Latitude Adjustment – Two Wanderers in Panama and Beyond
Our decision to move to Panama was in the works for many years. Now that it has come to fruition, this blog is our way of sharing our experience as world travelers and expats in Panama. Our hope is that you too will be inspired to jump out of your comfort zone and find the thing that floats your boat — and perhaps even plan an escape of your own!
Beautiful Ometepe Island, in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. (Photo credit: Expedia.com)
If you haven’t heard about what’s going on right now in Nicaragua, you’re not alone. With the media dominated by Trump and his antics, precious little coverage has been given to the relatively new uprising in this Central American country. In a nutshell, civil unrest broke out in April when the Daniel Ortega government threatened some pension reforms that would have taken a big bite out of rank-and-file Nicaraguans’ paychecks. Apparently it was the straw that broke the camel’s back after years of escalating tension with the increasingly repressive Ortega regime.
One of the many lovely buildings in the colonial city of Granada
There’s a lot more to it than that, but the conflict has escalated into a full-blown revolution in which upwards of 150 peaceful demonstrators – mostly students and young people – have been murdered by Ortega’s thugs. Beautiful colonial cities have been torched, tourism is in ruins, and the economy is devastated. It’s having repercussions throughout Central America, since the roadblocks have brought all commerce into and out of surrounding countries to a standstill. It will take many, many years for this wonderful country to recover, and that’s IF the conflict is resolved soon.
Entering Nicaraguan waters and getting ready to raise our hand-made courtesy flag
When we visited Nicaragua in 2004 aboard our sailboat, we were completely charmed by its scenic beauty, its incredible potential, and – most of all – its people. The country had put the bloody years of the Sandanista-Contra revolution far behind it, and things seemed peaceful. There was a feeling of optimism and a can-do spirit among the young Nicaraguans we met.
One young man, who I’ll call José, worked as a server at the marina where we berthed our boat for several weeks. Only 18, he had ambitions to become a hotel food and beverage manager. He and his family were very poor, and he lived with his parents and many brothers and sisters in a tin shack with a dirt floor. We marveled at how neat and tidy these young people were, even living in such poverty, as they showed up for work at the marina every day.
We, along with the other boaters, took up a collection to send José to school for a degree in hotel and restaurant management. This outstanding young man did us all proud, graduating with honors and going on to run several different resorts in Nicaragua. He only recently married a beautiful young woman, and the future was looking bright indeed for both of them.
A pristine beach on the northern Nicaragua coast
I am still in contact with José on social media and yesterday he told me that the situation there is very grim. He said conditions are getting worse every day, and the lack of dialogue is escalating things. He also said that the only hope is involvement from other countries. Fat chance the US will do anything to help (but given its so-called “help” during the Contra era of the 80s, that might be a good thing).
We have another friend there, a fellow expat blogger who lives with her husband on Ometepe Island. Although the island has stayed relatively peaceful so far, they are making plans to leave as soon as possible. This blogger, who takes beautiful photos and writes lyrical stories of life on the island, is heartsick to be leaving behind the home they’ve built along with the library that she helped to establish. While their safety is the immediate concern, my hope is that they will be able to return home soon.
We dedicate this blog post to the people of Nicaragua. Please know that our hearts are aching for you today. Our hope is that you will come through this crisis stronger than ever – and with the representative government you deserve.
For some time, I’ve been lurking on a Facebook group called Female Travel Bloggers. I’m in constant awe of the women who post there and their beautiful blogs, chock full of life-changing experiences and stunning photography from every far-flung place you can imagine. Most of the time, FTB forbids members from overtly promoting their blogs or even posting entries. Saturday is the exception – with #blogpostsaturday, members are allowed to post their favorite recent entry and encourage other members to share, tweet, pin, and otherwise promote it.
Saturday, I finally worked up the courage to post an entry for #blogpostsaturday, with very nice results. Five lady bloggers responded and left very encouraging comments, promising to give us a little exposure in their own networks. Since we haven’t really taken the big social media plunge yet with Latitude Adjustment (beyond posting on Facebook), we’re not present on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. That’s coming, but for now, I figured the least I could do is mention them in a blog post.
So here’s a shout-out to these five blogs. Thank you again, ladies, for responding!
