As mentioned previously, the turn to Boquete, off of the InterAmericana highway, is in David. When we made the turn at David, I noted the elevation of 40m on my super large watch (Andrew will be happy to hear that I’m sporting the extra-large watch again). Boquete is supposed to have one of the highest elevations in the country.
My watch reads the altitude every minute. There was little excitement until David. The road to Boquete passes through a small town called Dolega. I was mildly interested in stopping there after reading a short article in one of the Panama City English papers; there is supposedly a quaint little bookstore there that is worth a look.
Worth a look? It was incredible!
In thinking about the quality of the store, I’m trying to keep in mind what Eddie Murphy said in Delirious about giving a starving man a cracker: “This is the best damn cracker I’ve ever had!” [give or take a few expletives].
Nonetheless, this is still one of the best used bookstores I’ve been in. When I read the newspaper article about the store, I thought it would be a good-for-a-small-town-in-the-middle-of-nowhere store or maybe even a good-for-a-small-non-English-speaking-country store. Not at all. It was a great-used-bookstore-anywhere-in-the-world store.
One would think a city like Panama would have a single good English bookstore. No. Not at all. There is a good bookstore (Excedra), but it fails miserable in the tiny, poorly selected English section it has. I’ve been in once and felt discouraged when, out of 6 shelves devoted to English titles, one was stocked with tens of copies of each of all Hemingway’s greatest hits.
I read A Farewell to Arms this break—for school—don’t read it. It’s boring, poorly written and repetitive. I think the theme was “war is bad”. Why do teachers torture kids with this crap?
Unfortunately for us (and the owner), we walked in at 4:55pm.
I think if we pushed, I think he would have stayed open as long as we like, but instead we impressed with our efficiency. I quickly grabbed the new Atwood (The Year of the Flood) in hardcover [argh!] and slapped it down. Darlene snatched a Carol Joyce Oates and some other girly National Book Award winner and we bolted for the door. As an after-thought, he informed us if we returned them on the way back, the titles were worth half their value in store credit. (He also said that many people would be disappointed that the Atwood book was gone…obviously other literary types in the area.)
The drive from Dolega to Boquete isn’t more than 20min. I was driving about 80km/h and when we arrived in the city, we had climbed 1000m. Oddly, there wasn’t a single switchback. In fact, there were two gentle curves in the road. You drive on a straight highway to the town, and climb 1000m in 20mins. I thought about figuring out the distance traveled, but I was on vacation.
The view of the town as we entered looked like it belonged in the Alps…it just needed snow and I just needed my snowboard.