The Boquete Blues and Jazz Fest

Valle Escondido Amphitheater-the umbrellas were for the sun!

It’s been raining in Paradise the last two days, and not a light warm summer rain either. It’s a torrential tropical storm like rain that announced itself on the tin roof Monday morning around 5. Quite a contrast to the last  4 days, during which the 6th annual Boquete Blues and Jazz Fest was held.

The Festival started informally at the Panamonte Inn and Resort (super nice place to stay, if anyone wants to experience the luxury side of Boquete) with a free performance on a sunny Thursday afternoon. The organizers of the Festival were looking to recreate the Jazz age, and had a Carnivale type parade from the town square to the Panamonte, complete with beads and dress up. The grounds were exquisite, and the music sounded like  authentic 20s style New Orleans Jazz. To complete the mood, the band leader and a partner were doing some pretty intricate looking tap dancing Charleston moves. The scene was like something out of  The Great Gatsby, or maybe a party that would have taken place in pre-revolutionary Cuba.

Friday was an equally beautiful day, and the same band performed in the town square.  Hoards of people gathered to watch, and there were probably as many Panamanian and Indians there as gringos. (Unlike the first day, when the crowd was almost entirely gringos.)Same band, same tunes, same dancing, entirely different setting and mood, but just as delightful.

(The band’s website is The Smoking Time Jazz if anyone wants to listen. There are some fun videos of them on YouTube too.)

The chapel within Valle Escondido

We bought a ticket for Sunday and walked to another luxury real estate spot in Boquete — Valle Escondido (Which I think translates to “Hidden Valley”), a beautiful gated community with lovely little creeks and rivers running throughout it. They have an outdoor amphitheater, with reddish gold stone structures and grassy steps carved into the mountain. The real estate developers have advertised it as being on the side of Volcan Baru, but that  seems to be taking a little bit of liberty with local geography. There were a couple of jazz bands, a couple of blues guys, and the big finale was a 16 piece swing band performing together for the first time in public. Their first song was a classic swing piece that brought people to the feet — outstanding! Too bad  I don’t know enough about swing to know the name of the piece. It’s very recognizable.  We ended up there for 5 hours. More experienced expats knew to bring umbrellas for the sun – not us though. We ended up bringing back our first sunburn in 4 months of being in Panama. As we were leaving, it started to mist, and the mist turned to rain, and the rain kept up pretty much until this  morning. Rainy Boquete is very different than sunny Boquete, especially for those of us without cars. Or clothes dryers.

Oh — I’m not sure I ever mentioned that we don’t have a dryer. That makes washing clothes dependent on the weather, and since the sun is out now, it’s time to do the wash and hang out the clothes.  Have a good day everyone!!


Mark says:

Where have all the hippies gone>>>>>>>>The Boquete Jazz and Blues Fest?   The expatriate population of Boquete, as a whole, seems to be made up of a diverse group of people whose views, and priorities, fall along the whole political spectrum.  In fact, it appears to be a microcosm of the political climate in the U.S.

Another shot of the arena, with dancing in front of the stage

However, this past weekend ‘s festival seemed to draw more baby boomers, intent on reliving the 60’s, than I have ever seen gathered in one place at any given time.  Although the music was quite different than you would have heard at say, Woodstock, the  dancing, dress and spirit were quite reminiscent.  Minus the drugs, at least as far as I could tell!

I have never seen so much tye dye in my whole life.  And, the number of balding  gray haired guys wearing  pony tails, whoa !!!  I know Valerie wouldn’t be terribly enthusiastic about me attempting that look.  Besides, I can’t see me ever “Pulling It Off”  (For fans of “How  I Met Your Mother”.)

Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable weekend of fun music, beautiful weather, delightful scenery and most interesting people watching!

Bye for now.