Welcome to Eco-Horqueta: Volcan Baru's Hidden Jewel
The Beginning of our Story
Hi, I'm Lorraine; an Estonian- Panamenian "millennial" that found its purpose to live and to be, and of course, co-founder of the Eco Horqueta project. Thank you for visiting our page and your interest in our story. It all started 5 years ago. I, a 23 year old enthusiast , with a suitcase filled of dreams and illusions and stuck in the chaos of Panama City. I lived all my life in four walls of that so-called "comfort".
Where the mornings I ran to see that I would have for a quick breakfast so I would not be late for work. I would drive on an hour's worth traffic just to go 3 km to get to the office, and once the shift ended at 5:00 PM, I would return to my car to drive an hour to return home. Oh! That routine life. I definitely do not miss it.
I had the privilege and blessing of studying at the prestigious Cesar Ritz Culinary Arts Academy in Bouveret, Switzerland. My passion and love for cooking and food surpasses being a simple work into a lifestyle. However, that real life shock, where everything is not just roses, strikes you and makes you realize that just having love and passion for something does not mean that it will give you a source of income that will maintain that lifestyle one is accustomed. I was lost from my compass for a good a good amount of years; doing that day-to-day routine that worked, yet, did not fill me up.
At the end of the year of my father's passing; I decided to embark on a life journey trip through Europe to look for horizons and rediscover my compass. On that trip I discovered magnificent monuments, privileged landscapes, and most important found a solution to my uncertainty. You see, During my visit to my home country: Estonia, I learned the strong connection that a human being can have with nature. Embracing and contemplating the immensity of a tree made me reflect that you are a tiny being in a huge field with other beings wiser than you and can teach you millions of lessons simply by living. The simple fact of being in the midst of such beings fills you with energy, it relaxes you and makes you think about your whole life and, even if you do not believe me, they help you answer those unanswered questions that surround your mind.
Upon my return, my compass finally led me to the path that I would consider correct for me and I began to plan everything. After six months I said goodbye to the whole city and I moved 6hrs away from the city, to a beautiful and mystical town called Boquete, where everyone who visits this town does not want to go. Why? Simple. For its natural beauty and the rejuvenating energy that the trees and the Volcano gifts everyone. That's how it all began; with a trip, and a tree, changed my way and life 180 degrees.
Starting Eco-Horqueta's Idea
Boquete is a town that has grown immensely on the last 15 years in population, structure and culture. This multicultural town is home to more than 20 different nationalities and has been listed as one of the best places in the world to retire. There is no doubt that my decision to move here was influenced by these reasons.
Horqueta is a pretty secluded town, 20 minutes from Boquete. It focuses mostly on farms of sustainable agriculture and the best coffees in the area. This is where my farm is located, La "Barranca", which for more than 20 years was unused and practically abandoned. It sounded to me like the perfect place.
I always had an affection to this farm, and I always told my parents that one day something would have to be done there. When visiting with my aunt and my grandmother we realized the immensity of tree species that grew freely after all these years and the spectacular view of the Barú Volcano that we never saw the potential until now. These factors would be ideal for the concept I had of making a place where people could come and enjoy a natural, relaxing envirorment with rejuvenating views. But there was a situation. It is literally a hillside. I can not build the traditional block and cement or bring a backhoe and make it flat. If it were not for the fact that I lived in Switzerland for a year, I would think that it would be impossible to build on such land. Months of planning went by making the idea of bungalows with a coffeeshop at the beginning of the road, where they would be built with lightweight materials and suspended by columns and ladder-shaped terrain.
Primera noche en la Baranca
Working the Terrain
I called my mom, who was in Panama City, and explained my idea to her. After a while I convinced her to come with me to Boquete and become my business partner. It's a pretty ambitious project, and possibly crazy. She had to see it to believe it. Our friend from Spain also arrived, specialized on alternative therapies and like us, she was looking for a direction and a purpose to conquer, but she wanted to do it out of her country, and she agreed to join us.
My grandmother educated my mother and my aunts and uncle that we have to work hard to achieve our goals. And so it was the motto of this project. I would be lying if I said that I made this project by myself. Impossible. If it were not for my family, my friends and many little angels who passed through the path of Horqueta, this project would have not happen.
Together we made several days of hard work, solving obstacles along the way, laughing, crying, fighting, enjoying, but above all, supporting the idea unconditionally. After 4 years working the land, fixing roads, sowing tires, growing plants and trees, harvesting fruits, sawing wood, placing floors and tiles, ceilings, tables, chairs, etc. Eco Horqueta is a reality.
Thank You to all who are part of the Eco-Horqueta Team
We were blessed by the hands of countless people who offered help and believed in this place. Definitely without them, Eco Horqueta would not be what it is today.