Sunday, January 22, 2012

Feria de las Flores y Café.......

Earlier this week we hit the road at 6 am with friends, for a five hour trek to the mountain town of Boquete.  We took this boring ride to the other side of Panamá in search of the annual Feria de las Flores y Café (flower and coffee fair).  Due to it's cooler temperatures, Boquete has become a favorite for tons of expats looking for a retirement haven.  Unlike the rest of Panamá, temperatures in Boquete range from 60 at night to 82 in the day, eliminating the need for air conditioner's or heaters.  But for these wimpy south Texans, we froze our butts off at night.  I slept in winter pajamas under a heavy down comforter that the hotel provided, snuggled up next to Clyde for warmth.  This was not the Panamá that I came to know and love, and I couldn't wait to get back to the warm side of the country.

The fair offered an array of beautiful flowers surrounded by vendors selling coffee and other touristy items.  Along with indigenous art, baskets, tapestries, molas, shoes, masks and pottery was a large assortment of knitted hats, scarves and sweaters for this frigid weather.  As the night progressed and the clouds rolled in, the winds howled and a few sprinkles fell over us causing a chill.  Our chilly group headed back to the hotel where we played a game of Mexican Train Dominoes, had a few drinks and laughed the night away.


The next day after a tour of Cafe Ruiz Coffee Farm (in another blog) we went looking for the Caldera Hot Springs. The word "caldera" means boiling pot and hot springs exist in this area due to volcanic activity.  We followed the tiny signs, put the vehicles in four wheel drive and slowly crawled over some extremely, rough, rocky terrain that led to an even worse road conditions.  Thinking we'd have to get out and walk, we talked to a few local kids who said the path was very difficult so we turned back. In writing this blog I researched the springs only to find they're on a private farm, hidden away in the jungle and are not easy to get to. Clyde and I tried to find them last year on our first trip to Panamá but gave up since the road is nearly impassable. But on this trip we did stumble on some pre-Hispanic Indian 'petroglyphs' or rock paintings on a rock in the middle of a field.

Many North Americans are fascinated with the Boquete area and think it's the perfect place to retire.  For us it's too cold, too expensive, too Americanized, and too far away from Panama City for our liking.  But isn't it wonderful that there's something in Panamá for everyone! Beaches, mountains, big city living, hot and cool climates along with something for every budget.  We've come to realize that every retiree comes here with a different ideal, and a different situation. Some have a monthly pension or social security to live on. Other's have a lump sum of money in the bank from the sale of a house back in the states.  Whether you have a budget of $500,000 or $50,000, want to live in a gated community or in a local village, there's something for everyone here in Panamá.  Come explore this beautiful country, bring an open mind and lots of patience and perhaps you too will fall in love.   We fell in love with the country, the people and each other all over again as we made a new life in Panamá, here along the gringo trail.

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