I've been going to The Bookmark in Dolega for a few months now. For the last four years I rode right past the place on the Boquete - David bus because it was in the middle of nowhere. Stopping and browsing seemed more trouble than it was worth. Then, last September, I did stop once. The owner, Hal de Mun, was such a cranky old goat that I didn't stay long. I remember it well. I was laden with heavy things in plastic shopping bags from my trip into David, but impetuously decided to disembark the bus anyway. I was facing a few days off with nowhere to go and nothing to do... A few mysteries would help pass the time. I took two steps across the store threshold and Hal stopped me as if I were a common shoplifter. Acted as if he couldn't decide whether to let me in or chase me out. Finally he growled at me to leave my bags in the corner by the front desk, and when I asked for a quick orientation to the place he got really peeved. Which in turn ticked me off because I couldn't believe I got off the crowded Boquete bus for "this". Just to show him I wouldn't be trifled with, I did a quick saunter around the place, then left secretly swearing I'd never return, much less buy anything.
But as things tend to happen in Panama, my resolve changed. I actually liked the store, which reminded me of the old Green Apple Books in San Francisco. When I acquired wheels in October, getting to The Bookmark was less of a hassle. I began stopping in when Harold was not around. He has the good sense to employ people who are a lot nicer than he is, and eventually I bought a few things.
Now I drop by every 3-4 weeks, but still avoid Harold to the extent I'm able. On my last trip, he was sitting in the front with a cat in his lap. (Cats have good instincts, so if a cat would sit in his lap, he can't be all billy goat gruff.) Then today, through a series of internet detours, I happened upon Harold's blog. I liked it as well. I guess two out of three isn't so bad.
There were several posts that I enjoyed, but the one about Boquete I feel really rang true. It's titled "Boquete is getting...so...uptown". Here's the link : http://booksr4reading.wordpress.com
The following quote was just too good to let sit, so I cut and pasted it to share here. This is the true [expat] Boquete, ad nauseaum.
"Every week there is a new fundraiser, a new rummage sale, a new Bid Your Butt Off, a new “for profit” local guide, a new send your money to, send your food to, send your garbage to, support me, no me, I’m more worthwhile than the other one, thanks Boquete for your support, we need, we want, we help, we can, we are about to, with your generous, with your ever ready, my charity is nicer than her charity, we are not a charity, we are a need-filling organiza….
Oh stop it, for Christopher’s sake."
I'm taking a short trip out of town this 4th of July weekend to visit Panamanian friends. Still seeking the right relocation opportunity. Boquete is no longer paradise nor Panamanian, and it's damned hard to avoid or ignore what it's becoming.