What is Boquete, you say? Well, it's a city in Panama! To make a loooong story short, my Spanish school in Panama City wasn’t really working out for me...so, I decided to only do four weeks there instead of six. I signed up with a Spanish school called Habla Ya in Boquete for my last two weeks in Panama. I arrived last Sunday, July 26, after a seven-hour bus ride from Panama City to David, and then an hour bus ride from David to Boquete. But so far, it seems like it was worth it! I really like the school, I’ve met some more cool people, and Boquete is beautiful!! It’s a quaint little town surrounded by volcanoes, mountains and rivers, with basically perfect weather (75ish every day, no humidity, breezy...although it does rain a little every day, but it is the rainy season after all...). Apparently it’s a hot spot for foreigners to retire, so there are quite a few non-Spanish-speaking people here, but that’s ok - there are still plenty of opportunities to practice! Boquete is also home to the famous Volcán Barú, which is a dormant volcano and the tallest mountain in Panama, at about 11,400 feet. This is me with the volcano in the background (although it's kinda cloudy, so you can't see it very well):
My family here is great. I live with a lady named Gojka (pronounced JOY-kah) and her sons Oscar, age 18, and Sebastian, age 11. She also has a daughter, Maria, age 19, who goes to college in Panama City. Gojka is so sweet and I really feel like another member of the family. We all eat breakfast and dinner together every day and talk about what we've got going on. Usually the boys go watch TV or something after dinner and I chat with Gojka while helping her do the dishes. She definitely loves to talk...which is great practice for me! Especially because she doesn’t try to slow down at all, but I’m definitely getting better and better at understanding everything. I also get along really well with Sebastian - probably because we pick on each other all the time :) This is me with Sebastian and Gojka:
My house here doesn’t have internet, so that’s why it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog...I have to use the wireless internet at school. (Although I do get HOT WATER in my shower here, so I can deal without internet.) I live a little bit outside of the town - about a 35-minute walk to school (or a 60-cent cab ride!). Usually I just walk down to the main road (about 10 minutes) and then the cab only costs 50 cents! I really like walking here if I have enough time, because, as I mentioned, the weather is AWESOME, and I get to soak in more of the scenery. Such as...this is the view I get when I leave my house:
This is my house:
Cute, huh? :)
Last Friday, my school took a field trip to Paradise Gardens, which is a "non-profit rescue sanctuary" just outside of Boquete (I actually walk right past it on the way to school). Apparently they save hurt animals and give them a home. There were a lot of birds and monkeys, as well as a couple of leopards and some beautiful flowers. One of these monkeys was eating a lizard, so the other one chased him around for a while:
This guy really liked red toenails, but luckily he didn't pick mine...:
On Friday night, a few friends I made at my school in Panama City (Bess, Keith, and Cindy) came to Boquete, so that was really fun! My friend Loren also decided to take classes at Habla Ya for a week, and he arrived on Friday as well. We all went out to a few bars in Boquete that night and had a good time. This is the group (minus Cindy) hanging out at a chill place called Zanzibar:
On Saturday, we went to the Thermal Hot Springs in Caldera, a little town close to Boquete. We parked our car and walked about 20 minutes through a forest and then paid $2 to enter the property. There were three little pools of varying temperatures, but all super hot... luckily there was a river nearby where we went to cool off in between. It was a really relaxing and awesome day! This is the beautiful river:
This is one of the pools (which would be really romantic, but not so much with five people in it...):
We drove back to Boquete and cleaned up and then went to the famous Panamonte Inn & Spa for dinner. Supposedly it's the best restaurant in Panama, according to the Capital Chef magazine (and I'm sure the author ate at every restaurant in Panama before making such a claim). It was pretty yummy though! Definitely more expensive than your average Panamanian fare, but not too bad if you compare it to a high-class restaurant in the U.S.
Bess, Keith, and Cindy had to leave early on Sunday morning to head back to Panama, but Loren and I (along with a few other students from Habla Ya, and other random tourists) did a zipline tour through the rainforest! It was AMAZING! It was kindof rainy and cold the whole time, and I was pretty scared before the first one (ok, the whole time), and I rammed my face into the metal pulley because I didn't brake fast enough and gave myself a fat lip, but it was STILL AMAZING!!! I wish I could do it every day. It's just a totally awesome rush...makes me think maybe I could try bungee jumping...maybe. This is me zip-lining it up:
And a face view:
This is the "truck" with horrible suspension that we took up to the top of the mountain on the incredibly rocky road which we decided was probably scarier than the tree trek:
Well, that's about all I have time for right now...my mama's holding dinner for me! :) I'm flying back to Panama City on Friday afternoon, and then I leave Panama Saturday morning. I fly to Atlanta to Chicago to St. Louis, so it's gonna be a long day...but hopefully I will see and/or talk to all of you soon!