Monday, February 1, 2010

Panama Part 2 – Mmm Coffee, Ahhh Hot Springs of Boquete

Panama Part 2 – Mmm Coffee, Ahhh Hot Springs of Boquete

After having sand fly bites, a sunburned nose, and tired eyes from the brightness of the sun in the sea, it was time to head up to the cooler cloudier climate of Boquete. To get there I first rode in a water taxi, to a water bus, to a taxi, to a buseta, to a school bus and finally made it to Boquete about 6 hours later. The buses snaked up through the mountains while I was sandwiched between the window and the traditionally dressed Kuna Yala baby and a mom who was probably 20 years old at most. It was odd to see them pay with dollars.

Boquete is a beautiful little town that is mountainous, cloudy, misty, and much cooler than where I’d been - picture gardens in the mountains. It was kind of refreshing, but I also kind of needed warmer clothes. I met a woman from San Francisco, who was retired there and she loved the climate. People from the United States seem to be retiring to Boquete in large numbers.

By the time I checked into Villa Verde, there wasn’t a ton of daylight left. I had an incredible view from my room.

The view from my room at Villa Verde

I walked up to Mi Jardín es tu Jardín. Apparently there are rainbows almost every day. Today was no exception.

Las floras a Mi Jardín es Tu Jardín

La estrella a Mi Jardín es Tu Jardín

Los peces a Mi Jardín es Tu Jardín

Los arcos de iris cada día

I was travel weary and had no energy to do anything besides watch TV. I found it odd to watch the NBA, Will and Grace and Seinfeld in Panama. There was a bathtub, and hot water, so I took my first bath in about 5 months. How relaxing! That, plus the cool mountain air helped me sleep soundly.

The next morning I was off to Café Ruiz for a cup of joe with Rahul’s Panama guidebook in hand. With my reading, and help from the woman who ran Villa Verde, I made some plans for Boquete.

In the morning I visited Paradise Gardens. It was an incredibly peaceful place with flowers and some rescued animals as well.


Angel's trumpets

My afternoon was spent at a coffee tour at Finca Milagrosa. I was the only one in the car with señor Vargas for the tour. He was a bit worried of my opinion about his jalopy. I told him that my old car was a 1988, his was a 1987, so we understood each other. after all the mountain roads getting there, in the end I had get out of the car so it could get up the steep driveway leading to the farm.

unroasted drying coffee

Coffee berries

Drying coffee

I was led around the small-operation coffee farm and had all my questions answered. Señor Vargas had built everything on the farm for the coffee production. The machinery reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss book.

harvested coffee berries

the incredible contraption for coffee separation created by señor Vargas

Coffee berries being washed and skinned

The skins go one way...

...the washed beans go the other way

This reminded me a bit of what I've seen in wineries. How in the world did we humans come up with such complex processes of plants to get a drink? Really, who thought, "Let's pick these berries, skin them, roast them, grind them up and pour hot water over them, strain it off and then drink only the liquid"? We are odd creatures fo sure.

dried coffee ready to roast

dark, medium, and light roasts. Notice the tool of screwdriver welded to spoon

Señor Vargas y Finca la Milagrosa

While at this miraculous coffee farm, I met some French Canadians. The were headed to the hot springs where I wanted to go as well, so I joined them. Off we went through the mountains and the turn off the road had these petroglyphs.


more beautiful Panamanian farm land with the added bonus of horses and rainbows

We arrived at the hot springs just after sunset. There were 3 natural tubs that each got hotter. It was New Year's Eve so I thought I'd wash away the old year and welcome the new with a ritual bath.

Los Pozos de caldera

Arriving back in Boquete I had Peruvian food that wasn't good before meeting a cute young couple at the bar next door. They went home to be with family, and so at 11:40 I was home listening to the loud traditional Panamanian music from the party across the street. I did some reflection and made some resolutions while listening to, and occasionally watching, the fireworks that went on until about 2:30.

New Year's Day I was unable to go horseback riding as I'd hoped, so I pretty much just walked around town. People kept telling me my Spanish was good. It felt good. Sometimes in Colombia people think my Spanish is really good, and other times it’s like I’m speaking Chinese. Part of the New Year’s resolution is speaking my truth and being clear in my speech. I hope the other resolutions become perceptible throughout the rest of the year. I went to the Catholic Church mass and prayed.
On my walk around lovely Boquete in the mountains and across the rivers I saw this...

...which I thought seemed like a good sign for the first day of the year.

Seeing this was also rather inspirational

That night it was time to pack up and get to bed early for the 6 am bus of the next day. I stopped to get some water at the store and found it funny to find Leffe Belgian beer there. I had to get one for the novelty of it. Boquete was tranquil and serene. I was glad to spend a few days there, but I was ready to get back in the sun.

Adios Boquete! On to Santa Catalina to surf!

1 comment:

  1. love this post. keep the great pictures coming! (what camera are you using?)