Thursday, October 23, 2008

Boquete, Panama

We are officially flying by the seat of our pants. We have essentially tossed our original itinerary and are going which ever way the wind blows us. We caught the 11 am bus South out of San Jose, Costa Rica and made it as far South as Paso Canoas and we decided to call it a night. We found a hotel that is located literally between the Costa Rican and Panamanian borders. We took advantage the next morning to do some duty-free shopping and then crossed the border on foot. We were navigated back and forth between the Latin American beurocratic stamp windows by a 12 year old. At one point, just after we both handed him our passports and five bucks, it dawned on me that we were putting quite a bit of trust into him. I mean, he didn't even have an official looking vest. All turned out well though. We grabbed a bus into David and had an hour and half of the most pleasureable ride so far on the trip. Even included air-con. The highways in Panama are amazingly nice. In David we grabbed a bus North to Boquete.
We arrived here at about 3:30 in the afternoon in a complete downpour. It became immediately apparent that my raincoat, which has been molting liner dandruff on me for the entire trip, is absolutely penetrable by rain. So, it is getting tossed. Which leaves me raincoatless in Central America in hurricane season. Not to fear though, I'm sure I'll be able to find something in Panama City on Saturday. Until then, I bought a crappy umbrella from a local store.
The most striking thing about Boquete, after the lush green mountains poking out from the mist, is that there are a boatload of gringos here. Apparently, the AARP ranked Panama amond the top five countries in the world in which to retire. So there has been a flood. I hate to generalize too much, but my experience with Ex-Pats in Latin America has been that they generally come lurred by lower living costs and then proceed to try to make their new home just like the one they left behind. They end up raising the cost of living for everyone, fine for them and their American pentions, but economic death for the locals. They end up pushing locals off properties they have lived on since the beginning of time, evidenced in Boquete by the fact that there are more real estate offices than there are hotels. Anyone that makes the argument against immigrants that "If we went to their country we would learn their language and respect their culture," has likely never been outside of the U.S.
It is beautiful. We went rafting this morning through some amazing Class IV rapids. It was a ton of fun. I am glad I got it in when I did. At one point we floated past one of the 17 damns they are constructing. Next year, that river won't be floatable. I don't know what we are heading towards, but I am pretty sure it's not progress.
Tomorrow I'm getting a massage.

1 comment:

Keith in ottawa said...

you are bringing back many memories of last summer. the boarder between panama and Costa Rica was total chaos. I recall walking into Costa Rica but having to go back to Panama to officially leave, then back to Costa Rica to officially enter then back to the midpoint between the two to get a bus to San Jose. I heard that Boquete was busy with Gringo's, Cerra Punta has not been overrun by them yet, it is still very much untouched Panama, but changing too. The bus ride (if you are going by bus) to Panama City is totally boring, take the over night bus or if you can fly, you will better for it.