Updated: Oct 15, 2020
We arrived at Bambuda Castle in the mountains of Bouquete right before sunset, which was surrounded with coffee trees everywhere and so magical! The drive in general was stunning with clouds and mountains, it looked like something out of a movie, something similar to Jurassic Park in a way. Really what I was expecting Brazil to be like, didn't expect Panama to be this beautiful to say the least. We were all so shocked about this hostel though, it was so over-the-top, high-end! I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings with the little hobbit shacks on the mountain hillside surrounding the castle with rock climbing on the side and mountain caps in the distance. My own private shack was $55 compared to the $15 dorm, but totally worth it to me since it was such a magical place. We got a bottle of wine each, played banana grams and called it a night around midnight. Slept in a bit and went to town to get some things at the market and walk around exploring Tara and some others From the hostel. Such a cute little mountain town and saw a lot of Panamanian locals, first time seeing the clothing you see in South American movies with the indigenous apparel and then went on a coffee tour at 1:30pm. Really cool experience, did not know anything about how coffee is made but learned a lot about the process and how competitive the industry can get (some notes below). Got back around 5pm, practiced yoga out on the grass with the most beautiful sunset over the surrounding hills. The food was delicious yet again (had risotto at the lodge, veggie lasagna first night at the castle and pumpkin soup the second night - all around $10 each which is expensive for the convenience). The second morning, Tara and I were going on a waterfall hike and it appeared a few others were also planning to do the hike so we all shared the shuttle together and went on the Lost Waterfall Hike on a Volcano. This is the time I met Euan, who I ended up meeting up with again in Colombia and traveling with for a week or so. It was cloudy and beautiful, with tons of flowers and the luscious greenery, tall trees, it reminded us of Colorado. The waterfalls were so powerful and magical, it was great listening to music along the way (Tara had brought her speakers). Once we got back, I did some yoga on my own and then we decided to go to the brewery in town so we got the 5pm free shuttle into town with the girls we met the first night (one from DC and others from Cali-went to Santa Barbara). They ended up sitting with us and it was a great time chatting all chatting together! We also ran into the 2 guys who were on our coffee tour (19 year old from Newport and a 23 year old from Colorado Springs). After grabbing some pizza, we met up with them to watch the USA vs. Panama men's futbol game in which I chatted with the guy from Colorado Springs, Spencer, about tattoos and exes haha. When we got back to the hostel, I ran into that guy I had met at Bambuda Lodge a few nights prior (Gavin) and met this new guy from Florida and we all chatted outside in the game room with a pool. I was supposed to get up early to catch the bus to Panama City, but was too hungover/went to bed too late. I ended up catching the 11:30am bus and got to Panama City around 9pm.
Coffee plantation notes:
Yellow and red seeds are mature coffee, and come from Ethiopian mountains. It takes 2-7 years, depending on elevation 7-9 months for the flowers to peak - it goes from seed-plan- flower-fruit. All coffee leaves feel plastic and shiny, older are less shiny. There’s Catwa from Brazil, Arabic, and Geisha from Ethiopia. Apparently Costa Rica discovered the Geisha but couldn't pronounce the name so they gave Panama 2-3 grams of the seed in the 1940s because the tree was wide and tall and didn't produce a lot. Panama was first to try and it tasted like tea and didn't say anything because they knew they could sell. In the 1990s it was brought to Asia (sold to tea shops) and most expensive - $803/1lb in Japan and $85/8oz, 887 types of Arabia's Geisha and Catwa. Wash coffee is normal regular/ black 11% of moist at least to let dry (humidity) and then roast.