As expats we get asked this question a lot, and the short answer – at least for now – is NO. We’ll say more about that, but first, here’s a little story.
This thing costs about $1,000 to buy and $83K a month for the privilege to use it! I think I’m in the wrong business.
We heard yesterday from a good friend in the U.S. Our friend is now on in-home kidney dialysis and just received the bill for her first month of treatment. Are you sitting down? It’s $83,000 for ONE MONTH. That’s before Medicare, of course; their out-of-pocket cost is “only” $918. That’s almost $1,000 A MONTH, for treatment she needs to stay alive, plugged into a machine that by itself only costs $1,000! Such is the outrageously cruel state of medical care in our birth country, where an estimated 47,000 people DIE every year because they can’t afford the treatments they need to survive. That number’s from 2009; we doubt seriously it’s gone down much in the ensuing nine years, especially now that the Affordable Care Act has been gutted beyond recognition.
After three years living in Panama and traveling to other countries, and also hearing several stories from friends who have received treatment here and elsewhere, we’ve come to realize that we have choices. We don’t have to live in a place where we might lie awake at night wondering how we’d pay for it if one of us had a serious medical crisis. Most of the rest of the world “gets” that medical care is a right, not a privilege, and even developing countries like Panama provide at least basic care for all of their citizens.
Our choice to live outside the U.S. isn’t just about medical care, although that’s a huge driver for us as we get older. And it’s not really about the current dismal political climate in the U.S. (don’t get me started). We’ve come to realize that our country, the one that gave us birth and opportunity, and the right and ability to travel, doesn’t look like our home anymore. When you stay in a bubble and believe all the propaganda, it’s easy to think that your home country is number one. But travel gives you a different perspective.
Our friend and fellow blogger Kris Cunningham posted an article today that reflects our feelings on this topic, and we wanted to share it here. We don’t completely agree with the author; we didn’t decide to become expats to “escape the rat race” — we did it because it’s a springboard to travel, adventure, and new experiences. In fact, we touched on some of these themes in this post. But the rest of the author’s points are well-taken.
Thanks, Kris and Joel! Here’s their post:
Joel alerted me to this really interesting and well written article by a woman who has lived outside the USA for 20 years. She talks about a much better work – life balance, lack of fears of gun violence, availability of health care, education, affordable child care, retirement pension, and a government that cares for its citizens (she lived in the Caribbean and is now in southern France) . . . read the rest
This dazzling mural was painted with a special coating that repels taggers’ spray paint
Can street art and historic preservation coexist? That’s the million-dollar question that citizens and leaders of Bogotá are grappling with. On the Bogotá Graffiti Tour (a MUST if you’re headed there) we learned just how complicated this question is.
We loved our visit to Bogotá, but it offers a decidedly different experience than Medellin, our favorite Colombian destination (so far). As Colombia’s sprawling capital city, Bogotá has well over twice the population of Medellin, and any comparisons have to be tempered with that big data point. But whereas Medellin has created community, fought poverty, and overcome its violent past by embracing public art and transportation (we like to call this the Medellin Miracle, and we blogged about it here), Bogotá is struggling with both.
So much going on in this, painted by one of Bogotá’s graffiti collectives. I love the birds on the wire and the skyline in the back.
From the Graffiti Tour, we learned that La Candelaria, the Bogota historic district, is also a hotbed of some of the city’s most stunning street art. But there’s a subtle and often fuzzy line between street artists, many of whom are looking to make a statement and engage the public, and taggers, who care more about getting respect from fellow graffiti artists. Of course these are generalizations. Plenty of street artists are downright revolutionary, while many of the taggers are well-known and have created some beautiful and compelling art. Time for a big disclaimer: all of this is all our perspective, based on info we got from the tour. The world of street art and graffiti is rich and complex, with lots of nuance.
A feline-themed wall, painted by another collective. The black cat has a cool bonus when viewed from across the street – even the stop sign and lamp post blend in. Do you see it?
So, getting back to La Candelaria: in its wisdom, the city of Bogotá is undergoing a major project to paint over (!) many of the beautiful murals that grace the sides of the historic buildings (some of the buildings date back to the early 16th century). In order to keep the district’s UNESCO World Heritage designation, the city is required to maintain the buildings in more or less their authentic, original condition. That means the street art must go, but (in predictably rebellious fashion) the taggers move in immediately to deface the walls after they’ve been whitewashed. It’s a vicious cycle: destroy stunning murals that have usually been left alone by the taggers out of respect, and then deal with the vandalized consequences.
