Shopping in Boquete is pretty darn good. We have two or three choices of grocery stores and there are a number of good hardware stores here, too. People go to David to buy printer ink because that is something you don't find here. Also, people tend to go to PriceMart to stock up on 50-pound dog food because it is a couple of bucks cheaper there than if you buy it in Boquete. People go to El Ray or to Super Baru here in David to get things that are hard to find.
I have become addicted to Shasta Diet Creme Soda. You can’t always find that in Boquete, but if you look, you can find that in one of the two places where I shop in David. Super Baru is in David and they have Deli Baru up here in Boquete, which is a satellite. Deli Baru is the only place I know where you can get pretty good pastrami in Panama. They also have Haagen Dazs ice cream and sherbet.
There is a bakery here in Boquete called Sugar and Spice and the guy who is running it is a world-class baker. Having been in the bakery business myself, I consider myself at least average as far as my ability to judge. Before Sugar and Spice came in, the best bread in Boquete came from Deli Baru and the bread they had there were frozen from Spain, and then shipped to Panama. If you want to show off to your friends and you knew the dirty secret, you could ask for frozen Pan Gallego and you would bake it in your oven at home. Then you would tell everybody that you had been up all night baking!
Deli Baru has a more deli feel to it and it is the right way to compete here in Boquete because there are already different supermarkets like Romero’s and there is another good supermarket close to our office called El Dorado and they have wonderful inventory. You can only get specialty items in Deli Baru, so if you want some really nice Swiss cheese, go to Deli Baru. Because Deli Baru is a small store, I love going there and the lady behind the counter corrects me if I make a mistake speaking Spanish. She is just amazing.
There was a pretty good Jewish deli in Panama City, but it was very pricey and their pastrami was just not like the New York pastrami nor was the pastrami that they have in Deli Baru here in Boquete, but it is pretty close.
The cost of the goods here are a little cheaper compared to New York City, but it also depends on where the goods come from. It has been seven years since I have gone shopping in the US, but when I went back about a year and a half ago, I stayed with one of my best friends from college and the first thing I did was to buy a 6-pack of Heineken. I almost had a heart attack when I got the bill. It was so expensive! Here in Boquete, you get a great bottle of national beer for 50 cents.
There are four major domestic beers that are produced in Panama, which are Panama, Soberana, Atlas, and Balboa. My favorite is Balboa, which is higher in alcohol content than Atlas, but I have a very warm place in my heart for Atlas (pictured) because it was named by my aunt. My family has been in Panama since 1906. When my aunt was just about 12 years old, there was a contest in Panama City to name the new national beer and my grandfather entered his kids in the contest. It was my aunt’s turn and my grandfather asked her, what she thinks they should name the new beer. My aunt looked at my grandfather and said, “Atlas… holding up the world.” So my grandfather entered "Atlas", and they won. I asked my aunt what the prize was for winning that contest, and with a sourpuss look, she said, “A lot of beer!”