It is sort of funny that we love to travel and take vacations, but then we are also glad to be home. At least Mikkel and I feel that way. Maybe it’s because it can get tiring living out of suitcases, hauling them around from place to place, and sitting for a long time as we drive (or fly) to our destination. Or maybe it’s because our home in Pedasí is almost like being on vacation every day. Yes, there is work to be done at home – housework, yard work, home improvement, gardening. But we are retired, so there is no timeline; no stress to have things done immediately. And maybe it’s just being in a familiar setting, sleeping on a familiar bed, and having somewhat of a familiar routine. It’s just home.
Nevertheless, we still do like to travel, and we are so grateful to God that in our retirement, we can choose to do just that. We don’t have as much money as we did when we were working in the states, but what we do have seems to go a lot further and provides the opportunity to visit other places occasionally. We love exploring new, or not so new places, especially here in Panama which we now call home. It’s no different when we lived in California. But then, we had to schedule numbered days vacations with our jobs or around our days off (usually weekends or holidays), only to return right back to work. Now we can go when we want to, for as long as we want, without scheduling time off far in advance.
So this is the last posting of my “travelogue” for our trip to Boca Chica, Boquete, and Bocas del Toro, or as I named it – the “BBB” vacation. Our last morning in Bocas, we woke up to rain, but by the time we ate breakfast and packed, the rain had subsided enough for us to catch a cab to the water taxi marina. This time the boat back to the mainland only carried about a dozen people. Once we were past the harbor, the ocean was very choppy with whitecaps. It started to rain again; Mikkel and another passenger rolled down the side cover from the top on the starboard side to keep the rain from blowing in. The port side remained uncovered. I equivocate the bumpy boat ride to that of the bumpiness of riding an old carnival roller coaster without the turns (or even like Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain for those who have ridden), times 2 (X2). It wasn’t scary, just bumpy. The rain stopped just before we arrived at Almirante. We were helped with our luggage to our car which was still intact, costing only $9 for the 3-night gated parking.
We decided to go back to Boquete by going all the way on Hwy 21 to the Panamerican Hwy, back over to David, and up the hill to Boquete. It was a very nice drive and the road did not have as many potholes as the previous drive through Caldera. Although a little longer, it was probably best, since it started raining heavily again. But if we were to go to Bocas again, there is no need to stay in Boquete or David overnight. If we left early in the morning from Pedasí, we could drive to Almirante in plenty of time to catch a water taxi to Bocas with plenty of daylight to spare.
I thought I would conclude with our time in Boquete although we went there twice on this trip, staying one night each time, once on our way to Bocas and once on our way back. We have already been to Boquete a few times, which I have written about in previous blogs. So I won’t bore you with too many details other than where we stayed and ate. Mikkel bid on a 2-night package at the Boquete Garden Inn with Bid-4-Boquete and won the bid, although he didn’t think he would. So we asked to split the 2 nights into two separate nights which was okay with the owners. When we arrived, we were very amazed at the beautiful gardens throughout the grounds with stone pathways leading to the rooms, sitting areas, reception and outdoor patio dining area in front, an outdoor bar in the back. The management and owners were very friendly and helpful. The rooms are scattered throughout the gardens. The buildings are 2-story hexagon-shaped with a room on each floor. It’s like being in an old-world country cottage. Located along the river, you can hear the running water in the background and well as the many birds singing in the trees. Our room was upstairs and included a small kitchen. No need for an air-conditioner, although there was a humidifier if we so chose to use it. Boquete, especially in the wet season is very cool as compared to Pedasí, being in the mountains of Panama; averages in the low 70’s during the day. I learned the first time I visited 2 years ago to always bring a light jacket. But we did open the windows because we love the fresh air, even at night.
From 6pm to 7pm every evening, the bar is open offering a free drink to all guests for “meet and greet”. From 8am to 10am, breakfast is served offering a complementary breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt with granola, and sweet roll. A menu of other breakfast meals for a small amount is also available. Each night and morning we enjoyed our complementary glass of wine or beer at the bar, and breakfast in the dining area meeting many the other guests who were visiting Panama from many parts of the world. I think we were the only guests who actually lived in Panama. The owners are from Canada originally; the staff are Panamanian, but speak very good English. Every time I would walk to my room, I had to stop and just breathe in the scent of the flowers in the gardens, especially the gardenias. And I loved watching all the brilliantly-colorful birds who would stop by to get a bite of some fresh watermelon and pineapple set out here and there for their enjoyment.
For our first day in Boquete on this trip we only drove around to see everything again and stopped a Cafe Ruis for coffee. There we actually ran into our new friends, Alan & Kent, visiting from our home town of Auburn, CA, who were over at our house for dinner the night before we left to go on this trip. That night we took a short walk up the hill to George’s Grill for dinner. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and only 5 tables in a somewhat enclosed patio – open fireside dining to keep warm on those cooler nights in Boquete (although there is an indoor dining room on the other side of the kitchen). As with a few other restaurants we have been to, only George and his wife run the restaurant, no other employees. They are from Canada, by way of Costa Rica, although George was born in Egypt. And what an incredible chef. The Egyptian antipasto was so flavorable, and when I told him I was allergic to potatoes which came with the main course, he whipped up a delicious pumpkin dish instead. Everything was fresh and great tasting and for dessert, amarreto chocolate cake had a very unique flavor. Boquete Garden Inn gave us coupons for free drinks, but it was Election Day – no alcohol served.
On the last night of our trip, we again stayed in the same room at Boquete Garden Inn. Late afternoon we met up at the Inn with Susan and Pat, owners of Finca Tierra Pura in Volcancito. They brought us some hoseradish roots (cannot find horseradish anywhere in Panama) from their organic farm. We had a great visit sharing our stories moving to and living in Panama. All they asked for was a donation for their farm worker Frederico’s church. Later we ate dinner at a Peruvian Restaurant, La Casa de Cusco. We had purchased another Oferta Simple coupon, so we thought we would try it out. Mostly sea bass and shrimp fixed in a variety of ways with both indoor and outdoor dining. We ate indoors because it had begun to rain. We ordered Fried Ice Cream for dessert; I haven’t had fried ice cream since the last time I ate at Chevy’s, a Tex-Mex chain restaurant in the states. I am not sure how Peruvian that is.
On our drive home, we stopped in David to buy some things at PriceSmart, Do-It Center, Rey, and a local fruit/vegetable stand, as well as lunch. Then back to Pedasí over the Panamanian Hwy. This time the men and women were busy working on the widening of the highway. We probably were stopped about a half dozen times for the construction vehicles, bulldozers, etc. that would be entering or exiting or blocking the road.
Then the heavy rains started again making it at times very difficult to see very far in front of our car and definitely slowing us down. But we figured we averaged about 60kph between David and Santiago, where the rains subsided. We arrived home before dark; Bella excitedly barking and running to our car as we pulled in the driveway; Mia greeted us at the door. As I said at the beginning, we are glad to be home, but we thoroughly enjoyed this adventure.