BOCA TO BOQUETE PANAMA


The last evening I found myself watching an Australian Candid camera type of show called
“Balls of Steel”.  There were three or four strange episodes. One was a young man that wanted
to see how many people he could get to “hit the floor”.  He put on a cowboy hat, stuck his
hand under his t-shirt as if he had a gun and walking into a restaurant and shouted, “Hit the
floor” and everyone including the wait staff and cooks got down on the floor.  Then he left
and did it again and again…every time, everybody in the place “hit the floor”. That was ALL he
said. Somebody might have shot him in the US.
The last episode, a nicely dressed women went to some shin-dig in Hollywood and stopped
celebrities announcing she was a reporter for an Australian News Show and want to ask a few
questions.  They all agreed and she had cameras rolling but pulled out a dildo with the mike
inserted inside then stuck it to their face while asking questions.  David Carridine  answered
about four questions not even noticing, until the last, that it was a dildo he was talking into.  I
think he was stoned.  Then he laughed and bit the dildo.  Others were furious and slapped it
out of the women’s hand. Finally security told her that wasn’t appropriate and escorted her
out.  Leave it to the Aussies.
I awoke to the owner’s wife knocking on my door with a wake up call. I bid them Arrivederci 
and departed.  Alberto did his best to smile but was obviously depressed and upset over
something.  His wife was smiling and trying to cheer him up.  I think the Panamanian system
that closed his kitchen had something to do with it.  I didn’t feel so bad about losing that
money in the stock market.  He still had to deal with an ongoing situation that didn’t look
good.

Security confiscated my lighter during a search at the airport.  There are 12 of us boarding a
36 seat puddle jumper going on a half hour flight a short distance in country.  They search
everybody here because they don’t have x-ray machines to put your luggage through.  
The flight got a little turbulent when we were going over the mountains.  A small plane like
that was bouncing up and down and side to side.  We landed safely in David. 
I noticed the police with a dog sniffing out our bags before we could claim them   David,
named after me, is a fair sized city on the Pacific side surrounded by fertile farmland and
close to beaches.  I asked an American if she lived here? “Thirteen years” she replied. I was
going to take a taxi to the bus station and then the bus to Boquete when she remarked that
another man was also going that way.  I teamed up with him and split the $25 taxi.  
It was a 45 minute ride up the mountains and into the valley where Boquete is located.  The
countryside and weather was fantastic.  Like Hawaii with a lot of volcanic rock but green fields
and fauna. A cool breeze and sunshine. The taxi took me to Pension Topas. 

Axel, the German owner, greeted me and showed me my room.  He moved me to a cheaper
room that wasn’t much different than the one I booked for $22 a night.  This was $19 with hot
water, blankets on the bed, no TV but a private bath and two beds.  You could hear the near
by babbling brook flowing over the rocks.  We passed the pool on the way. The grounds were
like you imagine the Garden of Eden. 


Little children running around laughing and chasing a wild Rooster.


I hiked into town, after unpacking, and ran into the man from Reno that I shared the cab with.
  We explored the town together.  Ten minutes later we were done so stopped to have a
delicious lunch.  I had homemade vegetable soup and a chicken Quesadilla.  We decided to
meet after Siesta at the same place.  I stopped at the local supermarket for some Rum,
Peanut butter, Bimbo Bread, juice, and bananas for later.
When I returned, Milko was there to greet me.     http://www.greenart.de