This house, in Bogotá’s oldest neighborhood, dates back to the early 1500s and is connected to the city’s founding. Until the city whitewashed it recently, it was covered with brilliant murals; the Virgin Mary painting is all that’s left. This was in late December and the taggers had already moved in. I wonder what it looks like now?
True story: when Canadian pop star Justin Bieber (huge eye-roll here) swooped in for a concert a few years ago, he insisted on going out in the dead of night and painting a mural on an unauthorized wall. Of course, being a huge star (albeit a highly untalented street artist), he had a police escort. The taggers were so incensed that they immediately defaced his mural hours after he and his entourage cleared out. But apparently there was an upside: the incident helped gain the street artists some legitimacy. Here’s an interesting article about the whole thing, and here’s another one.
There’s so much more to be said about the rich, colorful, and endlessly preoccupying story of Bogotá’s street artists. But for now, here are a few more of our favorite pics from the Graffiti Tour.
A mural by the collective Toxicomano, featuring lots of stencil work and political commentary.
This is by artist DJ Lu, whose work often makes bold political statements around better conditions and greater equality for all citizens. Here he’s depicting the plight of Bogota’s street vendors, who are often subject to harassment. The pineapple/hand grenade motif is a much-copied DJ Lu motif.
A little off-topic, but obleas are wonderful sweet treats that are available from street vendors all over town. This particular vendor got instant notoriety when Mick Jagger happened to visit her stand once!
A beautiful depiction of a Guna indigenous woman, painted by Carlos Trilleras
A mural by Guache, whose signature is beautiful and fanciful depictions of indigenous people and birds. The figures around the door are by another famous artist.
It’s a long way from our home in Boquete, Panama to my hometown of Fort Stockton, Texas, and in many ways the two towns could not be more different. But there’s one thing that the good folks of West Texas and rural Panama have in common: a love of festivals and horses, with a heaping helping of community pride.
When I was growing up, the Water Carnival in July was (and still is) the marquee event of the year, with its water ballet, huge parade with homecoming floats for various high school classes, and of course, the Miss Fort Stockton pageant. I swam in many a water ballet act, and in the high school band I marched in my share of Water Carnival and other parades. We always hoped we wouldn’t be right behind the horses (thanks, Mom, for that memory!). Here’s a nice little article about mi pueblita, with a bit more about Water Carnival.
Rosie and Tango in their “Festival de Mascotas” finery
Boquete’s version of Water Carnival weekend is going on now, marking 107 years since the town was founded, and we spent yesterday taking in the festivities. In some ways I felt like I was right back in Fort Stockton again (well, an alternate Panamanian-universe Fort Stockton). There were parades! Pet activities! Dancing! Horses galore! Beauty queens!
Fun was had by all, including our four-legged “kids,” Rosie and Tango, as we started the day with the Festival de Mascotas (Pet Festival). It was a kick to see so many
Miss Panama, with the mayor and his wife (photo courtesy Alcaldia Boquete)
Panamanians (and just a few expats) coming out to show off their beloved pups, dressed in their best outfits. There was a little parade through the streets of Boquete and then a dog obedience contest, including an adorable puppy trial that involved the owners calling for their pups from about 20 feet away (some of the most adorable ones got a little distracted!). Sadly, no costume contest; otherwise, I’m sure Rosie would have won for “best feather boa!”
The highlight of the afternoon was the big Boquete Cabalgata (parade of horses), an extravaganza that drew hundreds of equestrians from throughout Chiriqui province. At the same time, performances by folkloric dancers were taking place over on the main plaza throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
If we’d hung around into the evening, we would have enjoyed a lot more dancing, music, and gaiety, including a visit from Miss Panama. I can almost guarantee that the disco-ing and LOUD music went on well into the wee hours, because that’s the way Panamanians party!
This video by John Hampton captures the spirit of Cabalgata beautifully:
Boquete Cabalgata -2018 - YouTube
Here are a few more photos from our day of Boquete fun:
Pooches on parade!
Rosie always makes new friends!
