(EyeonPanama) One of my favorite communities in Panama is Boquete. As a native of Seattle, Washington, Boquete’s climate is comfortable and much like the Northwest’s Spring. It is surrounded by forested mountains and rippling streams, again like home even though these forests are tropical rain forests rather than evergreen. Moreover, for those who are not fluent in Spanish, Boquete has a considerable population of North Americans who seem eager to meet those who are trying valiantly to combine limited Spanish with very deliberate English and the drama of sign language. We never fail to make new friends on our visits.
This year, we were able to book reservations with Manana Madera which is a working coffee finca, approximately one and half miles above the town center of Boquete. Our hope was to unwind in the area’s cooler climate and learn more about coffee which is like wine to many from Seattle. It would be both a learning experience and relaxing stay. We expected nothing more.
We were thrilled when Randy, the owner, opened the door to the guest suite/house. At an altitude of approximately 6000 feet, the view of beautifully landscaped grounds, the valley, and the mountains from full length windows in the bedroom and living room is breath-taking. “Wow!” was all I could manage to say as I took in the view and the suite. The guest suite a beautifully laid out private structure next to the owner’s home. It is ideally suited for a single or couple. The living area is furnished with comfortable seating, a small refrigerator, flat screen television with DVD’s, and book case with variety of reading selections. The bed is dressed with fluffy white duvet and soft sheets. A cozy chair is nestled in the corner of the bedroom providing another great place to read or gaze at the view. There is a modern bath with large walk-in shower. The only thing that some might find missing (not me), is a kitchenette. However, there are restaurants galore in town that offer a variety of cuisines at very affordable prices.
Eating out in Boquete is a great social experience for visitors. This trip we were very glad to meet the Browns while dining. They knew our host and his wife and in little time we considered them our new friends as well. So gracious is this couple, that they track us down while we are trying to find a cab and take us back up the hill to Manana Madera.
With a hectic travel schedule for the past few weeks and long trip to Boquete, we turned in early. My very considerate son, once again let me have the bedroom as he made a bed on the living room sofa. I drifted off in minutes cradled in what felt like a cloud. I awoke in the morning to birds chirping and the sun peaking through clouds as it came up over the lushly forested mountains. It was so specular that I did not want to move being quite contented to stay in bed all day. Lounging a day away is never possible with Evan, who in a few minutes was prodding me to start the day.
I made a pot of coffee. We headed out to a lower deck area to get a closer look at grounds and the view. As we took the first sip of the Manana Madera’s coffee, we both smiled. The coffee was fragrant, smooth, balanced, and sweet without a drop of cream or sugar. It is the very best coffee that I have ever had. As we drained the last drops of coffee from our mugs, our host and his dog Chubs join us on the ranchito looking out over valley with the fragrance of nearby Angel Trumpets in the air. After chatting about the finca, Randy is off to make us breakfast and we put on another pot of coffee. Breakfast is a delicious two course meal. The first course is fresh fruit picked when rip accompanied by ice cold juice. The second course provided our choice of breakfast fares — yummy. I am now ready to move in permanently!
We spent the rest of the morning on tour with Randy, learning more about his delicious coffee, move to Boquete, and the area landmarks. He is a wonderful host and area guide. We then headed to town for the afternoon. We immediately follow his recommendation to tour Boquete’s most famous garden which surrounds a private residence and is open to the public. The garden is literally acres of flower gardens arranged in patterns across manicured lawns. Vibrant in both color and variety there are hibiscus, hydrangea, lily, bougainvillea, coleus, saliva, impatient, sage, and many more that I cannot name. There are ponds filled with koi, lawn statues, bird houses, and a viewing tower. It is charming. We stay until we feel the first drops of rain, and then make a bee line for Le Crepe Cafe. (Good to have remembered the umbrella)
The second day, is our opportunity to learn a good deal more about coffee. Late in the afternoon we hitch a ride with Randy into town who is on his way to pick up his master taster before heading to the roaster. It was great to be able to discuss what we had learned with one of the area’s most respected experts who confides that the Manana Madera blend is among his favorite coffees. Since it is raining hard, when we arrive in town, we opt to have an early dinner followed by a short stroll. When the rain continues, we take a cab back to the finca. We spend the evening curled up reading and talking, knowing we would recommend Manana Madera without hesitation to those visiting Boquete.
In the morning the coffee pickers arrived, giving me the opportunity learn picking techniques from the foreman’s 8-year old son Henri who was much faster. We purchased as much coffee we had room to left in our bags. It is without a doubt, the freshest coffee anyone can purchase. We helped Randy fill and seal each of the bags with the coffee that was roasted the day before. The aroma that filled the room was heavenly. I am looking forward to brewing cups of coffee for friends when I return, especially those that often refer to my house as a bed and breakfast. Indeed, I am anxious for them to wake up and smell the coffee, as I recount the wonderful days spent as a guest of Manana Madera and perhaps, share my new knowledge of coffee.
Source = EyeonPanama.com