There are a lot of reasons why I love Boquete, my Panamanian mountain town.
One is the climate. I chose to live in a mountainous area and need neither heat nor air conditioning, saving me approximately $6,000 per year on the cost of these services back in the U.S.
And that’s not the only saving. As a jubilado (retired person), I benefit from all manner of discounts and benefits here in Panama. I went to the bank this morning where there was a very long line…but not for me, I went right to the front as I am a jubilado. Then off to breakfast, the bill was $4…but $3.20 for me as I am a jubilado. And finally, a quick trip to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, $40…but my jubilado cost was $32.
These savings have enabled me to check off destinations on my bucket list, the bucket of which had become very rusty from lack of use when I lived in Connecticut. I am about to embark on my second two-week trip to India this year, something I could never afford in my former locale. (I prepared for this journey with a $5 haircut and $4 manicure.)
During my last trip to India, I purchased some lovely jewelry. However, the catches were defective, so I brought them to a friend here in Boquete with whom I enjoy weekly beading sessions where we create necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. She unearthed her stash of findings and repaired my jewelry while I sipped tea. I tried to pay her for her valuable time, but she politely refused, smiled, and replied “you are my friend and I am happy to help you.” This is another reason I love Boquete: The people here are so friendly and welcoming.
I frequent a local vegetable stand in town rather than the supermarket, in order to support local businesses. I have a good friend in one particular stand. When I give her my order she bypasses the vegetables on display, preferring to rummage through her stock under the counter to be sure she provides me with the freshest vegetables.
Not long ago, the lock on my car trunk malfunctioned. I had seen two mechanics who could only shrug their shoulders, leaving me in tears of frustration. I found another shop just outside of Boquete. The owner called one of his employees over and the problem was corrected in 20 minutes. I was ready to pay him whatever he asked for, relieving me of weeks of stress. He shrugged and said, “no charge, just come back and see me again.” This generosity of spirit continually amazes me about the people of Boquete.
You can see it in their approach to charity, especially those involving animals. Volunteers for Animales and ARF (Adopt, Rescue, Foster) work around the clock to care for dogs and cats that find themselves in need. Although fundraisers are held throughout the year, these volunteers often reach into their own pockets to meet expenses. They ferry animals tirelessly back and forth to vets for evaluation and care and, when needed, cook special meals to improve the health of their charges.
As an animal lover, this attitude marks just one more reason why I love Boquete, and why I wouldn’t swap my friendly, affordable Panamanian mountain town for anywhere else in the world.