Tag Archives: boquete

Boquete, Panama

After a boat ride, taxi and two separate buses I arrived in the cool (literally) little town of Boquete.  Nestled between mountain ranges, this adorable town was quite a sight to behold!  I can still recall sitting on the bus, completely surrounded by nothing but the view of mountain sides, when all of a sudden the view opened up and ahead was Boquete.  It literally reminded me of some little obscure mountain town in Europe, quietly slumbering, hiding its secrets in the valley.

I stepped off the bus at the main square and started my hunt for a place to stay.  There were several hostels along the main “highway” that looked quite nice, but a little out of my preferred price range.  I had immediately decided to stay in Boquete for 5 days to a week so I wanted to find somewhere that I could get comfortable in for a bit.  Off the main road I came across a house that had a little sign hanging on the front.  The building to the right looked like a personal home, while the building to the left had 2 doors with numbers on them.  I wish I had taken note as to the name of the place so I could share it with future travelers to this area, but sadly I did not.

After speaking with the family living in the main house about accommodations in one of their 4 apartments, I paid for 5 nights at $8.00 a night.  That $8 a night bought me my own private room with queen size bed, little kitchen, private bath and even a little TV.  Sadly the television only got a few channels and of course all were in Spanish, but at least it made for some entertaining distraction when I needed some.

Not a whole lot of excitement occurred in Boquete for me really.  I used my time there to unwind a bit and get some essential things done before traveling on.  For example laundry and a very much-needed pedicure!  Hey, a girl still has to keep herself up regardless of where she goes:).  I spent my days walking around the town and exploring new areas of the town each day, which also served as a good way to get exercise.  Every day, and on some days all day, we had thunderstorms, the kind that rattle the very core of you shaking you from the inside out!  Now I absolutely adore thunderstorms and was quite happy to be somewhere with consistent ones for  a bit.  During my lunch and dinner I would turn on the television and watch Spanish Soap Operas, which let me tell you are quite dramatic and funny in how dramatic they are.  The days basically passed like this with a walk everyday for at least a couple of hours, otherwise killing my time with books or thoughts of where to go next.

What was interesting about Boquete was the great extreme of people present.  It is obvious that Boquete has turned into the American Retiree place to go.  For one, it’s cheap and in Panama in general it is quite easy to become a resident.  All that is required is proof of steady income, which if you have your social security check, you get in immediately.  What was funny to me though was the great divide in the town.  You had your Panamanians, your Panamanian Tribe people who were easily spotted due to their traditional clothing that they wore daily, and then you had the Gringos (i.e. the expats living off their Social Security checks out of the Country where the cost of living is lower).  It was humorous to watch as the Gringo gang walked around the town.  Their dogs were all on leashes (every other dog was street smart and ran around free), they all walked in packs (the people, not the dogs) and English was the only language spoken or attempted (at least in all those who I noticed).  I did find it quite sad that these people didn’t seem to make an attempt to learn the language.  For if I were to permanently move to another Country, at least I could try to show respect to them by learning their language.  Especially since I was in effect there taking advantage of their cheap standards of living…. But I digress.

Along this point I did myself look into a Spanish school in Boquete.  As I probably mentioned before, I only spoke conversational Italian prior to coming to Latin America and while it was slowly changing over from Italian to Spanish, I thought some school would probably be a good idea to help facilitate and speed the process of speaking Spanish better.  Boquete though was not somewhere I wanted to be for a long period of time though.  It served its purpose well as a relaxing and quiet retreat, but knowing myself I knew there just wasn’t enough of a life there to keep myself busy for an extended period of time.  Plus it was chilly there at night and sometimes during the day when the sun failed to make it through the cloud cover and I’m really a warm-weather kind of person so staying in cold climates can only be tolerated for so long!  Interestingly enough, the school in Bocas (Habla Ya!) had a sister school in Bocas del Toro, Panama on the Caribbean coast.  I had heard a lot about Bocas so thought perhaps I would check out the school there and if I liked the town would stay there for the classes.  So after my 5 nights in relaxing Boquete, I moved on to Bocas del Toro.

Boca Chica/Boca Brava

I had heard of this spot from one of the reception people at the Purple House as a fairly nice area to go.  definitely not the best place to go, but certainly one to check out.  I had also read in the Lonely Planet that it was a nice place to go.  The main boasting point for Boca Chica/Boca Brava is that there is only one hostel there.  And it is on a remote island that is reachable by boat only.  So I thought I would give it a try…

Perhaps it was the weather, or perhaps my mood, but I wasn’t at all impressed by any portion of part of the trip.  It took several hours and different buses to get there, a private taxi and then a water taxi to get to a hostel high on an island cliff.  The weather was dull and overcast, threatening the look of rain but never producing.  Everything felt dank and dull.  The hostel itself was nothing spectacular.  It honestly was mostly a safety hazard as the paths were made of mosaic design of glass pieces which made everything very slippery.  I opted for a hammock as the beds seemed quite dangerous to sleep on (dirty and potentially moldy and were kept on the floor of the room that had no screens on the windows so you literally were one with nature).  The price to stay there was quite expensive for what they offered as was the trip just to get out there!  All in all I probably spent $60 on this dull detour that I could have done without.

Were it not for the hike I took to one of the beaches once the weather finally shone through with some sun, I would have seriously regretted the detour.  But I did enjoy the beach time as there were hundreds of crabs on the shore to chase and watch, and a troop of howler monkeys came by to chill by the waters with me.

I was literally the only guest at this hostel, so again perhaps it was just poor timing all around, but nothing about this area impressed me.  I slept that night in my hammock and rose early the next day to head to Boquete.