Greetings again from the beautiful village of Boquete! It has been a busy and eventful week for us here. The weather has been lovely and we've been able to spend much of our time exploring the rainforests and outlying hillsides. I have always been fascinated by the Gnobe-Bugle Indians, and this trip I have had more opportunity to see them up close and personal. They are a very shy people and keep to themselves, but as I've ventured a little further off the beaten paths I've had an opportunity to get a closer glimpse of how they live. They are a little taken aback by the tall white woman with the sunburn and big camera - they are distrustful of gringos in general - but always respond "ola" when I greet them on my walks. It is late in the coffee picking season, but I am still seeing workers on the hillsides picking the little red berries.
Because of a diet high in starch, sugar-cane, and Coca-Cola (it is cheaper to put in their babies bottles than formula), the Indians often loose their teeth early in adulthood, so I brought with me a suitcase full of toothbrushes and personal hygiene products from Mon Ami that I delivered to a local mission that visits the Gnobe comarcas (reservations) every two weeks with food and supplies. Next trip, I hope to actually go with them.
My daughter Tori took off on a zip-lining adventure with a group of young men from Germany who are back-packing their way through Central America. I drove up the mountain to meet her guide-group and made it just in time to watch her zip down the final three lines and snap some memorable photos. I stopped so many times to take photos of the spectacular flora and fauna that I almost didn't get there in time. As I mentioned in my travel-blog on my last trip here, there are seven micro-climates in Boquete and the plant life changes in each one. (Unfortunately, due to the frequent power outages, I'm unable to download all my pics to share with you right now - very frustrating - but I'll share them on a web album once I get home.) The colors and varieties of birds is just amazing.
Those of you who know me know that travel and food go hand in hand for me, and we have enjoyed some truly magnificent meals here. This evening we dined at a lovely Peruvian restaurant, where the owner treated us to pisco sours and tender calimari. I had an amazing dinner of local sea bass stuffed with prawns - heads still on - covered with a delicate sauce flavored with traditional Peruvian spices. We've been eating lots of guacamole, fresh mango and pineapple - what a treat! I have a beautiful kitchen to cook in here and have enjoyed making daily trips to the morning market just as the farmers arrive and then coming back to cook for friends.
This afternoon I had lunch with three retired health care professionals, all American and single women , who volunteer tirelessly in the Chiriqui Province (pronounced Cheer-i-kee) to improve accessibility to medical care in the area and help introduce new protocols in pain management and hospice care. I had met two of them on my last trip to Panama and was so impressed with the work they were doing. In the year that I've been gone, they have helped local physicians establish a blood bank and emergency ambulance services, all at their own expense. They keep "office hours" in their homes and there is a steady stream of patients coming and going with injuries and illnesses that would otherwise go untreated, or treated much too late. A cut with a machete can quickly become infected here, resulting in the loss of both limb and livelihood.Rena is an 85 year old retired nurse who has turned her living room and two bedrooms into an informal clinic. I spent a couple of hours visiting with her in her home this afternoon. She lives on social security and uses her limited income to purchase medical supplies and medicinal herbs, which she then makes into compounds and tinctures. She says her patients frequently bring her rice, fry bread, fresh caught fish, eggs or vegetables they have grown as payment.
I will be driving back to David in the early hours tomorrow to take Tori to the airport for her return trip to the states. I have a few more days of work here in Boquete and then I'll head back to Panama City for a couple of days. I am hoping to visit the old part of Panama City that was built during the early years of construction on the Panama Canal and take pictures of the architecture. Thank goodness for my digital camera - if I was still shooting with film, I'd go broke!
Thank you for allowing me to share my travels with you! On this trip, I am seeing Panama with new eyes. I hope you are enjoying it with me!