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.
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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!

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