The hooves of the horse under me made a rhythmic clop and pine needles shuffled below us. Mist covered the valley in the distance. The mountains were lush with their shades of green. A breeze caressed my skin and the smell of pine filled me with pleasure. This mountain in Panama is capturing my heart as we rode our horses up the trail.
I knew as we crossed the mountains from Bocas del Toro to David and viewed the high elevation lakes from the bus that I would love these mountains. We had very little expectations of Panama when we crossed the border aside from a highly suspect Panama entry fee that we somehow managed to avoid paying.
I was impressed with the beauty of Panama from the beginning while diving in Bocas del Toro. Here in Boquete, Panama, a small town that is referred to as the valley of flowers, every direction I turn provides a soul-filling view of mountains and lush gardens of flowers. It is of little wonder that many expat retirees are drawn to this area. The climate is described as spring all year round and you don’t need a heater nor air conditioning.
We are currently staying at a hacienda nestled in the mountains, playing chef to an eccentric cowboy named Roger. At Hacienda Goleta there are three stunning quarter horses. Their strength is evident in every move as their healthy flesh shimmers in the sun. Every single one of them has won race medals.
I’ve been riding Little Guy, the youngest of the three horses. His energy emanates up right through the saddle and I can feel him asking with every step, “can I run now, can I run now?” like a precocious little boy eager to show off his talent. His power is just ready to go. I’m a beginner rider so I’m keeping him to a walk, and the occasional trot.
When we returned to the ranch I dismounted but got my foot caught in the stirrup. I fell to the ground and quickly looked around to see if anyone saw that – thankfully no one saw this idiot trying to dismount. I quickly got up and brushed off my backside before Roger rode into the stable area.
Boncat is Roger’s magnificent chestnut-colored horse. He is a bit ornery and will even bite if you don’t show him who’s boss. On another ride, Roger issued one of his commands to Boncat. The subtle command sounded like “fsht” and is a request to pick up speed. Well, Little Guy heard it too, and that was all he needed. He took off into a canter that took me by surprise. Thankfully he is also a very good horse and even with my limited knowledge of what to do he stopped for me not too far down the road.
The next day I decided to take Zar for a ride. Zar can still run a barrel race in a respectable time but he is getting older and is not as energetic as Little Guy. Riding him was very different. He seemed to say, “Can I stop and look at the scenery now?” I had to laugh the third time he stopped at a particularly scenic place. I don’t know if he was enjoying the scenery, the breeze, or just didn’t want to keep walking.
HOW TO FIND A PLACE TO REST
We found this place through WorkAway.com. Constant travel can be exhausting so we enjoy finding places to stay put for a few weeks every once in a while, a place to unload the backpacks completely and stretch out a little. This workaway is just that. In exchange for cooking and a few chores around the home, we have room and board and it is a beautiful place to stay.
Retired from Corporate America at the age of 43 along with her husband Trinity. In 2016 they sold their home to begin a nomadic life of slow travel. Bonnie writes of their experience on the road in each country. Subscribe to follow her stories here.
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