Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting ready for the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival this weekend.

Tomorrow is the start of the four-day Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival. I bought my ticket on-line while I was still in Sebastopol, and will attend the opening event tomorrow – a New Orleans style street parade (beads and all) in Boquete with the Smoking Time Jazz Club from New Orleans from 1-3pm. Then there is a garden party at the elegant old Panamonte Hotel from 3-5pm.   If you’re curious, you can read about the festival here.  The venue for the Saturday and Sunday afternoon concerts is the Greek-style amphitheater in the upscale gated community of Valle Escondido (Hidden Valley) a few blocks from downtown Boquete.  Here's a picture from the website and a couple of shots I took at an earlier event there with a group of young women on tour who dance with hula hoops, including one performer who uses fire batons. 

Fantastic weather here in Boquete!!  T-shirt temps from early morning to evening, and then a long sleeved shirt is all that is needed.  My room ranges from 65 at night to 72 during the day.  The sun is hot, but the air is always cool, but there is shade from the clouds for a few hours every day.  There are strong gusty breezes nearly all day every day during the early part of the dry season, particularly during January, and still lasting into February.  During the dry season, there is often a light, misty rain from the clouds blowing over the mountains from the Caribbean as they evaporate on the way down to the hot lowlands. This misty rain is called the "Bajareque" (pronounced ba-ha-re-kay), and it often produces wonderful rainbows.

I walk into town 2 or 3 times a day – it takes about ten minutes.  I usually start the day with two scrambled eggs with onions and tomatoes, and a HUGE cup of coffee and a couple pieces of a local deep fried “bread” – all for $2.65!!  I’ve started buying groceries at the local supermarket (Romero Supermercado), as well as small grocery stores (mercados), and will be eating more of my meals at my studio apartment as time goes on.

The area is spectacularly beautiful, and the people, both expats and local Panamanians, are warm and friendly.  It looks like I made a good choice.  I’m staying for two weeks in a modest studio unit here at Valle Primavera, a low-key lodge / apartment complex in a residential neighborhood.  It consists one building with two sleeping rooms, and another one with three studio apartments.  The outside of the building and the pathways are not completely finished, and it has lots of character./  Nieves, the lady who owns it, is delightful.

I have viewed one casita for a longer term rental, and although it was nice, it is a few miles out of town to the south toward the provincial capital of David (great name for a town!!)I would prefer to stay in the valley near the main part of town, called Bajo Boquete.  I have a couple of people looking for other rentals for me, and hope to move into a more permanent rental situation within a couple of weeks.

I miss Sebastopol and my old friends and neighbors, but I will not be lonely here.  It's easy to make new friends in Panama, and I'm sure I will feel like this is my home very quickly, especially after I move into a longer term rental “casita.”

I’ve met several woodworkers ranging from carpenters/contractors to furniture makers and hobby woodworkers during my first week here, and already have several leads on sharing shop space.

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