The coffee tour in Boquete was really good. The place we went to was supposed to be the second best coffee in Panama. When the guy started it he couldn't get a loan to buy the processing machinery so he built it himself using car parts and stuff. Now the banks want to give him loans but he's quite happy using the machines he built. They walked us through the whole process from growing to roasting, grinding and packaging, and we got to sample some coffee.
Alouatta Lodge was also fantastic. It's basically a family home on a huge piece of land with monkeys running around. The family were so welcoming, it was like staying at a friend's place and I spent the days walking the trails on their property (usually with at least one monkey along for the ride) and playing with the monkeys. There were seven howler monkeys in their care, Maisey the alpha female, Novie her baby with a wild male, Lisa just old enough to prefer boys, Google named because when they got him he was so skinny he was just a pair of googly eyes, he decided I was his girlfriend and sat with me whenever he could, Fleecy the cuddly little baby, Kiki the youngest still drinks from a bottle, and Kat a boy who's owners thought he was a girl, he's only been interacting with the others for a few days and is still getting used to it, he's very humanised and doesn't know how to climb trees or eat leaves. The monkeys have either been pets or found abandoned as babies and brought to the lodge. They live free and wild troupes come through the area. As they get older some choose to go off with these wild monkeys and they are free to do so. They also had three caged tamarins who liked a scratch but could get a bit nasty, a couple of dogs and zillions of butterflies.
After my time at Alouatta I caught the bus for the seven hour journey to Panama City. My first day here I went on an exhausting mission to get a bus out to the Miraflores Locks. In the end I got there but I'm not too keen to try and bus anywhere again. The Locks were quite interesting, there was a movie on the history and a canal museum so I learnt how the canal actually works and the main attraction was a viewing platform to watch ships being moved through the locks with the water levels being raised and lowered. Not something I could spend all day watching but cool to see. From the Locks I carried on a bit further out to the Summit Zoo. The first section had monkeys and small cats some of whom's enclosures were a bit small, also the monkeys were very conscious of human attention, quite a few came up to the front and presented their backs for a scratch, they were very cute but not ideal considering they could be catching colds and all sorts of nasties from people. Other than that it all seemed pretty reasonable. There was one monkey type species I didn't recognise, it had huge eyes kind of like a bush baby, maybe some kind of tamarin, I'll have to find out what it is. The area that I really came to see was much better, the jaguar, tapir and harpy eagle, all the local species that I would have loved to see in the wild, had really nice big enclosures. The harpy eagle, Panama's national bird, also had a big conservation and history exhibit. It turned out to be a nice little zoo, I'm glad I went. Returning to the city the bus terminal is right across from Albrook Mall, a huge shopping centre, so I spent the evening wandering around there before catching a taxi back to the hostel.
This morning I've walked around Casco Viejo, the old part of the city. It's on a bit of a peninsular so almost surrounded by the sea, there are nice views across to the main city and the causeway, and there are some nice plazas and market areas around as well. Next task, unpack and repack my bag, then figure out what to do for my last day.