Boquete Video Festival Sponsored by Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

Blog by Veronica Pitti

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There is an exciting new festival coming to Boquete very soon! This festival is called Boquete Video Festival (BVF). The festival has been developed by some of the expats who are currently living in Boquete. Dozens of people have registered to submit their short videos to the organizers of the festival who will then post the video on You-tube for people to watch and “Like”. The cost for registration is only $10 and that includes free classes to learn how to use your cell phone to make and edit the video before submitting it to be judged.  There are five judges who have been carefully selected. These are people who have expertise in films and video production. The judges are current residents of Boquete. All the videos have to show a story about Boquete in one of six different categories. The six categories are: Documentary, Comedy, Commercial/Promotional, Drama, Adventure and Musical. The festival is a good way to show people around the world the natural beauty of the Boquete area and the people who live here.

Right now several professionals are involved in helping the contestants in making of their videos. Some of the contestants have experience in making videos and others do not. It is hoped that people are able to make a good video once they have some training and personalized help. The goal is to have fun, be creative, get recognition, and hopefully win prizes!  The contestants have until December 31st, 2016, to submit their video entries. All the videos are being uploaded to the You-tube website of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

There are Boquete Video Festival t-shirts for sale at the Tuesday Market (BCP Teatro) 2every Tuesday from 9 AM to 11:30 AM or they can purchased from Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM daily.  These t-shirts come in many sizes and are all blue with the festival logo in the front and a design in the back. See the photo to the side: Our friend Gabrielle


The big “gala” award ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, January 28th, 2017, from 5 PM to 7 PM at the BCP Teatro. The tickets will be on sale soon at the Mailboxes Etc and at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast. This awards ceremony will truly be a “red carpet” event. Everyone will be dressed up in nice clothes and have their picture taken by professional cameramen as they settle down in their seats and take part in the ceremony. The top 20 videos will be shown at the event. There will be a total of 8 awards and prizes given to the contestants, one for each of the six categories and then two additional “special” awards. There will be “Oscar Awards” made out of chocolate, two-night stay at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, restaurant gift certificates from Retrogusto and Seasons Restaurants.

Even though I am not submitting a video for judging, I plan on attending the award 3ceremony in January because some of my friends are entering their videos in the contest. Hope my classmates are able to attend the event as well!

Veronica Pitti

 

New water distribution in Boquete

Blog by Andres Lay and Joy Huppe

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Boquete is ready and waiting for the new water project to begin!

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  George Bernard Shaw

During the past Feria de las Flores y El Café (Flower & Coffee Fair) in Boquete, President Varela announced the start of an estimated 25 million dollar project for the design and construction of a new aqueduct, sanitary sewer network and wastewater treatment plant for Boquete. The announcement was followed up with a government-issued “request for tender” (a formal, structured invitation for suppliers to bid on the supply of products or services) to which 20 companies have responded. The project is planned to take two years to complete, with a contract to include an additional five years of maintenance for both the water supply and sewer system.

This is welcome news to the residents of Boquete! Not only will the new project improve quality of life for the local population, but it will  impact the local economy by generating new employment opportunities and economic prosperity.

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President Varela announced the upcoming project at Boquete’s 2015 Flower and Coffee Festive.

Although Varela’s initiative is new, water issues in Boquete are not. There is no water shortage here in Boquete (thanks to high annual rainfall), but the problem stems from improper distribution due to discordant water networks run by different local water boards. There is also a concern about water quality and possible contamination, especially with the growing population.

An excerpt from the water project’s “statement of objectives” reveals the following:

“It is of particular concern that currently there is not a crude water treatment system by which cannot be predicted or control the factors with the potential for contamination, which may cause health problems in the population. The distribution is made by gravity through tubing, in the majority PVC, with a regular chlorination. There are also lines of asbestos cement, a material that is now banned for domestic use. In some areas of Boquete there are irregularities in the supply, a situation that is mainly due to the fact that there is no systematized and structured distribution system, lack of control and maintenance on the network. In view of this it is necessary to evaluate the driving lines by the low efficiency and effectiveness that are distributed.”

