Penny Ripple is perhaps Boquete’s most enthusiastic resident. “The landscapes here just blow you away. I can see Volcan Baru, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Panama, from my window. We’re about 3,500 feet above sea level in Panama’s Chiriqui province, near the Costa Rica border. I love it here,” she says.
“Though I’m from Florida, I was tired of being hot and humid. Boquete is around 75 F almost every day.”
Penny, who moved here nine years ago, wasn’t always gung ho about Panama. “I was thinking about buying property abroad—possibly in Costa Rica—and someone said I had to check out Panama.”
She was nonplussed. “Panama? Why would I go there and where is it?” She laughs: “that was my first reaction, but I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.”
Soon after, on a trip to Costa Rica, Penny crossed the border into Panama. “I laid eyes on Boquete, and I knew it was for me.”
“This region is where all the food is grown. All the ranches and farms are here. You can find so much in abundance, and so long as the crops continue to grow, we’ll want for nothing.”
And though Boquete was little more than a farm town 10 or 15 years ago, today it has grown in convenience. It’s a satellite of the city of David, the provincial capital— just 30 minutes away via a brand-new four lane highway.
“The big stores from Panama City began opening branches in David and the offerings in Boquete skyrocketed, so now there’s little you can’t get here. But what’s really great about living in such natural surroundings is that you almost automatically wean yourself off the big box stores, the marketing-driven ‘buy this, buy that’ mentality,” says Penny. Penny is in love with the large expat crowd in Boquete, too. Though she’s been in Costa Rica and Ecuador, she says she’s never seen anything like Boquete…
“What makes Boquete special? Since the early days, there have been expats here who were doers…they were willing to set up forums…start clubs, classes and organizations based on their areas of interest or professional experience, that sort of thing. You can be incredibly busy here— in fact, it’s hard not to be. Sometimes you have to stop and say no, because there’s so much…you simply cannot do it all.”
And “there are so many who give of their time lovingly. These outstanding people make Boquete what it is today. I’m talking about expats and locals, who are wonderfully friendly. Whenever someone walks in the door, at the pharmacy or bank, they always greet you.”
Penny is particularly impressed with her Panamanian doctors. “I have had everything from plastic surgery to pneumonia here. The level of personal care and attention is unheard of in the States.”
Because people are open and friendly Penny says it’s easier to meet people in Boquete than perhaps anywhere else she has ever lived. She should know…not only is she the town’s best-connected expat, but she also found love just as she was turning 70.
“A few months ago, I met a man with the same dreams as me, and now we are building a beautiful new mountaintop home together. This is Chapter 70 of my life,” she laughs. “Here in Boquete I have always been open to what the future would bring.”
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