CURIOUS EL EXPLORADOR GARDENS

COFFEE ESTATE INN

As if the Coffee Estate Inn isn’t weird enough, (Stupid) Jack and I plan to go with the whole ‘bizarre’ theme today and visit the El Explorador Gardens.

I exit my lovely bungalow, lock it, test the lock, retest the lock, re-retest it. (Stupid) Jack isn’t at home, so I look for him over at Jane and Barry’s.

Barry answers the door.

“(Stupid) Jack is going over maps with Jane. Apparently he forgot already,” says the friendly Canadian.

We ask about restaurants. Hibiscus — with its French cooking and balcony seating overlooking Boquete — wins our vote. Jane calls the restaurant to notify (warn?) them of our intentions.

“Go up there this afternoon,” she commands, so that we won’t miss it when we return after dark.

(Stupid) Jack and I jump into our 4×4, tear out of the gate showering gravel behind us (we know it will irritate them) and stop ten seconds later: we have arrived at El Explorador Gardens, described by Frommer’s as “one of the more curious attractions in Boquete”.

CURIOUS EL EXPLORADOR GARDENS

A gentle, elderly woman (the gardener?) in an On-Golden-Pond-Henry-Fonda hat and large rubber boots greets us (in Spanish) and beckons us to follow her into El Explorador. The family-owned El Explorador grounds are beautiful except…the landscape is (intentionally) littered with dolls, shopping carts, tvs, sewing machines, some sort of weird stage, etc. and the overall effect is, well, not just curious, but creepy. Our guide stops at “uplifting quotes to boost a visitor’s self-esteem” (so the signs say) every twenty meters or so, and waits (too, too) patiently for (Stupid) Jack and me to read the words of wisdom, contemplate them and nod solemnly. This pace is driving me crazy. Let’s move, folks!

La Explorador Boquete

We finally escape El Explorador and bound for the mountains, specifically the Pipeline Trail, hoping to get a couple miles of hiking in before sunset. We blithely pass by the turn-off to Hibiscus with a wave of the hand (we’ll locate it later), Larry’s hand-drawn map (labeled copyright 2007 Montaña y el Valle, S.A. All rights reserved) guiding our way.

We’ve only begun to ascend the mountain and our 4×4 strains and sputters along reluctantly: I’ve driven golf carts with more horsepower.

“Alice!” I denounce her (my friend Kevin calls me that when I putt short.)

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