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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Boquete, Panama

(Pronounced: Boh-KET-ay, Pahn-ah-MAH)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

After staying a few days in Panama City, we made the decision to move on to the mountain town of Boquete, about an hour taxi ride from David.

But first, we had to get to Tocumen Airport from our hotel.

Our alarm went off at 4:30 am and we quickly showered, ate some breakfast and went downstairs to wait for our taxi to arrive. Unfortunately, the driver with whom we made previous arrangements did not show up, so we stepped outside and flagged another one down. Easy enough as there are hundreds of taxis in the city!

Billy bargains for a $20 fee, and when the driver found out what time our flight was leaving, he drove muy RAPIDO to get us there on time.

We check in, go downstairs and outside, through security to domestic flights and when we arrive, they are boarding! Yikes!

Lucky us.

Our flight from Panama City to David

We flew from Panama City to David, a very short domestic flight. Grabbing our bags, we go outside the airport, and our friend, Chris, is there to meet us. He flags down a taxi and bargains for $3 each to have him take us to the bus station, just 15 minutes away.

Here we grab the yellow school bus to take us to Boquete, about an hour ride from the station. We mention that we would like the Trecer Edad (also called the Jubilado) price and this bus ride costs us $1.20 each. Taking a taxi to Boquete would have been $40 or more.

The main road in Boquete, where Sugar and Spice is located

Our friend arranges with the bus driver to drop us off at Sugar and Spice, a favorite restaurant in town, and from there we make our way to the hostel where we had made reservations to stay.

Unfortunately, the price we had previously agreed upon was changed at the last minute, and the WiFi connection was less than favorable.

So out on the street we go, looking for a room in Paradise.

I feel confident because I have a list of 7 places where we could stay, but one after the other is a disappointment. The price is too high, the WiFi doesn't connect, or the rooms are undesirable.

I remind Billy to think positive, we'll find just the right place.

Voila! A hotel with everything we need!

We walk into Boquete Suenos Del Rio and this perky lady comes down the hallway. We get to chatting with Itza right away, discussing the rooms, if there is WiFi, hot water, firm bed and we begin to ask about prices. With our Trecer Edad discount, we get a room for $25 a night.



This room has a great bed, full bars on the WiFi connection, a ceiling fan, a large volcanic stone bathroom and shower, desk/table, wardrobe closet, flat screen TV and a little view of the garden.

So we set up housekeeping and go outside to see what the town might offer.

Ngäbe indigenous tribe

There are indigenous people living in Boquete and the surrounding areas. Apparently, there are seven different tribes in the country of Panama, but the ones who live in Boquete and the Chriqui Provence are the Ngabe. The women wear these brightly colored tent style dresses called naguas with rick-rack trim around the necklines and waists. The men and boys tend to wear western clothing.

In our experience, the Ngabe were shy, kept to themselves and were surprised when we spoke to them. We didn't find them nearly as interactive with us as the Maya in Guatemala.

Small fruit and vegetable market

Near the upscale western market in town called Romeros, and near the Plaza are some local fruit and vegetable stands. You can get most anything you need here at these stands, and prices are very reasonable, lower than in Romeros.

Corner van/taxi stop

At the Plaza you will find taxis and the school bus from David will drop you off there. The van/taxi stop you see above serves a different area of town, going up into the mountains.

We took a van from here to go up to Finca Lerida for a delicious brunch. The price of the 20 minute ride was under a dollar.

Houses in the mountains of Boquete

Many of the Expats who live in Boquete choose to live on the mountain sides which have spectacular views of the area.

Boquete has dozens of micro climates that are distinct from each other. Some areas are cooler, some are wetter, some are drier and hot. Choosing a place to live, one must consider these micro climates, especially before making a purchase.

The Quebrada Bajo Grande

There are no shortage of rivers that wind through Boquete town. The sound of rushing water is common place and it's refreshing to see this clean water stream.

We might mention also, that the tap water in Boquete (and in most of Panama) is potable. We have not utilized tap water as our drinking water anywhere for decades. This water here in town was sweet and clean. It felt really odd for us to be drinking right out of the tap!

Boquete has coffee plantations all throughout their mountains

Panama is an ideal coffee producing environment with high elevation, volcanic soil, the right balance of moisture and sun in a tropical highland climate.

It's easy to find a coffee tour, and some tours run almost $40USD.

The coffee in Panama seemed to be a very light flavored style. We are used to living in coffee country, since we have lived in Guatemala for several years now. The coffee in Guatemala seems much bolder with fuller body and flavor.

