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

 

Celebrate your Special Occasion at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata.

Great moments sometimes do not come from creating a scenario they come from sparking a long-lasting memory. At Casa de Montaña we strive to create long lasting memories for all our guests. Sometimes they come prepared knowing exactly what they want and sometimes we go the extra mile to create that memory for them. We have created several special memories for some of our guests and it has gone to be a great experience for all of us to cater to these special needs.

Before moving to Boquete, I had a small bakery and catering business I was running from home so I could take care of my family, and it turned out be a perfect addition to those special moments our guests require.

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So you may wonder what it takes to make this special occasions possible. A few weeks ago we had two very special occasions we participated on and we want to talk about them.

Will you marry me?

Boquete is not only perfect to get marry, but also for a proposal. The beautiful mountains views, the access to wonderful gardens along with the weather makes everything romantically perfect. There is no way your partner won’t say “I do”.

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As you might now, beautiful flowers can be found in Boquete easily. Our guest pre- ordered the arrangements and   we made sure everything was looking romantic by their arrival.

 

 

Debra took some rose petals  and made a heart with them. Isn’t it beautiful!?

The Birthday celebration:

Our guest wanted to do something special for her husband`s birthday, something simple but romantic. Every time I make a cake, I take a lot of things in consideration, as to how many people is going to be eating the cake, their favorite flavor and if they have a theme in mind.   I  can decorate with fondant or just a classic frosting decoration. I like to use the best quality products, they might be a little more expensive but it goes a long way when it comes to something you are supposed to enjoy, and my sweet tooth thinks there is nothing like a very good cake to seal a special occasion.

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This time I made one of the favorites of all times:  a chocolate cake filled with rich chocolate ganache, covered with whipped chocolate ganache and Twix chocolate bars and  decorated with chocolate ganache rosettes. The room was decorated with helium balloons, which I found on our local party supplies store (Boquete has it all!), wine, two “tres leches” shots and off course the cake, which was a complete success! The face on her husband when they entered the room was priceless and obvious it was a big surprise. He was thankful to her for thinking about how to make his day special.   Its little joys like that which make us feel great.

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It makes me so happy to see the faces on my clients when they enjoy a good sweet treat. Same here at Casa de Montaña as we love the way our guests smile when they are here and how genuinely  sad they are when they are leaving. We take pride in everything we do and always try to make you feel at home, even more if it means celebrating with you all those wonderful and unique moments in life.

Whether it is a proposal, an anniversary, a birthday or just a romantic getaway, a little detail as roses or wine is always a plus. Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña and contact us if you wish to arrange a special celebration!

 

So, you want to buy, build, rent or restore a business in Boquete, Panama?

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We here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast began to think about what it took to move to Boquete, Panama, construct a building for the business, create the business and make it number 1 on TripAdvisor in our region. Then we thought, let’s talk about it to others and tell them just what it takes.

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So, whether or not you are thinking about buying an existing restaurant or B&B or creating a brand new business of some kind, let us walk you through the joys and challenges of making money here in the paradise called Boquete!

Let’s start with the joys:

  • You are your own boss. You have independence from the corporate world.
  • You set and establish your work hours
  • You have much more flexibility
  • You get to meet new people from around the world
  • You can be more creative
  • Panama makes it easy to establish a business
  • We are here to answer your questions and make your dreams come true. (Contact us)
  • Your investment can go a long way
  • Boquete has the highest number of Ex-pats living here in all of Panama
  • There are tax breaks and tax exclusions depending on what you buy. (We can get you in contact with accountants) Contact us

