Aug 20, 2012

Great Food and Turtle Races at La Jungla


Racer viewing and interviews start at 12:00 Noon.     First race starts at 1:00 PM.

Turtle Racing is fun for the whole family.

Not sure where to begin on this one...The above announcement went out to the expat community three days ago regarding an event held to support Dorothy's wild life refuge, as well as to draw clientele to the re-opening of the restaurant under the management of Frank and Carolyn, new proprietors.  The event was a definite first in Boquete.   The weather cooperated, providing sunshine and moderate temperatures for most of the day.  A friendly crowd developed as the afternoon wore on.  After close scrutiny of the bio for each participant turtle, attendees placed bets on their selected competitor, and elimination rounds were initiated.   My contestant, Leatherback Larry, number 13, unfortunately failed to place.  I had to leave before the qualifying rounds were completed, but did manage to snap a photo of the main contender as he crossed the finish line.

More noteworthy than the reptile race, however, were the changes to the restaurant.  The tropical mural paintings have been completed, and the bar is tiled and spruced up.  The menu now features Thai, Caribbean, and local fare.  After enjoying two meals in the restaurant on two occasions in the last two days, I'd give the cook 100% on her satisfaction rating. Being a fussy diner, I seldom eat everything on my plate, but both times at this new La Jungla,  I barely left a fingerprint.   My first pleasure was Jerk Chicken, delightfully flavored with exotic spices, a hint of sweetness, and just the right amount of picante "kick" that kept my mouth tingling for a lingering time afterward.   My second experience was a Thai fish fillet that was also excellent.  A tender, moist, flaky white fillet was grilled to perfection and then topped with a coconut cream sauce and oh-so-pleasing Thai condiments.  Entrees come with a wonderfully-dressed fresh garden salad and your choice of either rice & beans or boiled, butter-herb potatoes.   All but one menu item was under $ 10, and the remaining item was just $10.  The bar serves local beers, well-drinks, and can also accommodate a variety of special orders.    They are open six days a week, from 11 am to 7 pm.  Closed Tuesdays.   I highly recommend La Jungla for an alternate dining experience and for the friendly ambiance.  Both indoor and outdoor dining available, but outdoor seems to be the preference as it allows customers to view the resident rescued animals and the grounds.

Aug 18, 2012

What a Lovely Day Today!

Boquete was unseasonably warm today, missing the typical afternoon rain or bajareque mist.  Spent most of the morning in the yard, tending to my garden.  The narajilla plants I started from seed are fruit bearing, but not yet ready to pick. 

Was told they need to turn yellow first...

Made fresh salsa with cilantro and chombo chili peppers from the garden.  Then picked fresh citrus, chayote squash, bananas,  and maracuya.  Had a surprise visit from a friend, which helped wile away the afternoon hours. 

What do you do with a yard full of mint, a lime tree, a friend who used to be a bartender, and an aging bottle of light rum?   You learn how to make and enjoy mojitos. I think I have a new favorite drink!   Can't see straight, but I learned they are just perfect for sitting on a shady deck in the hot, humid, tropical afternoon, while listening to light jazz,  staring up at Jaramillo, and contemplating absolutely nada!   Made a conscious decision to plant more mint tomorrow....Life's good.

As the night unfolds,  from my house to yours,  have a wonderful evening!


Aug 13, 2012

El Estero Beach, Veraguas, Panama

Escaped the mountains to accompany a friend to the beach in the final days of her much-needed vacation.   There is a well-known surfer's beach, called Santa Catalina beach, about an hour and a half outside Santiago going southwest.(?)  But heading a little more east upon reaching the Sona crossroad is a less populated locale called Playa El Estero.  That's where we went.  It's a less rocky-bottomed spot, with challenging albeit not treacherous waves, and provides a comfortable overall surfing experience.  (So I'm told, given I don't surf.)

While we were there, I observed a 3 yr old practicing his surfing skills and was suitably impressed.

Accommodations in the area are rustic, but we found lodging with air conditioning and private bathrooms right on the beachfront.   There is  an "eco" resort nearby that I passed up without hesitation.

My apologies to the proprietors, but I want screens and plumbing if I am going to pay to sleep somewhere.  And my needs are not all that demanding, really.  We settled for a funky place right at the road's end and on the waterfront.  Private baths, window screens, and air conditioning made the difference.  It turned out to have the best restaurant and bar in town, as well.     Stuffed my face to the point of shame.   I highly recommend the coconut shrimp curry or fried fish fillet with an ice cold Atlas.  And they also have excellent salads.

Death Alley, Boquete

As promised, I've posted photos taken at dusk of the highway expansion mess that currently plagues our fair pueblo.  Believe it or not, cars are expected to drive down the two lanes on the left with poles in the middle of the thoroughfare, and with the uneven pavement.  Leaving on Thursday afternoon, I was witness to one large overturned truck wedged in the center drainage trench.  Nearly every day there is a traffic accident of some complexity on the road, and a few deaths have also occurred.   It isn't that people are driving recklessly so much as the road hazards are fierce, and someone unfamiliar with the highway's idiosyncracies is extremely vulnerable....Rear wheels get caught in the uneven pavement ridges along the shoulder of the road,  or sudden unmarked level drops cause a car to spin out of control.  The absence of traffic police or people to direct traffic is also frightening.  Frequently there is only one gravel-topped lane open to accommodate cars traveling in opposite directions, and no one is assigned to determine which directional traffic uses that lane at any given time.   The horror stories continue to mount and even the lion-hearted have taken to avoiding vehicular travel at all costs.  Nighttime commutes are the worst as minimal to no lighting compounds the aforementioned problems.