Felix is our guide for this day with whom we ride our quads on the dirt road up the mountains to a coffeeplantation. He is standing in for his son, who we actually should have accompanied today but got a sprained joint thanks to a riding accident .
We stop at a lookout point and are able to have a look at Boquete from above. You can see really far from here. Felix tells us about the relationship between alto Boquete and bacho Boquete very extensively. Somehow the topic drifts off to peculiarities of the Spanish language depending on the country and region. For example you should never say “Adios” to someone in Panama – this is just intended as “goodbye” for the deceased… or to someone with whom you really have beef with… Whops – You are probably on the safe side with just “Hasta luego”.
As we arrive at the plantation, we are surprised by the flood of information that Felix has to offer about coffee. Unlike many touristy plantation tours which very rudimentary explain the process of coffee production, here, hardly any questions are left unanswered. The coffee brand “Royal” (composed of the initials of the operators: Ro y Al) buys the coffee produced by Don Ruiz here. Ruiz planted a variety of coffee in this area (Arabica and Robusta are just genera), i.a. the rather expensive Geisha kind. Through various drying processes (a coffee fruit has 4 layers), selection of the fruit by size, roasts, grinds and preparation (Felix thinks that everything except french press is an insult to coffee) this is almost science .
By the way: You won’t get good coffee in Panama, because it is actually exported immediately – to high prices. Especially Geisha* coffee is not cheap at all. Felix tries roasting some coffee with the machine Ruiz rebuilt into a motorized version from a hand device with the help of a engineer friend. This seems quite tricky and he does not get it perfectly done as Ruis had probably done it – you really need to have lots of experience to get it right, yet some delicious coffee smell fills the barn. After a little chat we decide to buy some coffee right off the plantation for personal use and gifts.
Although the ride back is shorter, the brakes of the quads get highly stressed. My quad does not seem to get as much decelerated by its engine at low gear as the others downhill. Despite intermittent braking, the brake pads are beginning to glow. My quad starts to emit a scorched odor, so I’m looking for a place to stop and let the brakes cool down (not that so easy when there are slopes and curves everywhere). After about 30min, we arrive at Boquete – time for a siesta.
After a powernap we want to visit the indigenous market again. We come to talk with Miguel, a Kuna. He has a small workshop and manufactures native jewelry. I seem to have gotten a nice tan, Ena…well, is more red-ish, he grins. Reminds him of his girlfriend from Ireland – He pulls out his cell phone and shows us a photo of her. They have met here and took a trip to Colombia. Unfortunately, with little positive response from people there – I do not understand how racist remarks can come with such a relationship. So far I thought Latin American were quite liberal. Even his relatives do not support his choice: If they would decide to marry each other, he wouldn’t be allowed to return to Kuna Yala and would be excluded from Kuna society .
Ena buys a quite pretty bracelet and Miguel recommends us the restaurant “Big Daddy 5” for dinner. Cheap but tasty, with freshly made Patacones. If we felt like it, we should later go to “Mike’s” – one of his buddies is having a gig there with his band . Big Daddy 5 does not disappoint at all. Delicious food, creative cocktail creations – we are stuffed, but also really tired. We do not make it to Mike’s – we get to our hotel, get into bed and fall asleep in mere seconds.
*Its taste resembles more Earl Grey tea than actual coffee.