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do your research about where you wish to relocate. You can check with International Living https://internationalliving.com/countries/panama/boquete/ and Best Places in the world to retire. https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/questions-and-answers/1001-what-are-the-expats-like-in-boquete-panama , for example.
  • Once you narrow your search to Boquete (and we know you will!), take a look into the laws around residency.
  • Then you can begin to look into websites that carry the business, land and spaces for rent for the kind of business you are looking for. (You can also contact us  we may have some leads for you).
  • Next you should contact a lawyer to make sure s/he help you with the legal matters of setting up a new business or the transfer of an existing business. (We can also help with this as well contact us. .
  • Consider the culture and what it would mean for you to have a business in a Latin culture.
  • Are you going to have the challenge of needing a loan to equip you properly for your business? (Loans in Panama are difficult to get. Contact us for some possibilities of banks.).
  • Will you need employees to help you run your business? Panama has many requirements for you to employ Panamanians such as paying “Decimo”, “Payroll”, and “Social Security”. We can help with contacts to get you started in the correct direction. Contact us .
  • Take the time to talk with business owners both those that are selling and those that are not. Ask pointed questions.
  • Check out the reviews on the business that you are buying. (This could be a negotiation tool.)

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These are just a handful of things that you will need to do when you begin your journey to your business. We are here for you in any way we can be. Come down and stay with us. Call  us up to let us know that you are looking at buying a business and we can give you the best possible price during your stay. Take a Boquete Overview Tour or the Boquete Scenic Tour that we offer. You can read more about this by clicking on Specials). And ask us as many questions as you have. We can help you in your decision making by our contacts, and ex-pats that live here. You will not be alone in your journey to a fantastic new life! Call Manzar now, let him know what kind of a business you are looking for and even get more information on possible businesses that are available for sale!

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Panamenian Typical Costumes and Peasant Week.

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata.

(second part of the blog Traditional costumes of Panama and some Central & South American countries)

As the Peasant week of Panama comes closer I find myself looking for traditional costumes for my kids. And I realized Panama has one of the most complex and elaborated costumes of the world! No wonder they are also one of the prettiest and most expensive costumes. Only the “Pollera” (dress) can cost up to 6 thousand dollars, and when you add up all the accessories and jewelry that can be around 300 and 500 dollars more.

Now that is if you purchase fantasy accessories and jewelry. The tradition dictates that the “tembleques” (hair accessories) are made of pearls and the jewelry pure gold, for a total of up to 50 thousand dollars! There is also different kind of Polleras depending on the region and type of festivity : Pollera Montuna Santeña, Pollera Coquito, Pollera tireada, Pollera blanca and Pollera de Lujo.

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So it was time to decide the kind of pollera I wanted my daughter to wear for their “Gala tipica” at school and Veronica, the Chef here at Casa the Montaña, offered to help me making her dress. I was so excited! I went looking for all the accessory’s and my son’s costumes around the town of Boquete, and found this little store with tons of different dresses, tembleques and shirts for my son.  This is where I found out I knew nothing about these traditional dresses as the owner told me each dress has rules of how many tembleques and jewelry should each of them wear, the color and type of the shoes and how should I style my daughter’s hair!

So I decided to investigate a little deeper and this is what I found:

Pollera Montuna Santeña

This is one of the most valued skirts and most appreciated by the people of Las Tablas and its surrounding areas, precisely because of its bright colors and the delicate touch of the work done in the shirt, which always match the color of Pollerón. Even though this is not considered a Pollera de Lujo this beautiful style for sure captivates the looks of the people.

The Montuna Santeña or Zaraza is complemented with earrings, a flat chain, the Guachapalí chain and the Tapahueso with a gold medal, for the head a set of combs with a tortoiseshell frame with a thin gold blade with pearls and bright stones inserts, a pair of buns and a pair of Colored Tembleques known as Pimpollos.

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Pollera Montuna with Basquiña

When I saw this Pollera, which is so simple yet beautiful I decided this was the one I was going to do for my daughter.

This Pollera is an stylized model of the Pollera  Montuna Santeña, it uses a solid color or pattern skirt with a white shirt called Basquiña.  The headdress for this pollera could be a set of colored tembleques on one side of the head with hair combs.

The jewerly for this Pollera as opposed to the Pollera de Lujo does not need too many colors, one or two colors is fine, but you can add pendants (Zarcillos).

I almost cried of joy when I saw my daughter all dressed up. My son went also as a Montuno which consist of a off-white shirt, jeans and “cutarras”, sandals originally made of leather.

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The white Pollera (Pollera Blanca)
This pollera is made with fine white fabric embroidered with designs and also in white thread. La Pollera Blanca is within the category of Luxury Polleras and is made in similar way. For its white elegant color is usually used for weddings.

