Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boquete Paradise

Where to stay in Boquete? An excellent option is ‘Boquete Paradise’ which is like saying ‘Paradise Paradise’. Travelers accustomed to unique inns that delight the senses will be thrilled with the setting of this boutique hotel in Palo Alto, five picturesque minutes from downtown. The rooms and suites are comfortable and well-appointed, but the setting is truly paradise, for many reasons:

· A river runs through it;
· The gardens must be seen to be believed;
· The morning symphony of birds is divine;
· Vistas include coffee plantations and mountains, including Volcan Baru; and,
· A gazebo beckons guests to BBQ and sip wine while enjoying all of the above.

Each suite has two bedrooms with full-size beds and a private, enclosed balcony overlooking this idyllic scene and a kitchenette, for preparing that BBQ in paradise. Upper floor suites #9 and # 11 have vaulted ceilings with loft sleeping quarters (3rd bedrooms) for families with children. Suite #10 is the one ground floor suite and it has private parking very near the entry.

The inn also has seven standard rooms with full-sized beds, for half the price of a suite, and one with twin beds. Each set of two rooms share an enclosed balcony. Instead of kitchenettes found in the suites, rooms include a coffee maker, refrigerator, extra sink, toaster and microwave. Other amenities include satellite tv, dvd/cd players, and wireless internet. The best view rooms are #’s 5, 6, 7 & 8.

Rates include breakfast and the café serves coffee all day, along with beer and soft drinks. This property provides one of the best values in Boquete given its spectacular riverside setting. There are many overpriced lodging options in Boquete, and more expensive options that can justify the expense. There is not, however, a better value for upscale travelers that prefer staying twice as long to paying twice as much per night.

Finally, the manager is a partner in the property, so the service is excellent. Ask for Maky at + 011 (507) 720-2278 or write

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hostal Boquete

Hostal Boquete is “a charming inn on the river where the world meets”, according to its innkeeper. In a single day I’ve heard Dutch, French, German, Italian, English, and Spanish spoken here, so this description rings true. This inn spins on its own axis with patios, terraces, balconies, hammocks on the river, couches and music in the lobby – all inviting visitors and locals to unwind in a relaxed atmosphere.

Charming? Definitely! Hostal Boquete has been my favorite WiFi hotspot until Internet gets to my new office. I’ve been charmed by Innkeepers Dave, Cristina, Haydee, Josue, Eibar, Yahaira, Katherine & Nemisis. This team runs a comfortable, clean, and fun inn with an excellent café and outdoor bar with the best location in Boquete.

In the past five years, I’ve checked out every lodging, working, and café option in this pueblo. Survey says… this is the best hostel in Boquete, a place where guests join forces in hiking, white water rafting, zip lines, hot springs, and moped touring in the “Valley of Eternal Spring”. Guest’s lodging choices range from shared dorm rooms to private rooms with private baths, in a central downtown location.

It is heartening to watch so many cultures come together in such a special place. The photo above is taken from the bar on the inn’s riverfront "Baricci Café". The menu includes regional favorites along with Italian cuisine, beer and wine, all at good prices. The soothing sound of the Rio Caldera makes this café a river refuge where guests gather and linger to enjoy stunning views. I always leave Hostal Boquete with a smile on my face.

If you find better economy lodging in Boquete, your drinks are on me (local cell 6696.2691). If you agree that Hostal Boquete rocks, hook me up with a sweet spot in a place you know well?

See you here… Paz!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Boquete, Chiriqui, Republic of Panama

I'm in Boquete this month, preparing for my family's move here at the end of summer. I can report that the economy in Chiriqui is strong. While the global economic crisis is having some effect, its not as pronounced as in the USA or Mexico.

Why Boquete? The climate is wonderful here in the "Valley of Eternal Spring". The landscape is gorgeous. The town has everything you need, yet its a very liveable small town. The people and the culture are warm and wonderful. The cost of living is reasonable and the economy is strong.
Boquete is in the shadow of Volcan Baru, the highest peak in C. America. At two miles in altitude, you can see both the Caribbean & the Pacific from its peak, on a clear day. With only 50 miles between the two coasts bisected by the Talamanco mountains, there is a constant sea breeze passing through this the Valley of Boquete. People here wear sweaters and jackets in the mornings and evenings, but its perfectly warm 365 afternoons/year. Want heat? It's a short drive to the beaches of either coast.