The drinking water supply system of the district of Boquete is carried out through three rural aqueducts, which are: Los Ladrillos, Valle Escondido, and Alto Quiel. This system covers the districts of Los Naranjos, Alto Boquete and Bajo Boquete. It is this area that the water project is focusing on. The rest of the water supply systems in the Boquete territory are administered by JAARs (Juntas Administradoras de Acueductos Rurales) with six aqueducts in Jaramillo, two in Los Naranjos, two in Palmira and one in Caldera. (Boquete is the only district in Panama that has retained control of it’s own water systems. The rest of the country is tied into the IDAAN national water network.)

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During a tour, representatives from interested companies check out the area where the work will be developed in order to assess the requirements and project costs.

The project, known as the Modernization of Potable Water and Sewage District of Boquete, will roll-out in two phases: 1) study & design, and 2) construction.

During the first phase, studies will be performed to determine that supply meets demand, and that water meets acceptable consumption standards. There will be a review and proposal for improvements to the existing supply and distribution system. A plan will then be developed for the collection, treatment and storage of the water from the Valle Escondido aqueduct, with projected service life of at least 20 years. Also on tap (pun intended) is the design for the supply and distribution of potable water in Los Naranjos, Bajo Boquete, Alto Boquete and the communities of El Salto and Volcancito, again with a service life of 20 years.

The second phase is construction, which includes connecting and optimizing the current system of water supply to Boquete, as well as collecting, processing and storing of water from the Valle Escondido aqueduct. Additionally, there will be construction of sanitary sewer system, and construction of a treatment plant for waste water.

The supervision of this project will be undertaken by the National Council for Sustainable Development (CONADES), with a stipulation that work be completed in 730 days (two years) once the project is formally begun. The Boquete community (estimated at 25,000, of which 5,000 are foreigners) is ready for the official kick-off, and are looking forward to the start of this project for the benefit of everybody.

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Drink deep! All of the water from the Casa de Montaña’s faucets is filtered and safe to drink.

At Casa de Montaña, our water comes from the Los Naranjos water supply.  We have a larger water tank for storage of water.  We also use a UV filtration system to enure that all the water that comes out of all our faucets throughout Casa de Montana is as free of contaminants as possible, as we are committed to a worry-free stay for all of our guests.

Carnival in Panama

Blog by Andres Lay & Joy Huppe

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It’s never too early to start planning for Carnival!

Festive colors, fireworks, parades, dancing, drinking and general merriment-making…   just another day in Panama? With the numerous celebrations that occur throughout the year, it might seem so, but Carnival is a special, much-anticipated and fully-celebrated Panamanian happening! While imagining yourself enjoying a cold Balboa and soaking in the Latin rhythms, you may pause to reflect: What are the historic origins of Carnival? How is Carnival celebrated in Panama? Where are some of the country’s biggest parties? And, what steps can you take to have a fantastic Carnival?

History of Carnival
The first Carnival of Panama took place in colonial times. Groups of individuals would don costumes as either the king or queen of Spain, conquering soldiers, Indians, or slaves. The festooned bunch would then depart from Peña Prieta Beach, Avenida Balboa to part of what is now the Santa Ana Park, simulating battles along the way. In 1910 the mayor of Panama, José Agustin Arango, passed a decree formalizing the event. It was then necessary to choose a queen to spearhead the entire affair. The first queen selected was Manuelita Vallarino, who had the honor of being one of the most beautiful woman in Panama until the day of her death. The celebration quickly spread, with different towns arranging parades, holding live concerts, lighting fireworks, and of course, selecting their own Carnival Queen.

