After a long, two day drive from Granada, Nicaragua, we are now in Boquete, Panama. Boquete is a small mountain town near Baru Volcano in northwestern Panama; in fact, the only volcano in Panama. Boquete is popular with expats from many countries and is hugely different from the colonial towns we have stayed in on our trip so far.
The drive from Granada was not terrible even though it took two days. It was about 2 hours from Granada to the Costa Rican border. The border people from Costa Rica seemed surprised that we weren’t going to stay in their country. I don’t think they had ever had anyone pass through Costa Rica to get to Panama. It seemed like it hurt their feelings and they weren’t sure how to do the paperwork. We enjoyed the drive through Costa Rica. Lots of tourists drive cars in Costa Rica so the roads are generally marked well and are good. Costa Rica is very green and beautiful. It is our first taste of rain forest on the journey so far. There are beautiful banana and palm plantations lining the roads and huge amounts of birds of every color. We stayed in the
town of Jaco (HA-co), Costa Rica for one night because it was too far to get across the Panamanian border in one day of driving.
Jaco is a small beach town popular with surfers and vacationers. We were tired from the drive and didn’t really do much except take a walk on the beach for a couple of hours and watch the surfers. We grabbed a Subway sandwich and hung out in the nice air conditioning of the hotel room. It is exhausting driving the roads and, while an 8-hour car trip in California doesn’t seem that far, it is tiring here.
We got up early in Jaco and took off for the Panamanian border. Again, pretty easy (are we getting used to border crossings?) but it was the first place we had to take things out of the car to be “inspected”. I told the lady in the inspection area that it was mostly just dirty clothes and she didn’t seem too interested in looking any further.
We had gotten up so early in Jaco that we got across the border by 10 and were in Boquete by noon. We checked out the town and got
some lunch before checking in to our new place. The town is mostly made from wood or cinder block instead of the normal adobe in most of the towns we have stayed. Boquete doesn’t really have a lot of history. Its claim to fame is the coffee plantations that were founded after the Panama Canal was finished in 1914. The most expensive coffee in the world is sold at one of the coffee plantations here. It is 104 dollars a pound! We went to the café on the property and you could buy a single cup for 9 dollars. Of course most of the coffee is much cheaper but still very good. We plan on trying one of the expensive cups before we leave.
Our house is pretty nice. It is a small apartment located on a hill above Boquete’s downtown. We have a nice view from our balcony. Panama has beautiful birds (956 species have been identified) and we enjoy watching the many brightly colored birds that are in the trees on the property. We have hummingbird feeders and they are constantly being used by the large variety. I didn’t know there were so many different kinds.
There really isn’t much to do in Boquete. I don’t know what Boquete means in Spanish, but it must mean rain. It rains hard every day here. It is usually clear in the morning and clouds up in by noon with heavy rain after 3.We have been here for more than a week and have barely seen the 11,000 foot volcano located directly to the west of town. It has limited what we have been able to do here. We have done a little hiking and seen some of the coffee plantations on our drives around the country roads. The area is beautiful and very green and has nice trails that are easy to reach from town when the rain stops.
We went to the other side of Volcan Baru on one drive. We visited the town of Volcan and Cerro Punta. Both are smaller towns than Boquete and are mostly farm towns. They have very picturesque views of the farms that line the mountains and valleys. There are lots of expats there also. At times it doesn’t seem like we are in Central America anymore.
We will be leaving after this month for Panama City where we
will stay for a month. We are hoping to have Michael come down for a visit. We are excited to see the Panama Canal and looking forward to being back in a large town. We are tentatively planning on heading north again after Panama City and perhaps heading back to Costa Rica. We are now in our 7th
country in our first year of traveling.
We are looking forward to adventures past Central America but will need to have a different vehicle for our travels. We again have some car issues that we are hoping to remedy while we are here in Boquete. We had mechanics look at the car but as always no parts are available for Saturns. Wherever we go past Central America we will definitely have to get a car that has parts available in the countries we travel to.
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