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  • Day21

    Boquete, Panamá

    January 24, 2020 in Panama ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    We just arrived in Boquete last night from Santa Catalina. This is a town at about a thousand meters or 3400 feet, so it's hot during the day but nice and cool at night with a little more precipitation. A lot of gringos have settled here in the past 20 years or so. it had been voted the best place to retire in some large magazine and retirees have been flocking here since.

    it rained almost all afternoon and night and so we were wondering if we made a mistake by booking five nights here. I screwed up on my Airbnb reservation and we arrived a day early so we kind of slummed it and stayed at a hostel near the apartment. It was a tiny room but there was a open kitchen and we met some nice American guys who are also looking for places to possibly retire. The owner was really sweet at Crea Dora.

    There's lots of outdoor activities here including hiking, white water rafting nearby, mountain biking, zipline, etc. It's also coffee plantation country and a cocoa growing region. So there are ton of touristy things to do.

    On our first day and a half here we've just walked around finding out what things cost, going to coffee shops, and enjoying the local food. We're staying a little bit away from the action and it cost $0.60 per person to get downtown on a colectivo. It's a strange system. If you hail a cab when you're at a bus stop they'll only charge $0.60. And on the way back if you're not exactly at the Central Park they'll charge you the taxi rate which is about $3. It's always good to ask several people what the situation is. We've been finding people are very consistent and very honest here. This is probably the only Latin American country where nobody has overcharged me yet!

    That's one of our first impressions here is that Panamanians in general are very friendly and seemed to be fun-loving and honest. Granted this is a broad stereotype but I have been around the block in this part of the world before and it makes things so much easier and more fun. The only downside we've seen is that they don't really do sidewalks in Panama. They'lll make a feeble attempt but there's hardly ever a two block stretch of even sidewalk without holes.

    I may have picked up an ear infection while snorkeling so we stopped in a pharmacy to buy some antibiotic ear drops. I had a few drops left over from an infection 2 years ago and I just walked into the pharmacy and asked if they had the replacement. In the states it would have taken a doctor's visit and a prescription and the base price of this medicine would be $330. We looked it up. Here I just told the pharmacist what I needed and she sold it to me for $15! This is one of the many reasons expats are moving here.

    Our horse riding guide in Santa Fe told us a Canadian girl fell off her horse and broke her wrist. They rushed her to Santiago to a hospital in an ambulance (1 1/2 hours away), gave her an x-ray, a cast, and meds and she paid $46.

    We just moved into an Airbnb apartment a few blocks away from the hostel. This place is so much nicer for double the cost. An American couple that moved from Colorado 8 years ago owns it. It's huge and has a balcony for hammocks and it has a well-equipped kitchen. We plan on buying a ton of groceries and just cooking for the next few days. It's funny how little things like this excite us when you're on a long journey. Eating out can get old pretty quickly.

    Jan 26
    We took a colectivo up to the pipeline trail about 10 miles outside of town. See
    https://traverous.com/travelogues/Ywgv3G0zdy?utm_source=web&utm_medium=Ywgv3G0zdy

    This is an easy hike for birders. The elusive resplendent quetzal is supposed to be seen here fairly often. We're horrible at spotting wildlife and usually just look for people who have their cameras pointed in a certain direction. We never did see a quetzal but we did hear them.

    Jan 27
    it's our last full day here and we were all set to rent some mountain e-bikes for a four-hour ride. A guy from Boston just opened a business renting them out for tours or independently. We didn't think to reserve ahead and they had rented all the bikes when we got there.

    So we decided to do another hike. This one is called the Sendero Pianista. See https://traverous.com/travelogues/QpEvaLOncG?utm_source=web&utm_medium=QpEvaLOncG

    We paid $3 for both of us to take a colectivo up to the start of the trail. We actually like this trail better than the pipeline trail. We didn't have to stop and look for birds all the time!

    We followed a river but along the way we went past horse pastures and cow pastures and we even found a dead cow in the trail. Deanne asked if it was sleeping and I'm like nope, not in that position. I'm thinking it broke through a fence and fell last night after breaking a bone.

    I was a tad worried when I turned around and saw for guys with machetes and ropes. But Boquete is a pretty peaceful town and these were the ranchers coming up to take care of the cow. Within 2 hours, they had moved it by hand and buried it.

    We climbed up into the clouds. It's such a great feeling. And we heard more quetzals but we sure couldn't see them. After a couple hours we turned around and made it back to town right when it started pouring down rain.

    The first night we were here it rained all day and night and we're wondering if we book too many nights here. But after five days and nights we really like Boquete. One of the main reasons is that we booked a really great apartment with nice landlords and we have laundry and a huge kitchen where we cooked many of our meals.

    Tomorrow, we take a shuttle back to Bocas del Toro, one of our favorite spots from our last visit here 8 years ago.

    All photos are here
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/xwx925x7EJ7j1dYNA
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