Because there were coffee plantations everywhere, we expected to see many cafes with lively music, pastries, WiFi and maybe a juice bar or deli with salads and wine by the glass, filled with people who wanted to people-watch, chat you up or work on their computers. We were quite surprised to only see a cafe or two, and none of them offered music of any kind. Sometimes we were served coffee in paper cups (!) instead of porcelain mugs or china, and sometimes, the coffee was instant Nescafe.

I can't tell you how surprised we were by this. We were smack dab in the middle of coffee country!

If you wanted a cappuccino or latte presented in ceramic cups with access to WiFi, one needed to go to a restaurant, not a cafe. 

Cafe Kotowa is located at Plaza Estables and sold the famous Gesha coffee by the brewed cup and beans by the ounce. At $10 an ounce, it is a very expensive cup. With all the hoopla we saw over this brand of coffee, we expected something impressive when we had our sips, but the taste seemed rather thin, more like tea.

Everyone is different and we are certainly not experts, but for the price, we'll pass. We thought the Weasel Coffee in Vietnam was much better.

Travel agencies offer shuttles to other hotspots in Panama

A fair amount of travel agencies are located in Boquete and one can find shuttles to the coast, tours for adventure, horticulture, coffee, and even bee plantations with honey tastings.

A view of the ever-present Caldera River

Arriving in Panama during the rainy season, the Caldera River was flowing strongly during our stay there. The tropics generally have a dry season and a rainy season, so it did not deter us from traveling to Panama during October. We had experienced rainy seasons before, so no big deal.

However, we met with more rain than we had expected. Sheets of water fell from the sky and you could not see across the river or see the mountains in the background. The rain made a thundering sound when it hit the earth, it was raining so hard! 

An upper end hotel on the side of the mountains of Boquete

Walking around the area was pleasant with green green everywhere and exotic plants. Often we would see high end hotels and Expat homes nestled in the mountains.

Fusion Restaurant

Panamanian food tends to be rather generic tasting with no outstanding spices or signature flavors. There were various choices of restaurants that wanted to offer something different. Gourmet foods were available in the grocery stores to purchase.

Mamallena Hostel and Hola Panama Travel agency

Mamallena (Ma-ma-YAY-na) is a popular hostel which also offers beer at a very good price and charges no tax. Besides rooms, they have tours available too. Hola Panama Travel agency is right next door, and the Plaza is right across the street.

Activity and tour board


These prices are all quoted in USDollars. You can get to the islands on the Caribbean coast, go to Panama City, the City of David or to the David airport.

Panama Lager

Being in the tropics there is always a selection of cold beers from which to choose. This one is Panama Lager, but Billy says he preferred the Balboa beer.

Barber shop in town

Here is the local Barberia in a wooden building painted in Caribbean colors. A shoe store is right next door.

The Post Office

There is no door-to-door postal delivery in Panama. There are also no addresses as such for the Postal worker to find your home or business.

You can obtain a post box at this Post Office and have your mail delivered there. For more information on living in Panama, click here.

The main street in the center of Boquete

The center of town has a two lane road with off street parking. Mostly, buildings are one after the other on a flat road leading out of town to the upper area of Boquete situated more in the mountains.

After having lived in Panajachel all these years, Boquete town looked tame. Panajachel has wildly colored murals, buildings in distinctive colors, boutique grocery stores, tuk tuks running everywhere and the Maya walking the street in their hand made colorful native dress. Boquete looked like it could be a small town in the U.S.

We think that is part of the charm that the Expats prefer, because it looks familiar. Also, English was spoken in many of the restaurants and menus could be had in English as well. 

On the right side of this photo is a blue sign advertising El Sabroson #3. Local food is purchased here cafeteria style for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For about $2.50 - $4.00, one can be completely full from a varied menu.

Mountain side charm

The charm of Boquete is the mountain scenery. Everywhere you look, the hills snug in closely.

Travel agency and a Spanish School

Travel agencies are everywhere. Habla Ya is the very popular Spanish school in town. They advertise that you will speak Spanish almost immediately.

The famous mountain mists of Boquete

After the rainy season there is a semi-dry season in which mists come down from the mountains on a daily basis. This is called Bajareque and is the "season of rainbows." The mist is like a fine rain and feels like a light breeze. Rainbows can be seen in these mists several times a day. Locals say it's enchanting.

Sports gear for sale

Chiriqui is the province in which the town of Boquete is located. Here you have a fine embroidered ball cap for sale.

A selection of hats made in Panama

It seemed that wearing hats in Panama was very common place. Between wanting to shade your head from the heat of the tropical sun, and keeping the rain off, there was always a reason to wear a hat. May as well be stylish!

For more stories and photos of Panama, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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