Angela came to visit and my heart is so happy! Ive been looking forward to sharing my wonderful new home with friends from The Bay Area and boy did we have a blast. It’s a funny thing, living in a place where others come for a vacation. Playing tour guide has been a delightful experience, exhausting, but good fun! And experiencing Panama with a friend who’s never been here was more fun than I imagined it would be. I must admit though, I had a tiny bit of butterflies hoping that she would like this place i now call home. I had nothing to worry about, she was mesmerized by the beauty that is Boquete. Of course… Angela is well traveled and understands and appreciates all the cultural differences that one experiences while visiting different places in the world. She see’s the diversity and magic that a different culture has to offer and she embraces it all with such wide eyed enthusiasm! I just love that about her. Central America is not the United States, and while it may not always be quite as organized and tidy as we’re accustomed to in the States, its easy to fall in love with this vibrant culture and to adore the kind, welcoming Panamanians.
On the day Angela arrived Scott decided he wanted to come to the airport with me to pick her up and , ahem….I think he may have regretted having to experience the crying, laughing, hugging scene we made! hah! The minute we saw one another it was just a cry-fest! 🙂 I remember when my daughter came for a visit, I was just beside myself with joy at finally having her here in Panama with me and I felt exactly the same when I saw Angela walk out of the baggage claim! The months leading up to her visit we chatted and texted and emailed so much and I had been so anticipating her visit, to finally have her here was so great! Tears of joy just could not be stopped.
The first couple of days here we had some terrible weather! Ugh! I was so bummed because I knew she was trying to escape the cold and rain that they were having in Northern California. When she got here when we had a heavy Bajareque (a heavy mist, not quite fog and not quite rain, but wet and chilly) and howling winds! I had planned to stop at our little visitors center where one can see a spectacular view of the little town below in the valley. But, sadly, we got out of the car and she was very nearly blown away by the gusty winds and had to wear her down coat just to walk around a little. She tried to be sweet about it, but I knew she must have been bummed! We spent the first two days here in Boquete, going to sleep at night to mighty, howling winds and awful, cold weather. The nice thing about this time of year is the rainbows, which she got to experience each morning when she looked out the window. On her first day I took her to one of our local spas and she got a relaxing massage then we met two of my girlfriends for lunch. I wish I had had time enough to introduce her to so many of my other great new friends but her visit was so short and time really flew by! We had Thursday and Friday here, then we drove over to the Caribbean side of the country for a little island time in Bocas Del Torro.
The drive across the Continental Divide is a pretty one. As you pass over the mountains into the Caribbean side of Panama you see a total change in the landscape around you. It goes from brushy, and scrubby to lush, green and filled with tropical plants and trees. I can’t help feeling so lucky to live in a place where I can drive only three hours and be in the tropical Caribbean. The vibe in Bocas is completely different than Boquete. Boquete is a Mountain paradise, it’s calm, filled with gorgeous views of Vocan Baru and the sounds of birds chirping all around. And Bocas is a mix of shanty town, Backpackers party central, and Island Paradise. In the Mainland town of Almirante, the area where we catch a water taxi to take us out to Bocas town it’s not very pretty (to say it nicely), you see garbage floating in the water and ratty houses that have seen better days. I usually like to get on the water taxi as fast as I can, this isnt my favorite area of Panama. But getting off the water taxi in Bocas town on Isla Colón, we’re only a short distance away from pristine beaches and endless nightlife.
Bocas Del Toro is an archipelago made up of nine main islands. From the mainland area it takes about 15-20 minutes by water taxi to get to the main island , Isla Colón. We visited a couple different islands while we were in Bocas. We went to Starfish Beach which is located on the remote unexposed side of isla Colón. Its a lovely place to just relax and enjoy the day. This beach is great for relaxing in a lounge chair with a good book or just chatting in the clear, shallow water and counting the starfish that you see in the sand beneath your feet.
The next day we visited Isla Bastimentos where Red Frog Beach is located. Angela and I took a water taxi over to spend a day at Red Frog Beach . After leaving the water taxi there is a short walk through the jungle to the beach. This beach is totally different from starfish beach. The surf on Red Frog Beach is quite rough, not nearly as calm and relaxing as Starfish Beach, but really pretty. They have lovely little palapas on the beach to shelter from the strong Caribbean sun and comfy lounges where we spent a great day. After venturing over to the nearby bar on the beach for a refreshing fruity drink, we positioned ourselves under our palapa and proceeded to chit chat and gaze at the ocean while watching the surfers all afternoon. Not a bad day! Then one evening we took a water taxi across to the nearby island, Carenero for dinner. While we were in Bocas my neighbor and dear friend Kat was also there with a girlfriend who was visiting from Georgia. Scott came along with us and the five of us had a great time.
I think one of the funnest highlight of our Bocas adventure (Kat & Angela would agree!) may have been our first night there. Angela wanted to find some good music and get a little dancing in. She had read about Barco Hundido…this was basically a dock that had been converted to a little bar and dance floor right over the water. They had some great music and lots of dancing was going on. We made our way out, under the starry sky on one of the docks and proceeded to dance and enjoy the Caribbean vibes while sipping on our drinks. What a great night we had, we didn’t get back to our hotel until about 1:00 a.m.!
We spent three nights and two days in Bocas then made our way back to Boquete for one last day. I have to tell you about one very authentic Panamanian experience that I know will always make Angela smile when she thinks about it. She wanted to come with me on my drive down the hill with my workers at the end of the workday, which I do everyday and had told her about many times. As you know I adore my workers and my time in the car with these crazy guys always brings a smile to my face. Their raucous chatter and joking around just thrills me to no end and I was looking forward to Angela getting a chance to meet them and to experience a day in the life of Holly the Jefa! 🙂 I drive a car that seats 5….but, it actually seats way way more than 5 when living in Panama! On this particular day you may be surprised to hear that my 5 seater SUV managed to accommodate two women….Six Panamanian men…a 60 pound dog and a fighting cock! Gasp! JaJaJaJa! And the hilarity ensued when Richie Told me to tell Angela what I call them…. Which is…Me Princessas! They think that is just hilarious and the car burst out in much laughter! This may not be a typical “Panamanian” experience, but it’s MY Panamanian experience and Im so happy Angela got the chance to experience it with me.
My very first visit with a girlfriend from California was a really fun time. It may have been tiring, my normal everyday routine came to a screeching halt, laundry and errands were neglected for a few days, and I traded my Jefa hat for Tour guide hat…..But I enjoyed every moment of her visit. Next up is Scotts mom Pat! She arrives on April 26th and I can’t even begin to express how thrilled we will be to have her here with us! We will be living in our new house with much more space and that will be much better. It’s crunch time for us right now, only about 4 more weeks until we plan to move out of the casita into our nearly finished, but not totally finished new house. We’ve given our word to our friends who want to rent the casita that it will be ready for them by the end of March, and if all continues to go as planned that’s exactly what will happen. The best news of all is that we have FINALLY gotten our electricity all hooked up! Yep! Can you believe it! We have our very own power! whoohoo! Look out, Scott’s workshop is officially up and running! More on that later…