Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Visit to Farm

I got up early this morning to accompany my host father, Ronaldo, on his weekly visit to his cattle farm. It was located in Gualaca a 50-minute drive from Boquete. We traveled in his silver Toyota Hilux with the man who lives on and watches the farm for him. This employee abandoned his wife and four children and now claims he doesn’t have a family.

The road was excellent for most of the way. Once we turned onto private property, it was a rough track heading steeply downhill. Ronaldo brought in a tractor to improve the road to his property, putting in concrete at the most difficult parts. Despite the fact that this road goes through another person’s property that person refused to contribute to the road.

“He used to live in a small wooden house and also walked from the entrance,” Ronaldo said. “But once I built the road and he could bring in the materials, he constructed that nice house.”

When I asked why the man didn’t pitch in, Ronaldo replied, “The people here are very stubborn in that regard. They won’t cooperate in anything, even though the value of his farm went up with a road going through it.”

The farm was set within rolling hills of incredible greenness. Ronaldo has about 90 cows that he raises for meat and sells to a supermarket chain.

I hung out near the shack and a small river while they transferred the cattle to different pastures. I watched as they vaccinated several cows, then we went on horseback to see a beautiful, roaring waterfall on the property.

We had lunch at a popular local restaurant. It had cowboy hats hanging from the roof and no walls.

In the afternoon I went with Lorena and her grandson Ronaldo to a local garden called Mi Jardin es Tu Jardin (My Garden is Your Garden). It’s owned by a wealthy man from the area who I believe lives in the U.S. He doesn’t charge any admission to the garden and according to Lorena, does a lot for the community, making him very popular.

We finished our day stopping at one of the strawberry cafes, where we had small fresh strawberries, bathed in fresh cream and chocolate syrup. The cute strawberry cafes are covered with strawberry d├ęcor both inside and out.

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