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Current location: Living room of apartment, Boquete, Panama

07.18.11

Price of beer in a bar: US$0.60.
Song currently stuck in my head: Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues (The Eels)

Ozzie, the accused head of a local burglary ring (or one-man-ring, depending on who you talk to), was arrested on a local bus while in possession of an assortment of stolen goods. I’ve heard this included a stolen 9mm, loaded, which may put him away for quite a while. You can own and carry a gun here, but not an unregistered one. This piece over on vive-boquete give you a good idea of the level of community organization in these parts. Maybe I’d prefer a town a little less complex, I’m not sure, but I certainly respect what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Speaking of community organization, one of the many, many casually organized events on offer is The Boquete Backyard Birdwalk, a free monthly birding walk. It’s guided by a husband and wife team with a real passion for the pastime and a regular following here in town. For about 3 hours we walked the town’s back roads encountering a total of 36 species of local birds and solidifying our understanding of the towns layout. It was a real good time all around and we’d certainly go again.

Another organized activity that The Girlfriend and I dove into was a free monthly animal spay/neuter clinic. We worked welcoming dogs and cats back to consciousness while keeping an eye on their temperature and responsiveness. The clinic sterilized 74 animals that day, some of which are brought in and some of which are trapped strays. These kind of clinics are not uncommon in expat-influenced areas of Central America; reducing the stray and feral dog and cat populations seems to be toward the top of the to-do list when the whites move in. There’s seldom local interest in organizing such programs (though plenty of locals take advantage of it when it’s offered), since stray animals are just seen as a common part of life, like any other wildlife, and often there is outright local resistance. It’s a macho culture and cutting off a dogs testicles seems more than a little inhumane to many locals.

When we originally found our apartment it was with the help of a friendly local gringo who had stayed here while his house was being built. At the time he invited The Girlfriend and I to visit his coffee plantation, an offer we finally took advantage of. Randy and his wife grow what they call “A unique, Arabica blend of Geisha, Caturra, Katuai, Bourbon and Typica.” The coffee was incredible.

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