He got his second camera sent from Germany and was ready to climb the 11,550 foot mountain
to camp out and witness both the sunrise and sunset from the top.  Only one problem…he met
a girl from California and has been seeing her since he arrived.  She and him are going to an
Island off the coast of David tomorrow to camp on a beach that Axel owns.  He may never
return to Germany or climb that mountain. He lent me his drinking cup so I had something to
make a drink in and gave me a lighter to replace the one confiscated on the flight.
After Siesta, I returned Milko’s cup and walked to the Internet station to check my email. 
Bruce, my friend from Phoenix called to invite me to Super Bowl and Joe called to invite me
to a Poker game at Harold’s in Cave Creek.   Sorry guys but the average temperature in
Panama is between 87 and a low of 77…I don’t think I’ll make it.  I got the Internet station to
print out my ticket from Air Panama when I leave Boquete , paid my $.90 cents for one hour
and a half and proceeded to the Bistro Boquete to meet with Dennis, the guy from Reno.  
I had a glass of wine at the bar and bought a paper to catch up on what was going on in the
world.  He showed around 6:39 and we both had Grass fed beef Steaks.  I had the Sirloin with
Brandied Mushroom sauce and he the Filet Mignon with Chipotle Rub.  We had a few beers
and great conversation about travel then paid our $40 bill…$20 each included the tip.  We
decided to meet tomorrow, his last day in town for an Italian dinner at Papa Rico’s around
6 pm.
When I arrived at Pension Topas

I noticed Axel’s light on so stopped in to book breakfast at 8:30 the next day.  Now I’m sitting
in my room with no television so will try and enhance my record at “Hearts” on the computer
and catch up on some reading.
Axel prepared a European breakfast served in the outdoor dining area. 
It consisted of Ham, Cheese, Soft Boiled Egg, Toast, Cereal, Coffee, Juice, and Fresh Fruit.  A
young couple, a Middle aged German couple, the man from D.C., and an attractive
Englishwoman all shared the dining room.  The young couple left on a coffee plantation tour,
the German couple put on their backpacks and checked out, the D.C. man checked out for
Boca and on to San Blas, and the Englishwoman took off to explore the town.  I arranged for
Axel to book me the plantation tour tomorrow morning and prepared to do some more
exploring in town.
I took off with the intent of finding a map to get a feel of the area and scoping out other tour
opportunities.  The city of Boquete is the 5th ranked retirement haven in the world!  I walked
North of the main street and farther to discovered another internet station with an ATM
outside.  I backed myself up with another $200.…$500 left in the account until I had to start
putting the money on a credit card.  I tried to use the credit card as much as possible to defer
payment until I return but a lot of restaurants and hostels only accept cash. 
I went to the internet to print out the America’s most wanted poster of the man I recognized
in Panama City.  The site said I had to contact the American Embassy in Panama City and I
wanted to get the address and phone in hard copy to remind me.  I was going to be staying in
the hotel next to his hangout but sure didn’t want him to know that I was the one that turned
him in.  I’ve been through that before.  The man jumped bail after threatening me in the court
room!  I don’t need any worries but want to do the right thing.  The computer never printed it
out.
I left after catching up on my emails and went up the road to the Art and Crepe Restaurant. 
 It was a new French restaurant that had an Art Gallery connected to it.  The art was great and
I would have invested but my money is already in losing stocks.  I would have had to UPS it
home with insurance. I had the Chicken Curry Crepe with Cappuccino.  The Crepe was great
the Cappuccino was out of one of those vending machines. 

I am getting disgusted with instant coffee in a country that touts some of the best in the world.
  I left and toured the Art Galleries in the neighborhood.  It was like Snottsdale but the prices
were good. I would have bought all my family some expensive souvenirs but with over a
month left I didn’t want to be lugging all those valuables to wherever.  I did find a place that
sold a nice map so now I had that.

I returned to the room to wash some clothes.  Since I didn’t have a washer but only a pair of
socks, underwear, shirt and shorts, I thought I’d try something different and put them all on
and to take a nice hot shower.  I have been washing out my underwear and socks daily so
really didn’t have more than what I wore into the shower.  At first the water got hot and I tried
a bar of soap but that wasn’t really getting the job done so I switched to shampoo.  About the
time I was soaking wet in my clothes, the water turned to cold, cold, cold.  Now I shut it back
off and was standing there in the shower with these cold wet clothes on and all soaped up.  I
tried again and after I few minutes it returned to hot water so I decided it best to start taking
the clothes off and rinsing them of the soap.  I started with the shirt, then the shorts,
underwear and then the socks.  Each time I would rinse them really good then throw them in
the sink to hang up later.  Finally I was done and decided it was better to just use the sink next
time. After hanging up everything in this 85% humidity I opened all the windows 

and redressed to meet Dennis for an Italian dinner at Papa Ricos.  
I arrived on time and ordered a wine when Dennis showed up.  He had the Eggplant
Parmesan and I the Chicken Lasagna.  We each had a few wines, finished a delicious meal with
some nice homemade Parmesan bread and left to have a drink before parting.
We went next door to Machu Pichu but there was no bar just a FULL restaurant.  It was
Peruvian food so we checked the menu.  It was mostly seafood and the price was right.  I
decided to return tomorrow.