Obedience competition. This dog had an impressive array of tricks.
Tango’s turn to make a friend!
Boquete’s mayor, Emigdio Walker Vasquez (in blue shirt) leads the cabalgata
Onlookers wait for the next group of horses
Young señoritas wait their turn to dance
Dr. Isaac Casal, a highly accomplished musician and passionate performer.
A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed another outstanding musical program led by Dr. Isaac Casal, a renowned Panamanian cellist. Last year, Isaac brought Ensemblast, a professional chamber ensemble, to the Boquete Library for a wonderful performance dominated by the music of Argentine tango composer Astor Piazolla. Naturally, when we heard he was coming back this year, we scooped up a couple of $10 tickets (such a deal!).
This time, Isaac brought the First Cello Ensemble of the University of Panamá, a group of eight of his students ranging in age from 18 to 42. In a recent news article, Isaac stated that the ensemble was founded in 2017 with the desire to “create a new space for young cello students to explore and experience this instrument and its music. For their first-ever performance outside of Panama City, these young people played with passion and artistry far beyond their years
The Ensemble performed an eclectic program ranging from the Piazolla tune “Libertango” (thanks, Isaac!), Strauss’s “Pizzicato Polka,” and the familiar “Polovetsian Dances” by Aleksandr Borodin, to the Broadway standards “New York New York” and “If I Were a Rich Man.” They rounded things out on a lighter note, with the overture from “The Simpsons” and a particularly rocking version of the Lady Gaga hit “Bad Romance.”
Thank you, Isaac and students, for another great evening of music!
Credit where credit’s due:
All of these photos are by our good friend and photographer extraordinaire, Larry Wilkinson. Take a look at his website for more of his beautiful work.
Isaac lead the group in a rousing and eclectic program.
An enthusiastic young cellist
Following the cues of the maestro
The students enjoyed a standing ovation.
The beauteous Barú in all her mysterious splendor, from the Cerro Punta side.
We just returned from our latest weekend trip to Cerro Punta, a lovely farming community northwest of Boquete and on the far side of Volcan Baru. It’s one of our favorite places for a weekend visit, and at 6,000 feet, it’s a good place to do some hiking and work on our altitude tolerance for our upcoming trip to Peru in the fall. Yesterday, we spent the morning hiking Amistad (Friendship) National Park, so named because it straddles the Panama/Costa Rica border and is managed by both countries.
Throughout Cerro Punta, you see fields under cultivation that are literally up the sides of the mountains
Starting from the Las Nubes Ranger Station, we huffed up to 8,000 feet on Sendero La Cascada (Inca Trail, here we come!) and then back down into a steep ravine to reach a lovely waterfall.
We were pleasantly surprised to find an almost-paved road all the way up to the Las Nubes station, much improved from our previous visit to Cerro Punta. The ranger station is easy to find, a few klicks northeast of town. For more information about Cerro Punta, here’s a post we did from a previous trip.
Stunning cloud formations near Cerro Punta
As the largest nature reserve in Central America, Amistad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a true cloud forest. Even in this month, the driest in Panama, the forest was dripping and other-worldly. Since the panoramic views were shrouded by fog, we took in the fantastically detailed flora instead. Surrounded by so many exotic plants, much of them looking like holdovers from some prehistoric age, we kept expecting a velociraptor or T-rex to surprise us around the next bend!
Heading out on the Sendero La Cascada
Working our way down the steep ravine
The view from the bottom!
John leaves his cairn
A dew-covered spider web
Leaflike moss on the rocks
One of the many otherworldly plants we saw
We also see these beauties over on our side of the volcano, but they’re usually red, not pink
Our neighborhood – the little blue dot is our house. The houses on the outer edges are the ones that ring the canyon.
In preparation for our big trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in October, John and I have started pushing ourselves to get in shape for the three big hikes, at altitude, that we’ll have to face on that trip. Last Sunday and yesterday, we completed two 8-mile hikes in Chiriqui Province, both of which started right out of our neighborhood but ended in two separate areas. We also got a first-hand look at a huge road construction project that’s the talk of the area and will soon link Alto Boquete, Panama with the towns of Palmira and Potrerillos.