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The hair is decorated with fine” tembleques” usually white . The jewelry for this Pollera is unlimited and can be used with all the items that you can get but avoiding saturation so they can be appreciated.  In the head the combs that are used are the “Balcony”, the “Thoughts” and the “Large-comb” at the back, and a ” Pajuela”, which is a leaf form comb.

The earrings can be “tendrils” and in the neck you can use the “Tapahueso” or a fine “Golden Necklace” in its replacement. The chains you put on the chest are made of gold and are usually seven of them.

The shoes used for this Pollera are lined in silk or satin matching the grating and streamer color.

Luxury Pollera (pollera de lujo o gala)

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The Blouse  consists of a basic frame of a shirt that covers the sleeves. On the outside is composed by the top opening of the shirt adorned with braids and two roundabout pieces, a top and bottom one slightly gathered together  and worked with different labors, braids and lace.

 

These Polleras carry a special work made by national artisans that are sewed directly to the white fabric.  Among the names of these techniques we can find “Talco en Sombra”, “Sombreado”, “Calado”, “Zurcido” and Talco al Sol.  When these parts are finished they are assembled together with a type of lace that is handmade called “mundillo.

Because most of the parts of this Pollera are handmade it will take between 6 months to one year to be completed which is reason why that makes this pollera a very expensive one.

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There are a lot of photographic companies where you can rent this pollera and take pictures with it without the necessity of buying one. Here at Casa de Montaña we have amazing gardens where you can arrange to take beautiful outdoor pictures!

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It’s not Hollywood. It’s not Bollywood. It’s the “Boquete Video Festival”!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

It all started with a vision and a thought! We here at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast in Boquete, Panama saw the vision and immediately jumped on board!

The vision came from a Boquete resident who we shall call Patrick. He has been in several different movies and commercials and also has a passion for photography and noticed while out on his daily walk all the different people from young to old using their phones and creating videos.

So, the thought occurred to him, we should have an academy awards done up Boquete style! And thus, the vision was created!!!!!

A few days later, Patrick and his wife, we shall call her Gabrielle, were over visiting at Casa de Montana Bed and Breakfast and mentioned his vision. We LOVED it! Terry & Manzar right away said that they wanted to be involved and would be happy to host the Boquete cell phone video’s on their website.

Soon, a committee was started and we right away got the video juices rolling! We decided that there would be 6 categories that a person could sign up and register their video for. After much discussion, the following are the categories:

  1. Adventure/Travel
  2. Commercial/Promotion
  3. Documentary
  4. Comedy
  5. Drama
  6. Musical

Check out the flyers below:

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We decided that this may be a little scary for those of us that don’t know how to video from our smart phones and so the classes were formed. We will be including three classes when you sign up and you will never feel unsupported.

It was decided that we needed to have the theme or contents of the video be Boquete, Panama based or something to do with Boquete.

Within days of our discussions, the idea came along to us that seemed so simple. We must have a full blown Academy Awards Ceremony and make this a Black-tie event! The lady that makes chocolate and has a store of chocolates here in Boquete, we shall call her Debra, has created an award that is now called the Choxsar award and we will be giving these out to the winners of the best video in each category. Along with the Choxsar other prizes will be awarded.

So, I was wondering if I could really make my own 1-5 minute video?  I decided that a commercial to advertise our Boquete Video Festival would be the best way to kick this off. I had no skills in acting, videoing, splicing or editing at all. Well, I want you to see the outcome! I’m happy and astonished at how good it came out!      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivPxi4pp9JM&list=PLwz-744OmrNMrEeav1lSw7hw7LjEUl6Gv

You can also, starting soon, view the videos in each category and vote on them by hitting the “like” button for the ones in each category you really like! It’s great!

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There are so many ways to participate in registering, learning and creating a video by using your cell phone. You don’t have to be living in Boquete, Panama to do so. It just needs to be about Boquete, Panama.  If you don’t have the time to put a video together, still participate by voting. And, make your plans to book & stay with us at Casa de Montana http://www.casademontana.com during the Gala event in January 2017! You will have the time of your life!