There aren’t any Gringo Bars or Sports Bars in Boquete.  I saw a Panamanian bar near the
bus station and suggest we stop in for a beer and some local color.  The place was like a
Mexican bar in Rocky Point.  Loud Spanish music and all working class Panamanians drunk
with one barmaid.  She gave us two bottles of beer for $1.20 and we proceeded to exchange
addresses ….if your ever in Reno or Phoenix…etc.  Dennis did travel a lot and was getting close
to full retirement.  We talked about all the places we would like to go and agreed that we both
had the same places in mind.  We decided to definitely stay in touch.  He had ran into Austin
and Maggie from Plymouth, at Bohmfalks in Boca the night before I did.  I bought two rum and
cokes as a parting drink…$.50 each and we left the noise behind.  
When I returned I noticed some of the Hostal guests were sitting on the patio having
conversation and drink.  They had washed there clothes just after I did (Not the way I did…I
don’t think) but were hanging them on the line outside to dry in the breeze when I left.  Mine
were still soaked and only the quick drying non iron shirt , underwear and socks were fairly dry.
  I mixed a drink and took my shorts out and hung them on the line then joined them.  
The  lady from England who spent the day looking at rentals was there.  She plans on moving
here to rent until June or July then decide whether to buy or not.  She saw 7 different places
today and fell in love with one for $700 a month and took it.  There were two men and one lady
from Canada traveling together.  One guy from Vancouver and the other guy and his girlfriend
were from Toronto.  They are on a four month trip through Central America.  It started in
Nicaragua then to Guatemala , on to Costa Rica then to Panama.  They were returning to Costa
Rica and flying out to Toronto next month.  We chatted a while then I retired to get up early
and check my shorts to see if they were dry.  I booked another breakfast at the hostel then I
leave at 9 am to get some real coffee. I also vowed never to take a shower with clothes on again.
My shorts were dry when I awoke. Axel served another nice breakfast then Hans arrived to
drive a young Swiss couple and myself to the Coffee Plantation.
I assumed because Axel was German that Hans was also. He was from Amsterdam and left
with his wife on vacation to Panama in 1997.  They fell in love with it and bought in Boquete
and later opened a tour business and started a small coffee plantation of their own.  He also
knew of Jeannette Kok my best friend in Amsterdam.  The first thing he said is, “They are a
very rich family”.  Jeannette’s brother Basel is.  When I “googled” him 500 different web sites
came up.
We drove a short distance up into the mountains until arriving at the Kotowa Coffee Plantation.
  It was raining like in Ireland…a soft rain.  We went into the field were we stood in the “soft
rain” for an hour while Hans explained the different coffee plants as well as the beans. 