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The First Carnival Queen


When is Carnival celebrated?
Carnival always takes place 40 days before the Christian holy week. The most famous Carnival in Panama can be found in the town of Las Tablas in the province of Los Santos, located in the Azuero Peninsula in central Panama. Panama City (the capital) and Penonome (a few hours outside the city) are also places which celebrate Carnival in all it’s splendor. Basically, this celebration is a huge party. Yes, that’s exactly what it is. In fact, it is the most famous of all parties in Panama. You might be familiar with Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Well, the Carnival in Panama is celebrated on the same dates and it is celebrated in one way or another by the entire country.

Where are the most popular Carnivals in Panama?
Carnival in the Azuero Peninsula is by far the most exuberant and most popular celebration! In particular, Las Tablas, where two streets in the same town battle it out to out-do each other with parades all day and night for the 5 days that Carnival lasts. Calle Arriba (High Street) and Calle Abajo (Low Street) put on excellent shows with very expensive thrones and dresses for each of their queens, rivaling those in Rio de Janeiro. This Carnival is one you will never forget if you attend. Other towns in the area — Chitre, Guarare, and La Villa de Los Santos, are also known for celebrations but cannot compare to the one in Las Tablas.

Parade competition brings out spectacular sights

Spectacular parades are an everyday occurrence during Carnival.


The Las Tablas carnival days are organized in the following way
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Friday night kicks off the party with the formal presentation and crowning of the queens, with a parade to follow. Everyone is dressed in their best, and all attend the crowning and parade celebration. After the parade there is a fireworks show which lasts for about 30 minutes.  Afterwards, everyone is free to either hang out at the park or go to various organized parties around town. Drinking is allowed on the streets, but drunks disturbing the peace are quickly rounded up by police and detained until the end of carnival.  (Government courts are shut down during this time.)  The party doesn’t wind down until about 5 am.

Saturday morning comes with the start of the “mojadera” at 10 am. By that time, eighteen-wheelers with are lined up around the town’s central park and crowds are already showing up. The attire for today: shorts or pants, a shirt you won’t mind not being able to wear again, cheap sneakers, sunglasses and a hat/cap. You don’t need to worry about how clean you look after the party because everyone will be wet, and quite possibly colored with dye which some use to color people’s clothes, among other things. Dancing, drinking, and hanging out while you get wet pretty much sums up the day’s activities until 5 pm. At that time, everyone (except the drunks!) start heading home to change into nice clothes, to have dinner and then go back to the central park to enjoy the night parade, followed by more of what happened on Friday night. This basic formula is more or less repeated through Tuesday.

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Be sure to wear your “play clothes” for Mojadera!

Want to see a little mo’ Mojadera? Check out this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdHEkRn9ck8

Every day in Carnival has a theme, which proceeds as follows. Friday is the Opening, Saturday is International Day, Sunday is Pollera day, Monday is Costume day, Tuesday is Queens day and in the early morning hours before 5 am on Wednesday is “entierro de la sardina” (the sardine burial) which signifies the end of Carnival until next year.

How do I have the best carnival?  And where should I stay?
Well, in two short words: Plan ahead.  If you would like to attend Carnival, you need to understand that the whole country is participating and all hotels are going to be booked to capacity, as you might expect any city in the world preparing for any carnival. Reserve lodging months in advance to be sure you have a reservation during this busy time!

Keep in mind, although there are numerous hotels in Panama City, your options become more limited in the smaller towns, such as Las Tablas and Boquete.  It is recommended that you gather your friends (or make new friends in Panama!) and enjoy the celebration as a group, thus assuring that you’ll have a blast, while staying safe. The closest Carnival to Boquete is just 15 minutes away in Dolega, where the activities are similar to those in Las Tablas. Boquete area lodging fills up quickly, so you should start making your reservations at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast as soon as possible, as it is common for guests to book far in advance.

Now that you know a little bit more about Carnival in Panama, you can start planning for next year’s celebration.  We look forward to sharing this fun-filled, five-day festival with you!

 

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