With Boquete up-and-coming as Panama's favored retirement destination for expats, the town's isolation is keeping pace with a growing number of services, including agencies handling legal and professional affairs. Travelers are also flocking to this base for explorations of the Chiriquí Highlands and Nacional Parque Volcán Barú. These days, there's hardly any need for back-tracking to David with these extras which provide travel-related necessities as well as helping pass the time.Maps are sold in the souvenir shop that's on the southwest corner across from the Central Plaza. Their designs are rather hideous, and hardly worth a purchase but made for quick-check references when needed. Other items in the shop were modestly priced, unique, and recommended since similar stores of its kind were nonexistent in Panama City.REFERENCE POINT Cathedral
Boquete's Tourism Center
The IPAT Cefati is located on a hilltop about a mile south of town, where overview of the village and Virgin statue mirador are more impressive than any information you'll find in the center. If there's one thing most needed, it's a decent map of Boquete and the surrounding areas. Most of Boquete's streets are unnamed and unmarked, but the biggest concerns are for heading out on side roads and trails, where signs and markers are often contradictory and unreliable.
There's a small café in the center, with a nice outdoor balcony for enjoying snacks and coffee from homegrown beans. If you feel the need to come here, I suggest taking a $1 taxi. The walk isn't out of the question, but it trails along the narrow highway, with little shoulder room for dodging hectic traffic.
Heading from south to north through Boquete, everything seems to re-converge in front of the Cathedral before splitting to the west and east a couple of blocks later. It quickly became confusing when everything in the north part of town was always referenced as "just across from the Cathedral". Well, it's not including the highway which passes by Café Ruíz, Mi Jardín es su Jardín, and a removed part of Boquete which includes the large athletic complexes and stadiums, and starting points for several treks around the National Park and foothills.
The cathedral is rather plain and unadorned, as were most found in the entire country. It's a regular all-day beehive of activity with the large school, and daily mass. It's worth a quick peek, but the primary concerns of need actually do lie directly across the street.Banistmo
is Boquete's bank that's open from 8:00am - 3:00pm, Monday through Friday, and 9:00am to noon on Saturdays. American Express Travelers Cheques are cashed without fee or hassle, and there's an ATM if needing to retrieve cash with bank or credit cards.Chevita.com
is upstairs using an outer side entrance to the left of the bank lobby. After numerous attempts at other businesses, this is the best place for using Internet, or when needing to fax or use office-related services. Patrons sign in at the desk and are clocked by 15-minute intervals, one hour costing $1. Service was high-speed DSL, unlike the other places scattered about town, charging 50¢ an hour for painfully slow dial-up connection.
Chevita is open daily from 8:00am - 10:00pm, and I never had to wait for an available computer. Computers weren't outdated but showed signs of heavy use, and were prone to freeze up for rebooting.
While this may sound strange, dress accordingly. I usually visited of late evenings once the sun had gone down, and hoodie sweatshirts had became a welcomed accessory. None of the Internet places are air-conditioned and got quite stuffy. Removing a jacket or hoodie was fine until the night realizing too late I'd worn nothing underneath. Since there's a national law that makes it illegal for a man to go shirtless in the streets, there was nothing left to do but sweat or leave for a change of clothes.Supermercado Romero
Open 24/7, this one-stop shopping center is likely the only consideration travelers will need while in Boquete, for if it can't be found here, it's likely not in town. For the closet sect of foreign grocery store browser-junkies, Romero certainly won't disappoint with its endless rows of colorful selections.
Since most of the budget accommodations had kitchens where guests could prepare their own meals, look no further. I was rather surprised that many prices were comparable to those found in the States. But with the abundance of inexpensive local eateries, why bother cooking? Nevertheless, there were still plenty of cheap deals to be had; especially for stocking munchies and drinks in the room.
The biggest bargain buster is in the snacks and chips aisle: 20-pack assortment bags containing small packages of chips, granola, crackers, and cookies for $1.89. I also highly recommend the packages of shortbread wafers laced with berry. Fruit was of the same quality and price range as found in streets, and the bakery café was convenient and leaned more towards Bavarian-influenced pastries and strudel in catering to the growing number of German, Swiss and Austrian residents.
Household articles, toiletries, and other last-minute needs are scattered about shelves, there's a pharmacy, and near the entry are revolving racks of used books and novels, in both Spanish and English. Romero has a full beer, wine and liquor section stocked rather amazingly; even all the new exotic flavors of Boones Farm and Madd Dogg 20/20 should that be what taste buds fancy. There are no alcohol sales after 11:00pm. Packs of cigarettes were $1, and phonecards are sold at check-out registers. Romero accepts cash or credit cards.Public Payphones
The most convenient payphones are located under the covered porch at the municipal building and post office, across from the east side of the Central Plaza. Sometimes, there was a wait but phones always worked, and there wasn't an abundance of background noise for ruining conversation.Here's Additional Tips about what to expect with Panama's telephones, phone cards, as well as other communication and money matters.Entertainment
Travelers that need mass quantity of entertainment venues won't enjoy Boquete. The town is simple, unassuming, and shuts-down promptly at 10:00pm. Unless peace and quiet, and outdoor activities are what you're after, head for Bocas del Toro where the carousing never ceases.
Sueños del Río and many other guesthouses provided VCR's for their patrons, and there was a surprising surplus of video rental stores scattered around town, most selections in English with Spanish subtitles.
Several drop-in cantinas and hole-in-the-wall gathering spots are available, as well as a trio of pool halls along Avenida Central. When passing along one afternoon, I overheard a young tourist railing on her boyfriend for getting their pockets cleaned out. If you're foolish enough to take-on the local contingency, be prepared to bring your best game or be ready to add mountain sharks to the list of Boquete spectacles.