Tag Archives | Boquete

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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ESCONCED AT THE PANAMONTE INN

BOQUETE

(Stupid) Jack, Alice! and I head to the hills, passing right by the turn-off to Hibiscus in our hurry. We double-back and catch the road with a slam of the brakes. The lane is narrow, twisting and dark. We strain to catch glimpses of Hibiscus signs to no avail. We dead-end. I lock Alice!’s doors. Barely managing to turn around in the tight space, we attempt another path, which delivers us more deeply into the woods. An angry german shephard chases us, barking loudly. A porchlight illuminates ominously. Someone is going to shoot at us any minute. We’re a half-hour late for our Hibiscus reservation now, so we blow it off in favor of a restaurant in town.

We are so Going To Get It from June and Larry when they find out!

At some point today Jane and Barry became June and Larry. It started off with my misspeaking, but then we derived such infantile pleasure from my bastardization of their names that the monikers stuck.

PANAMONTE INN AND SPA

The Panamonte Inn dining room is too brightly-lit and formal for our mood, but the bar is dim, cozy, and inviting.

Panamonte Inn Boquete

(Stupid) Jack volunteers that he returned to his cabin to find his belongings manhandled. The beers that we had purchased earlier — two Balboa and two Atlas — had been rearranged in his refrigerator: Atlas on the top door shelf; Balboa below, labels facing forward. My God.

Our server greets us.

“Do you know Price Peterson?” I ask him.

Of course I know Price Peterson!” Of course he does.

After a bottle of malbec, corvina ceviche and steaks our server asks if he can tempt us with the Panamonte Inn’s lemon pie we’ve been hearing/reading about. Why not?

“I thought you were hoping to lose five pounds on this trip?” chides (Stupid) Jack. He is referring to a comment I had made earlier in the trip. Yes, it was a girlie thing to say, but I am a girl.

Strike two.

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PRICE PETERSON, INTERNATIONAL MAN OF COFFEE

PRICE PETERSON

The Best Coffee in the World is grown right here in Boquete, at Hacienda la Esmeralda, an estate owned by a man named Price Peterson. The beans are called Geisha, and at times they have sold for well over $100 a pound. A sucker for anything novel and foodie, I’m hell-bent on acquiring some at a fraction of the cost while I’m here.

(Stupid) Jack and I stop at Cafe Ruiz “one of the oldest and most respected coffee producers in the country” for an afternoon pick-me-up. I ask the woman behind the counter if they sell Geisha beans. They don’t carry Geisha, but we catch “Price Peterson” a few times in her explanation. Not much of a clue, but it’s enough to fuel our determination to track these damn beans down. At this point, Price Peterson (that fabulous name!) has achieved mythical status with us. He is the  International Man of Mystery/Coffee, J. Peterman and the Most Interesting Man in the World, all rolled-up into one.

He doesn’t always drink coffee, but when he does, it’s Geisha.

MI JARDIN ES SU JARDIN

Caffeine-upped, (Stupid) Jack and I continue our pursuit of the bizarre at Mi Jardin es Su Jardin (just down the road), another lavish, private garden open to the public, again tackified with ceramic cows, plastic windmills, dinosaurs, and other oddball decorative items. We don’t get it.

Mi Jardin Boquete

BOQUETE

We drive into town, spy another coffee shop, and pull-in. Once again, the store doesn’t sell Geisha, but this time our salesperson points outside to a man standing on the sidewalk, talking on a cellphone, who trades in coffee. Maybe he knows Price Peterson!

We sidle up and (Stupid) Jack (who speaks eleventh-grade Spanish) inquires into scoring some Geisha.

“Pssstttt…Amigo…”

“<Spanish><Spanish><Spanish> Price Peterson <Spanish><Spanish><Spanish>!” The Guy replies.

The Guy makes a call. Maybe to Price Peterson. He instructs us to return here tomorrow morning, speak with his secretary and she will provide further instructions then. The Mission continues!

COFFEE ESTATE INN

Exhibit A

I walk into my bedroom, stop short. Someone’s been touching my shit! The fan is on, the blinds are open, and my books have been arranged (from small to large, top to bottom) on the nightstand. My hat (that was buried deep within Bagzillo) is lying on a shelf, my toiletries have been removed from their case and arranged — in height order — and my shoes (zapatos) have been liberated from my luggage and placed — left shoe on the left, right shoe on the right — on the floor. Wow. I don’t know whether to be impressed or disturbed.

Disturbed.

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