Second First Impressions, Back to Boquete

7 am

Volcan Baru looms over Boquete

7 AM, 9.5.2016

We arrived back in Boquete, Chiriqui Province, Panama September 4th after a long, yet amazingly simple transit from Ohio. The welcome we felt from new friends was matched by the grandeur of Volcan Baru the following morning. At 11,400 feet/3,475 meters, Baru is the highest point in Panama, and the only place in the western hemisphere from which both great bodies of water, Caribbean Sea & Pacific Ocean can be seen at the same time. To us, the mountain seems to be saying, Bienvenidos a Boquete. It’s good to be here, and our second first impressions are just that, feelings of comfort, welcome and coming home. It’s too early to make (or share) durable impressions of a place after just forty-eight hours. But we lived in Boquete for several weeks this past Spring, so our second first impressions are somewhat relevant.

We’d been told to run errands in the morning, as the rains roll in by noon or so, and it’s true. The next photo is Baru cloaked in clouds and rain by 3 PM.

3 pm

Same scene; hours later

We’ve been humbled & gratified by our welcome from the community here, not just expats, but Panamanians as well. Everyone we’ve run into seems genuinely glad to see us. That stems partly, we believe, from camaraderie among the expat group, the sense that we share in the adventure of transposing our lives to an exotic, foreign land & culture. Part of the embrace seems to arise from a feeling of shared values, the willingness to let go of whatever restrictions and ties that lashed us to obligations elsewhere. This is, admittedly, a bit selfish; yet one of the feelings we received on leaving the familiarity of our past lives was envy: a sense from people who wished they could go along, if only…

Halfway across Panama: Next stop, David!

As for personal second first impressions, we feel the tension between our need to get things done–visa secured, vehicle found, residence located, utilities addressed etc.–and the urge to immerse ourselves in the pervasive relaxation mode that surrounds us. The advice to get things accomplished before noon is sound; after that, the siesta season arrives, and until after 2 PM not much gets done.

Something else our grand adventure offers is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. This activity is the essence of  American aspiration, and evidence of that endeavor can be found everywhere. If Iowa born Marion Michael Morrison can turn himself into Hollywood’s John Wayne, Cheryl Sarkisian can brand herself as Cher, Bernard Schwartz can end up on movie marquees as Tony Curtis & Prince can reinvent himself as a twisty, complicated symbol that won’t fit on a vanity plate, then we can move to Panama and start over…again. It’s a liberating thought. Not that we need to do this; the FBI/CIA/NSA/TSA have no interest in the likes of us. We know this because we had to prove it. We’re not in the witness protection program, having never witnessed any type of awkward event that might cause us to need protection. But we do know the value of beginning anew, and the refreshing chance it offers. Like a rough gem that needs clarifying, or a rare wine that improves with age, we’ve had the chance to get better and thus more refined, and lord knows we’ve needed it, at least I have. We can (and will) offer our new colleagues in adventure the very best of ourselves, and show them what and who we truly are. Not many people have a chance to escape the often suffocating assumptions and beliefs of others, and it shouldn’t require a move of several thousand miles to accomplish this, but it might, and it does.

Baru 2

Baru has many moods: 6 PM 9.5.16

From COPA Flight 17: 1-Volcan Baru in the distance; 2-landing at David (Da-Veed), and 3-Boquete on the horizon. 

More second first impressions of our new home in Panama will arrive over time. For now, we’re happy to be back in Panama, and looking forward to building on all we’ve seen, heard and discovered. Our intention is to live here for a very long time, likely many years. That may or may not be the end result. There are the ever present exigencies of family emergency, our own health considerations and other prospects too numerous to know or predict. For now, our second first impression of Boquete is that it’s home, and here we’ll stay. More later, enjoy the photos and thanks for reading.