Our First Visit to Boquete

It is May 25th, 2010, and John and I have been in Boquete for two days. We have been getting to know the town and its layout just by driving all day. Jaramillo, Upper Jaramillo,
Volcancito, Alto Lino. Los Molinos, Boquete Country Club and Valle Escondido. This morning I woke up early and wrote the following email to all the women in my family:

Early Morning In Our Room

It’s early – about 5:45 and the first birds of the day are starting up their morning symphony. I know I’m done sleeping so rather than lay there and listen to John’s steady breathing and try to sort out the million of questions about moving, not moving, working, not working, I thought I’d send an email to the women of my family.

Boquete’s initial view reminds me of Park City, Utah. After a long, slow climb from the coast, you realize you are at a higher elevation. Just when you wonder how high you’ve gotten, you come around a bend in the road and the valley opens out to you below, revealing a neatly laid out little mountain town, bordered on two sides by steep hills – exactly like Park City.

However, the differences between the two towns becomes immediately obvious when you get close up. Park City is one wealthy, gorgeous home followed by another. Boquete is the clash of the poor (native indigenous Indians living in cobbled together tin shacks who seem to have a phobia about picking up trash around their houses) with the nouveau (rich white gringos with American style homes, cars, and walls around their estates) and the in-betweens (gringos or working class panamanians in modest homes). If you think an Architectural Guidelines Committee exists here, you will be sadly mistaken. If you can accept that this disparity is part of its charm, you will be very happy here.

The food – oh my god, the food is incredible. This is what real food tastes like, people. Not that manufactured crap that we’ve been spoon fed in the states. Yesterday John and I had a superb ‘lite’ lunch at Culturas: soup, grilled chicken breast, a scoop of rice, a small dish of black beans and cole slaw. Plus a drink. All for $2.75 and a 50 cent tip.

Panamonte Inn

The night before we’d had a  very high end meal in the Panamonte Hotel. This place reminds me of the Santa Barbara Hotel John and I got engaged at: a very old style, graciously laid out white clapboard retreat with white linen service and the maids wear gray dresses with white aprons, hats and shoes. We ate in the bar with a roaring fire going and modern art lining the walls. We fully expected a bill of around $75 – this was the most expensive place in town, after all. The bill was $45 – exactly what John and I spend when we get a couple of salads at Outback Steakhouse.

A lot of the gringos rave about the master-planned community that exists here: Valle Escondido. Lots of condos, townhomes and villas around a 9-hole golf course. It’s really put Boquete on the map. When we saw it, I was truly disappointed. Mom, by Palm Desert standards, this is not close. And the golf course needs maintenance. I feel truly snobby and spoiled by my golf career in So Cal.

Here is a photo of our hotel – the Boquete Garden Inn

Boquete Garden Inn

(which John and I love and have formed a nice friendship with the owners – Jay and Susan from Toronto Canada). The second photo is back at that same spot in the road where it opens out onto the town below.

The weather has been gray and rainy. They promise me that one of the hills that disappears into a cloud halfway up is, indeed, the volcano Baru, but I have yet to see it.

Boquete next to the River Caldera

Kit: at lunch at Culturas, I met a woman I think I’m really going to like. She found out I love art and she told me of a man who is putting the finishing touches on a commercial arts and crafts studio on main street. John and I took a tour of the studio. They will be offering lessons in stained glass, water color, acrylic painting, cement sculpture, felting and anything else anyone wants. There will be a lifetime membership of $65/month which gets one all the classes they want and unlimited use of the studio. After he gave us a tour of his studio, John had to find a drool bucket to catch my saliva which was dripping out of my open mouth. To top it all off, the studio owner just got a yellow lab puppy –the future studio dog. A corner of the building will serve as a coffeehouse lounge area to sit and discuss art with other artists.

And finally, nothing has been decided about which way either of us is leaning towards a move or not. John and I have promised not to express our feelings one way or another until we get on a plane to head home. Which is this Sunday. (Although I catch us sneaking looks at one another, especially when we see something that we just know delights the other.) Even then, we may not be sure. This is a different way of life, of living and it’s not for everyone. A tremendous amount of patience is required if one is to live sanely here – something I don’t possess at the moment. So, we’ll see. Still lots of research to be done.

Well, my typing has woken John and and now he’s reading in bed. It’s 6:45 and time to shower. Big day ahead of us — the Tuesday ex-pats meeting where we learn about relocating, lunch again at Culturas, more driving around to neighborhoods we’ve heard and read about and a trip to Romero’s, the supermarket in town. Time to check prices and product availability.

Love to each of you and I will see you soon!


About robyncole

I am a woman in my mid-'50's, married since 1990 to a man 11 years my senior. We currently live in Boquete, Panama, having moved from Orange County, California on February 16th, 2011. I am just trying to negotiate life's passages on this rock upon which we've landed. I would like to do that with as much dignity as possible and without wreckage, hurt feelings and tears. I can do that. If I stay in bed all day.
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4 Responses to Our First Visit to Boquete

  1. Bona Collins says:

    I am enjoying reading your blog – back and forth between present day and your big trip last spring to Boquete. Please keep documenting your experiences – believe it or not, it is not only truly entertaining to read but it is highly motivating!

    • robyncole says:

      Thank you, Bona. I have so much to say and so little time to say it. Between my full time job as Marketing Director of Tustin Ranch Golf Club and getting ready for Huge Homewares Sale Part 2 for this Saturday, I’m running pretty crazy this week!

  2. Abby says:

    Hi Robyn, We are heading back to Bouquete in three days. Next we are heading to Santa del Maria, continueing our search for a permanent home. Hope we see you there. Merry Christmas. Abby L.

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