  He talked about harvest times, wages, history of coffee, the different grades and the markets
to where to coffee went.  
I inquired about 6 or 8 years ago when coffee prices plummeted a lot of small growers were
losing money and went out of business.  He said people were coming up to him on the street
and offering to sell there plantations for any price because they weren’t getting enough money
for the coffee to afford to pay the pickers.  That’s when all of the out of work pickers in Panama,
Costa Rica and Guatemala had a mass exodus into Mexico and on to become Illegal’s  in the
U.S.  That is when everyone started complaining as our borders began to get overrun.  
The largest exodus of American’s recorded, took place right after Bush got re-elected.  I wonder
how many will leave when Hillary get’s elected or Obama for that matter.
The coffee industry had been working for years to develop a quality plant that could withstand
severe weather and required little pesticides.  They did develop this plant but it didn’t have the
flavor of the natural Arabica plant that preceded it.  The plant produced a heavier bean in more
abundance so generated greater profit.  At the time it was being introduced into Panama, there
was what the Panamanian’s called the “Crisis Years” .  This is when Noriega had taken over by
promising certain things but then reneged and filled the government with his cronies.  None of
the coffee growers wanted to invest in anything at this point and some were leaving or making
plans to get out of the country.  This is when the U.S. changed all that by invading and arresting
Noriega.  Two hundred U.S soldiers lost their life in the few weeks it took to change the
government back and bring stability back to Panama and the business environment.  Right now
, Panama is the fastest growing economic force in all of Central America.   
This plantation was founded by a Scotsman from Aberdeen that migrated to Canada and came
to Panama to start in 1917 to buy this place.  He realized that one man had a monopoly on
purchasing the product so he would be limited on what he could get for it.  He decided to
compete against the man and grew his own but also bought other plantation product. He set up
his distribution center and delivered coffee all over the world.  He modernized his operation
with special dryers that were designed and made my a Scotsman back in Aberdeen.  They
bought a water driven generator that was invented in the US to power his operation.  The
generator still works but has been replaced my electricity.
We toured the plant

and witnessed the different sorting and drying machines used to separate and classify the
coffee.  The Plantation provides housing for both permanent and temporary Indian employees. 
  It is “green” , in that it recycles the water and the waste so nothing is lost. After visiting the
packing room we adjourned to the tasting room.
There I learned a lot about the process of brewing coffee and the different roasts.  We could
buy the coffee but I decided to wait and get it at the airport on the way home.  Maria, one of his
employees was at hand to offer some of her handicraft beaded bracelets.  

She had 6 daughters and is 31 years old. The money just gets goes to buy uniforms and books
for her children’s schooling. Hans explained there are three main tribes of Indians in Panama
and each has a pattern they use in all their pottery, bead work, and clothing that defines the
tribe they originate from.  This is similar to the Clans of Scotland.  Maria’s dress and her
bracelets had a set pattern that defined her origin.
We returned to the Hostel passing another Peruvian restaurant.  I asked Hans about the
Machu Pichu restaurant, that I visited last night and wanted to eat at.  He said they give poor
service, add 20% on the bill and the bill is not always correct to begin with.  I decided to take a
cab and visit the other Peruvian restaurant ,that he highly recommended, this evening.
I walked instead, stopping to check my email at Mail Box Etc.  The woman who owns it speaks
English and I was told was from Vancouver , B.C.  It turns out that her son goes to school up
there and she is from David.  Her daughter graduated from Hotel Management at ASU in
Phoenix and is now employed at the Luxor in Vegas.  I could download and print things there
and if I wanted to bring my Laptop in she said it would be no problem.  I printed out my
Itinerary, 1099 Tax Statements, and the wanted poster from the FBI for the man I saw in
Panama City.  I am going to the Embassy there and file a report this coming week.  I had a
second phone message from the same source on the computer but didn’t recognize the number
.  She didn’t have headphones for the computer so I couldn’t get the message unless I had
mine.
I walked up to the Peruvian Restaurant

