Boquete Panamá

A Look at the Artisan, Gastronomic Center of Boquete, Panama

Here we narrate our stop at the handicraft center of Boquete that offers different products of the local culture as well as the Peruvian culture.

 

Photo credit, Centro Artesanal Boquete.

 

A rainy climate with strong gusts of wind, this is how the district of Boquete located in the province of Chiriquí received us. Its landscapes and mountainous airs offer unique views never seen before. Hundreds of visitors walk its streets either day or night.

 

La Caldera River, Downtown Boquete. Photo by Megan Thompson.

 

Although this site has many tourist places, its center is home to the heart and engine of Boquete. Along the road, artisans set up their small booths and display their products to the public. In our case, we visited the Centro Artesanal Gastronómico de Boquete. Here are grouped approximately 20 establishments that offer a great variety of products from plants, the much requested strawberries, handmade items, some Peruvian products, but mostly local handicrafts.

 

 

The reception from the entrance is good, and biosecurity measures are established to protect travelers. This center is outdoors and its structure allows you to easily visit and appreciate the crafts in each workplace.

 


At night, the place changes. What seemed like an open market in the day, is transformed at night into a kind of Christmas village. Lights illuminate each booth.

 


During our tour we talked with an artisan named Creta Quispe, a native of Peru, who says that she came to Panama eight years ago in search of better opportunities. When she visited Boquete she fell in love with this place and decided to stay. Since the crafts center opened four years ago, she has been able to continuously sell her products although the pandemic affected the center.

 

Photo courtesy, Astrid Chang. Creta Quispe (right).

 

Photo courtesy, Astrid Chang.

 

“The pandemic was difficult. All the artisans who stayed here had our handicrafts stored. We did not receive income. Now, despite the fact that the measures have become more flexible, we still do not receive much income. We need more clients to come and support us.”

 

Photo courtesy, Astrid Chang.

 

For Quispe, the world of crafts is everything. She has dedicated her life to this field since she was a teenager.

“When I lived in Peru, I handmade products with leather. The ones made by hand took me up to two weeks to make. I also made other types of products with assorted fabrics. Nowadays, in my handicraft shop I offer products from my native Peru and Panamanian handicrafts.”

 

Photograph by Astrid Chang.

 

The Peruvian-born artisan expresses that she misses her country, but she admits that she adores Panama and its cultural richness.

“Among the products that I have available are beads necklaces, quartz, woven coats, wallets with leather material, mirrors, and handmade pieces from Panama,” she says.

 

Photo courtesy, Astrid Chang.

 

In the same way, she points out that within the artisan center there is a relative of hers who also makes indigenous products.

“My son-in-law and his wife have their own business. They are the ones at the entrance. They sell bags, caps, coats. The reality is that I come from a family of artisans. This has always been our means of subsistence and for me arriving in Panama and having Panamanians want to know about my culture fills me with joy. This is why I have merged both cultures within my work as craftswoman.”

 

Photo courtesy, Astrid Chang.

 

María, who was also in the establishment at the time of the interview, states that cultural value “is priceless” and catapults the art of each culture while helping the country. She explains, “artists are the heart of the economy and they contribute great things to the isthmus.”

Other details that we can add about our visit is that the tour around the place can take from 15 to 20 minutes, the prices of the products are from one dollar onwards. The place has bathrooms, as well as food outlets, botanicals and a bookstore for lovers of paper and letters.

 

Photo courtesy, Astrid Chang.

 


Astrid Chang | Correspondent for Panamá

Astrid Chang has a degree in Journalism with an Emphasis in Audiovisual Production. Since 2018, she has been a journalist at La Estrella de Panamá. Her work in the newspaper was initially as an intern, where she developed in the area of sports, nationals, social networks and the web. Later, she was hired to lead the themes for World Youth Day and to be a presenter for the segment “Flash Economy.” She later became part of the Café Estrella team, a new content proposal by ‘La Decana’. In this booklet she has written articles on the environment, technology, health, sports, society, music, culture, sexuality, art, fashion and tourism. Likewise, she has organized and directed projects with visual artists for the International Book Fair of Panama. She too, was sent special to cover the Lima 2019 Juegos Parapanamericanos, and currently she is the coordinator of sports issues in the newspaper. She has training in journalistic leadership.