Update: beyond the huge response that we have already had, we have added 5 judges that are residence of Boquete that have worked in the movie and film industry….Who knows what this can do for your video! From Boquete Video Festival to Broadway and beyond! Think big!!!!!

 

Hiking in Boquete, Panama…..are you ready??

Blog by: Debra Harwood

Hiking in Boquete, Panama with Casa de Montaña’s expert guide Israel

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We are pleased to have joined forces with Israel to offer our guests the opportunity to explore the nature around us with someone who has the training and knowledge to ensure you have a great experience.

A little bit about Israel.  He was born in David and raised here in Boquete.  He graduated from College with a degree in Science and Tourism.  Not only is he certified in first aid and is bi-lingual he also spent 3 months in 2015 in Japan taking an intense course on survival and rescue.  So you know you are in good hands while out on an adventure with Israel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsgb_fANRuM

 

When we asked about the most challenging hike he has taken here he replied the “Camino Culebra” aka Snake Trail.   It is a 4 day hike over the continental divide which takes you to Bocas del Toro.  Don’t worry he understands not many people want to sign up for this hike!!

Taking a qualified guide like Israel to hike here is important as the trails split many times, some are just animal trails, and one may get disoriented and unsure if they are 2really on the trail they believed to be on.   It gets dark here around 6pm and even faster when under the canopy of the cloud forest.

People always ask Israel what kind of animals they may see on the trails here.  Well from small ants, bugs and frogs too many different species of birds to even possibly a panther or jaguar.  Again making it a good choice to take a guide along.  If you are out alone and it gets dark the jungle can become a very scary place.  You are unable to even see your hand in front of your face and the temperature drops many degrees. Chances of survival depends on you keeping  calm and remember if you are near a river or small stream follow the direction it is flowing and  it will eventually lead you to safety.  3

When scheduling a hike with Israel he will make sure you know what to bring as in a rain jacket, closed toe shoes, extra clothing in case you get wet but you can be confidant that he will have along all the necessary emergency supplies that may be needed.

He offers many different hikes for all levels of hikers ( put in link to all the trails here) so we are sure you will find one that suits you.   When booking more than 3 nights with us at Casa de Montana you will receive 15% off of the cost of hikes with Israel that you choose. ( scroll down in the link to Boquete Outdoor Encounters to see all the available hikes). http://www.casademontana.com/specials-savings/5

So come and stay with us at Casa de Montana and spend some quality time hiking and learning about the cloud forest, animals, birds and the Eco-system Boquete is so well known for.

The 10 Must-Do activities while visiting Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

Ok, so, here at Casa de Montaña we have been talking a lot about taking some time out – a respite from life and a tranquil vacation from the daily stressors of life. It suddenly dawned on us that not everyone wants to sit around sipping wine while lounging in their room!
So if you are seeking some thrills as well as create life-long memories of a vacation full of adventure, we have the best options for you!

1) Boquete Overview Tour

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Let’s start with our very own Boquete Overview Tour! You inspired us to create this unique experience of Boquete – see the beautiful landscape, precious people, and to help you decide if Boquete could be a future home for you. This tour gives you an overview of Boquete from the comfort of the van while you enjoy a bottle of water and a snack. This is a half day tour and is full of information about Boquete and the surrounding areas. It’s our number one must do for a reason! Whether you are looking at a possible re-location or you just want to see the magnificent and amazing place we call home, this tour is designed just for you. There is a charge for this tour but check out our specials to look for discounts here .