and order a glass of Red wine and Mixto Ceviche.  It was octopus, squid , shrimp, and was
excellent.  I then re-ordered another glass of wine and had a Chicken dish with a Turmeric
based sauce with olives and nuts.  Rice on the side came with it and a small salad.  It was so
good I thought I’d treat myself to a Rum pudding and Cream that was sweet but really good
also.  The only drawback to this beautiful meal in a very attractive restaurant was out of the two
couples and one man in the dining room FOUR of them were talking on their cell phones quite
loudly.  The noise conversation echoed in the dining room and I could hear everything. Three
of them were Americans. The bill came to $27 and I gave him my credit card…he gave it back
five minutes later explaining it was rejected.  The expiration was February 2008 but I thought I
had until the end of the month.  This is going to create a problem but I did have a back up card
which was accepted.  
Returning to my hostel I decided I should go to the other Internet station to check those phone
calls.  Sure enough Visa suspected suspicious activity and when I didn’t return the calls, shut off
my Credit Card.  I decided to get out my Magic Jack phone and return tomorrow with my
computer and contact them to reinstate the card.  I would call Mom a day ahead while I was at
it and let her know I was fine.
When I returned the English lady was out on the patio so I introduced myself.  Her name is
Judith and she looked at more homes for rent today but still likes the one she saw yesterday.  I
invited her to join me tomorrow to visit the Peruvian restaurant again.  There was a lot on the
menu that looked great and the Chef knew was he/she was doing.  I won’t have the desert this
time.  She agreed to meet with me at the Hostel tomorrow at 5pm.  Hans stopped by the room
to check if I was going to breakfast again tomorrow but I declined in favor of my Peanut Butter
on Fiber Bread with a banana.  I am leaving in a couple days and don’t want my snacks to go to
waste.  Hopefully I will be able to squeeze in a short hike and a museum after the Internet calls
in the morning.
The plans didn’t work out like that the next morning.  I stopped at a coffee house for a real cup
of coffee then hooked up my computer at the Mail Box Etc store.  After plugging in the Magic
Jack I was talking to Visa and had everything straightened out.  Then I called my Mother
because the store would be closed on Sunday and that is when she expects a call.  I explained I
was sitting next to the customer counter and traffic was loud so it would have to be short.  She
xplained she thinks she has everything but to avoid mistakes, I asked her to mail it Monday
morning to me in Phoenix.  She was disappointed I didn’t talk longer or listen is more like it
but said goodbye.  I emailed Chris in New River to ask if she would pick up the mail on Friday
and I would hopefully be able to find an Internet station in Panama City to call her for the
information. I could then fill out my Mother’s taxes and Real Estate exemption and forward it
to her from Panama to file.
It was Saturday and there was a big Flea Market set up in the town square.

  I hadn’t had breakfast and it was now after 1pm.  I stopped in Amigo’s for an excellent
American breakfast and noticed people with laptops.  I tried it out and they had a free internet
connection with a fast and strong signal.  Maybe I’ll make another call before I leave on
Monday.  
I wanted to go to the museum, tour or hike and it doesn’t look like I have enough time.  Judith
and I are going back to that Peruvian restaurant shortly so I’ll try again tomorrow.
Well I went over to the patio area to meet Judith at 5pm but she wasn’t there.  I mixed a drink
and waited until 5:30.  Meanwhile, Carlos from Panama City came up and introduced himself.
  He comes out to Boquete to get away from the city a couple times a year and was staying
there.  He lived in St Louis, Mo for 5 years and has family in Dallas that graduated from college
in Austin.  His family runs a catering business in Panama City.  We chatted then I knocked on
Judith’s door, noting that her key was in the door.  She never answered so I left a note that I
would be at the Peruvian Restaurant if she wanted to join me then walked up the street
noticing Roxanne’s BBQ just a block away.  The reviews I read said good cheap Steak dinner
so I decided to go there instead.  I backtracked to the Hostel and went to rewrite the note but
noticed that the key was no longer in her door.  She never answered when I knocked
previously so figured she is typical English prude and probably a Gemini like some people I
know.
I was returning to Roxanne’s when a man about my age was sitting in a chair, invited me
over.  He was Manny from Colon, Panama.  His father had been in the Merchant Marines and
opened two bars there.  They always gave credit to G.I.’s and the Navy packed the place. 
When he got older he went to Vegas to live and work for over 15 years.  He considers himself
an American and said Panamanians never take welfare.  He is back and plans on staying in
Boquete for two months.  He comes here often and loves it.
I left for Roxanne’s along the river just outside my window while I was dining.  The grass fed
Filet was top notch with mashed potatoes and a beautiful salad.  Two glassed of excellent wine
and I was ready to try the dessert again.  Apple pie with coffee and Grand Marnier.  I went  out
side to finish the Grand Marnier with the first cigarette of the day.  You can’t smoke in any
public place in Boquete!  I like that.  Two Americans came out to join me.  David from Ohio
that went to Oberlin U. and was a classical flutist. He came here a year ago and his girlfriend
that came from Silicon Valley in 2005.  She bought a beautiful home that has appreciated
three fold in two years.  She was a computer analyst from the old school that never got into
the web and was out a job then.  Now she runs a Theater Company of 180 Gringos that put on
plays and dinner theater in Boquete and will never leave.  She said there are a lot of Vietnam
Vets here and I’m starting to think about here instead of Vietnam next winter.  It is beautiful.
I’m off to see what night life in Boquete is all about.  Oh, my bill came to $21.00 for all the
wine, steak, salad, veggies, dessert and Grand Marnier.  Did I mention I had coffee too?
     I started with Amigos for a beer.  There I met Mark from Philly, Pa that just bought Amigos.
  He came to Panama with his wife.  They were wonderful people.  Another man was there that
was from Colorado but spent a lot of time stationed at Ft. Clayton just after the Vietnam war. 
He spoke fluent Spanish and knew both Colorado and Panama like the back of his hand.  We
started buying each other beers and Mark brought out Nachos and Cheese for us to share. 

