David Panama Trip
David Panama Trip was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. For a small fee, a yellow, former US school bus would take us down to David and we can catch one back to Boquete whenever we were ready.
David is in Chiriqui Provence, the most westerly in Panama, which borders Costa Rica. Founded in 1602 by Francisco de Gama, it now has a population of nearly 115,000. The Pan American highway runs through the city, connecting it with Panama City and Costa Rica. The highway from David to Boquete has recently been improved to a divided highway with two lanes in each direction. By car, it now takes only about 30 minutes between Boquete and David, making it an easy trip.
David Panama Trip
The yellow, former US school buses went right by our apartment all day long at about 20 minute intervals. We boarded the bus in downtown Boquete, near Central Park, and paid the driver $1.80 each for the trip to David, Panama. About an hour later, we pulled into the David Bus Terminal.
This was definitely a local bus, sometimes known as “chicken buses” in Latin America. The driver stopped for every person who held their arm up and waved. On the way back, several students got on and the driver let them each off at the side of the highway near their homes. We didn’t see any chickens on the bus, although baby chicks were for sale at the David Bus Terminal. The bus for the return trip was a little short on leg room (it must have been an elementary school bus in its former life in the States), but, other than that, the buses were comfortable, clean, and functional.
From the bus terminal in David, Panama, we walked about four blocks into town, until we saw the church towers. At several places on the way, people were lined up to buy Lottery tickets. We had seen this phenomenon repeated in several Latin American cities. We noticed the higher temperature and humidity as we walked through and around the park. David is very close to sea level, where Boquete is near 4,000 feet. The temperature in David that day was close to 90 degrees F. In Boquete, the high was just under 80. After seeing the church towers, we went around the block and found Central Park. The park was very typical with benches under the trees and people relaxing and talking in the shade. On the far side from where we first came into the park, there was a stage and bleachers. We could imagine performers playing to a crowd on a warm summer night or celebrating one of the many Latin American festivals.
We had seen several cafes and restaurants while walking to and around the park, and it was lunch time, so we soon found another and went in. It turned out to be a cafeteria that served very typical Panamanian food. The selections included two types of rice, three meat dishes, and several vegetable and salad choices. Our lunches with water and cafe negro (black coffee) for me came to $6.60 for both. We ate at our leisure before making our way back to the bus terminal, passing by the Fantastic Casino on the way.
We boarded the bus, which had all the windows down, but there was no breeze. We sat in the heat until the driver arrived and the bus started to move. By the time we got back on the highway to Boquete, we were comfortable again, and enjoyed the fresh air as it cooled down on the way back up the hill.
Where We Dine in Boquete, Panama
The first place we dined in Boquete was at the Fish House Boquete Mariscos. It became our favorite place to eat. The service here was always excellent. They had fish dinners from $9.95 and filet mignon (some of the best we’ve ever eaten) for $13.95. One of our favorites was red snapper for $11.95. On Friday nights, it was an expat hangout. The drinks were half price – where else can you get a glass of good red wine for $2.00 or a mixed drink for $2.50?
Las Orquideas, The Orchids, was our favorite restaurant for lunch. The food was always good and the prices were very reasonable. A typical meal of rice, beans, salad, meat and a beverage was $4.00. Multiple tables of expats were usually in attendance. We saw several restaurants around town, that served typical Panamanian fare, like Las Orquideas. One could eat well at these restaurants for very little, if one chooses, but a wide variety of dining, from pizza to the finest steaks and seafood was available in Boquete.
Machu Pichu Restaurant is near Las Orquideas and offers food with a Peruvian style. We ate there twice and our meals, both steak and seafood were very good. Prices for meals were in the $10 – 15 range.
Other places where we ate one or more times during our stay were Sugar & Spice (a bakery that offered sandwiches,) Toritos, Mike’s Global, Rio Valle Hotel Restaurant, Mangos, and Sabor Escondido. We ate well and did not have a bad meal at any time while in Boquete.
On a second visit to Valle Escondido, we ate at Sabor Escondido. But first, we walked through the development to the far end and into Escondido Estates. The lots here are larger and the homes are more elegant. We saw several groups playing golf that day on the course that winds along the road and stream. Friendly people, who chatted with us as we passed.
We had a table in Sabor Escondido overlooking the stream, Quebrada Grande. The ambiance was fantastic and we could imagine friends and neighbors gathering in the evenings to dine and chat.
While we ate, we noticed that it was starting to rain. We never minded the rain while we were inside and dry, and we have been very fortunate at not getting caught in the rain throughout the Central American rainy season. That day was an exception and we got soaked! During our mile plus walk back to the apartment, water penetrated everywhere, even into our shoes. Still, once we dried off and put on dry clothes, we were happy to have made the trip out to Valle Escondido. A few days later, even our shoes had dried out, and all was well again.