Archive for the 'News' Category

New flights within Panama?

It looks like Copa Airlines is trying to get into the regional airline business in Panama. Here’s hoping! A second airline will introduce much needed competition, more flights and, hopefully, better rates.

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Look for updates here!

Boquete: Finally – A truly central Central Park?

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Small towns in Latin America seem to be all about the central park: It’s where people gather, gossip and peddle their wares (stories, products and otherwise). In larger cities, you can choose from multiple plazas, with street performers, shoe shiners and weird mumble-y men selling coca-marijuana tea. As I drank coffee, shopped for cathedral candles and people watched in multiple parks across Ecuador, I thought about our little square in Boquete.

Boquete, in recent years, has lacked a beautiful, welcoming, truly central, central park. Two of the roads surrounding it are closed to traffic. One side of the square houses the mayor’s office, the opposite, the main road. So we really only have two streets leading to the park, and they fall short. And the actual park itself has, frankly, been an eyesore. (Highlights: Weird, modern building-block fountain and the truly impressive statue of Spinal Tap proportions, seen below). But this seems to be changing. The new(ish) mayor, Sr. Millo Vasquez, is working on creating a central park that we can be proud of.

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‘Frog Perched on Coffee Plant’ or ‘Jabba the Hutt Attempts to Contain his Entrails.’ Photo courtesy of Lee Zeltzer, Boquete Guide blog.

I’ve heard that Sr. Millo is ripping out the modern fountain and I don’t remember seeing Jabba yesterday. The mayor also had the concrete seating painted a soft green (sounds odd, looks good), getting rid of the garish orange. And the park is now awash with plants and flowers that are alive and not potted in old tires or sewer pipes (true story). And local artist, Chalo, (blog post on this eccentric, tree-top dwelling artist forthcoming) is setting to work on an elaborate wood sculpture. (During rainy season we lost some trees to high winds). His sculptures are well known across Boquete. He works with trees that have to be taken down due to disease or high winds and transforms the trunks into his own version of a totem pole.

It was a welcome site on my first day back in Boquete: It was as if I clicked my heels and got myself the makings of a new central park.

Part of the carving

Part of the carving..Boquete Central Park

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Coco y Pippa

No he escrito en tres meses porque le prometí a la próxima entrada sería en español. Aquí lo tienes…

Me gustaría presentarles a Coco y Pippa. Ellas hablan español perfecto.

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Al principio, Coco cubrió los oídos de Pippa cuando practicaba mi español porque era tan horrible.

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A veces ella se trata de escapar de mi mal español.

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Ahora ellas escúchame y tenemos conversaciones excelentes.

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(Sí, esto era una excusa para publicar fotos de mis gatos.)

Danny does Volcan Baru

Boquete Garden Inn’s awesome office manager Danny and friend/former guest Lyle, hiked Volcan Baru on Saturday, Danny’s night off. The had a perfect, clear morning and from the summit, they were able to see Volcan, Cerro Punta, Guadalupe…and Lyle’s convinced he saw some women sunbathing at Playa Barqueta.

Way to go, guys!

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Tips from Danny and Lyle: it’s really dusty up there right now, so wait for some rain before heading up (but not too much, or else it’ll get sloppy). Also: try to avoid weekends. It’s super busy, and a number of those monster 4×4 trucks pass you along the way, spewing exhaust. Lyle estimated that about 100 people were going up Saturday night (!!).

I’m up next. I’ve set a goal for myself: I’ll be up there before the end of March. Stay tuned!

Rare Bird Spotted at Boquete Garden Inn!

We received the following email today from Rafael Lau, a talented photographer (and bird spotter!) based out of Panama City:

Hi Susan & Jason!

How have you been? I hope everything is good! Just to let you know that during our recent stay at Boquete Garden Inn in November 26 – 27, we spotted during our stay a mysterious bird singing alone in a tree above the reception/restaurant, we took some pictures and videos of the bird and submitted the information to experts of the Panama Audubon Society in which resulted as very, very rare bird, Melodious Blackbird (Dives dives), it is ONLY the second documented record in Panama of this bird! The first record was in western Bocas del Toro, near the borderline with Costa Rica. A very important lifebird for all panamenians birders indeed!

Just for reference of the calls/song of this bird, you can find a video taken by my wife Jeannette – the bird was singing out loud the 2 days we stayed at your inn around 8-10 a.m.

We really enjoyed our stay! Thanks for everything and for giving us this wonderful lifebird that many birders will be searching for the next months!

Regards,

Rafael Lau & Jeannette Caballero

Hiking Volcan Baru – with the Mighty Quinn!

Our guest Marc wrote me prior to his Boquete trip: he was looking forward his stay and he and his 10-year-old son were especially excited about their hike up Volcan Baru. I promptly sent him a link to our Baru blog post.

It’s borderline anti-Baru. In summary: if you only have a few days in Boquete, don’t use up a full day climbing Baru—it’s long, hard and the views fleeting (the mountain clouds up pretty fast—so both oceans are visible for a limited period of time, if at all). And heck, a 10-year-old can’t climb Baru, right?

