Posted by: luisabaldwin | December 20, 2009



NOTE:  You can click on any picture on the website to enlarge.

“What a difference a car makes, 24 little hours….” And yes, it’s a little more of a car than we were expecting. It’s ten years old and looks like it just came off the lot. Thank you Keith for finding it and bringing it right to our doorstep. You outdid yourself. We love it. Well, that’s if you can love a car. What I like is getting in it and going – like we did today. Just a little local adventure but a fun one. We decided to take the Bajo Mono loop and see what it looked like. What can I say – we weren’t disappointed. We started our adventure with what else – lattes at Café Ruiz. The sky was crystal clear and the contrast against the deep luscious mountain green was glorious to behold. On our way out of town we decided to drop in on Mi Jardin es Su Jardin.

Gardens at Mi Jardin es Su Jardin

This extravagant and beautifully landscaped garden surrounds a substantial private estate and the owners have opened it for the public’s enjoyment. Dotted all around the estate are animal statues, children’s play slides, carp pools, a chapel and lots of delightful landscaping. These beautiful gardens are a feast for the eyes.

Mi Jardin es Tu Jardin

Not a tourist attraction, local Boquetenos come out here with their families to enjoy the sights – free of charge. As we walked through the garden we saw something shimmering in the distance. Interested in what it was we steered towards it and found a huge pool full of carp – big carp of all colors.

Carp pool below the waterfall at Mi Jardin es Su Jardin

Well, that was fun. We walked on and came upon a bridge over a pond with a waterfall cascading down into it. Over the bridge was the tiny chapel with fresh cut flowers and a few pews. On and on it all went acre after acre with delight after delight for the eyes. Even Jim had a good time. Tired of walking, we hopped back in our car and drove alongside the boulder lined shimmering river. A million photo ops awaited us. The road was well maintained even though it was the road less traveled and only one lane. The scenery got more rural with lush coffee plantations lining either side of the road.

The crisp, clean water of the Rio Caldera tributary

Ngobe families walked along the road happily chatting away, the women dressed in their colorful native dress. Like many of the Ngobe in Panama, these families farmed and picked coffee cherries at harvest time. Down the road less traveled we came upon a beautiful waterfall by the side of the road. This waterfall is called Waterfall San Ramon. We stopped the car and got out, welcoming the sweet soft mist coming off the fall. The sun sent shimmers across the clean water and I felt like I was back in Hana, Maui. Beside the waterfall was the River Caldera.

Waterfall San Ramon

We were half way to the source of the river but we wouldn’t get there today. Further up the road where the forest met the river we encountered a mysterious and what appeared to be abandoned castle in the forest.

The mysterious forest castle of Los Naranjos

One of those places where you seriously consider hopping the fence to answer the mystery by getting up close and personal – but we didn’t. Well, if we weren’t wearing so many years on these bodies of ours maybe we would have considered it more seriously. But it was fun and interesting. As the road turned back towards Boquete, we encountered more coffee plantations, lots of tomato greenhouses and onion fields. Finally, as it came down closer to town, a few very upscale homes dotted with Ngobe settlements. We decided to finish the trip with a pizza at another favorite restaurant, Il Pianista.

Il Pianista

Il Pianista is owned and operated by an Italian chef and a local Panamanian from Bocas del Torro by the names of Giovanni and Doris Santoro. This enchanting restaurant sits right on a tributary of the Rio Caldera. It’s delightful to dine outdoors next to a waterfall right in front of the landscaped and charming stone and wood restaurant. Inside, the stone floor and old wooden windows lend an old world charm as they open out onto the enchanting vista. So far, this is the best pizza in Panama we have found.

We’re going to have to return to Bajo Mono however.  We’re found out there’s another place to visit and that is the Finca Lerida.  This is a large coffee finca but also has a restaurant with great ambiance.  We’ll let you know when we get back.

Satisfied, we decided enough was enough and headed for home. All in all, it was an interesting and fun little trip, practically in our own back yard. There’s more to Boquete but it was a good start. More little adventures are on their way. Until then, may you all enjoy the Christmas season with family and friends. Merry Christmas from our house to yours! We’re driving our Christmas present to each other this year.

Photography by:
Luisa Baldwin
© All rights reserved



  1. What a gorgeous outing and you both look so relaxed and happy. Merry Christmas to you both and lots of love from the US. Rondi & Andy

  2. Thank you Rondi. Same back at ya! Good luck with your semi-retirement planning. I’m available to help answer any questions about retirement abroad that I have answers for.

  3. Hi Jim & Luisa,

    You covered a lot in a single day! So much beauty, so little time… For your readers looking for tips on how to get to Boquete for their first visit, have a look at a travel article I wrote at See you at Ruiz and Merry Christmas!


    • Thank you Dan. I did go to your site and you are right! Well done Dan. Yes, see you at Ruiz and Happy New Year!

  4. […] go for a walk along the road that takes you around the “Mono Loop.”  This loop leads you to the center of town where you stop to pick up a few things from the […]

    • Thank you for your suggestion. We’ll have to do just that.

  5. I´d like to use a Rio Caldera pic for commercial use, its protected with copy wright I know but I need your permission to use it

    • Hi Ken, Thank you for asking. What are you planning to do with that picture?

      • I am planning to use it in a bottled water label

      • Hello Vladimir,
        Do you live in Boquete? I’m flattered that you would want to use my photography on your bottled water but I could not approve it without meeting you in person. So sorry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: