A Travellerspoint blog

Journey to Volcan

January 29

We started out the day by taking our car back to Cowboy Dave's and getting a different one. It was making too many strange noises and we weren't confident it would make it to Volcan and back. So now we are driving a Nissan Xtrail, a small SUV, which seems much better. It is also an automatic, which makes it much easier to drive on all the hills.
So we set off for Volcan, which is the town on the other side of the volcano from Boquete. There is a new road cutting across the flanks of the mountain so it's not necessary to go down to the main highway. It was a great road, very smooth, although still with lots of curves and ups and downs. Beautiful country, orange groves, sugar cane fields, dairy farms and so many lovely views. From up so high the land just falls away and you can see forever!

View from the road

View from the road


We got to Volcan around lunch time and had lunch at Burricos, a Mexican restaurant. It was very good food and we had a helpful English speaking cook. Then we drove off to Barriles, which is an archeological site just outside of town. It was interesting, with lots of stone artifacts and trails that wander by the stream thru the property. The artifacts discovered there show people living there since 1000 BC. And as the statue with Don shows, they think people of African and Chinese heritage lived there at one time.

Don with friends

Don with friends

Stream thru property

Stream thru property


We returned to town and found our hotel, Hostal Victoria. We have a room separate from the others, just a tiny casita big enough for two. We left our stuff there and went off to find "Las Lagunas", the highest natural lakes and wetlands in Panama. Don had read about the bird watching there, so away we went. The road was awful, mostly rock with a few sandy patches, so we crawled along. We found a sign and turned into a very narrow trail. After meeting a truck, that had to back up and move over so we could get past it, we finally parked and walked in along the trail. We did see a few birds, but nothing too spectacular. Whether that was because we didn't know where to look or because of the location or the day, we will never know.
These little lakes are located on private land owned by the Janson Coffee Company and apparently you can arrange birding or kayaking or other tours with them.

Las Lagunas

Las Lagunas


We managed to get back to town and after a visit to our hotel room to decide on where to eat, we went off to La Carbonera, an Italian restaurant. It had wonderful food with excellent presentation and a very cute waiter who worked very hard to use his English. He was a sweetie and even Don thought so too!

Posted by katdill 17:48 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Rainy Day in Paradise

January 28

We got up early today because we were planning on hiking the Pipeline Trail, which is about 2 hours return to a waterfall. However, it was actually raining, not just the misting that we have become used to here. So we sat about for a bit to see if it would stop, but it didn't. So we got in the car and drove up to Finca Lerida, a coffee plantation with tours and trails throughout. http://www.fincalerida.com/

Finca Lerida Coffeeshop

Finca Lerida Coffeeshop

Coffee beans drying? in the rain

Coffee beans drying? in the rain


We sat on their covered patio and had a cup of coffee and watched the birds flitting around their lovely garden. We had a little visit with a couple from Germany and shared some of our local knowledge with them. It just kept raining, so we drove back into town and had lunch at the Mango Restaurant.

Coffee workers barracks

Coffee workers barracks

Mango Restaurant patio

Mango Restaurant patio

As we drove back we passed the waterfall we had seen the other day. With the rain it was quite a bit more impressive.

San Ramon 2 days ago

San Ramon 2 days ago

San Ramon today

San Ramon today

While we were sitting on the patio, waiting for lunch, Don got this great shot of a Yellow Faced Grassquit, showing the rain as well.

Yellow Faced Grassquit

Yellow Faced Grassquit

After lunch we explored a few more roads around town, that we had been wondering about, before going home and relaxing.

Posted by katdill 15:47 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Rental Car Headache!!

January 27

This morning we took Maria and went off to the Tuesday market. We got some vegetables and had a good time looking around. There was a fellow selling these gorgeous wooden cutting boards, made from sustainably harvested Panamanian hardwoods. Just lovely!

Boquetehardwoods.com

Boquetehardwoods.com


I also had a good time chatting with some jewellery makers. They sell lovely stuff and very cheaply, but I just can't justify buying myself any jewellery! I already have so much I don't wear.

Then we went over to the supermarket to get the few things that we couldn't get at the market. Outside is parked the fruit truck, maybe not always the same one, but there is always one there. So we buy whatever fruit we can from them, instead of the supermarket. We discovered in the supermarket, that you can not buy any alcohol until after 10:00 am. Interesting - I think the store is open all night so they must have a cutoff time.

Fruit truck

Fruit truck


When we came out of the store, a man was waiting by our rental car. He had scraped the bumper with his big SUV while he was parking. He gave Don his info and said he would pay for any repairs. Don was already a little concerned about the emergency brake not releasing properly, so this was really the icing on the cake.

We brought the food home and Don called Cowboy Dave to tell him what had happened. Then Don had to drive to the insurance office, go to the mechanic for an estimate, pick up a print version of the estimate from another office downtown. Then he met the fellow who hit us and got the money from him to pay for the repair. So it should be fine, but it did consume several hours of the day. While this was all happening, Maria and I were looking into other rental options, just in case we need them.