2) Coffee Tours

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There are a couple of coffee tours that we highly recommend. The first one, “Café Ruiz” picks you up here at our hotel and takes you to the finca (farm) where they grow and pick coffee beans and do the initial processing of the coffee beans. Later on they take you to the plant where they roast and taste test. During this truly entertaining tour you learn a lot about the history and the current state of the coffee business in Panama. You also get to smell and taste different variety of coffee and you even end up bringing home your own bag of coffee! This is the perfect tour if you have never been on a coffee tour before. Just let us know and we can get this set up for you. And if you have been to a coffee tour before, Dos Jefes (Cafes de la Luna) is a great option for you. Remembering your knowledge on how the process works to put the great tasting coffee on your table, Dos Jefes details the process of winning the world’s best coffee awards. You will become the expert yourself as you pass through taste testing and talk about the living environment of the indigenous people that work the farms as well as why organic coffee is fast disappearing and much more. Unique to this tour is the chance to taste the new tea that is being produced from the Cherries of the coffee bean! This is a second tear/level of coffee tours. Note: We have information about a special and unique program where you can buy a portion of a coffee farm through “International Coffee Farms” (ICFC). If you are interested, you would be welcome to join their regularly scheduled conferences that is chock-a-block full of information about how you can be part of the Socially Responsible way of producing coffee by giving back to the community. Let us know if we can assist you in getting connected to ICFC or other coffee tours. Click here for more information.

3) Zip-Line

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For some real thrill and adventure we can get you scheduled for a Zip Line/Canopy Tour where you ride sky high from tree to tree looking onto the rivers, suspension bridges and the cloud forest below. This amazing adventure is not for the faint of heart! You may want to put this onto your bucket list! Contact us to schedule here.

4)Whitewater Rafting

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Another must do for the enthusiastic adventurists is to take scheduled whitewater rafting trip which is about 1.5 hours away at the Costa Rican border. This tour is particularly thrilling during the rainy season with the river rafting level going up to Level Four in the months of August-October!  The tour guides take in a van to the river, provide all the equipment and instructions and provide the adventure of a lifetime! They even break for lunch that is included in the fee. Click here to request more information.

5)Island Tour

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With tours that take you into the deep rivers with “White Water Rafting” (above) to zooming across the ocean in a water taxi on your way to a remote island, life couldn’t get better! Along the way to the Pacific island of Bolaños, you will get to experience whale and dolphin watching as well snorkeling when you arrive at the island.  And, when you are hungry, eating a lunch of sandwiches, fresh vegetables and fruit while you are sprawled out across the sand is definitely in order! Don’t forget to bring your swim gear! Click here for more information.

6)Cloud Forest Hikes

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Your thrilling adventure can continue upon your return to Boquete when you hike through the many more easy to difficult hiking trails (and everything in between) that Boquete has to offer! Start with “The Pipeline” trail, the easiest trail for those who want to see the animals, sloths, Quetzals (see bird watching) and Panama’s oldest and biggest tree as well as a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail. Another great hike is “The Lost Waterfalls” hike, it consists of three different waterfalls. This is a moderately difficult hike. As you see nature at its finest don’t forget to jump into the middle waterfall, get wet and cool off! The “Il Pianista” hike and “Volcan Baru” are two of the most challenging hikes and we strongly recommend that you go with an experienced local guide to do these. There are so many more hikes that you can do. Our Manager Debra has done many of them herself. Contact us and she can give you more information.  Contact us here.

7)Caldera Hot Springs and Gualaca Mini Canyon (Cangilones)

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Don’t forget that we also have amazing Hot Springs and Canyons! You can sit in the Caldera Hot Springs as you relax in the hot water so natural and healing or you can dive into the water in the Gualaca Canyon. Really exhilarating! This tour is usually a combination all-day tour. Let us know and we can get either (or both) of these set up as well.

 

8)Horseback Riding

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You continue your nature adventures by taking a “Horseback Riding” tour throughout the mountains and canyons of Boquete! There is not a better way to experience all the senses with the sounds of the birds the touch of the horses and the sites of the amazing and ever changing landscape of Boquete, Panama. Click here to schedule.

9)Bird Watching

And speaking of the sounds of those birds, if you are a bird watching enthusiast you have HIT THE JACKPOT while visiting the province of Chiriqui! Panama is home to 978 species of birds. Grab a book on Panama birds, take a journey on the Los Quetzals or the Culebra trail (for example) and snap those pictures! We even have guides available to help you spot them. Contact us for setting up a guide for you.

