Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 15, 2008

Boquete Land Trip

7.11.08 – Oscar, a driver recommended by Tina, took us to the Tucomen airport, where we got an automatic Nissan Almera. We started navigating, but found ourselves handicapped by a bad, inadequate map. The 20 km from the airport to the exit from Panama city to the west took us 1:15 hours. From there we had to drive another 430 km to David, the main town of the Chiriqi province, where Boquete is located – further 38km in the mountains. A very long journey, on roads that were not always in good condition. At one point Itzik was driving, going about 90 kph, when I saw a sign limiting the speed to 60. I said it out loud, but Itzik has a problem with his right ear and did not hear. A few seconds later we were stopped by a cop for speeding. Here, the Panamanian legal system showed it’s advantage. The cop said it was a 60$ fine. “Where do we pay it?” we asked and then “What if we paid it here?”. The cop instructed us to put “something” in the driver’s passport, checked it, gave it back minus the greenback, gave us some advise on speed control in the country and waved us on our way. We started out of the airport at 0900, succeeded escaping the city at 1015 and reached Boquete at 1700. A long,tiring trip.

8.11.08 – Boquete sits at about 3500 feet, in a valley between montains covered with lush vegetation.

Boquete

Boquete

Since we did not have any good information and the visitor’s center was closed due to a holiay, we decided to take a tour with a company called “Boquete Safaries” which in addition to seeing the highlights of the area, included a visit to a coffee farm and a center for rehabillitation of wounded birds and animals. The tour was to take off at 1330, so until then we drove the car to places that we thought were not on the tour’s agenda. We climbed the mountains, crossed raging rivers and saw a lot of coffee plantations.

Coffee beans

Coffee beans

At 1315 the hotel reception rang to say that our guide was waiting. We came out and found a young man, who called himself Jason. He came with a yellow 1978 (!) Toyota jeep with a removable fabric top that was installed against the expected afternoon rain. In front it had the usual driver and passenger seats while in the back there were two side facing folding seats. When I sat there my head was pushing at the top. Jason, after a few tries, started the diesel engine and we were off. Jason turned out to be a very likeable fellow and took us basically to the same area we drove to ourselves.

Itzik and Jason

Itzik and Jason

An extra was a coffee plantation which was very interesting. Following a hunch, I looked back in the guest book to find that my son and his family visited and stayed the night at the very same “Finca Lerida” last December.

Finca Lerida

Finca Lerida

Another extra was the birds and animal sanctuary. An English couple, Jenny and Paul Saban, came to Boquete three years ago and started “Paradise Gardens” in which they treat sick and wounded birds and release them to nature once they are fine. Lately they are also taking care of other animals. They had this sweet baby ocelot, a jungle cat and many parrots of all kinds.

Baby Ocelot

Baby Ocelot

Colourful birds flew freely in the aviary and all the place was surrounded by trees and shrubs making it a real paradise on earth. They are preparing a web site and promised to send me an e mail when it is up, I’ll put in a link for it. Finishing the visit there the jeep would not start. Before deciding that the battery was flat we looked at the terminals, found that one was loose and the other had a nut missing on it’s shoe. We tightened it as much as we could but still it did not start. So, with Jason at the wheel, the two seniors, combined age 136 years, aided by two young fellows who were visiting the place at the same time, pushed with all their might until the 30 years old car consented to start. Jason was full of apologies and when he brought us back to the hotel he gave us a feedback form to fill. In addition to giving good marks to Jason I wrote:”Buy a new Jeep!”

Here’s another interesting thing about Boquete; You see “For Sale” signs all over the place. It has become very popular with people from the US and Europe who bought land and built houses there. I asked Jason if he had an idea about the land prices in the area. He thought that prime locations cost 250$ per square meter. His boss bought a house on a lot of about 1000 square meters for 300.000$! Now Boquete is the place where the Indian workers in the plantations live with their families in huts or ramshackle buildings provided by the owners, where you can buy a sort of muffin in a local eatery for 5 cents! Into this environment come the well intentioned Gringos and build their big houses, inflating the prices of land fantastically and tempting families to sell parcels of their land trying to get ahead.

9.11.08 – We left Boquete early in the morning. The drive to Panama city was much easier and we reach it at 1400. I took Itzik to see the Miraflores locks and then we went back home.

10.11.08 – Itzik flew back to Israel and my next crew come aboard on the 21st. I have some maintenance to accomplish and may also sail around a bit. At midday, trying to phone my mother, I found out that she was taken to hospital, feeling unwell. My mother is over 94 and has a strong, brave spirit. Before I embarked on this sailing venture I had my qualms regarding leaving her and going far away (I am an only child). This is what she told me” I will not forgive you if you give up your dream because of me. I don’t need you to babysit for me.” Still I worry about her a lot even though Gili and my children are there to help when necessary.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for finally writing about >Boquete Land Trip | Catamaran “Two Oceans” Weblog <Loved it!


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