Thursday, September 23, 2010


Boquete is a small town in the western Panamanian highlands, an hour´s drive north of David. It´s a relatively wealthy town due to the coffee plantations and the large number of rich retirees setting up estates. There are many long- and short-term foreign residents. Habla Ya! is a well-known Spanish language school in town and on our second day Jenna and I took a 2-hour refresher course to improve our basic linguistic ability.

Local coffee producer Cafe Ruiz let us start off our day with a coffee tasting, in which we were encouraged to pay attention to the tastes and smells of their coffee. (I had a cold so I´m not sure how many fine distinctions I was able to make.) Then we went on a tour of the plantation itself.

Young Geisha coffee plants. They are going to be mighty expensive one day.

Coffee beans. When they turn red they´re ripe for picking.

What you get when you break open a a ripe berry.

Bean washing and drying facility at the plantation.

The interior of the roasting plant back in Boquete.

They´re proud of their coffee at Cafe Ruiz. Panama is the only Central American country where coffee is grown by totally independent growers, as opposed to places where growers are forced to belong to and sell through a cooperative.

On our second day we went on a zipline tour. (All of these outdoor activities are scheduled for the morning. That´s because you can usually count on it raining in the afternoon.) It looked intimidating enough at first, as our guides talked us through the safety protocols, to be followed exactly lest disaster ensue! But one of the guides had his six-year-old son accompanying us so we figured it couldn´t be that bad. It was much more fun and less intimidating once we were actually doing it.

I had one bad habit I had to overcome. I consistently broke too soon, forcing me to haul myself the final short distance to the platform with my hands. Subconsciously I figured, better brake too soon than too late. My subconscious didn´t care about the automatic brake and safety precautions that would have kept me from slamming into the tree at full speed.

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