Boquete Panama – When Things Go Wrong

Boquete Panama

– When Things Go Wrong

bus terminal

©Exploramum and Explorason – David bus terminal where we are dumped near here

Boquete Panama

Minivan Sona to Santiago

We leave Sona on a small mini-van to head to Boquete Panama. Loaded with 4 backpack-style bags plus we now seem to have more food!  Things often go wrong with travel and I try to be real. Today is one of those days. Days when we wish we used the services of luxury travel experts in the area for this next phase of our single parent travel adventure. As we have come to learn, family travel at times becomes a nightmare when you miss minor details like using the expertise of consultants.

We have booked an island holiday next to Boca Bravo. When we get to Santiago de Veraguas we have to cross a couple of streets to get another bus.

I notice at the bus terminal there is this young girl tending to her little baby sister. Where is Mum I wonder to myself as she seems so young to be left alone with this little baby? We watch and the mother is gone for a long time. but she does finally come back just before the bus takes off.

Boquete Panama

©Exploramum and Explorason – left holding the baby

Getting Ignored

As we head to the turn-off for Boca Brava I show the assistant the note. I ask AT LEAST FIVE TIMES and also show him my note each time which written in Spanish as to where we need to go.

I get a feeling that I am getting ignored.

After some few hours, I know we have gone too far.
This man collects the fare – $9 each – no way. This is more than we paid to get to Sona so I know this is not right.

Getting Scammed

Suddenly when my bladder can no longer hold on, we stop in the minivan. The assistant races off with our bags and tells us to get another bus. I mean, he is running, and we are running after him – and we are basically ‘ditched’ on the side of the road.

I have to keep an eye on my son and the bags and handle bursting to go to the toilet.  We race after him in fear he is taking off with the bags.  My son is in a panic. My bladder is about to burst. Yikes – he has gone and dumped our bags!

We believe this is a scam tactic the minivans do, so they can trick tourists into taking them further by getting a greater fare and we have been scammed.

We arrive at David

We head inside and pay 25 cents to use a filthy Banos. I sit my son at a table and instruct him to stick his foot under the door of the toilet so I know he is outside the door as I go in, and to talk to me loudly. This feels a bit unsafe!

We sit in the bus terminal and eat some hot fries – which were about triple what we should have paid. I am not enjoying today and we are already a day later than we had planned and now we are in the wrong place. I am dehydrated and I can’t drink because the buses have no toilets for hours and these are the horrible times of single-parent travel.

My head is aching and I am so stressed. I work out we have gone about 1 to 1.5 hours past our drop-off road to Boca Brava.

I refuse to pay for a bus back. because what if that doesn’t stop? After Boca Brava, we had wanted to travel up towards Costa Rica, not back down as we would have to do now. Time for ‘Plan B’ and I need to calm down.

David to Boquete

We decide to take a bus from this busy bus terminal we now find ourselves in and to head for Boquete (as I have heard the mountains are pretty). As we walk out we are struck by the change in National Dress.

Boquete Panama

©Exploramum and Explorason – Locals in traditional dress

Navigating the bus terminal

We make our way to local buses on the other side of the building from where the minivan has dropped us off. There are rows and rows of buses and no foreigners that we can see.

Boquete Panama

©Exploramum and Explorason – explorason tries to smile at the bus terminal

We are not happy as our plans are all messed up! We make our way from one end – up, and up, and up to this area, as we get pushed by the crowd and we feel overwhelmed.

It is later in the afternoon since we have left Sona and I have no accommodation booked for where we will head. I have not researched this area yet.

As the bus heads off to Boquete we pass stone churches and dry areas.

Boquete Panama

©Exploramum and Explorason – we pass a stone church whilst on the bus

Nowhere to stay

We arrive in Boquete and find out there is a huge coffee festival on. ‘Feria de Las Flores Y el Café’. The Festival of Flowers and Coffee one of the largest festivals held in Panama, and is on each year in January.

First, we try for a hotel but it is sold out for the weekend. We try a hostel I had been told was good by some people we meet but it is booked out. I fear they all are as we walk in and out of so many hotels without any success.

Substandard Accommodation

We end up at a scuzzy place (I refuse to even name) – that in my opinion now is one of the worst places we have ever stayed in the whole world.  So much for luxury.  This place, in my opinion, was very substandard, but as a mother, I am responsible to have a roof over my son’s head and he is too tired to carry on.
A man booking the rooms tells me a pack of lies including the mattress is orthopedic and I nearly laugh.

This picture may look OK. The room stops at the lamp and I am sure it isn’t even a double bed. The tiles are missing in the ‘en-suite’. I check for bedbugs as I’m not feeling confident at all but thankfully it looks OK in that department.

Half the louvers are missing on the windows so the sound carries straight in. Later that night we find out why we need those missing louvers. We also realize we can’t leave our valuables in the room without risk of them being stolen.  Lesson learned today!

It is good to teach my son to make the best of things.

Worse occurs next

But things do get worse, and I have to protect and shelter Explorason from what happens later on.

Hostal Palacios

©Exploramum and Explorason – this is the only accommodation left in town

Explorason is very upset

I try to be positive and show Explorason this very original handmade Central America feel with the toucan planter. I see my son behind this tire planter and he is about to cry!

We later find out that even though this accommodation is the most central in town that the reputation is so bad, no one stays here unless they are desperate – like us I guess!


©Exploramum and Explorason – Tire art

Heading out to explore

We decide to head out for what is left of the afternoon and cheer ourselves up.  We know that seeing the festival is on we are going to be stuck at the accommodation for the weekend and so we will try to see what we can as quickly as we can and move in.

Boquete Panama

©Exploramum and Explorason – heading out to explore

But it seems a pretty town – if you are here, do visit.

Questions and Comments

  • Have you ever been scammed while on a trip to a foreign land?
  • What did you about it?
  • Did it change your perspective about the place?
  • Do share your comments with us.

See what happens next by reading on in the link below.

Boquete – Feria de Las Flores Y el Café – Caldera Hot Springs


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