Both Marc and Quinn were determined to hike and didn’t let the post dissuade them.

The father and son team are from Colorado, so they’re used to higher altitudes and they do lots of climbing during their frequent hikes. In short: they’re experienced.

They left before the sun rose. They paced the trip—stopping to drink water at signs that marked the trail every four kilometres. They took a total of three 15-minute breaks, including lunch. Quinn said the trail was really easy to follow, “It would be hard to get lost!”

Marc and Quinn did the entire hike from trailhead to top and back in 8 hours and 4 minutes (!!). And when they reached the top, they saw both the Pacific and Caribbean oceans just in the nick of time—it clouded over 10 minutes after they reached the summit.

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Quinn’s tips:
Climb when it’s dry: The trail would be very difficult if wet and muddy
Be careful where you step: the trail is made up of rocks and your feet can slip in between them
Take breaks: refuel with food and water

Emergency Medical Care Free to Tourists in Panama

Most of the time, vacations go off without a hitch. We manage to survive crazy cabbies, strenuous hikes, slippery slopes. But sometimes, things happen: one simple misstep, or a virus you can’t shake, and you find yourself in need of medical care. Well, here’s some good news if you are considering a trip to Panama.

In 2011, the government announced it would provide free emergency medical care to tourists arriving via Tocumen International Airport, valid for the first 30 days of their stay.

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In 2011, Boquete Garden Inn guests Virginia and David experienced the benefits of this program firsthand. As she was leaving a restaurant, Virginia fell and broke her leg. Jason and our manager Danny visited the couple at Chiriqui Hospital to ensure Virginia was OK and provide her with information about the Panama Tourism Medical plan (Note: Not all hospitals in Panama are aware of the program).

Virginia needed surgery and a four-night stay in hospital. Thanks to the plan, the bill was only $400. (US residents: Imagine how much that would have cost back home!) They were both very pleased with the quality of care and we’re happy to report that when we saw Virginia during her most recent visit to Boquete Garden Inn, she was back to her regular self!

How do I get covered?

Once you land at Tocumen International Airport, visit the Tourist Information Center, located on the lower level, in the Immigration zone of the airport. There you will receive a brochure with information and a user card. If, during the first 30 days of your stay, you need emergency medical attention, present this card, along with your passport, at the hospital.

The insurance policy covers accidental death (up to $20,000 dollars), hospitalization and medical expenses for injuries due to accidents, or in case of contracting a disease in Panama (up to $7,000 dollars), expenses for dental emergency (up to $ 2,000 dollars), administrative legal assistance related to the accident (up to $ 3,500), and lost or stolen documents, among others.

What the policy does NOT cover:
- incidents causes by negligence
- accidents related to drugs or alcohol
- accidents that are a result of participation in extreme sports

If you meet this criteria and the hospital refuses free coverage, there is an exclusive hotline for questions and concerns: 204.9300 or 204.2312 (area code is not necessary if you are calling within Panama)

What makes Boquete Garden Inn special? Our guests!

Sure, a lot of business may say this – but we mean it! Boquete Garden Inn guests are interesting, well-travelled, thoughtful, adventurous and fun! Boquete Panama attracts awesome people and we are thankful to welcome them to Boquete Garden Inn!

Repeat guests Lyle and Loila, who on their first visit to Boquete drove a minivan down from North Dakota. They went on one of our recommended Chiriqui day trips to Volcan and Cerro Punta and brought us back this fantastic sign from Arte Cruz. Thanks, guys!


Voted BGI’s Sassiest Guests of All Time – Linda, Terri, Arcadia, Laura and Deanna! With Susan and J.

Chiriqui Day Trips: Haras Cerro Punta

Only an hour and a half away from Boquete, on the other side of Volcan Baru, the towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta are perfect day trip destinations. Boquete Garden Inn can provide guests with our map of the area (not to scale!), with all sorts of great places to visit.

One of these places is Haras Cerro Punta – the home of future horse racing stars!

And then return back to Boquete for its quality accommodations (ahem, Boquete Garden Inn!) and excellent Boquete restaurants!

Road trips from Boquete – Arte Cruz in Volcan

Boquete is the perfect home base to explore Chiriqui. From the comfort of our beautiful little town, you can visit the mountain towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta, Pacific Ocean Beaches (Las Lajas and Las Olas) or experience the healing hot springs in Caldera, Chiriqui’s very own Marlboro Man country.

Last week, we took a day trip to Volcan and Cerro Punta, trying out the new road that links Potrerillos to Volcan (which will be extended to Boquete this year).

A visit to Volcan is not complete without stopping in to see Arte Cruz. He is a skilled artist, turning pieces of wood into incredible works of art. He is happy to demonstrate his technique and give you a sneak peak of the pieces he is currently working on! When you are at Boquete Garden Inn, just ask us for a Volcan and Cerro Punta map…we’ve highlighted all the must-see places!

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