Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Panama Highland Towns That Have Everything



By Larke Newell
I'm fortunate to live in Chiriqui province in a small, quiet Panamanian neighborhood near the tiny town of Dolega. We are centered between our province's two main urban centers...both of which I love for different reasons.
David is the larger of the two and is a 50-minute drive from my house. Although much smaller than Panama City, it's a busy and bustling place. David provides everything we need—banks, supermarkets, repair shops, insurance agencies, car dealerships, and modern shopping malls.
We enjoy shopping and doing our business in David because it meets all our needs but is easy to get around and the local people are a friendly, happy, and accommodating bunch. They often laugh at our clumsy "Spanglish" but do so with a twinkle in their eyes and are always willing to assist us any way they can.
Restaurants are plentiful. Fresh fruit and vegetable stalls are well stocked and its easy to get a couple of bags of fresh produce for under $10. And a huge new building has recently been completed that houses rows and rows of indoor kiosk-type stalls selling delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh meat and seafood.
David is also home to a state of the art sports stadium, numerous soccer and baseball fields, and a giant complex which hosts a well renowned agricultural fair (feria) each year.
Expats like us have access to several private and public hospitals, as well as medical clinics, dental, optometric, and chiropractic services, and absolutely everything necessary to maintain healthy bodies and minds.
The town of Boquete just 40 minutes away is the country's most popular expat destination. It's at a higher elevation and the temperature is cooler than David, making it the perfect climate for growing coffee and flowers. Outside of town you'll find row upon row of thriving coffee trees loaded with bright red coffee berries waiting to be harvested. This is where I come for the world famous coffee that kick-starts my mornings.
Boquete is nestled in the valley of a long extinct volcano and is a magnet for expats from around the world. Riotous blooms of every variety and color frolic along the streets and roads and in everyone's yard. From pure white, to royal reds and blues, to delicate pinks, mauves, and yellows, these gorgeous blooms assault the senses year round.

You'll find two supermarkets, a hardware store, several mini-supers, a couple of clothing and dry goods stores, and repair shops. Boquete also has several banks, real estate offices, and insurance agencies, as well as a variety of excellent restaurants (many of which are owned and run by expats).
Keeping busy here isn't difficult...the variety of outdoor activities include hiking, white-water rafting, zip lining, and horseback riding. A climb up Volcan Baru is also a must-do activity...from the summit, take in the breathtaking panoramic views and if you're lucky you'll be able to see both the Pacific and the Caribbean seas.
Boquete also has a delightful theater group, a very popular annual Blues and Jazz Festival, a yearly Flower and Coffee Fair, and countless other festivals and events.
A recent Gallup poll ranked Panama as one of the happiest countries on the planet...and I have to agree. With these two great places on my doorstep, I have everything I could want and am grateful that the decision I made to relocate to Panama was the right one.