On Thursday I flew to David. David is a small town near the Costa Rican border. It is more of a transit town rather than a tourist mecca. I wanted to go to Boca del Toros but there were no flights. Along with no flights, there were no reasonable places to stay. I chose David because I could fly there and then check out other places.
Taxis in Panama are not like in other places. Besides not having a meter, they pick up other people along the way. When that happens they charge "por cabeza", by the person. The ride from the airport is usually 6 - 8 pesos. The driver, not such a nice guy, quoted me 4 pesos. He took 2 other people. They worked for the cable company and got out way before me. My hostel was a bit out of the center.
I loved my hostel. The second I walked in the chicas in reception greeted me like a long lost friend. I was early. Check out time is 10:30 am. They invited me to go have a coffee and sit by the pool. I asked them for recommendations on things to do. There was another woman who was going to go to Boquete. They said maybe we could go together. Boquete is a town in the mountains about 45 minutes by bus. It is where the coffee is grown. Me, the coffee aficionado, makes a point to visit coffee plantations whenever I can. I love learning about the local coffee.
Bambu Hostel is a cool place. I found it on Hostelworld. It is owned by two American men Gregg and Mike. The place is clean and comfortable. There is a large open kitchen. The first morning there we were visited by a raccoon. He helped himself to the fruit someone had dropped. You can hear the sounds of birds and a rooster. The pool is outside of the kitchen area. That is where I met Caroline. The other solo woman traveler.
She was maybe a little younger than me and backpacking through Central America. I give her lots of credit. I stay in hostels but not in dorm rooms. We shared our travel experiences and decided to share a taxi to the bus terminal. She was going to Boquete.
As soon as I was able to drop my bag in my room, we took off. We shared the taxi with another guy who was pretending to be from Spain. What is wrong with people? First, he did not have a Spanish accent to either his Spanish or his English. Second, his Spanish was a couple of notches below mine. He thought I was from Spain. Not with my whacked out Argentine accent. Get a clue, dude.
The bus terminal in David is beyond no frills. Our bus was a white school bus. It cost us 1.35 to get there. A real deal. Caroline and I chatted on the way there. She was a very interesting person. When we arrived in David it was raining. We saw a place that offered information for hostels and tours.
The place was a dump and the women were totally rude. They were almost angry that I spoke Spanish. (I think that was because they couldn't talk about us behind our backs.) One girl told us her father was a diplomat and she had lived all over the world. Right, and now she is selling hostel rooms and tours in a dumpy little room. I don't think so. She told me she had lived in Argentina..but could not remember where or where she went to school. So sad that senile dementia set in at such a young age. Worse they were charging more for everything. I tried to get Caroline to go with me across the square to another place, but she was worried about not having a place to stay and left with the witchy sidekick.
Little Miss Diplomatic Daughter demanded I go with the witchy sidekick. I refused, she threw me out and called me names when I told her I was not interested in taking her tours. Lovely. I walked across the square to Hola Panama. A completely different vibe. It is a small cheerful office in front of a very clean hostel. All the information and prices were clearly posted and much cheaper than the senile Diplomatic Daughter and her sidekick.
It was raining. I persevered and signed up for the coffee plantation tour. I know. A tour in the rain. One of the girls on the tour desk lent me her rain jacket. A couple from Canada were the only other people on the tour. Our guide was this young man who had been doing tours for 14 years. We went to an organic coffee plantation.
The plantation was small. I believe only 2 hectares. In addition to coffee, they also keep bees. There were many fruit trees intermingled with the coffee plants. When I was in Colombia, I noticed that bananas were grown all over the plantation. The tour guide there told me it was a custom. I found out on this tour it is because they attract the birds and bugs and then leave the coffee plants alone. It is a more natural way. There are no pesticides used on the plantation. While the guide was explaining things to us a goat just lumbered on up to us. He took a special liking to me. He followed us all over the plantation, and if I didn't walk fast enough for him (in the rain) he would head butt me. It was almost like having Maxi around. He was amazing that goat.
After our tour, the guide took beans and roasted them for us in a mini-roaster. It sits on a counter. I wish I could have one of these. It was amazing to watch the beans roast. I never knew that there were these portable roasters. That is probably a good thing. I don't need to buy more things. After he roasted the coffee, it was ground to perfection. This is what you call truly fresh ground. It was good. I do have to say that Panama coffee is not one of my favorites. It is good, but not as good as the Indonesian or African coffees.
After a super wonderful day, the guide asked us if we wanted to stop at the gift shop. He explained that there was a honey tasting and we could buy coffee from the plantation. He mentioned that the tasting was $3 but if we bought something it would be waived. It seemed a little strange but I did want to buy some coffee.
I am not going to print the name of the plantation. The owner is a woman from the UK and a royal bitch. (sic) She opened her jars of honey and was somewhat rude. I tasted the honey and to be honest, the honey from Cordoba Argentina is a 1000 times better. This had a bad aftertaste. Besides that, I can buy a liter of the Cordoba honey for $2.00 and this yucky honey was $15. In addition to overpriced yucky honey, the coffee was $10 and also overpriced. The Royal Bitch kept pushing us to buy. I really didn't want to buy anything, so she told me I had to pay $3. Talk about a bad taste in your mouth. I ended up with a small overpriced bag of coffee. Obviously she never took a marketing course.
I love the couple on my tour. Michelle and John. One of the best things about traveling is meeting people. I hope they will come to visit me in Argentina. It was a great day. We went back to the tour office. I gave back the jacket that was kindly lent to me, and waited for the bus back to David.