To set the stage, we live in a neighborhood called Brisas Boqueteñas, just down the hill from Boquete, that sits on the edge of a beautiful canyon with our local volcano, Barú, as the backdrop. Although our own casa isn’t a canyon house (we’re in the cheap seats!), several houses in our neighborhood are right on the edge. There are a couple of trails down into the canyon from here that we’d been wanting to try, and we knew that it’s possible to come up the other side and walk all the way to Palmira or Potrerillos from there. It would also give us a chance to get a good first-hand look at the road construction, which is now highly visible as a huge and ugly brown scar across the canyon from our neighborhood mirador (lookout).
We got lucky for the ride home from Potrerillos. The bus had air conditioning, music videos, and these lovely bordello-inspired curtains!
For both Chiriqui hikes, we were able to cart our weary butts home on buses (two buses today, but the last was air conditioned and had some interesting interior decorating!). One of the great advantages of living so close to the Boquete highway is that it’s extremely easy to get to our house via bus or taxi.
Last Sunday, we ended up in the little burg of Palmira Abajo after a hot and dusty slog that also included one of the prettiest little riverside trails we’ve ever seen, in a beautiful hidden valley. Sadly, that lovely place might be just a memory if the new road to Palmira takes the course that we think it will.
Yesterday we started at the same point – from our house down into the canyon – but veered left at the other side and ended up in Potrerillos. This segment of the new road is a lot more advanced, and we got to see the fevered construction progress as they try to finish the thing, together with THREE new river bridges, before rainy season sets in.
So is the new road a bad thing? It’s heartbreaking to see how much lush cloud-forest landscape they’ve destroyed, and they’ve made an absolute mess of those river crossings across three very beautiful and pristine rivers. But somewhere in the back of my mind I can hear someone saying “You can’t stop progress.” Since there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop this particular example of progress, I’m trying to look on the bright side. The new road really will take a lot of time off the trip from Boquete to the town of Volcán, on the other side of Barú. It might open up that area of Chiriqui to big improvements in infrastructure with better water and more reliable power for the residents, many of whom are very poor farm workers. And maybe, just maybe, some little Ngäbe kids will have a fighting chance to lift themselves out of poverty, if the new road makes it easier for them to get to school. The cockeyed optimist has spoken!
An indigenous family walks up the canyon road behind our neighborhood
The stunning view of Volcán Barú from across the canyon
Heading down into the canyon on a very steep trail
Lots of happy cattle grazing on the canyon floor. This one was getting a little impatient with her almost-grown calf, still trying to suckle.
We were glad to find a footbridge over the Rio Quisiga, which had a lot more water than expected (for dry season)
The path on the other side of the canyon opens up into a wider country lane
It was good to see these tiny wild orchids hanging on during dry season
The Boquete Equestrian Center (photo courtesy BEC)
John and I are editors of a pet resource listing on Chiriqui.life, an online community for residents of Panama’s Chiriqui Province. (Here’s how all that came about, if you’re interested). In that role, we recently had a chance to interview Jessica Schrock of the Boquete Equestrian Center – just up the road from our home in Alto Boquete. Here’s the full article as published on Chiriqui.life.
Jessica with her prized Percheron, Paris
RIDE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT! A Conversation with Jessica Schrock of the Boquete Equestrian Center
We’ve driven by the BEC hundreds of times, and we even use it as a landmark for people coming to our house from Boquete. “Turn right on the first paved street by the Equestrian Center.” But it’s only been recently – as we’ve researched horse-related products and services for Chiriqui Life – that we’ve gotten to find out what the BEC is all about. And a very impressive facility it is, with both covered and open riding arenas, a main house and casita, and plenty of enclosed pastures on a large, historically significant piece of property in Alto Boquete.
After receiving an awesome list of recommended equestrian services from BEC owner Jessica Schrock, we had a chance to tour the center and ask her some questions about the center.
CL: SO HOW DID YOU COME TO ESTABLISH THE BOQUETE EQUESTRIAN CENTER?
JESSICA: I grew up in Langley, Canada, right across the border from the U.S. I’m the fourth generation of horse people in my family. My mother likes to say I could ride before I was born, since she rode in competition while pregnant with me!
