Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good Vibes In Boquete, Panama

Where do I even begin on Boquete? I only planned on going for a couple of nights and ended up staying for almost a week. Boquete is a small town, and even though it is a well established stop on the backpacker trail and has its fair share of expats and NGO workers, it also boasts some beautiful scenery, lovely gardens and the best coconut flan I have ever tasted (why, oh why didn't I take a picture of that?!). 

I hiked, strolled through beautiful gardens, visited a coffee farm, saw live "gypsy music," observed a centennial parade, almost sold our soul and/or a passport to rent and watch Volver again (love that movie!) and also got a brief chance to volunteer: I got to spend a morning doing puzzles with mentally handicapped indigenous children, and then got to participate in what my host for the day Jenni deemed PX90 real life--turning a slab of concrete into gravel with a pickax inside a green house. I learned about smokeless stoves and aquaponics and offered up the only piece of useful information I could muster--that plant there is okra and it is best eaten fried. (I couldn't believe with all the collective knowledge they had there that no one had eaten okra. Southern girl to the rescue!) The entire time I was with their family I was amazed by the smart way they went about trying to assist the bottom tier of the economic structure. (Check them out at here.)

Boquete was also the first place I have ever been kicked out of a hostel. The people in charge told me I could only stay for one night because the place was full from then on. This was fine, but also perplexing because there was hardly anyone there. The next day I double checked and she told me again that it was full, so I moved across town. My friends in that hostel assured me that the hostel has not been full. I still have no idea what that was all about, but it made for some nice jokes. 

Speaking of friends, I met a ton of amazing people in Boquete--in the hostels, in the gardens and volunteering. I generally say the best and worst parts of traveling alone are all the people you meet. In Boquete they were definitely of the good variety. 

Some pictures below:   

The beautiful gardens in Boquete came with the reminder that I am allergic to seemingly any kind of plant these days. I got to make a fun trip to the pharmacy after this one for some allergy meds. 

Colorful buildings

I stopped in for mass one day and heard a sermon on the creation story. The priest used a metaphor of God going about creating like a pregnant mother preparing a nursery for her unborn baby. It was a surprising place to find a metaphor that was both feminine and compatible with an evolutionary take on creation. After spending a solid month this summer doing nothing but writing papers on the first 12 chapters of Genesis, I loved it.

Check out all those SPAM varieties!

In a photographic failure I somehow neglected to take a picture of the tricked out Diablos Rojos (repurposed  yellow school buses) in Panama City, but I did capture one in Boquete (and actually rode this one all the way back to David). But just so you get an idea of  how much more awesome the ones in the city were, if this one passed me on the street in Panama City, even with the fins on top and dual exhaust, I would have just let it pass and waited for a cooler one to come by. 

Machetes for sale in the corner store

A typical meal for me in Boquete. I ate in this cafeteria at least once a day, every day. All that goodness for about $2.50. 

So many gardens! So many pretty flowers!

My grandmother used to grow these. 

I trekked out to the hotsprings, which turned out to be a whole ordeal. It took me forever to find this sign. (And then forever still to get there from this sign.)

Oh yeah, did I mention I rode a bull? For more than 8 seconds too. 
(It's true. I don't always make brilliant decisions.)

The pharmacy where I got my allergy meds had all kinds of stuff in it. I suggested it as a possible place for a friend to find a copy of the new Girl Who Kicked the Something or Nother book. When we got in there I remembered, oh yeah--all those books I remembered seeing in there were all copies of the Santa Biblia (Bibles). Oops. They did have an EXACT replica of the scarf I was wearing though. Which was especially strange because I bought it at a Moroccan market in Brussels. 

OK, so that is a glimpse at Boquete! Next up, a few pictures from the parade/centennial celebration and my coffee tour. 

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