Panama in Three Movements: Boquete Part 1: Great Expectations

Boquete greatly exceeded my expectations, probably because I didn’t have any. My sister, Kelley, and brother-in-law, Nate, found it in a guidebook, I think, so we added it to our Panama itinerary. It was well worth it.

We knew we wanted to do some adventure-type activities, and Boquete promised white water rafting and zip-lining. Later we found it is also the premier coffee growing region for Panama. FP and I were excited about that, being the coffee slaves that we are. The guidebooks promised tours of coffee farms with “cupping” at the end. That slightly scandalous word means tasting apparently, in the fancy coffee world. Nate and I practiced giggling about that more than once over our Easter weekend planning session. Speaking of planning, Nate and Kelley did a great job of planning these 10 days, and it made a big difference.

So, Boquete and my expectations. I didn’t realize prime coffee growing temps also means gorgeous flowers and wildlife. We learned the locals call Boquete the town of the retired people. I assumed that meant Panamanians. But nope, that means expats, mainly Americans. That makes for a town with a lot of good restaurants and other “necessities” for life in a foreign country.

Another expectation exceeded was our hotel. We wanted something comfortable and clean, and not at the very bottom of the price scale, but still affordable. When we found Boquete Garden Inn, Nate was concerned it might be too far from town, because maps on the Internet showed it a little way out of town. It was out of downtown, but a short $4 taxi ride took us straight to the action. And the peace and beauty more than made up for the distance. We did walk from downtown to the Garden Inn one day. Of course, that was the day it started to rain halfway home, but it still wasn’t a miserable walk.

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There are Kelley and Nate, posing by the entrance. As soon as we passed under that trellis entrance, I was enveloped in the feeling of tranquility. Not to be cheesy, but there is no other description. I felt at home, at rest. It was a slow Saturday afternoon when we checked in. Our room (the four of us shared a suite) was the ground floor of that first little cottage. The desk clerk felt like a friend right away, and he ended up giving us a ride into town about an hour later in his car with his wife and son so we could find some dinner.

Our suite had a little kitchenette where we imagined we could prepare lunches and save money. In the end, we didn’t need to make lunches, and breakfast was served at the Inn. The small fridge did have some snacks and small bottles of Chilean wine, which Nate and I enjoyed.

FP and I slept on the futon bed.

Nate and Kelley stayed in the master bedroom.

I don’t know what I was expecting for the bathroom, but it certainly wasn’t a modern and tastefully decorated bathroom with plentifully hot water. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in African hotels…

Every day from 6 to 7 is happy hour at the Inn. Our first night there we were the only guests to come to the little gazebo on the river. Our desk clerk happily served us complimentary wine and filled us in on things to do and places to eat. The other time we were around for happy hour, our bartender served his homemade sangria while we sipped and got to know the other guests, who were all English-speaking. Expectations exceeded by the Boquete Garden Inn: check!

Flowers, greenery and colorful birds were at every turn. Both mornings FP and Nate left the room early to capture the light and the birds on their cameras before breakfast.

This little guy was peaking in our window one morning as we were getting up.

Every day the staff set out fruit on this little statue to attract birds. This guy matched the papaya he chomped on.

Every time we turned around, another bird was sampling the breakfast fare.

This blue bird wouldn’t be left behind.

I promised myself I’d find out what all these birds were when I got home. Yeah, that never happened.

The hotel has a little area set up with a hammock and deck chairs near the bank of the stream running behind the buildings. It was yet another enclave of peace and an exhibition of Panama’s gorgeous vegetation. Baby bananas peaked at me from my view from in hammock.

These velvet orchids reminded me of orchids in my childhood in Ecuador.

Were we waiting for breakfast, or waiting for our ride to town? We sure look sleepy.

I’m guessing we were waiting for our taxi to the botanical gardens we visited. Plants seemed to flourish everywhere in Boquete’s mild, spring-like climate.

Our evenings were spent around our dinette table playing card games. The gaming set a precedent for the rest of the trip. Kelley selected music off the iTouch from Nate’s Panama play list. Like I said, impeccable planning and organization. That’s why I hang with these people.

We spent our dinners out at the various restaurants around town: crepes, cafes, bistros, French bakeries, Peruvian and Mexican. And those were just the ones we tried.

We stayed 2 and a half days, but I could have stayed longer. Boquete, highly recommended. Again: expectations greatly exceeded.

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2 thoughts on “Panama in Three Movements: Boquete Part 1: Great Expectations

  1. Please note that I am crying today. For all of my diligence asking for, memorizing, and later writing down that absolutely delicious sangria recipe, how was I to know that was the last sangria I would experience for a long, long time?

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