Another lady was there from Toronto with her boyfriend.  We were sitting out on the patio
when Caesar showed up.  He joined us and bought a round.  He had moved to Boquete 13
months ago from Belize where he bought and developed an Eco Tourist camp in the jungle. 
http://www.blackrocklodge.com/tours.html He also worked with Mahogany and sold crafts
made from the wood. He was originally from Greece and grew up in South Africa for years
before moving to England and then to Belize. He sold everything there and moved here to play
golf and he is a drummer for a Jazz band. He is a firm believer is Ganja and doesn’t smoke
but likes wine.  He and the guy from Colorado started talking about wood and all the different
varieties available in Columbia and Central America.  Caesar was telling him about a dealer in
St. Louis that would buy any high quality hard woods that this guy could provide him and they
exchanged addresses and numbers.  The Colorado guy invited Caesar to come to Panama City
and meet one of his suppliers.  They talked about trees here in Boquete that are 1000 feet and
are a whole eco system  or universe in them selves supporting an entire system of life.  
Mark said he and his wife had been to Cartagena and said I would be a fool if I didn’t go.  The
old city is incredible.
Caesar was going to his friends bar called Zanzibar and invited us. Philippe the  owner was
also a Greek from Zanzibar, Africa and just within the year bought this property and opened
up Zanzibar.  I was tired and ready to bed down but knew an opportunity when I saw one. 
The guy from Colorado, and myself left to go in Caesar SUV to the bar.  We arrived and had a
drink while listening to some great guitar music. 

Then Caesar decided to leave so I grabbed a ride back but when we got outside Philippe and
his friend John showed and invited us back in to taste this fine Rum Philippe had just acquired.

I could have walked home at that time but ….I didn’t want to miss anything.  I met John and
Philippe and chatted a bit with them but enjoyed the Panamanian crowd that packed the place
.  I saw my waiter from the Peruvian restaurant the night before and we talked a bit along with
the guy from Colorado.

