Coffee in the Highlands

Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Flag of Panama  ,
Thursday, June 14, 2012

After an inspiring few hours spent watching big fat ships pass through a man made stream with fancy gates, it was once again time to move on. Next stop would be Panama's coffee region, the small town of Boquete to be precise. Getting to Boquete is no problem at all, a mere 6 hour bus journey, or a 30 minute flight for the big hitters. Our current bank balances wouldn't even allow us to peel oranges for Phil Hird's action netball team, so the bus it was. For some bizarre reason Al, the Good Doc himself, the man that's about to become a qualified sports doctor, decided that it would be a great idea to leave Panama City at midnight in order to arrive in Boquete at 6 in the morning. Someone needs to audit the validity of his academic transcript, you just can't trust them Bennies boys.

Don and I have certainly become accustomed to the odd overnight bus journey in Latin America. By accustomed I mean that it is now beyond any reasonable doubt that they are seriously kak. Freezing air conditioning, violent movies played at full volume, winding roads, suicidal bus drivers, flame throwers, land mines, you get the picture. No sleep. The only consolation on this journey was watching the uncontrollable rage build up in the rookie Lynches' faces when the couple in front of them reclined their chairs to beyond maximum and the air con started dripping on their heads. Laughing about it then might have resulted in some grievous bodily harm for the the young Lynch team, but these days we can't help enjoying a good chuckle at their expense.

The bus arrived in Boquete bang on time, at 6, in the morning, after no sleep. So with a few sour lemons in tow, we headed into town to find a place to eat some breakfast and regain our composure. Boquete is famed for its coffee, but a few shots of tequila would have probably been more welcome at that stage. Coffee would, however, have to do and fortunately it induced the desired effect on the Good Doc, as he managed to redeem himself by proving that he's not just a saver of lives but also an excellent accommodation seeker.

Our abode for the final few days of Al and Kel's trip was perfectly located just outside of town, right in the midst of coffee country. It was run by a friendly, well-fed Panamanian that did nothing but be friendly. His wife did everything else. He needs to impart such wisdom. At least he did manage to give us the 411 on Boquete. He also expertly managed to instruct his wife to prepare a delicious meal for us. Even Kel enjoyed the meal, although she kept muttering things like Ronald, McNugget and Big Mac. Classic symptoms of fast food withdrawal. Don't fight it Kel, don't fight it.

Item número uno on the Boquete agenda was a coffee tour, so off we went to see us some coffee. We visited a small farm that produces Kotowa Coffee, which is apparently one of the best coffees in the world. Our guide for the tour was a passionate Dutchman and he kicked off proceedings by asking us what sort of coffee we drink at home. Most heads dropped immediately but the Good Doc backs himself as a bit of a coffee connoisseur, so he rose to the challenge but ended up botching it horribly by proudly declaring that we drink Nescafé. We subsequently learnt that this is equivalent to telling Louis Vuitton to wear Crocs ("Nice Crocs" - said no one, ever). Luckily the Dutchman was able to swallow his disappointment and continue with the very interesting tour, showing us how coffee is made, from seed to cup. The tour culminated in a tasting session and Al managed to redeem himself once more by ranking his favourite coffees in the exact same order as our guide. Brown nose.

The following day involved some hiking. We initially planned to mission to the summit of a nearby mountain but Mother Nature decided to punish us for our sins and throw a downpour in our faces. Fortunately we were granted enough time to take some jumping photos, enjoy a javelin competition and Al sat on a rock and made friends with a cock. We then walked back home in the rain and the well-fed Panamanian did what he does best by telling his wife to cook us some food. With spirits lifted we decided to hit the town for a farewell skop. Before getting to that though, mention needs to be made of Al and Kel's ziplining adventure. Ronald or Doc, please add a comment here to describe the adventure, but judging by the photo of Ronald with her helmet, it looked like a blast.

Our last night was spent celebrating the incredible three weeks that we shared while travelling with Kel and Al. After meeting up with them in crazy Bogota, we ventured through the Colombian interior, soaked up some Caribbean sun, sailed to the extraordinary San Blas Islands, marvelled at man's ingenuity at the Panama Canal and finished off with a coffee education in the Panamanian Highlands. Unfortunately it all had to come to an end, but not before Al smashed 4 double vodka shots and a Panamanian Rumbler in salute of all the timeless memories. The sisters adopted a far more mature salute, but either way, there was no discrepancy with regard to how much each of us enjoyed those magical three weeks.
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Dazza on

That was slightly more interesting than the last, but could you not just go to Vida or Seattle for a coffee and not trek the world!!

Heather on

Gee, what a lovely entry. Everything looks so green and I am impressed at how muck 'hiking' you did. I am expecting to see lean and mean Wa and Don on your return.

The good doc on

Well written Wa. You seriously write well. Just throwing that out there. Sitting back at a desk fighting off day dreams of Panamanian coffee, San Blas islands and Colombian wine (ok maybe not so much the last). Enjoy your last couple of weeks guys and thanks again for a words indelible moment in time!

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