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I may have just tasted the nectar of the Gods!
On a recent trip to Boquete, I asked a realtor friend where I could get a sample of the Geisha coffee that is grown in the area. I read that this particular coffee is so good that it sold at auction in 2010 for a record price of $170.20 per pound. The variety sold was from the plantation “Finca La Esmeralda” and was purchased by the Saza Coffee Company, who picked up all 20 available lots at that astronomical price. I just had to find out for myself what all the hype was about!
I was directed to the nearby Ruiz Coffee House, and on the way there I thought of my favorite Peaberry Kona coffee from Hawaii with its smooth and positively unbeatable taste. Growing up in Hawaii may have made me a bit biased going into this endeavor. I was sure the Geisha would be alright, but nothing could beat my long time favorite, and everyone knows Kona coffee is the best….right?
So, we pull up to this quaint little coffee shop and walk inside. Then came my first pleasant surprise – they offered me a “flight” of coffee. That’s right, just like you might get when sampling wines or beers. How cool is that? I chose a selection of 3 different flavors, including what they called the Gesha, and went out to the comfy little outdoor patio to prepare for the test. The coffee was brewed when ordered and served on a tray in 2 oz porcelain cups with a description of each coffee on a card under its cup.
I started with the boldest flavor. Dark and tasty, but it was nothing to write home about. The next flavor was equally nice but not anything special in my book. Then, I drank a bit of water to clear my palate, took a deep breath, and tasted the Gesha. It was absolutely smooth and mellow; not the least bit bitter. I personally like low acid and rather light coffees. I was taken aback for a moment. This was the BEST coffee I had ever tasted and it is grown right here in Panama. Why had I never heard of it? This coffee was so good that I was happy to pay $40 a pound to bring some home with me!
If you like a good cup of coffee, you must stop in Boquete on your next trip to Panama. There are many coffee-tasting tours available with experts that can educate you on the complexities of aroma and body. Or, just stop by Ruiz and order your own ‘flight’. I’d love to hear how you think Gesha stacks up with your current favorite cup o’ Joe.
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“A safe haven for endangered wild cats”
Linda Weldon has a passion for saving endangered wild cats, especially ocelots. I spoke with her about her feline sanctuary in Chiriqui, Panama. According to Linda, she runs a “wildlife rehab and rescue center located in Northwestern Panama. We release animals that are suitable for release and provide long term care for those that are not.” If you live in the area, have some free time, and love animals ~ volunteers & visitors are welcomed!
Where are you from originally, Linda?
I was not born in Panama. However I was raised here from about the age of 4. I grew up on the old Canal Zone, hence I’m a “Zonian”. I have always been interested in animals. I would sit out behind our house in the old Ancon hill and just wait till the jungle would move again. The deer would come out and so would the ñeque, iguana, and the mono titi’s.
The felines you rescue are not common housecats, right?
Basically I am a small exotic feline center/sanctuary. I house at the moment six ocelots, two of which were the first and second captive born in Panama. Not even Summit Zoo can claim this! I have had margay and oncilla as well. I have not had jaguar or puma or the smaller Jaguarondi as yet. But I’m sure my turn is coming sometime in the future.
How did the feline center get started?
I first started saving birds and parrots. Always had parakeets on the porch, brown birds in cages getting ready to be released, and others. Then I went away to college and the so called “real world” in the USA. I was a psych nurse working with kids and gang bangers. Anyways, one thing leads to another and I returned here to Panama to my family’s finca where I manage things. I started back into rescuing parrots and parakeets and other birds again and at one time I had over 30 Amazon parrots. I would go out and rescue the baby parrots from the lorreros and bring them home, raise them, and find good homes for them. It was then I decided to build a huge aviary for the parrots. This was over 10 years ago. Anyways, word gets around and someone rescued a caged ocelot. My vet knew of my cage and that’s how I got Dori, my first ocelot. About the same time I received Michi, my first oncilla. Then, I got two more and it just seemed that whenever I built a cage I got a cat and it was as if God was saying go for the cats. So I did and have.
Where do the cats come from?
