Monday, January 4, 2010


January 2

The drive from El Valle to Boquete was uneventful, save for three police checkpoints on top of the permanent one. The permanent checkpoint is about three-quarters of the way from Panama City to David on the Carretera Interamericana, and the other three were during the 28 kilometer stretch between David and Boquete. Go figure.

I thought the police were hunting for a criminal in the area of Boquete, but my host here told me they were probably looking for drunk drivers on the holiday weekend. At any rate, the police checks are no problem – just smile, try to speak Spanish, don't do anything to attract their attention, show them your passport and American driver’s license, and they wave you on.

I drove straight through to the casita. My hosts, an American couple, also own a finca (coffee farm). I was excited to hear about this, and told the husband that I owned a gourmet coffee shop in a former life, had my own house blend and still loved coffee. He offered to take me on a coffee tour and let me roast my own batch. He said he would bring me freshly roasted beans each day. He also knows the family who own the farm for the Boquete coffee I’ve been buying in Baltimore - Finca Elida. He offered to introduce me to them. I am ecstatic. How small the world has become! All the more reason for living thoughtfully – what we do can affect others very quickly in this era of instant communication, global business and easy world travel.

I spent a lot of time looking out the kitchen window to the back view. The yard is nicely landscaped and must have over a hundred species of plants. There are two or three varieties of banana alone. A stream behind the yard provides soothing white noise of gently rushing water. The constant breeze crackles the banana leaves. There is also a mountain in the background, part of the dormant volcanic ring around the Boquete caldera. Here is the view from "my" back yard:

I ventured into town to the supermercado and was able to find everything I needed except sugar.  After circling the aisles three times and asking directions once, I still couldn't find it.  Oh well, there's enough sugar in the casita to last a few days.  After coming back home and telling my host about the fruitless sugar quest, he admitted he had experienced the same problem.

This is the windy season, when the Pacific and Caribbean air currents collide turbulently over the mountains. These currents produce a brief afternoon shower and the famous Bajareque mist that forms rainbows, sometimes multiple ones simultaneously, on a daily basis in this valley.  I didn't get a good picture of a rainbow - here is one from the web:


And then there are the birds. Panamá has over 970 species of birds, some resident and some migratory. Many birds travel through here in their seasonal migrations. This is the narrow stretch of land connecting Central and South America, and birds are concentrated here to a phenomenal degree.

The first bird I saw was in the guayaba (guava) tree outside the kitchen window. About the size of a sparrow, it had a gray chest, blue wings and blue feet. Blue feet! It seemed curious about me and stayed quite a while. My picture doesn’t do it justice; will try to get a better one. Is this the bluebird of happiness?

My field guide left behind in Baltimore will tell me what kind it is after I get home. No need to know that now. Such small things can wait. Am I already sliding into a Panamá state of mind?


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