Caesar eventually decided to leave and dropped me off close to the Hostel and I walked back. 
Tomorrow is Super Bowl at the Amigo but what I’m going to do during the day I’m not sure. 
I should take at least a three mile hike.  I do believe this is a place I will return to and maybe
live for a while.  It is great.
I slept late as usual but when I started out for breakfast and a long hike, Axel stopped me and
wanted to know when I was checking out.  I explained tomorrow and he thought today. We
had a misunderstanding and the only way I could stay another day was to move to Mirko’s
room
with the bath and shower in another area shared.  I had no choice so had to pack anyway since
I was departing the nice day.  I spent the morning packing up everything and then moving to
the other room.  
I finally got settled in my new cubby hole and left for the Amigo to have a nice Omelet, fresh
fruit plate and juice.  Then I went over to get some great coffee at the Coffee Company.  The
last time I was there they served it in Paper cups and I hate that even though the coffee was
great.  This time I asked them to serve it in the “Duran” Coffee cup. The bill was $3.85 vs. the
$2 I paid last time.  I realized I just bought their cup.  
I took it back to the Hostel and was ready for a nap before I even started my last day in
Boquete.
I decided to walk into town, through the town and up the mountain.  It was about a mile and
a half but took me a hour! I visited the Pharmacia for more Advil.  My left arm and shoulder
were killing me and my tooth was acting up again.
As I was finishing my hike, I stopped at the Ruiz Coffee Plantation Coffee House and had a
GREAT cup of Cappuccino as well as a GREAT piece of Apple Tart with nuts in it.  I had
another cup of Cappuccino then headed back toward town. 
I still wanted to visit the volcano and vowed to take a taxi if one passed by.  Everyone taxi was
full with tourists doing the same thing I wanted to do.  The trek back was all downhill and I
passed by the Zanzibar where I was last night with Caesar.  It was open and I decided to have
a beer.  
When I entered they were having “Off Track Betting” from Golden Gate Park.  I made a few
bets then left for this Italian Restaurant I heard about that makes their own Pasta.  I was the
only customer and had the Spinach and Ricotta whatever and a glass of wine.  It was cool not
hot and mediocre.  A big disappointment so I left for Amigos and the Super Bowl.
I noticed Sunday is a day that a lot of the Indians come to town with their families to shop
and meet with their friends.  At the end of the day, you see the wives with their children sitting
on door steps at in alleys across from the Indian bars.  The bars are full of only men and the
party spills over to the street while the women patiently wait.
The Super Bowl party was outside on the patio and because it was so warm this afternoon, I
had a short sleeve shirt and a jacket. 

After the first quarter I was freezing even though it was about 65%.  The guy from Colorado
that I met the night before was sitting next to me so I asked him to watch my seat and
returned to the Hostel to put on my long john shirt and a sweater before returning.  
When I returned there was a couple that asked if I was staying at the Hostel Topas, as they
were also.  I replied yes and they asked if my name was David?  It turned out my date with
Judith fell apart because she got moved that day to another room like I did and never saw my
note.  She asked them to explain that to me if they saw me.  Made me feel better but Judith
was supposed to meet me on the patio so that was a ruse to get out of feeling guilty.
I watched New England lose to New York in the last two minutes.  I had to go home and get a
good night’s sleep so bid my friend from Colorado goodbye.  The Mark the owner came over
to say goodbye. I explained I was going to plan on a Columbia trip after he told me about him
and his wife’s experience there.  I gave him my card and he promised to email the
information about his guide and number.  He also said his guide knew Columbian Emeralds
well and if Mark had had $10,000 he would have turned it into $50,000 back in the states
with these gems.  I don’t take much stock in that and know just about as much about gems
as I do about the Stock Market where I just recently lost over 15% of my savings.
I returned to Hostel Topas and put everything together for tomorrows departure. 

I am taking the local bus for $1.50 vs. $25 for the taxi, to David, and catching the 1pm Air
Panama plane to Panama City. It is now about 12 pm so I will retire.  I do hope to come back
here.  I think this is the best place I’ve seen so far in Panama and wouldn’t hesitate to invest
money here NOW.
  I had to use the outdoor sink to brush my teeth and the communal bathroom to shower.  It
was like a Spring day.  The morning sun was warm and a nice cool breeze off the mountains.
They call this area the Valley of Eternal Spring.  Axel asked if I wanted breakfast and I
explained I wanted a taxi to the bus station.  He said the bus goes right by the front door.  I just
have to wave him down and board.  I decided to have breakfast.  I noticed a bus passing as I
was finishing.  It was 9 am and the buses leave every 20 minutes.  I paid my bill for 5 nights and
3 breakfasts.  It came to $91!
I was out front at 9:15 and at 9:20 the bus showed up.  I had a seat to myself, which was good. 
These are old American school buses designed for children and the seats are cramped.  A
short distance later the bus picked up enough passengers to fill it and my seat.  Lots of people
were sitting 3 to a seat and on each others lap.  Later the bus was standing room only.  The
driver stopped about every two minutes to pick up or drop off someone.  I arrived at the bus
terminal in David around 10:30 am and paid the $1 as I left the bus.
A taxi drove me out of town to the airport for $2. This was much better than paying $25 for a
taxi.  I was too early to check my bags so  relaxed with a Kotowa coffee.

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