|We left the lush and beautiful hills of El Valle, Panama for what we had heard to be a quaint highland pueblo overflowing with flowers, excellent coffee and bountiful hiking trails. We found all of these in Boquete. After a day of (errands) in David, none of which we were able to get accomplished, we hopped on the last bus of the day towards Boquete. David had been hot and sweltering, and although only an hours ride north, The moment we pulled into Boquete, the air was crisp and fresh, with a slight mountain mist. We found our small pension Marilo without hassle, and were greeted by a kind man who showed us directly to our simple little room. The pension was also a family home, complete with pet parrot Vicky, who´s mom was a 75 year old Croatian woman- a stitch. She and Vicky soon became our source of entertainment over the course of the four nights we spent in Boquete. We learned quite a bit about parrots, and Vicky in particular.. because one cannot generalize a parrot´s personality, of course. Vicky certainly was one of a kind. Although we didn´t witness it, we were told she laughs at women´s toenails, but only if they are painted red. She speaks only when she wants to, put is constantly being talke to by her 75 year old mom... who begs her to speak non-stop. The extent of her vocabulary was: ¨Buenas Dias¨, ¨ciao¨, ¨Hola¨ ¨como estan¨ and several whistling noises. Jon had a great whistling contest with her.
Sounds as though Vicky was the highlight of our time in Boquete, but really she was just a small part of what proved to be a wonderful four days.
The first day there we came upon the gardens where each year the town holds its ¨Festival de Cafe and Flores¨(flowers and coffee festival). We missed it by only a week, so were able to still see the remnants of it, as well as the absolutely gorgeous gardens, which paralleled the rapid river that flowed through town. The colors were magnificent, especially set against the lush green mountains that encompassed this little town.
We decided to explore these mountains on our second day here, although we had to do a bit of research as to where to find a hike nearby, and how to get there. A 25 minute collectivo, or van ride found us deserted high on the winding mountain road, where we then climbed several kilometers in search of a trailhead. This is a mainly agricultural town, of course, so our walk allowed us to see the beautiful farmlands and coffee plantations, and the local farmers hard at work. We were fascinated by the highland community, and the farming families living high in the hills. A farming lifestyle is one that demands much respect and appreciation.
Our hike that day was a strange one, as we found ourselves not necessarily climbing, but walking through what seemed to be a pass, that would eventually lead to a neighboring town. The river roared next to us the entire time, which was invigorating. As the mud became deeper, and more frustrating to navigate, we opted to turn back around and head back. What we realized however, was that we didn´t necessarily have a way back to town, and depended on our feet to get us as far as we could up and down the steep winding road, until we could flag down a passing vehicle. It would be a good few hours´ walk back, and the road was certainly not flat. Yet it was quite beautiful, and allowed us also to interact a bit with the children of the farming families. One, shown above, was taking a bit of a break from his strawberry selling, and enjoying his bike as well as posing for a photo! Another young boy, crouched outside his home was delighted as we presented him with a few token pieces of candy we had left in our camera bike. Never seen a small piece of penny candy cause a smile so big.
Our legs were spared the rest of the distance back to Boquete by a collectivo van on its way back to town to deliver the days crop of broccoli. We found ourselves a small place in the van amidst the multiple crates of green stuff, and enjoyed the scenic ride downhill, complete with rainbows.
As has been happening quite often on our travels, we ran into two friends from the road, who happened to be staying at Pension Marilo as well. Scott and Angie are headed south from here, towards South America, whereas we are now headed north to Guatemala. It has been fortunate a fortunate circumstance for us to share stories and advice, as we will be traveling along the same paths.
Pension Marilo was also a wonderful spot to meet other travelers, and we had one of those wonderful evenings one can only have if traveling, when everyone is using the communal kitchen, and we end up sharing a meal and exchanging stories. Met a great couple who recently bought a sailboat and have been sailing for a year with their son. They spoke of their new nomadic lifestlye, and inspired all of us younger folks at the dinner table.
Boquete was certainly a place of beauty and a bit of relaxation before embarking on our bus journey back to San Jose, Costa Rica. The bus scandal we encountered was nothing short of normal for the bus companies of Central America. Nothing dangerous our drastic, of course, just an over-sold 9 hour bus trip. Apparently if you get off the bus in order to go through necessary customs, the bus personnel takes the liberty of selling your seats. At least the bus wasn't sweltering hot. (kidding, of course).