 

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 10)Relaxation: Massage and Yoga

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Ok, now that you have done the top nine things, it is time to pamper and rejuvenate yourself! All the Must-do’s have been accomplished and you are feeling great about your bucket list! One of Terry’s most favorite and highly rated must-do is to have a Massage or take a morning yoga class. Both melt away the soreness and allow you to relax and re-align yourself. Contact us for more information and to schedule here.

 

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We at Casa de Montaña know that vacation time is so short, we want to help you make it your most amazing trip possible! We will do our best to assist you in setting up your “Must-Do’s” creating the perfect vacation for you. We are available by email: info@casademontana.com or by phone, Panama: 507-7309472 or U.S. 952-931-9770 or just contact us by clicking here  and get your “Bucket List” checked off!!!

 

Traditional costumes of Panama and some Central & South American countries

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata.

I am a fashion lover.  It is my passion and everything about it lights my world and gets me so excited that I can’t get enough! I believe that the way we dress is the way we present ourselves to the world. It shows our personality, and our culture. Clothes really say a lot about us, and they can say a lot about a country too.  Which is why I think our traditional costumes are so important, they are our heritage and how the world sees us. Also, they are the easiest and most fun way to learn our history.

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Being here in Panama has exposed me to even more varieties of traditional costumes. Panamanians are so proud of their “Pollera” that they take every opportunity they have to put it on and walk around proudly in it. They even get started at a very young age – my kids are having “baile tipico” classes at school right now and they look so cute!

So I thought, why not talk about the traditional costumes of the Americas?

This was a hard decision for me, since Europe and Asia have amazing traditional costumes, I would love to talk about them all! But it would turn out to be a book! So I will focus on the countries near Panama. Also, most of the countries have different type of costumes depending on the region (Caribbean, Andean, etc) so I picked the ones I found most interesting:

Honduras

Honduran typical dress is really different because they have colors that vary a lot. It is their design that is able to make it unique and different from any other country. The colors of the costume of the woman vary a lot. You can choose from strong shades to soft and pastel combined with decorations that are present in both the skirt and the shirt. The fabric is highly decorated achieving a completely perfect and detailed look. Necklaces are a very important accessory for women of Honduras because they give tham a look characteristic of Central America. Women usually get a flat hat the exact size of their head to finish off the ensemble.

The men wear a completely white outfit that is characterized by being a little loose. The shirt can be decorated with some colored embroidery. Men wear elegant black shoes that highlight the contrast between the white embroidered outfits and the shoes.

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Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s “mestizaje costume” show the ostentatious Spanish influence in the garments of the villages. The woman wears a colorful skirt and sequined suit that fits the body, nicaraguawhich is also known as “luxurious Indian costume”. This is accompanied with a hat crowned with arrangements of feathers and a fan also of feathers. The man wears a white shirt with a dark coat decorated with sequins; a hat with the wing folded in front and with a red flower, plus several strips of colors falling backwards, and embombado underwear, white stockings and slippers.

nicaragua2The Peasant costume of Nicaragua is very different. These costumes depict two characters representing a man and a hard-working woman in the North of Nicaragua. The woman wears a skirt fitted snugly to her body, with a handkerchief in the waist, long sleeves cotona, handkerchief on the head, earrings and a pot of black mud in her arms. The man wears white long trousers, white cotona (or other light color) and a neckerchief, as well as a gourd for water and a Northern hat.

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica

The traditional costume for women of Costa Rica consists of a multi-layered dress. It is wide and with vivid colors. The hairstyle has braids and is decorated with flowers. Women wear sandals on their feet. As for men, there is generally a suit of basic finishes and without much adornment but in vivid colors. They use a scarf and a belt of the same color to finish off the ensemble.

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Mexico

Charros Mexicanos: The typical charro wears a tuck borough shirt with buttons, a bow tie, suede or Casimir pants, a sack, buttons made in alpaca and a “gala” hat. The pants have some variants: chaps, calzoneras, tapabalazos which are made of pelt or jargon. The more formal attire is tighter with silver buttons.
Sometimes they carry a short sack made of suede or casimir with frog closures of silver and a cotton shirt, usually white. Knitted in palma, the hat is lined with felt and is wide-brimmed and medium crown with four slits called “stoned”. In addition to this outfit, the charro carries also a belt, a sword, a gun, a rope, and spurs. The charro is covered with a striped wool zarape of many colors.

