Sep 28, 2012

Jazz in the Afternoon at La Jungla


In the middle of the rainy season, Boquete has been going through a dry spell as far as entertainment and night life is concerned.  For a respite, though, this afternoon the Fantasy Jazz band played at La Jungla for about 3 hours.  It was a welcome change.   John and Gaye Dodge, plus their daughter as vocalist and Caesar Sherard on drums, entertained a good crowd to classic tunes.  The mood was friendly, mellow, and informal.  As always, male dancers were sparse to absent, but one thing I enjoy about being "senior" is that you learn to not let things like that bother you.  In my younger days I wouldn't be caught dead dancing alone or with another female, but at this stage of life, I just don't give a damn.  Music is to be enjoyed, and most of the fun-loving women I know feel the same.  Group dancing works fine,  is good exercise, and lifts the spirits immensely.  We had a good time.
The abrupt onset of seasonal afternoon monsoons sent the crowd scurrying indoors and darkened the sky,  but  we've learned to be adaptable and the party went on.  Below is a photo of Frank, the restaurant owner,  (under the waterfalls) and sitting to the left is the Dodge family vocalist.  Unfortunately I didn't catch her name, but she's a sweetheart with a melodic voice.  She does great Joni Mitchell tunes.

The last round of tunes played were a special treat for me.  And a first.  I'd never heard Willie Nelson tunes interpreted by jazz artists before.  Country music isn't my favorite genre, but I do enjoy Willie.  The band's rendition of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain was one of my favorites and I hope to enjoy it again.  I've been advised the band will be playing tomorrow night at Mike's Global Grill and we'll just have to find out!

Sep 17, 2012

Branding Iron has Re-opened

It's easy to drive right past this small restaurant on the David-Boquete highway at the Portrerillos intersection.   But today a friend and I stopped for a quick lunch on the way home from shopping.   She'd heard the food was good and wanted to see for herself.   There were approximately six  menu choices, with more planned in the coming days.   Offerings included a fish fillet entree  (flounder), two "tipico" plates with rice, beans, and either chicken or pork,  hot dogs, and regular or quarter pounder hamburgers with fries.   The owner, Neil, from Bocas del Toro via Oklahoma, explained they only recently re-opened and are bringing in imported beef with the intent of becoming known for steaks as their specialty.  They will also have a full bar in the near future.
We both opted for the 1/4 lb cheeseburgers.  I ordered a soda as well.  The total was $6.50 for a very tasty burger and homemade french fries.  Service was quick and courteous, and we were given coupons for free drinks upon our return visit. 
I believe this is my first cheeseburger ever in Panama.   Because fish is so prevalent and tasty in this country,  I rarely order anything else when I eat out.   But my cheeseburger wasn't disappointing. The french fries, although a little dark brown upon gross inspection, were super delicious.   I had to exercise self-control not to order seconds. 
We were shown a preview of the menu-to-be and both my friend and I  felt we'd like to return in the future to sample the steaks and other items.   This could be a regular stop on our Boquete-David jaunts.  Time will tell...

Sep 9, 2012

Less than 6 Months til the 2013 Boquete Jazz Festival

There were several activities going on in town this Sunday.  Amigos de Animales held their annual Venta de Patio sale at the Feria,  La Jungla was open for lunch and Turtle Races, and the Jazz Festival sponsored the third, free, pre-festival Concert in the Park. 

Compared with San Francisco's free concerts at Sigmund Stern Grove and similar gatherings, this would appear to be a nothing sort of event.  But for small town  Boquete on a Sunday morning, it was typical.  Adam Rodriquez and his band performed for two hours in the square, and people sat on concrete benches listening & enjoying the latin tunes.  A few crazy gringos ventured up to dance.  The kids, as usual, stole the show.


Sep 1, 2012

Quick Trip to Punta Burrica & Hooked on Panama

Took a quick trip with a friend to Punta Burrica on Thursday and Friday.  It's about a 3 hour drive to Puerto Armuelles and then a 1-1.5 hour drive off the beaten path into Punta Burrica's beach areas.   The road from Puerto Armuelles to Punta Burrica is a bit of a challenge, but driving that kind of terrain is now something I can scratch off my bucket list.  We had a wonderful, relaxing, and interesting trip. 

The closest lodging in the area is the "Hooked on Panama" beach-front resort, which captures a lot of the sport fishing business.  It's owned by five american friends / business partners.  Our visit there for cocktails and dinner [on two separate occasions] leads me to characterize the culture as friendly, hospitable, and reasonably priced.   Very generous cocktails ran under $ 5.  Dinners ran between $ 12-15.  I enjoyed a spicy, seared tuna plate that included a fresh garden salad, a large portion of steamed vegetables and dessert for $12.  Although I didn't tour the overnight accommodations, there are 10 individual cabanas with private decks providing spectacular views of the ocean.  The main lodge is spacious with a high beam hardwood ceiling, pool table, and well-stocked bar.  The resort offers week-long sport fishing vacations utilizing their own fleet of six custom-built boats. 

 Although the Hooked on Panama resort was a pleasant side trip, our objective was a more grass roots experience.  We stayed in a private, Panamanian-style home much further down the road and about 30 feet from the beach.  Most of our time was spent socializing with the locals and beachcombing during low tide.  Lots of driftwood, small seashells, and sand crab distractions...  Before leaving, we were visited by a family of howler monkeys that ranged in age from infant to "teenager" to adult.  Other animal life featured this trip were horses, cows, and interesting birds, including a snowy egret.   There was also a beautiful scenic beach close to PetroTerminal de Panama that merits mention.