Boquete is a very charming place to say the least. It's a small town but it feels very busy and it attracts lots of travellers, both of the upscale and backpacking variety. The surrounding area is very beautiful as well. I would absolutely recommend a trip here. I really should get some pictures up so you can see. But, without further ado, here are some facts about this place:
Geography: Boquete is nestled in Panama's mountainous central ridge. We have mountains to the north , east and west. To the south is a sort of high plains area that leads down to David, the swamps and eventually the Pacific Ocean. There is also an active volcano, Volcan Baru, just northwest of town. The whole area was shaped by volcanic material and there are rocks everywhere. The small yet powerful Rio Caldera runs through town bringing water that drained from the upper mountainous regions. There are lots of hiking trails, natural pools and waterfalls in the areas outside of town. Boquete is at an elevation of about 4,100 feet making for a very salubrious climate. The air is perfect-remarkably fresh and clean. It's cool and dry and the sun shines almost directly overhead. I have to go to David everyday which is near sea-level and I would say there is a 15 degree difference. All the precipitation comes from the north and it's cool to see it spill over the mountains as it approaches town. Sometimes gusts of wind barrel down the valley and shake the hell out of our house.
People: Panamanians are a good-looking bunch. The country of Panama is fairly diverse; most of the people are mestizo but there are considerable populations of blacks, whites and Indians. In Boquete, however, there seem to be fewer blacks and whites and much more Indians. The
Latins and Indians have such beautiful and exotic features and some of the women are downright beautiful. There are a lot of children here and they are incredibly cute, particularly the Indian kids. Indian children will stare at you like you're a freaking giraffe. They gaze at you with these gigantic, unblinking, almond-shaped, onyx eyes taking in every photon of your bizarre appearance. Sometimes I can't help myself from cracking up a bit but they just keep staring at you. If I was some type of elderly aunt-like character I would have squeezed every nino cheek in Boquete to the bone by now.
Culture: I hate to use the cliches "colorful" and "vibrant" to describe their culture. I feel that those are patronizing terms used by crusty, white people to describe any culture that is different, poor and less developed. However, at the risk of sounding crusty and white, the culture here is colorful and vibrant. Panamanian culture is simultaneously both more enthusiastic and more relaxed than ours. Most of the people I have come in contact with are somewhat shy, even laconic. I think it is considered a virtue to be reserved. As one of my students wrote in a practice sentence "I would not suggest talking a lot". However, collectively, their culture is much more expressive.
I know I'm speaking in generalities here but its true. I'll explain more later.
And good God do these people know how to party...
That's all for now, I have to get back to the house and see what we are doing today and then go all the way to David this afternoon.