Monday, January 21, 2013

Boquete, & Las Flors Y el Café & Caldera Hot Springs

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Boquete is in the Highlands of Panama.
On our arrival, we feel an instant change in temperature.
The cloud forests are nearby.
The mist blows in off the mountains.
We head over pretty river.
It is getting late in the afternoon.

This feels more like Europe.
Many years ago the Croatians, Swiss and Austrians settled here.

The bridge over the river sets a great scene with the mountains and church beyond.
We head into the festival.
Lots of women walk around in their traditional dress.

It is a bit cold so we don't last long.
It is only $1.75 to get in so we might come back another day.
As we exit, my son decides to play statues.
It is a very pretty festival, and the music is loud.

I have a massive headache and aching shoulders.
My neck is out.
Carrying the bags yesterday didn't help.
But it was more so the dehydration.
The lack of toilet stops or toilets on the buses means I can't drink enough water.
This in turn gives me a headache.

Next day we have arranged for a driver to take us to the Hot Springs.
We pass through some arid areas to Caldera.

Lots of cattle freely walk about.
The driver has a guide with us.
We are to be charged $20 for 3 hours.
Considering the return bus for the two of us is $12, 
and then it is a 4 km walk, I think this is a bargain.
Neither speak English, so my Spanish - English dictionary comes in handy.

We head over a suspension bridge.
Sadly there is another car load of Panamanians ahead.
Or else we would have had the place to ourselves.
If in Panama, do try to sight see on week days.
Panamanians go by the bus and car load to the tourist destinations.
They are in groups and are loud.

Our guide Nick is an old dude who chain smokes.
He heads off faster than we can keep up.

After 20 minutes we find the Welcome sign "Bienvenidos".
You see this word everywhere.

Yet we walk on.
Over planks and little creeks.

Out of no where there is a farm with lots of animals.
A monkey runs up to me and wraps its tail around my leg!
Yikes - no time to get the camera out - also they are little thieves so best not.

Our guide leads us to a small private WARM Hot Spring.
It is by the river.
It is as warm as you can bear on a hot day.
We spend about 45 minutes here, and I relax and let the heat work on my shoulders and neck.
there is no sulphur smell as this is piped off the big spring.

Feeling we are missing out on the bigger pool.
Oh my - this one is so HOT!
We pose for a picture.
The Panamanians have set up a picnic around the pool
and have bought chairs and the works.
So we head back to our private pool again.

After another go in the WARM hot spring, we head to the river.
It is a mix of slimy smooth stones and sand.

I take a plunge but get back in the hot spring after as it is water off the mountain.

We head back into town.
The driver and guide try to demand more money than agreed on.
They are friends of the Hostel owner.
I am not surprised.
I just refuse.  He leaves with what I agreed to pay him at the start.
This the first inkling I get that our hostel owner but be a bit of a shark.
We wander around town.
I love the church.
It has wood carved doors.
But the photograph is not a good one.
Not close enough and not far enough away to see the steeple crosses wither..
My son has gone across the road to take the photograph.
He twice nearly gets himself hit by a car not looking.
I end that idea quick-sticks!

It is time for him to get a haircut.
I drag him into a barber.
For $3 he gets just the worst haircut.
Firstly I stop the guy with the electric clippers.
I don't have a good feeling about this.

It is hard as I can't communicate what we want.
It looks like he had a bowl put on his head.
A sixties hair cut with a part by his ear!
It is longer one side than the other.
My son walks with his hands over his head back to the hostel.

He jumps in the shower.
I get out his school scissors.
Out in the garden I set to work cutting off uneven chunks of hair.
I do a pretty good job.
My son is able to face the world again.

We head back to the coffee festival.
I want a good coffee.
We have coffee plantations all around us in the hills.
I decide I want one where you get a souvenir mug.
It is a shocker of a coffee.
They stick nutmeg on it.
It is weak.
Fortunately I have a packet of the same coffee and my metal coffee plunger French press.
The brand of coffee is good and back home I make a good cup!

As we head back over the bridge we stop a couple of policemen for a photo.
This town is full of police as the festival gets rowdy at night with the dance parties.

If you are a person who likes sleep, I suggest not to stay in town when the festival is on.

Back to these police - all police stand around using their mobile phones.
Texting and talking all day.
I think they were a bit ticked off I stopped them to ask for the photograph.
Later that night their are drunks in the street.
I think their work was ahead of them that day.

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