The beans, handpicked and slow roasted, are taken from the fire and set in a large wooden bowl to cool. The inescapable aroma of coffee permeates the highlands of tropical Panama. Served strong, dark and sweet, coffee is more than a hot beverage to get the morning started. Offered to all visitors, it is a mark of hospitality, an invitation for intimacy, and the Jimenez family brews an impeccable cup. Here Kayme picks through the cooling beans, adding anise leaves, snatching up the best ones to pop in her mouth. Soon, the beans will be ground, pressed, and shared by all.
– Leo D. Redmond ©2008
Panama/Republica de Panama
Southernmost country in Central America, bordered by Caribbean & Pacific Ocean, Colombia & Costa Rica; central spine of mountains & hills form continental divide; famous for canal; 75,420 km2 (slightly < SC), 7% arable.
Capital Panama City (pop est. 0.5M)
Population 3.5M (161.3/km2)
Life expectancy 78 years
Languages Spanish (official), English (many Panamanians bilingual)
Religions Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
Ethnic Groups mestizo 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
Gov’t Constitutional Democracy
PCVs 1963-71; 1990-present, economic development, environmental education, agroforestry (Volunteers in country: 204; total to date: 1,928)
Nat’l holiday Independence Day, 3 November (1903)