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  • Day75

    Boquete, Panamá

    March 31, 2017 in Panama ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    A couple of wrong turns, one decent hike and a couple of sneaky brewery trips. Oh and some fresh mountain air - yay for not sweating 24/7!

    Boquete is a small town in the mountains of western Panama with the most local feel that we've had in a while, even though there are many American expats who have retired here. The town itself isn't particularly anything to rave about but it's a relaxed place and it's popularity comes from the amount of outdoor activities there are to do in its surroundings. There are many hikes to do, white-water rafting, hot springs to see and other activities, some of which don't really cater to the old backpacker budget but we're making do.

    Day one started off as a bit of a mere with a walk to essentially nowhere. We intended to walk to a garden that took inspiration from Alice and Wonderland in the hills, (sounds random, I know) but got sidetracked along the way when we saw a sign for a lookout instead. Our spontaneity didn't take the win on this occasion as we walked more than the 1.7km advertised and there was no lookout to be seen, nor did the locals we asked have any idea about it. Defeated and hungry, we headed back to the town for a regroup.

    The afternoon was more successful with an outing to a local bakery come cafe for some sweet treats, followed by a visit to the local microbrewery for a sampling of their beers. It's definitely been a while between pints so it was nice to have a bit of familiarity in that respect! Unfortunately I was unable to finally get my cider fix, (non-existent in this part of the world as far as we've seen) as they were waiting to reload the keg the following day but we settled for their IPA and an amber ale, and later the pale ale from their guest beer list. All were decent brews and it was a great place to chill out for the afternoon. A cheeky bowl of free popcorn on the side was a nice touch too.

    We'd saved our big hike for our second day as we knew Cat and Rich would be catching up to us again. And a big hike it was. We'd toyed with the idea of hiking nearby Volcán Baru, but it sounded like a tough gig starting the walk at 11pm to catch the sunrise at the summit. Deciding we couldn't hack the idea of another volcano and valuing our sleep, we set our sights lower with a hike called the Lost Waterfalls. Let's just say we were the ones getting lost.

    A slightly hairy taxi ride from Boquete town finished with us realising we'd been dropped at the wrong place, so we walked a kilometre on the road to the waterfall we were after - or so we thought. We parted with $5USD each and started walking through some farm lands and crops and reached the waterfall within about twenty minutes. This was supposed to be the first of three waterfalls but it was the end of the path, which is when we started realising that maybe we'd come to the wrong place. Our fears were confirmed when we asked a couple of farmers on our way back where the hike was that we were looking for, for both of them to point to the other side of the valley. Damn. Annoyed that we'd managed to waste $5USD each on the wrong walk and not even one particularly worth doing, the four of us decided that if we'd come this far, we may as well do the hike we intended to do in the first place.

    Only a couple of hundred metres further around the corner from the entrance of the first hike was a clearly marked sign for the Lost waterfalls. Typical. We parted with another $7USD (these hikes are on private land) and continued on with what was a great hike. The trails took us on muddy paths through the jungle and had us scaling up and down hills constantly, with three impressively tall and gushing waterfalls to see along the way. We had intended to swim at the base of one of the waterfalls but considering the water was coming from the mountains you can imagine it was absolutely freezing. While it was warm when hiking around, it was quite cold in the forest when we stopped, especially after a wee lunch break at the top of one of the waterfalls, so we decided we'd save the swim for another day.

    It was still only early afternoon by the time we'd done all this so we thought we may as well just walk back to the town from waterfalls too. Probably lucky we'd planned to do this as no taxis or buses went past until we were almost back in the town so we didn't have much of a choice anyway! It ended up being about 10km back to Boquete along the road which took us a good couple of hours, so by the time we got back, the four of us had well and truly earned another trip to the brewery. And it was happy hour, so it would have been rude not to!

    This time they had cider on tap, albeit not of the apple variety like Cat and I were after. Orange or passionfruit were the options so we had one of each and they went down a treat. The boys opted for the IPA and I've never seen Rich savour a beer so much! Admittedly it's probably one of the most expensive beers we've had this trip but still cheap by western standards.

    Our drinks were interrupted by the entrance of a lady who must have had a few screws loose, complete with two baby howler monkeys on her head. She saw our reactions and then proceeded to put a monkey each on Cat and I, which left us both a bit lost for words and uncomfortable. Not so much because we had monkeys on our head but more wondering why she had them in the first place. Central Americans have been known to keep all sorts of wild animals as pets. Supposedly she worked for an animal rescue place and would release them back into the wild when they reached three years old, but I wasn't sure why they needed to be at a bar. The more contact with people these animals have, the less likely they are to have a successful release into the wild. I can only hope this isn't a regular occurrence.

    Next up is the last bus journey of the trip, may as well make it a long one. It's one hour back to David via chicken bus, then seven hours to Panama City on the best bus we've seen in a while - a double decker coach, complete with air-conditioning. It seems we've done a full circle since Mexico!
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