Boquete has a bar for the ex-pats that was as close to “Cheers” as you could ever come. A number of the ex-pats would gather around four in the afternoon and eat and drink well into the night. I knew one man who often used the place as his office.
I mention Amigos because I had taken slave mindi there on Mother’s Day (May 10). As we eating our meal, I couldn’t help but notice a Scandinavian-looking woman who was clearly signaling from her poise (and from the particular table that she had picked) that she desperately wanted to be picked up. We invited her to our table.
She explained that this was her last night in Boquete; she was going home the next day. “Home” was a few hours north of the Panama / Costa Rica border on the Atlantic.
I asked about where she lived and she told us that she lived in such a remote and inaccessible community that it requires a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to reach it and you can’t even make the drive if there have been heavy rains. She lived in some kind of nature retreat. She said she was taking the bus down to David to transfer to the bus that would take her to the border. In all, about a 7-hour process.
I wondered whether we might have an opportunity, here.
I had wanted very badly to do some touring and photography in Costa Rica but we couldn't figure out how to get across that border. On the Pacific side of Panama you can get into Costa Rica on the Pan-American highway simply by driving 35 miles north of David. However, on the Atlantic side, there was no road across a substantial river. There was only a railroad bridge built by the Germans in World War II. I suppose I could write two or three pages about our experience getting to and then crossing the border, but I will tell you this: you would certainly not want to do this without somebody who’d done this many times and who spoke fluent Spanish. It was fairly harrowing.
She accompanied us to the town of our destination — which was where some friends of hers would come the next day to take her home.
She selected a (rather cheap/sleazy) motel for us and we went in town for drinks and dinner.
mindi totally didn’t think about the “don’t drink the water” rule and had ice with her drink. She didn’t have a reaction while on this trip. We spent three days in this little village, mostly just walking around.
At the end of our stay, we took a bus back down to the border. There, as we were going through the customs process, we were forced to purchase a “return ticket” from Panama to Costa Rica (“rules” and all that”). You can’t enter Panama without proof that you’ll leave.
By the time we returned to Boquete, she was starting to feel ill. Within a few days, she was seriously ill. The story of our hospital experiences with this would fill pages.
For those of you who don’t know us, Mindi is an RN in real life.