IN SEARCH OF THE ILLUSIVE QUETZAL

COFFEE ESTATE INN

I awake to sunlight streaming in through the cracks in the blinds. Which is wonderful, except…I shut the blinds tightly before I left here last night.

Shaking it off, I pour a cup of freshly brewed coffee (so much better than at home), grab some homemade bread and move to the porch to enjoy the view of the mountains.

It’s early still so I Alice! and I go into town.

The Secretary of The Guy is expecting me. She dials Price Peterson and actually reaches him. They speak at length, she hangs up and informs me that Geisha is sold only wholesale. Dammit!

LA AMISTAD PARK (QUETZAL COUNTRY)

(Stupid) Jack and I chickened-out from walking the five-hour Quetzal Trail, daunted by internet posters: for every blogger describing it as the ultimate hiking experience another recounts a nightmare: wading ankle-deep in mud, crossing streams on ropes, etc. I don’t feel good about our decision, as the Quetzal Trail was the primary reason I selected Boquete as a destination Instead, we’re going to hike a more reasonable trail in La Amistad Park.

It’s mid-afternoon, and (Stupid) Jack didn’t eat breakfast, so we’re forced to stop at La Amistad’s “restaurant”. It employs a single staff member, who is — oh, I’d guess 85 — and serves one dish: (bony, gray) chicken, rice and beans. There’s no way in hell I’m touching this food, so I scrounge around Alice!, foraging-up my own meal: a warm Atlas and a Clif bar, contorted from the Panama heat. Lunch of Champions.

Hiking Lunch

From Frommer’s:

La Amistad Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that, for the most part, is totally untouched, creating a home for an extraordinary array of more than 100 mammal species, including endangered tapirs, jaguars, ocelots, pumas, and howler monkeys. There are also more than 400 species of birds like resplendent quetzals, crested eagles, three-wattled bell birds, and a rare umbrella bird.

The park offers multiple trails for all levels of ability. The one-hour trail that is mostly flat, Sendoro El Retono, is too Alice! for us, and the strenuous slog,  Sendero Cerro Picaho, sounds borderline masochistic, so we choose the two-hour round-trip hike to a series of lookout points with mountain and valley views, Sendero La Cascada.

Cascades Trail Boquete Up

Crap! It’s all uphill! (Stupid) Jack and I, Midwesterners both, pause every five minutes to catch our breath. We don’t like hills so much. We reach the hike’s apex seconds before the onset of vfib, and it’s all downhill from here. A waterfall rewards us at the path’s end.

Sendero La Cascada Boquete

We survive the trek back to camp (in less than two hours total, I might add). Sendoro La Cascada was the right hike for us: challenging, but do-able. Perched on a picnic table, we toast to our own athletic prowess with a round of Atlases and scan the treetops for the “resplendent” quetzal. But no quetzals. No quetzals, no Geisha.

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