I receive cats from those that find out they don’t make very good pets after they get a certain size. They will never be a domestic cat, ever. So they find their way to me hopefully before the black market gets ahold of them. I also take in the occasional bird that broke a wing or somebody found it and didn’t know what to do with it.
Is your program recognized in Panama?
I was approved twice by ANAM for what I do. They told me there wasn’t any other place quite like mine. I have the first and second ocelot born in Panama (documented). I started doing research about the cats in Panama online and even had some people come down to help me as I had not a CLUE about exotic cats! There is a need in Panama for places like mine. No, I am not advocating that just anybody can have a permit to have these animals. If I had been ANAM when I first started I would have denied me a license. I didn’t know anything about these animals. Seriously! But with my studying and educating myself and reading up everything I can get my hands on about exotic cats in the Americas, plus my own observations through the years, I guess I can say I know a thing or two now. I would never consider myself an expert. I’m still learning.
*Note: ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente) is the governmental authority that regulates at the national, regional and local levels non-governmental and governmental activities which bear on the protection, conservation, improvement and restoration of Panama’s environment.
Are the rehabilitated animals returned to the wild?
They will NEVER return to the wild as they have been socialized. They depend on humans to eat. If they ever were let go, the first place they would go is to a human and if it kills a chicken, it’s basically a death sentence. So I am looking into sending the cats as ambassadors from Panama to facilities outside Panama that want to preserve the species, and help to educate the public.
What are you doing to educate the public?
I think there is a lack of education for protecting the wildlife here in Panama. I do not charge people to come see the animals as I believe education comes first before the dollar. Especially since many of my visitors are children whose parents hunt these cats for the black market or because they ate one of the family’s chickens. I tell the people who come here that it is sad to see these animals in cages. These cats are on the soon-to-be-extinct list because of the deforestation and poaching and such that goes on. I don’t do formal education. I just talk to whoever is listening and I hope it sinks in.
Do you think you are having an impact?
My impact…..well, I don’t know. I have heard that people know me as the “cat lady”, so word has gotten out about me. ANAM knows me…..so does the Smithsonian and Summit Zoo.
What can someone who is interested do to help?
Again, I don’t charge to see the animals but a donation sure does help. I would happily accept help from anybody who wants to get involved “hands-on” also. Right now, I do this on my own. Why? Because I believe in it with all my heart. I still rescue the odd parrot and bird that happens to fall out of a tree, too!
Linda’s Chiriqui Feline Center is located on the main bus line to Cerro Punta. She offers the use of her garden, overlooking the ponds and flowers, to enjoy nature, bird watch, or for a picnic. You can even camp out if you like, at no charge.
Anyone who would like to visit the Chiriqui Feline Center should email ahead at LDEBRD@Hotmail.com.
You can see beautiful photos and read stories about the cats at CHIRIQUI FELINE CENTER
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Every couple of months I host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) call about moving to and living in Panama.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO the AMA Call on March 17th. This call is 1 hour and 24 minutes long.
You’ve probably been reading International Living magazine for years. You may subscribe to every Panama forum and Facebook group about Panama that you can find. These are great ways to get an overview of what life is like in Panama. But to really discover is Panama is a good fit for you, you must come to Panama to see it for yourself.
Come see Panama up close and personal during an All-Inclusive Panama Relocation Tour. We still have some dates available in 2017 and our 2018 dates are not available too.
We just received this testimonial from Todd Kane who came on the March 2017 tour:
It’s really quite simple, if there is ANY chance you may relocate to Panama, even 5%, this will be the best money you can spend.
The information you will receive will be returned 10 fold, easy. The pitfalls you will avoid, the connections you will make, are too numerous to list. It is the best money you will spend.
Hopefully you are convinced of the value.
From first contact with Panama Relocation Tours, to the continued follow up, professionalism is their mantra. Don’t get me wrong, Melissa and Jackie are super friendly and personable while taking care of business. Always a prompt response, always more pertinent information than you could hope for. Value, friendly value.
The tour is well organized and comfortable with just enough free time to keep you happy.
Only thing left for you to do is book your tour, so what are you waiting for?