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Boquete - Then and Now

Phyllis Mc



The other day I was coming down the hill from CEFATI, the tourist center. When I had to brake halfway around the curve because there was a long line of cars, I figured it was the police checking licenses, a car accident, a yellow bus going ten KPH, a stalled car, or a taxi stopped in the middle of the road so they could pick up a passenger. It wasn't any of these. Just a lot of cars. Traffic congestion in Boquete.

When my husband and I first arrived in Boquete 13 years ago, there were hardly any cars at all. Many of them were so old or poorly maintained that the joke was the passengers could walk faster than the car could drive. Now there are SUVs, sporty pick-ups, and even a small spattering of Porsches.

A lot has changed. Not just with traffic.

There use to be only tipico restaurants here and a place called "Taco y Tacos" where you could feed three hungry people for $10.00 and have left overs. We were all so excited when Lauretta Bonfiglio opened the Bistro Boquete that it was all we talked about. I had the Bleu Cheese burger and I almost cried. Gringo food! My taste buds were in ecstasy.

To be honest, there are many things about the old Boquete that I miss. No traffic congestion. Easy parking. Panamanians who weren't so exposed to Gringos that they had developed a prejudice against us because we can be rude and demanding. I miss being forced to practice my Spanish because hardly any of the Panamanians spoke English. I miss the horses clomping down the main street; and once there was a cattle drive on the road between the school and the old "El Constructor." Rentals, houses, and property were a lot cheaper.

There's more crime now and sadly, it has become more violent. But compared to the US, Boquete crimes are fewer and much less lethal.

There are trade offs. We have more restaurants. Lots more restaurants. Yum.

I love it that younger expats are moving in. I love my new friends.

The are more parties and dances with kick-ass live bands.

Barring unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, my husband and I are sticking it out here. I remind myself that living anywhere happily has more to do with staying grateful for the good things about it and discarding the bad. If I get crabby because Boquete isn't the same simple little town that I came to live in 13 years ago, I do a litany of what I love about it: rainbows, lovely people who are the happiest in the world, Morpho butterflies, bajareque, my poor old brain challenged to speak Spanish, vistas that stop you in your tracks, the mañana attitude, rainbows, monkeys, indigenous children looking solemn in brightly colored dresses, best friends, bochinche, parades and holidays for just about any reason, and all the volunteer agencies that have sprung up and who do so much.

I'm pretty damn lucky, I guess. Are you?

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Well said Phyllis.

We especially like your comment that young and new expats are moving in and you love your "new" friends attitude!

We are some of the "newbies" and it is refreshing to read about your mind set after being here 13 years and your attitude is great!


Thanks for sharing and making us feel at home!

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There are some great black/white photos of Boquete's past across from the snack bar in the library. Back to the 1950's. The old train was running then.

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