Boquete Panama was our second stop on our tour of Panama, and it did not disappoint.
Getting from Panama City to Boquete was a fun and adventure by bus. We woke up early and headed off to the Albrook Terminal after a quick breakfast and arrived around 7:30am. There is not a lot of information on bus schedules online and you can’t buy your tickets online, so we went and hoped for the best. We got tickets onto the 8:35am bus to David. The bus was a standard double decker tour bus with big comfy leather seats and never-ending A/C. About halfway through our 9 hour trip to David, we stopped at a cafeteria style lunch spot with bathrooms. To our surprise the food here was quite delicious, authentic Panamian and cheap; we both ate a full meal for $8 total. The bus rolled up hills and was a certain reminder of the little engine that could on some of them.
Once in David, we got our backpacks from under the bus and after getting our bearings a little bit found the local bus up to Boquete. This was a converted school bus, and Kim and I just caught it before it left so we didn’t get to sit together. The seats were so close together that my short legs didn’t fit well and we were certainly the only gringo’s on the bus. That said it was fast, safe and got us where we needed to be for $2 each. This was a great start to us getting used to traveling foreign countries by bus.
Once in Boquete’s main square where the bus dropped us off, it was only a short walk to our AirBnB.
The place we stayed in Boquete was lovely downstairs apartment of two people who owned a coffee farm in the hills. Unfortunately, they were away while we stayed in their home, but the guest hosts (Luanne and Robert) were super friendly, Americans (from Mendocino) and a lot of help. We spent a few hours and a bottle of wine with them our last night, and it was great!
The apartment had a big comfy bed, clean spacious bathroom and a small but usable kitchen area with a small fridge and 2 burner electric cook top, which I made full use of.
Outside, was a beautifully kept garden with more flowers than I could name and a nice sitting area with table and chairs. The apartment was about 3 blocks from the main town on a quiet safe street and made us feel right at ease.
We only spent 2 full days in Boquete, which in hindsight was a little short. The town was really cute and we had showed up right in the middle of their Flower and Coffee festival. We spent one of our days in town, going out for a nice breakfast at a cafe called Sugar and Spice. Boquete is the heart of Panama’s coffee region and as such everywhere has coffee good enough to give SF’s best roasters a run for their money. Oddly though, as we would later find out, it is hard to buy coffee beans there.
We spent the morning meandering around and taking in the small town. Then we decided to give a place called Mangoes a try as we heard great things from everyone. The menu looked great, though pricier than we had expected, and we decided on spitting a few items since the heat was holding back our appetite. We both had refreshing salads that left neither of us wanting and split a side of curried carrots. I’m not sure what exactly was on those carrots but they were delicious.
For dinner, we decided to go to the local grocery market and I would cook. We got some fish fillets, rice and few veggies and made a simple meal: Corn meal crusted white fish with buttered rice tossed with carrots, sun dried tomatoes and beets. It came out well all things considered and both of us had leftovers.
Day 2: We got up, ate some breakfast at the apartment with some of Finca Dos Jefes coffee then hit the streets for what was to be an epic walk. We had a small map of some of the places to walk in Boquete and decided on one of the longer walks along Volcancito road. This hike walked along the side of the road up through the coffee farms out of town towards Volcan Baru. We got to see some amazing vistas, the gorgeous coffee farms that reminded me of some of the more quaint hillside vineyards in Sonoma.
The walk up hill on the northside, was temperate with a light mist every once in a while. Once on the southern side of the hill, it become a different place. The sun was hotter and the mist was gone, but the views were stunning. About halfway around this side of the hill was when Kim and I both realized that we may have bitten off more than we expected for the day… we had been hiking for about 4 hours and still no where near back to town. We finally made it down the hillside to the Tourism Office on the main road just outside of town and breathed a sigh of relief, we could see “home”. We got back tired and our feet a little aching, but satisfied and took a few hours of down time to get our transfer to Bocas booked, eat some food and get some much needed sunscreen.
That night we had a lovely evening getting to know our hosts over a glass (or two) of wine. They are a lovely couple that lives part time in Boquete and part time in Mendocino, so we had a lot to discuss and they certainly made us feel at home. They gave us lots of tips about our upcoming adventures (they had traveled a bit themselves) and we greatly enjoyed talking to other people in English.
The following morning we packed up early and headed to the square to catch our shuttle to Bocas, and off to the next chapter.
Written from a table at Manso Boutique in Guayaquil, Ecuador.