Boquete – the Napa Valley of coffee

…or so lonely planet says.  G and I being coffee junkies were obviously in whole hog.  As an aside, I have no idea when I picked up the phrase ‘whole hog’.  I’m just going to roll with it.  It turns out much of the Panamanian produce and coffee is grown in the Boquete area.  There is plenty of hiking, and the town itself is picturesquely back dropped by Volcán Barú.


We had heard from some lovely ladies that we met in Osa that Refugio del Rio was the hostel to be at and included a river and hot tub.  Since we now have a full-blown bed bug anxiety disorder, we schemed on ways to sleep in our truck but use the hostel facilities.  This turned out to be a piece of cake.  The hostel sees lots of campers and overlanders.  We snagged a spot in front of the hostel by the river.  The wonderful little river drowns out all the sound at night.

Every Thursday, the hostel has a bbq open to the public at a steel of $5.  G was able to top off the meat reserves, and I had piles of veggies and rice.  Since I was first in line, I got my pick of the bounty.

Most of the subsequent days were spent abusing the internet (we had some trip planning to take care of).  We did manage a few walks around town, a visit to the local panadería, as well as a few visits to the grocery store.  At the grocery store we went balls to the wall and bought bags upon bags of coffee as well as several bottles of rum.  Feeling a little lazy after a day of interneting, we ventured out to an underdeveloped hot springs.  On that front though, I advise travellers to steer clear.  I like my hot springs in two varieties: resort setting with all the amenities or pristine pool in a remote location.  What Boquete offered were two mosquito baths complete with farm animals for your viewing pleasure (we heard there was a more developed pool in the area but didn’t get a chance to check it out).

All and all, I think the town is worth a visit if you happen to be in the neighborhood and the cooler climate is a nice break from the heat in the low-lying areas.


I almost did an oops!

It is active planning again.  Tomorrow we are crossing to Panama.  We are researching shipping options for Vida (our beloved truck) from Panama to Colombia.  At the same time we started reading for the best way for us to do the trip.  The price for flying to Cartagena and taking a five day sailboat trip through the San Blas islands is almost the same, soooo … So, I quickly closed and opened a website Teresa found with sailing options.

So, what’s the oops?  I am reading this website and shooting quick emails to the captains of different boats.  I had just prepared the next email and I was right to click send when I noticed this:

Update: On 2nd of July Fritz-the-Cat sunk:…

… It just made me read and reread all the details for the sailing boats I emailed …

Paradise found – Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

First, let me set your expectations as ours were set.  Anytime we’ve asked where to visit in Costa Rica, Ticos and foreigners alike practically beg us to go to the Osa peninsula in the southwest of the country.  A number of friends had also done trekking trips in Corcovado National Park on the peninsula, and said it was some of the best hiking they had every done.  The stage is now set.

We headed to Carate, the nearest village to the park. Our first mission was to find secure parking for the hike since we just can’t leave our beloved Vida any old place. We pulled into the Lookout Inn hoping to get some advice for the price of two cold beers. Our thirst for cold beer has never led us astray. We had the pleasure of meeting the owners/operators who kindly offered us a parking space for 3 days.  They also suggested that we have a look around their property.  The main guest area of the inn is perched on a hill in a lush tropical setting.  You’re first struck by the view of the ocean and peninsula, but then start to notice all of the wildlife (humming birds, iguanas, parrots, etc.).  We also took a walk up their ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at the end of which we came across a Tapir.  Now, I had no knowledge of Tapirs before this very moment.  Consider what would pop out if an elephant and pig could mate. We camped out that evening on the beach close to the inn.  George also took a guided tour around the gardens looking for frogs.  Predictably, I passed on this one.

The next day we set off on the 22km hike to the Sirena ranger station where we would spend 2 nights. Your hike must be timed with the tides because there is one beach section that can’t be crossed during hide tide. The day started off with rain, but considering this is a hot beach hike, rain is not such a bad thing. The downside of the rain is fewer critter sightings, but we more than made up for this later.  George carried the big pack with lion’s share of our food for 3 days.  I felt a little guilty that he had to lug all that weight, but also took notice that he was hiking slower than usual.  The heavy canned food was acting like a George anchor, and I could actually keep up with him (I didn’t really feel guilty after that).  After 3 river crossings we finally made it to the station and were shown our bunks.  I had several blisters and cuts from the hike.  Luckily Dr. Ionkov was around to clean, treat and bandage me up.

The following day we did some shorter hikes around the station.  We saw lots of monkeys, a family of anteaters, another eyelash viper, a tapir and a boa constrictor.  That evening, we tried to eat up the heavy canned food and planned to eat tuna for breakfast.  There is nothing appetizing about canned tuna at 5 am, let me tell you.

On the way out of the park, I relied heavily on my early warning system for snakes (G walked ahead of me tapping his hiking pole).  We came across 5 snakes and came away bite free.  That’s a check for the early warning system.  The hike out was much hotter.  At one point I was completely overheated, so Dr. Ionkov stepped in to wash my face and force me to hike in my sports bra.  The shirt I had chosen to hike in wasn’t breathable, so it felt like my own personal hot box.  I didn’t look so pretty the rest of the way out, but I made it on my own two feet.

The beach hiking in the heat is definitely a slog, but the pristine beaches and bustling jungle more than make up for it.



Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula

On the way to Corcovado National Park we stopped at Puerto Jimenez to buy park permits and get trail information.  After we got everything squared in town we decided to set camp at one of the local beaches for the night.  We woke up to paradise like jungle.  Here are the pictures from a quick five minute walk on the beach.  Amazing…

Update:  After we came back from Corcovado we came back to the same beach.  The first night here was awesome so we decided to sleep at the same spot again.  The next morning turned out that we were sleeping fifty meters from a fantastic hotel (Perla De Osa) on the beach that has a super cool bar on the first floor with wifi, cold showers and amazing fresh fruit juices …  Yes, we stayed for two more nights :).  Also added some more pictures.