Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Panama Day Four

We left the City in the morning by plane to another city named David, which is on the Pacific side and as we flew over the terrain, we could see farmland and cows and villages and blue blue water.... it was very inviting. As we disembarked the aircraft, I looked up (and I do mean UP) and saw these enormous mango trees, heavy (and I do mean HEAVY) with fruit!!!!!! WoW!!!!!

The airport was small and efficient right up to baggage handling. I really feel the necessity to mention this because man has been traveling now by plane for over half a century and has perfected baggage handling to almost an art form but I don't think anyone has told Panamanians that you don't have to lift every suitcase and, bent over, shove it thru a small opening in a wall that is draped with plastic sheeting to another person standing inside the building...... who then in turn, shoves it towards the swarming mass of passengers eager to be off. Seriously. Up-date this before someone else gets a hernia!

We are met by the father of the woman who Gary hired to transport us up to Boquete, in the mountain region of Panama. It was a truck. A smallish truck .... so we helped hoist the luggage into the bed in back and climbed in. It was warmish and we managed to travel behind every slow-moving vehicle between the city and and the town. I was sat on the sunny side with the heat beating down on me. We had the windows open so that was some relief but I used by jacket to shield my face as best I could. What could have taken an hour took longer. Much. At one point I was willing to walk ahead and meet them when they caught up, just to get out of the sun's rays. One positive about the slow crawl was being able to really the land so, there was that! And the driver had married a Panamanian lady and retired from the US military and lived there long enough to give us a real tour/class on what was what in the country.

When we did arrive at the guesthouse, it was so picturesque and perfect, I was in love..... we stayed in a place called Isla Verde; a collection of roundhouse lodges.

Ours is on the left, theirs is on the right

Each one differing from the others and having at least a small fridge, coffee maker, some sort of cooking implements, if you intended to stay awhile. I was ready to surrender to Boquete and simply stay on while the others moved on to the beaches of Bocas in a few days..... it was so pretty. The grounds of the place was littered with interesting plants, most in bloom and I guess as this is a tropical and temperate climate, the blooming last pretty much all year round.

A river ran through to property as well and it was moving swiftly ....

We missed lunch while traveling, so we walked into town and stopped for a bite at the Boquete Bistro and found these two beautiful murals depicting life in the mountains of Panama.... somewhere in this area were citrus orchards......

and then proceeded to familiarize ourselves with the town, where to organize a coffee plantation tour, what restaurants the locals would recommend and a slow stroll back to the roundhouses.

We met a lovely lady, Deborah Duran, from Santa Fe,

who lives in Boquete year round with her husband and creates tile art, Tucan Tile, which she sells locally and at art fairs in the US southwest. She ships her things over and picks them up in an RV and travels the States fair to fair and then heads home from another Airport where she will repeat this a few months later...... pretty slick! and her work is very nice..... a little heavy to be hauling around in a small suitcase. Sadly.

We picked up a bottle of Malbec and orange juice on the way home and decided on a restaurant for that evening. John called, yes and made a reservation! Yes yes, we are going to do thing their way alright already!

We showed up at the appointed time at a charming turn of the other century hotel and, I am NOT making this up, there are 18+ tables, with one taken, and we're asked, "Do you have a reservation?" It's always asked politely.... "yeeesssss..." we say (smugly, for once) and they check the reservation sheet which has exactly 2 names, neither of which are us.

"Oh come on! I called not 3 hours ago.... really?" "I'm sorry, sir. Perhaps you called .. a.. different restaurant....?"
"No, I'm fairly certain we called here, Panamonte Hotel. Is it possible to seat us anyway?" he asked, glancing around at an otherwise empty space of expectant hospitality......

"Certainly..." and we sat down to enjoy a delicious meal. Also, art.

I wish I could recall the different names of the dishes.

Afterwards, I wandered out to the garden area... now, this is high season and it was extremely quiet in Boquete. On a Saturday night.

John made a wander with Gary as well and you'll never guess what they found....

Well, whaddaya know? Another restaurant....! And a jumping joint to boot! Here's where the action is! You think that might be where we made the reservation? You would think they might have mentioned this 2 hours earlier....... it is in the same location! On the other hand, perhaps this was done on purpose...... like an unsuspecting insect and a Venus Flytrap, we wandered into their maw and found no escape hatch!

I don't care. I rather doubt the pub spot had the same food offering and what we ate was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. I would love to return and stay a week at the Panamonte Inn and Spa


Earlier in the day, we had made reservations as well to tour a finca in the morning......."the 2nd best coffeee in Panama!" "okay, how about the 1st best then?" No..... all their coffee is exported and they do not allow tourists..... (But I have to tell you, 2nd best was far more interesting than you might think and for that, you have to check back later.)

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