By the time I got to my 20s, I was renting a house in Langley with stables converted from a cattle-milking facility. But I got tired of freezing to death in Canada while trying to train for shows in the winter, and the cold just wasn’t conducive to a serious show schedule. So I packed up and came to Jaco, Costa Rica when I was 22, in 1999. I brought with me two huge
Percheron mares and a four-month-old colt.
I really took to the Costa Rican lifestyle, which was more laid-back and grounded. But then things started to get too touristy,
Nicole hones her barrel racing skills on Jana (photo courtesy BEC)
together with all the problems that brings, like more crime and drugs. I wanted a more wholesome environment, so I decided to check out Boquete after my parents bought a small casita in Chiriqui. I moved here and bought the BEC property in 2004, and my parents moved down full-time soon afterwards.
We chose this property based on temperature! We were driving up the hill towards Boquete, and anything just below us felt too warm, but anything further north would have been too chilly. We got to 80 degrees and we said, yes, this is it!
CL. THE PROPERTY HAS A VERY HORSEY HISTORY. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT?
JESSICA: Several generations back, this property was known as Las Trancas – the original Las Trancas because of the rock walls that enclosed a herd of wild horses. When someone needed a horse, they’d come here, pick one out and rope it, take it home, and break it out.
When we first bought the property and built our stables, people would stop and say “Oye – you’re keeping tradition alive! Horses are returning to Las Trancas!” So there’s a strong memory among the older families here of that very old tradition. That’s how we came to name the property “Pista Rancho Las Trancas.” The original railroad that came up the hill to Boquete also rolled right through this property, and we still find old pieces of rail and spikes.
Q. WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?
JESSICA: This is a passion, not a business. A big focus for us is rescues; in fact, all of our horses here are rescues. We make them available to our students who are training here, and we’re proud of our rescues that we’ve trained to a high level of proficiency and even winning at NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) events.
Doodlebug is our oldest horse here – he was a rescue and he’s 30 now! He’s taught hundreds of children to ride. And we still have a descendent of my original Percherons that I brought down to Costa Rica — Taylor’s Royal Exchange du Paris. She’s 8 now.
We brought some of our techniques from our Langley stables here to Boquete. For instance, we’re using an upstairs gravity feeding system. We just walk along like airline stewardesses and fill the horses’ troughs with manna from heaven! It’s great because it prevents the bad habits horses get when they see the feed cart coming, like pawing or kicking.
When we first started the BEC, we were more focused on jumping and English riding. But over the years we’ve evolved to Western rodeo and barrel racing. That’s much more in character with the rural horse culture here in Chiriqui.
There’s nothing we won’t show or teach someone. We give clinics and lessons, and we’re all about hands-on learning and teaching the correct form. We do barrel racing events once a month, and everyone’s welcome to come in and see what we do.
A little buckaroo. You’re never too young to learn at the BEC!
Q. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO GROW YOUR FACILITY?
Jessica: Horse boarding is not our focus, but we do offer boarding on a limited basis. Expanding our boarding capabilities is something we have on the back burner, but it will happen someday.
We have a limited number of students, but we have capacity to take on more. We’re also looking at adding lights for our outdoor arena, so we can hold nighttime events.
The Boquete Equestrian Centre welcomes anyone who’d like to learn more about the facility and participate in the equestrian events there. For more information, visit their web page at www.ridebec.com, or check out their Facebook page.
Cartagena, Colombia popped into my mind today, and I realized it’s been two whole months since our quick trip there just before Christmas. With one day taken up by diving, we had only three days to explore Cartagena – not nearly enough time. There’s so much more we want to see and do there, and we’re looking forward to making a much longer trip and really delving into this magical and mysterious city, the cradle of Colombian independence.
For now, here’s the photographic evidence of our trip to Cartagena.
Quick snapshot from cab window
Also seen from the cab window
Lots of street art everywhere
Some things are the same, wherever you go!
Contented Cartagena cat
Blind man in the door of one of Cartagena’s many beautiful old churches
Beautiful light in the early evening
Sunset on the old wall
Like other cities in Colombia, Cartagena goes all out with the Christmas lights. It was fun seeing all the families out enjoying the lights.
The “Clock Tower” entrance to the old walled city, decked out for Christmas
Another beautiful light display
The street in the historic Getsemani neighborhood where we stayed. It was filled with families hanging out and enjoying each other at all hours of the day and night.
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