Mid afternoon, we went for a drive on one of the loop roads we had not yet been on. It was steep and very high. Lovely views, but very narrow in places. Then we had to visit the gelato place. This having a vehicle may mean more ice cream and less exercise. I'll have to be careful!!
View from Jamamillo hill

View from Jamamillo hill

View from Volcancito Road

View from Volcancito Road

Posted by katdill 17:27 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Exploring by Car

January 26

We started off the day with a Spanish lesson. Maria, our neighbour, had met with Maria, the gardener's daughter, previously and arranged for a Spanish lesson with her. The younger Maria speaks English quite well, but wanted to practice her English and was quite willing to give Spanish lessons in return. So we sat around for an hour and practiced some of the basic Spanish phrases.
Then we set off to pick up the rental car Don had arranged. We walked part way down the road and then Lynne came by and gave us a lift another part of the way. We ended up taking a taxi for the last part out to Cowboy Dave's place. He is a American fellow who has a fleet of rental cars. He apparently has about 50 cars which he rents out for $200 a week. Of course, there are always some that need repair and apparently he also sells vehicles for some people.

Our little car, a Daihatsu

Our little car, a Daihatsu


So once we had wheels, we could easily go to town and pick up a few things, before heading home for lunch. After lunch, we decided to start exploring some of the roads around here. One road we went down, was so rocky and in such bad shape that we gave up and turned around. Although there seemed to be lots of houses on that road, it sure seemed like it would be torture to have to drive on that road everyday!
So we tried a different loop road - the Bajo Mono loop. It was paved all the way, although with some potholes, etc. Not far out of town, we came to the Basalt Rock Formation. This was formed by volcanic lava cooling and it is very cool. I thought maybe it had been cut that way by men, but no. When I Googled it later, it assured me that it was a natural structure.

Basalt Rock Formation

Basalt Rock Formation


The next interesting stop was at this lovely little waterfall. And just after the waterfall, we passed by a little market booth full of the dresses the native women and girls wear. Out in the middle of nowhere, with the artisan's place just across the road from her little booth. So I guess if we had stopped there, she would have come across to see us.

San Ramon Waterfall

San Ramon Waterfall


We also stopped at the abandoned castle. The story seems to be that a rich couple started to build this lovely home in a wonderful spot by the river. One or the other of them, died before the house was finished and then the other one died. So the house was never finished (40 years ago) and has sat there since. I think it may be for sale now and would sure be a great place once it was finished. We walked in to it on a trail and had a look around. One thing about building with cement - it doesn't rot and fall down when abandoned.

Abandoned castle

Abandoned castle


This whole loop drive follows a river, so part of the time you are driving right beside the river, in a fairly steep canyon, and then you have to climb up out of the canyon to return on the upper hillside with great views of the country. It was a beautiful drive, although a little stressful for Don, getting used to driving a standard on these narrow, steep roads.

A view of the canyon

A view of the canyon

Posted by katdill 17:20 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Walking to San Francisco Plaza

January 25

After a leisurely breakfast and visiting with Maria and Lynne, we set out to walk to the San Francisco Plaza, which is in Alto Boquete. This is a part of the town that is up on the escarpment, instead of down in the valley. We hadn't really been this way, just passed by it on the bus on our way into town. So first we took a trail that is a shortcut down Volcancito. First time we had taken it, but the woman who gardens for Lynne had talked about the shortcut between her house and here. It was a little steep going down, but it cut off a big loop of the road, so it worked well. Then when we were further down the road we got to walk thru the neighbourhood of Alto Boquete and see the homes. We managed to avoid walking along the main highway for awhile but then it was the only way to go. We saw this old rock church along the road - looks very old but has lots of neon lights on and around it. It must be quite a sight when it is lit up at night.

Did not see a sign with the name

Did not see a sign with the name

We arrived at the plaza, which is really a two story strip mall, anchored by the Scotia Bank. We had lunch in a little pizza place, which had very good pizza. I had an unusual drink as pictured. It was good, but tasted like grape flavour, which was an ingredient.

Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera Juice

After we got a taxi home, we were sitting in our cabana with the door wide open, as usual, letting in the fresh air. A little sparrow came flying into our room. Here is a picture of it sitting on the bathroom door. We managed to catch it and put it out again without too much difficulty.

Rufous-collared sparrow

Rufous-collared sparrow

Lynne was quite pleased with her avocado trees. They have little avocados on them and they are only 3 years old. She wasn't expecting any fruit for at least 5 years, although she said these little ones may fall off instead of developing into large fruit.

Baby Avocados

Baby Avocados

She has a nice little fruit orchard here, with bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, peaches, and probably more that I don't know.

We also had a Skype call to wish Aly Happy 6th Birthday, which was a nice way to end the day.

Posted by katdill 19:05 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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