Boquete, Panama – population 15,000. One would not imagine this tiny little town nestled on the side of a great volcano, amidst canopies of cloud forests, would be perhaps the most jarringly noisy place on the planet. Maybe my perspective is a bit biased due to my living situation – advertised as a peaceful and private apartment attached to an empty house (the owner was to leave to Sweden two months ago…ahem).
The reality of Boquete is a simple lesson on Latin America…things are usually the opposite of what you expect. In my case all I really needed was a nice quiet place to read a book, do some yoga, take a siesta and recover from surf trips to the coast (its a difficult life I can assure you). For lack of a simple way to explain things, I thought I would create this bullet pointed list below of the items most likely to keep me from enjoying the sanity of a calm day….
– waking up at 6 am to the landlord power washing his engine compartment …right…outside…my… bedroom …window.
– seemingly endless days of handwashing clothes by the landlords.
– a pet dog, very near death, who is chained inside of his doghouse, incessantly scratching and thus beating the crap out of the side of his abode.
– another pet dog, this one smaller, more vivacious and teeming with life – so much so that when chained to the wall at night outside my bedroom window she will jump up on a small iron gate and bang it nonstop against the latch for hours on end.
– after 30 years of marriage…the landlords love to bicker especially at odd hours of the morning.
– a daily gathering of landlordliness and extended family out in the front yard porch. Sometimes starting at 9 in the morning and lasting into the wee hours of the night. Said extended family members have a strange tendency to yell when talking, no matter how close the audience. I figure it a custom familiar to certain parts of Panama.
– house alarms that go off starting at 10p.m. , stop for five minutes, then continue for the next four days straight.
– car alarms all over the town, kept on as a warning to potential theives.
– airbrakes on semi trucks passing through the main road.
– preemptive honking, a practice thoroughly loved in Panama.
– entire armies of weedwackers trolling the streets for overgrowth.
– a tropical variety of the mockingbird, stuck on one particular song that has a strong resemblance to your typical 6am alarm clock.
And just as my weary eyes start to open early on a Saturday morning with a surreal sense of calm in the air…drum practice begins at all of the local schools for 10 hour stretchs through the weekend.