Buena tarda from Panama!! We had a late arrival in Panama City after our flight from Mexico via San Salvador. Up early the next morning for a tour of the city and the famous Panama Canal.
The early start enabled us to beat the crowds and get a great view from the Miraflores locks of 3 ships leaving the Pacific on a 77-kilometre journey over the isthmus to the Atlantic. Ships are northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon.
Panama City, with a population of more than 2 million people is a boisterous and congested place. The old part of the city, Casco Viejo, features quaint cobblestone streets, chic hotels and restaurants, and architecture reminiscent of what you might see in New Orleans. Unfortunately, government corruption and project mismanagement has left its mark on this city and its municipal infrastructure. It is well worth a visit, but don’t judge the country by its capital city.
Since Panama City didn’t make our short list of possible retirement communities, we’ve gone further up the road to Boquete.
Boquete is to coffee what Quebec is to maple syrup. Here you will find some of the finest coffee grown in the world. The altitude, volcanic soil and climate are unique to this area of Panama. We booked a tour of a coffee plantation this morning and we were amazed at the work involved to bring us a good cup of Joe. The coffee grown in this region is among some of the most expensive in the world and known to be sipped by our Queen.
The plantation owners are very good to their workers by providing free housing, free produce that’s also grown on the farm, and of course the same coffee enjoyed by royalty. Many of the workers live in small apartments with their families right on the property. We saw four little girls playing leapfrog today all dressed in their colourful native dresses. They looked so cute. The plantation also provides basic schooling for the children.
We’ve also found some of the tastiest cantaloupe ever! There is something to be said for perfect ripeness. What we get in Canada is no comparison to the amazing flavour here.
About 10 – 15 years ago, affluent Americans, Canadians and Europeans started looking here for affordable places to retire. I’m told there is now about 1,000 American expats living here in Boquete. This beautiful little town, nestled in a mountain valley, boasts a population of 20,000 and there’s nearly as much English spoken here as Spanish. Seems it all started with an article written in International Living magazine. The secret was out… this little paradise is now on the radar for snowbirds to discover and discover they did.
Lots of real estate options here and we’ll be checking into that and more as we go further on up the road.