The landscape is lush rainforest. Flowers are everywhere. Some of the best coffee in the world grows in and around Boquete, in the shade of fruit tree. Fresh produce is always available. If you drop a seed or stick a branch in the ground, it grows because the rich, volcanic soil is extremely fertile. Here you can find some of the cleanest air and water in the world.

The town has a refreshing diversity of culture, entertainment, fine cuisine, and shopping outlets for its size. There are eco-tours, river rafting opportunitities, great hikes, a zip line rain forest canopy tour. People walk everywhere, but taxi rides to most areas are less than a dollar. You can find lattes made from beans that consistently place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in world cupping contests at one-third the price of Starbuck's over-roasted beans from unsustainable sources. (To order Boquete beans roasted and shipped to your door today, contact Seth and select "Casa Ruiz".)

Rumor has it that Hondurans are the friendliest people in Latin America but Panamanians are equally open, friendly, and good-natured. Panama has the highest literacy rate in Latin America and Boquete has excellent schools. The children safely roam about town and they are multilingual and multicultural. In addition to the beautiful culture of locals, there are many transplants in Boquete from around the world. Here Panamanians peacefully coexist with Europeans, N. & S. Americans, and other expats. You will hear French, English & German in the streets of Boquete on a daily basis. There is an excellent language school called Habla Ya where many pilgrims study Spanish, my family included.

Above is a photo of our new home, with Sr. Nicolas Guerra, an extraordinary coffee farmer and first-class gentleman. I am looking forward to driving from Seattle and pulling into the new driveway for the first time around Sept. (The family will follow by plane.) We're located on the edge of National Park Vocan Baru, very near the Costa Rican border, where we hope to establish a sanctuary for healing arts and wellness in the rainforest to detox from consumer culture and grow organic coffee, chocolate, fruits & vegetables. Come visit and hike with us into the International Park Amistad (Costa Rica & Panama), an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and summit Volcan Baru!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Planning to Drive the Pan-American Highway

  • Note: This blog will serve as Mango Steve's travel journal beginning with a drive from Seattle through C. America;

  • Changes in Latitude's regular Latin America blog has moved to

Travelers investing the two weeks required to drive from the U.S./Mexico border through C. America tend to do their homework. When its your turn to drive the Pan-American Highway, check out Drive Me Loco, an online travel guide that is updated frequently. There is also an eBook with details on roadtripping through Mexico and C. America. I've driven all over Mexico and this guide is worthwhile.

Two weeks is the time required to drive (not enjoy) Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. It is a good idea to allow another two weeks so you can drive every other day, leaving time for exploring the countryside.

That's my plan and I'm sticking to it. Our destination is Parque Amistad, an international park in the Talamanca Mountains and an UNESCO World Heritage Site... my family's new home in the rain-forested shadow of Volcan Baru. (From it's peak, you can see the Pacific and the Caribbean - check out the photos in the last link.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Boomers Retiring Outside the USA

A new online community and social network was launched today. Niche portal "Boomers Abroad" is focused on baby boomers retiring outside the USA, notably in Latin America.

The number of Americans and Canadians living abroad is approximately 7 million, twice the population of Chicago and greater than that of 33 U.S. States, according to the Washington Post. This number is expected to more than double within ten years. In the next 20 years, 100 million N. American baby boomers are going to retire. "Five million baby boomers turn age 60 each year, 10,000 per day, eight per minute, and scores of them are purchasing property abroad as vacation homes or investment homes", according to the company’s press release dated today.

Founder Luis Miranda shares the Boomers Abroad vision, “Using the online community model, our goal is to provide the necessary information, education, guidance, resources, tools and alternatives to start boomers down the path of discovering and understanding all that living, retiring and investing abroad has to offer. Everybody learns from everybody. We understand the proven power of collaboration. It is collective wisdom.”

Explore this new community at Photo courtesy of Cristina Berg.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Costa Rica's best hotel near San Jose

Many visitors head straight to beaches or rainforests when arriving in Costa Rica. The Central Valley has much to offer, however. Linger here on your next visit.

The home of Glenn & Teri Jampol is many things. It is a gourmet bistro bar. It is a boutique hotel, the best near San Jose. It is a coffee plantation. It is tropical gardens with foot paths and fruit orchards. It is a luxurious spa. It is Finca Rosa Blanca, the first hotel in Costa Rica to win a 100% sustainability rating.

To learn more about this spectacular hideaway in Santa Bárbara, Heredia, visit Plan on staying awhile. You will not want to leave. Check out the inn's list of activites before you go. Make sure you plan dinner outside at sunset. The views overlooking the valley are breathtaking.