Boquete is a pretty little mountain town in northwest Panama that used to be famous for coffee-growing and vegetable farms, but in 2001 the American Association of Retired Persons named it as the fourth best place in the world to spend your retirement, and since then it's seen a notable influx of American retirees and a blossoming of gated communities, golf courses and retirement bungalows. As you dodder around town, you can see the effect – there are, indeed, lots of old white people here – though there are still plenty of locals around, so it still feels pretty Panamaian.
I suspect that the retirement atmosphere rubbed off on us, though, because as soon as we stumbled out of the tourist shuttle that brought us all the way from Bocas, we felt our motivation evaporate as surely as if someone had shoved pipes in our mouths and popped slippers on our feet. For the tourist, Boquete is all about coffee tours, canopy walks, ziplines, volcano hikes, bird-watching and white-water rafting, but the rivers are too dry for rafting at the moment, we're not twitchers, and we've had our fill of everything else on the list, so we simply kicked back and settled in for a quick bout of home comforts and empty days.
It helped that we'd booked into a B&B that was not only a fair distance out of town, in the neighbouring district of Alto Boquete, but it was also a very laid-back home run by a relaxed German who let us use his extensive kitchen in his suburban bungalow. Our room was cosy and only had one small window, so we weren't woken up by the sunlight, and being so far out of town meant that there was absolutely no noise at all, not even the barking of dogs or the morning screech of the cockerels. We slept like the dead, which seemed rather appropriate.
We did manage to go for a short walk around town, but that ended prematurely when a pretty garden we had hoped to visit, which the owner had opened to the public, turned out to be permanently closed, as the owner has now passed away and his son isn't interested in having the public poking their noses into his back yard; one hopes that he will now take down the sign above the entrance that says, 'Mi jardín es su jardín' ('My garden is your garden'), as this is clearly no longer the case. So instead we booked on a Jeep tour of the surrounding area and spent an afternoon being driven to the various viewpoints and waterfalls that draw walkers to Boquete. The hills round here are pretty steep and there's a lot of climbing and descending if you choose to walk – as, judging by the number of hikers we passed in the Jeep, a lot of people do – but going by Jeep is so much more... refined for people our age. After all, I've got a bad back and I'm not getting any younger, you know.
So in the end we enjoyed the home cooking and relaxation aspects of Boquete more than we did the outdoor activities, which was probably a bit of a cop out given all the bright young travellers setting off for day-long walks into the hills. Sometimes, though, when you've been travelling for four months straight, you just don't have the energy you had at the start, and when you're in the retirement capital of Central America, somehow you don't feel so bad about slowing down...