November 13, 2007

Both of us slept fitfully, mostly due to the barking dogs who carried on until all hours of the night. But nevertheless we got up soon after 7 am. The sun wasn’t shining, but then it rose over the mountain to the east and it started to warm up. We looked in the Lonely Planet to see where we could go for breakfast, decided on a place, and headed out. But we couldn’t find it from the map in the book, so we continued up Avenida Central until we found a place that looked nice. The place was named Bistro Boquete, and we both had the continental breakfast.

After breakfast we headed back to our room to pack up our things and also to get some clothes ready to take to the laundry. We spoke with the owner of the pension and found out that a room with a private bath would be ready about 11 am, so we decided to go for a walk to a place called “Mi Jardin es Su Jardin”, just a short distance north of town. This lovely place is a private estate where the gardens are open to the public, and the walk up there took about half an hour. Today for just about the first time in our trip the sun was shining and it was definitely hot and humid.

The gardens were absolutely gorgeous, with lots of flowers in bloom. We wandered about the pathways admiring the different plants, many of which we can grow in our garden at home only in the summer. There were several beds of a brilliant purple coleus, beds of roses, and a thicket of hydrangeas which needed some pruning. There were also fountains and ponds with hundreds of huge koi carp in them, and statues of cows, flamingos, moose, and practically anything else you could think of. The house, which was off limits to guests, was huge and absolutely beautiful.

Next door to the garden was a coffee factory, Café Ruiz, so we stopped there for a light snack of oatmeal cookies and juice. They had a tour that we could have signed up for, but we decided not to do that. But we did buy some of their coffee to take home.

Back at the pension our new room was ready, but the floor was still wet, so we sat outside in the sun. Our hiking boots were still quite wet, so we put them out in the sun too, in the hope that they would dry out a bit more. After putting our packs into the new room, we gathered the wet and muddy clothing and left them with the ladies at one of the laundries in town. Then we went for lunch at Café Hibiscus, in a new sort of mall, which one of the GAP travellers had told us was good. We had seen it while looking for a breakfast place, but weren’t able to tell whether it was open or what it would serve for breakfast. But it was open for lunch. Rosemary had a delicious BLT sandwich and Paul had a chicken sandwich, both with French fries. All that for only $4.25!

After lunch we decided to head out for a walk on the other side of the river. The main bridge in the centre of Boquete was going to be rebuilt, and they had already taken down the old bridge. Some of our maps said there were bridges in various places south of that, but none of those bridges actually existed. So we finally crossed the river on the highway bridge north of town. Originally we had planned to walk to the fairgrounds, but assuming that there would be nothing happening there, we decided instead to follow a road that (according to our map) did a large loop. We didn’t necessarily believe the map but started out anyway.

The road climbed steadily for about an hour. At first it passed regular people’s houses, exclusive inns, and sites where luxury home developments were being built. There was a sign that said there were a hospital and a mirador, but we didn’t pass either of those. But we carried on up the hill, following four Indian ladies who were carrying buckets. Near the top of the hill, or what we thought might be the top, it started raining heavily so we stopped to put on our plastic rain capes. The Indian ladies just laughed and kept on going.

Near the next top of the hill we came upon what at first looked like a prison, but turned out to be a coffee factory. At this elevation there were a good many coffee plantations, with the berries just starting to turn red. The Indian ladies went into one of those and we carried on. From here the road really did circle back down into Boquete, meeting the main road that went past Mi Jardin es Su Jardin and Café Ruiz.

Once back in town, we stopped at one of the little artisan shops and Rosemary bought a little bag with an appliquéd owl on it. The stitching was done very neatly. Then we picked up our laundry, which was washed and dried and waiting for us, smelling strongly of Sunlight soap. For the rest of the afternoon we sat on the patio out of the rain. We had showers to wash off yesterday’s (and today’s) sweat, and felt much better after that.

Some time after 6, when the rain had stopped, we decided to try Amigo’s restaurant, based on a recommendation from the Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree. It was not too far from the pension but when we went in there were people smoking inside, so we turned and went out again. Instead we went one street over, to Restaurant Lourdes. The man at the counter remembered us and greeted us “¡Hola! ¿Pollo y salsa?” So we said yes, and had the same dinner as last night. The meal arrived promptly and was just as good, even though the sauce was a bit different and instead of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salad we were given a salad of tomatoes, onions, and some spinach-like vegetable. Back at our room we finished up our journals and went to bed at our usual 10 pm.

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