Thursday, April 28, 2011

Boquete flower gardens, coffee, misc

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On the way to the flower gardens
After we left the Rio Crystal lodge (sniff!), we drove toward the Boquete flower gardens. The most beautiful, I thought were the private gardens of the home Villa Marta. They belong to the people who own the house. They actually cultivated the whole area and opened them to the public. It's free and gorgeous! They do have timings and I don't quite remember them. They request that you not be loud, step in restricted areas and attempt to feed the fish and birds. They have these little ponds and pools where you have fish, swans and ducks. The kids just ran round and round trying to find one more "coloured fish". Our way to Villa Marta was no less beautiful. Full of coffee plantations. Boquete grows some of the best coffee in the world. It was all on the border with Costa Rica. So it was funny to see the plantations stretching all the way into the other country.

The rock formation
When we drove back from Villa Marta, there was this curious rock formation. The kids tried to climb it and I don't believe that they could get much of a grip. Of course, it was vertical! No slopes or anything.

Villa Marta as we went in


There were fishes in there.
Most enchanting few days I'd had in a long time. I'd go back there in a heartbeat!

More pics in my next post.

Boquete zip lining heaven!

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After the white water rafting, we headed back to the Boquete Garden Inn. I was so sad to be leaving that place. Particularly since I had barely spent enough time (in my book) looking at every naturally flowering corner. We were all in for another gorgeous treat though. We just didn't know it yet!

View from our cabin in the Rio Crystal lodge
Driving up a few miles of lush rainforest, we headed higher to the Rio Crystal mountain lodge. It was absolute rainforest paradise. The weather is cool and moist. When we arrived, the mountains were dressed in a low fog. You could almost touch it. Ethereal. Again, the log cabins there are built unobtrusively. Spaced well apart and private, the interiors are clean and cozy. Smells wonderful too! Mini-Him and his friend had a field day running up the stairs to the loft where they had twin beds. Oh the shower! Huge! With twin showers and if you decide to go in there and use both, you might just not want to come out. There's a warm and inviting restaurant with an extensive menu. They also make simple dishes on request (the kids were fussy).
The Crystal river dancing over rock
We went out walking over the long trails the next morning. They had a variety of exotic plants that grew naturally in abundance along the forest. There's a foot bridge that takes you to the Crystal river. When you push leafy curtains out of the way, there's nature's tableau. Naturally formed rock creating mini waterfalls in the course of the river. The Crystal river was in full force.

A view of the log cabins

We went zip lining after that. Wooo! We took the Boquete Tree Trek tour that began in the Crysal lodge. A tram took us to the spot where we would begin. After instructions, we hiked a short way to the first of eleven platforms. The whole line is 3 km long with a 1150 ft drop. To be honest, during the first zip line, I really couldn't think! Let alone contemplate my gorgeous surroundings. Just focused on breaking when I was supposed to! Mini-Him did a tandem zip line with an instructor and was over the moon! One of those heart melting memories that will stay with me! His little Tarzan like yell as he zipped away and his open mouthed smile in the pictures they took for us! As we went between platforms, the green got under my skin.

Quetzal, Boquete Tree Trek
Another "Bird"
 For now, will have to stop with  "Bird"

There was a rare bird, easily startled, the quetzal that flew undisturbed. We caught a picture of it on a branch. A few more that our guides caught and I don't know the names of!

Zip line into paradise!
My arms were sore a couple of days after but it was worth every minute! We zipped right down to the restaurant lodge where they unharnessed us. 
A view from one of the platforms

A little certificate ceremony later, we left. More in my next post about the Flower gardens and a curious rock.

Full Circle

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So I wrote a book. A romance in the vein of Harlequin/Silhouette romances that I self published. It was originally written for them but I kept getting rejections and decided to go my own way. It is meant for adults (contemporary adult romance) and is on smashwords and amazon. The book is Full Circle by Anne Maven (definitely a pseudonym). It is intended to be a light read. Something to take your mind off things, relax with in the bath.

I'm grateful for the number of perspectives that I've received while writing it. Thanks SK, SK and SL (thanks to all three for the encouragement too), PK, KS, AV, PG and Elaine Waldron (author of the Vampira series - exciting books and she is also an excellent illustrator! Her books are available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, Lulu - here's her website -

If there are any suggestions you may have after reading the book, do drop me a line. Would love to hear from you.

Clicking on the book title above should take you to the book's page on Smashwords. It is also available on Amazon's e-books and goodreads.


Nature in Boquete

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We drove to Boquete sometime last year. It is in the Chiriqui province not far from Costa Rica. It literally means the opening or the mouth. Apparently it was some sort of a detour for early explorers. The wiki link sums it up nicely -,_Chiriqu%C3%AD

It took us about six hours to get there from Panama City. It's not the most difficult journey. Just make sure that you drive out early enough in the day so you can make it before night fall. There are long stretches, especially in David, where the roads aren't that well lit. It's a beautiful drive though. Enough rest areas on the way.
River behind the Inn
We spent the first night in this place called Boquete Garden Inn. I've never seen a more charming location. There were little apartments all built into the greenery all named for the flowers they had growing in profusion around. The rest of the world has no room there. Seriously. Yes our cell phones worked and there was a TV. Just no alarm clock- yippee! But they do have internet access and an office etc. You had to get down and walk! They've done their best to play up the natural beauty of the place and not take away from it at all. Walking the next morning to the river, Mini-Him was captivated by showy birds so completely unafraid and not bothered. The river just danced along. They actually have these little gazebos everywhere so you could just sit and drink it all in.

River behind the Boquete Garden Inn
Little areas with botanical names, bird species detailed

That morning some of us went white water rafting(The folks at the Inn arranged it all with breakfast- you'll need it for the rafting!). Chiriqui has 150 inches of rainfall annually and with it's topography, you have some awe inspiring scenery. Perfect for the rafting. We were going on a mild-sounding grade 3 rapid that surprised us. The rain swollen river was rather unpredictable and while there were no sheer drops, the raft was on a wild and unpredictable merry-go-round. We had excellent guides and instructors. Of course, I was the first to fall out! Managed to grab on to the safety rope as instructed and I went right under the boat. For a moment, I remember thinking that the water was just the right temperature and so pretty and sweet tasting! Lol! The air in Boquete will revitalize you completely. So completely untainted that you feel every cell clamoring to be overcome. The rafting area is about an hour away from the lodging with a pre-arranged bus that transports you to and back. My biggest regret is not taking pictures when we went rafting :-( Couldn't let go of the oars long enough. I'm not kidding when I say that it was action packed!

Inside Paradise Gardens
Him and Mini-Him didn't come along. Mini-Him is still for adventure. Him had a disdain for the grade 3 announcing that he'd been on the mother of all rapids. This seemed unexciting I suppose! Anyway, they had a blast at the Paradise Gardens. A home for rescued animals. The owner herself took Mini-Him along to show him the birds, bears and miscellaneous beauties that had a loving home there. Him raved about the private gardens that they visited. Didn't figure him to be a "gardeny" type. But here he was, smelling the flowers. Literally.

In the Paradise Gardens

Mis Jardin es su Jardin

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