What they have more of in Boquete than anywhere I have been on earth (or any other planet) is hibiscus flowers. They are everywhere. Additionally, they are bigger than anywhere else. And with more color. Namely, just better. Here was one that greeted us at our hotel. Well, it didn't actually speak or anything, but it was present when we got there.
Later on the day of our arrival (after a long nap), we made our way to some very large and very free public gardens. Apparently, they and the home in them are owned by some 100 year old architect from Miami who built them 40 years ago and has always kept them free. His lawn ornaments are possibly meant to advertise the fact that he is from Miami. Or at least an American who started building the gardens when lawn flamingos were all the rage.
This picture was meant to demonstrate that the flower is so big I could have fit my head behind it. Now that I see the picture, I can see that my head is way bigger than I previously thought. Still, I think I could have hid my nose behind it without difficulty.
We got a new camera to replace the one that was stolen last month, so we can once again take self-portraits that have more than just our big heads. This is from a three story lookout tower above the gardens.
Tara is in shock in this picture that my head was too big to fit behind one of the flowers. Her dainty little head looks like it has a better shot.
Not all the flowers are hibiscuses. They also had some orange flowers. Don't know what they are, but this tree had a lot of them. I'll call them sunshine bells unless someone on this blog comes up with a better name.
This garden even had its own bridges, built entirely for show, over coy ponds. You could just as easily walk around, but this old guy apparently thought, "Hey, we've got some water. Why don't we build a big suspension bridge over it?" I like his style. If I were old and rich, that's the kind of thing I would do.
With all the rain come rainbows. On average, it rains about every 7 minutes in Boquete with the sun appearing about every four cycles. So, about every 28 minutes, there is a rainbow. Or two. I think we captured nearly all of them from our visit on film, but I will only bore you with one.
On our way to hike in the cloud forest, we passed this castle. The owner died while it was being built a long time ago and it was never finished. Later, we saw some other castles. Again, I like it that eccentric people from the world over go to Panama and decide to build things like castles. A castle and a suspension bridge (possibly with a moat) for me when I'm old and rich.
I posted a picture of a white flower like this a few months ago from Peru. Turns out that Boquete thought the white ones were nice, but turned them pink for more impact. And made the shrub have about 10 times more flowers on it. Very nice.
Some amazing volcanic rock structures exist in the area. This one is apparently a popular place to train for expert rock climbers. I jumped out and scaled it with no ropes, but I wouldn't allow pictures of me victorious over the rock because I thought it might seem vain.
Tara is really proud of this picture of a flower that is locally called Cowboy's Spur. These occur a lot in the cloud forest and are about an inch tall. I think Tara took such a good picture here because she isn't much bigger than they are so she has a good perspective. Finally some fungus! This little guy is such a perfect mushroom, but red. It was one of about a half dozen. I could have stared at it for hours, but we had to go see more fungi.
The biggest and oldest trees in the area are ash trees. This one is about 500 years old. Our tour guide took this one, which is very nice, but covertly took a series of Tara trying to climb up to this point, which is much funnier. Unless you were there, in which case it wasn't so funny. But she made it!
Two fungi in one picture. Maybe not the most exciting of the kingdom, but not bad and a two-for-one special.
This is a nest of the quetzal, the most beautiful bird in the western hemisphere according to most people. We knocked, but the bird didn't seem to be home. Okay, so no knocking, but the guide tried to make bird sounds and nothing came out. And he wouldn't let us cut down the tree to look for it.
We hiked to a waterfall that was severly impacted by flooding last year. All the rocks at the bottom came over the falls, filling in a pool that had been there, and diverting about half the flow of the falls somewhere else. This was mostly interesting because all the tour companies were still showing people pictures of a huge pool where they could swim. Truth in advertising hasn't made it to Central America.
A forest of fungus. So small, yet so perfectly shaped. And they didn't try to run at all when I photographed them.
Tara thought that this fungus looked like potato chips. I thought it was fun that she and the guide had joined in my fungus fanaticism by this point in the trip. We didn't see any wildlife, so might as well see something fun.
What makes this mushroom especially fun is that it is surrounded by hordes of caterpillars. We videoed them to show them all moving in mass, but we still haven't gotten around to adding video. Take our word for it, they were cool.
Speaking of cool, look at this one that looks like a moose antler. Well, not nearly as big as a moose antler, but about the same shape.
I am a sucker for the colored fungi. And the more the merrier. Here is a nice orange one eating a tree.
Again, I try to compare my head size to the flower size. Again, I realize only now when looking at the picture that my head is gigantic. You will note my smile in these photos, though. Tara criticized me for not smiling enough the day before, so all my Boquete pictures have this smile.
This one takes me out of the equation and just shows the lovely white and pink hibiscus outside our hotel door.
And another. I know you are sick of them by now, but they were really great in person. If you are bored, just think about whatever your favorite thing is for all the rest of the flower pictures. Or just skip to the next post.
Only Tara's family will appreciate this one. Skip it if you aren't related.
My favorite fungus! Tiny, slimy, and colorful. It's the trifecta of the fungus world.
This is a view from the top of our hike in the cloud forest. This was the good visibility. About 30 seconds later, the fog rolled in and it got even worse. Tara was less than pleased that we hiked all that way to see some fog. I wasn't thrilled about the view, but I saw some great fungus, so it balanced out.
Back in town, we saw this sign. Tara is a huge Golden Girls fan, and Shady Pines is where Sofia Petrillo on that show lived until it burned down. (No, of course I didn't know the character's name. Tara just spelled it for me.)
They have nice, big beetles in Panama. This one was walking along, and I took the opportunity to grab it for a quick picture. It didn't seem to mind.
Last one is actually a moss or lichen of some kind, but it could almost pass for a fungus. Covering a huge rock. Very nice.
In conclusion, if you don't like flowers and/or fungi, you should probably avoid Boquete. If you like Spring, you should probably go. Also, tons of Americans and Germans retire there, so if you like retired Americans and Germans, it could be a good place for you. We really liked the city and surrounding area, though the rain would get on our nerves if we were there for more than a few days.