well, young in relation to my dotage, is personable enough and is on the road much of the time so I’d have the place to myself much of the time. But while the location was quite good, a short walk in one direction to the bus terminal and a similar hike in the other direction would take one to the main park in town, the furnishings were, well let’s say, somewhat shoddy and past their prime. In the States Goodwill and the Salvation Army wouldn’t have taken the stuff. I took a pass.

I got one response to an ad I’d placed, myself, on craigslist looking for another house-sitting position.  It was for a place in a community close to David called Los Anastacios. What I’ve seen of it from the bus windows going up and down the hill it looks like a pretty decent place with modern, gringoesque houses. It is rented by an 84 year old gentleman but the owner of the house was looking for someone to act as property manager, care for the pool (hmmmm), mow the lawn, etc. I passed on this one, too.

One of the reasons I passed on those was I’ve come to realize I enjoy my solitude after having been in a five year live-in relationship with a girl followed by another six years of having a roommate. Actually the roommate situation was better than the relationship since in the entire six years my roommate and I never once got into an argument. That certainly doesn’t come close to the live-in arrangement.

I checked out the bulletin boards at the supermarkets that offered a variety of places for rent. Many were asking more than my budget would allow and the ones that I could afford weren’t in places I’d want to be.

I’d put up notices on various Yahoo Groups dealing with Panama and got several responses. Again, most of these were either too expensive or in locations I didn’t like. One of the responses was from a gringo lady who lives not too far away. I wrote to my friend Joyce who knows a lot of people in this area and she told me the lady was a bat-shit crazy, right-wing teabag sort, so that was out of the question. Since Joyce and I are on similar wave lengths I value her opinion.

Then I got this response: “A friend of mine has a small house in Boqueron for rent.  Semi furnished with air condition and nice swimming hole.  He is asking 200.”

Okay, the price works. Not as good as FREE! But certainly well within budget. Interestingly, when I was first looking for a place to live, just after receiving my Pensionado Visa, I was corresponding with someone who had a place to rent in Boqueron. Unfortunately I couldn’t get down here in time and it was rented to someone else. It also appeared, from Google Earth, to be farther away from David than I wanted to be, as well. But I didn’t know better at the time.

I got back to the person who sent me the message and then started to correspond with the owner of the house who lives in Texas. The house was renovated within the last year and the owner was willing to lease it out for six months rather than a whole year. This is perfect since the owners of this house on the hill have asked me if I would do it all over again next year. Since I really like the place there’s nothing I’d rather do.

So, on Monday I took the bus to David and then another out to Boqueron where I saw this:

I would be renting the downstairs. Admittedly it’s going to be a lot different than living here:

But then, again, I went from living on this for three and a half years,

To living on this for the next five years…

And I can’t honestly say that the larger boat was any more fun than the smaller.

Boqueron is a Panamanian community. I will be the only gringo in the neighborhood which is decidedly middle-class Panamanian. Decent houses and the owner of the house says he loves his neighbors. Transportation is much better to Boqueron than it is to Potrerillos which will be a big plus. But Boqueron is closer to La Concepcion than it is to David, so that’s where I’ll be going to do most of my shopping for the next six months. You might remember that I wasn’t at all impressed with the place when I visited it last month. And while the saying is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression I’ve found, over the years, that my first impression of people and places haven’t been all that astute.I’m hoping that’s what will happen with La Concepcion.

We’ll see how it goes and I’ll be putting my impressions in photos and videos right here.

Oh, yes, one thing I’m looking forward to is the swimming hole in the river that passes by just a few steps from my new back door.


Filed under Boqueron Panama, Living Abroad, Retirement Abroad, Uncategorized

Another Record Set In September

The figures are in from my neighbor, Mary, who keeps track of such things at:

Apparently another record rainfall recorded in Potrerillos Arriba of an even SIX FEET of the wet stuff fell on us here in Potrerillos Arriba.

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Filed under Living Abroad, panama, Retirement Abroad

Anyone With Half A Brain Is Conservative…

But it takes a WHOLE brain to be a Liberal.

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