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Chiapas:
I particularly love his one. It is really beautiful and colorful and it looks like it has a lot of work done on it! The costume is eye-catching and elegant. For example, at the capital of the State, Tuxtla, you can admire all the variety of costumes that are used throughout the territory. An example of gala is the dress with wide skirt which is filled with flowers of different colors and they are hand embroidered with silk thread. Hand embroidery on black tulle, is completely handmade by Chiapas women who take pride in making their creations.

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Colombia:

This is a special one for me since I am from Colombia off course! I remember when I was a kid and we had a beauty pageant at my school and I had to dress in the traditional costume. I also remember my school dance where we danced cumbia which is the traditional music of Colombia (plus vallenato and porro).

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Colombia is a big country divided in 6 regions due to their climate, therefore the typical costumes can vary in every region. I am from the Andean region also known as “zona cafeteria” (coffee state), Antioquia to be more specific.

Theantioqueño” typical costume comes directly from the muleteer men, colonist of the XIX century and from the coffee picker women.

Male costume consist of the “sombrero antioqueño” which Is a  white hat with black ribbon; also the poncho or ruana depending on whether the climate is cold or hot; the “carriel”(man purse used by the peasants) , machete and “alpargatas” (espadrilles).
The female costume of the typical Antioquia consists of a long black skirt with some colorful prints, a white blouse and hat, all decorated with many flowers and embroidery.

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Chapolera:

 

This dress’s name comes from a species of butterfly known as the Chapora, which migrates to the coffee farms in times of collection.

The woman’s usual attire is a scarf knotted to the head. The blouse has great Hispanic influence, it has ruffles in the chest, is white, with high collar and adorned with pleats, ruches, lace and embroidery. Blouses are usually short sleeves with lace at the fist; when the sleeve is long it has lace at the elbow. The skirt can reach 20 cm above the ankle, and is made of flowered cotton fabrics. At the bottom it has one or two ruffles and always uses petticoats and an apron.  The footwear is called espadrilles. Typically a woman has her hair in braids and tied with ribbons, with long earrings and a large flower in her hair. A basket complements the dress and is fastened to the waist. The basket was originally used to transitionally hold the coffee grain the chapolera collects directly from the branch of the coffee plant. The apron protects the dress of the friction of the basket and the humidity of the honey flowing from the ripe coffee grain.

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Peru

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Peruvian men often wear the poncho and it has bright colors. There are many different kinds (depends on the region) and are used depending on its purpose. Although there are men who use it every day, typically they use it for special events.  It is also very common in Peru for men to wear hats with some special bands called “centillo”. They are colorful and very festive. The most popular hat is chullo which is handmade. It is knitted with lappets and tassels. The hat is made of alpaca, llama, vicuña or sheep’s wool. Pants are simple and made of alpaca, llama or sheep’s wool as well. The shirts are colorful and often have geometric ornaments and designs printed with animal drawings.
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The main parts of the clothing typical of women in this country are ponchos, dresses, blankets, skirts, coats and hats. Each costume or piece of clothing differs greatly between one region and another, because this way they can show the peculiarities of each city or town. For example, people ascertain if a woman is from a village or town by looking at her hat or if she comes from a rich or poor family. Women tend to wear cloths in the shoulders, which are rectangular pieces of hand-woven fabric. Both men and women wear ajotas (shoes made from recycled truck tires) which are made at home and are very cheap

Panama:

Panama’s typical costumes are some of the most elaborated and rich costumes. One such costume is called “Pollera”. It has several variations, depending on the region and the kind of festivities.  Here is a photo of it. Since Panama deserves its own blog, it is to be continued in a future blog…………..!!!

Here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast you get to know so many cultures, come and stay  with us and begin your cultural adventures!

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Getting on my last nerve – Finding some healing in Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

1It all started back in October of 2015! Although in reality it started a lot earlier, January 2015 to be more precise! I had a car accident and was hit in the back side of the van by a speeding, inattentive driver. I and my van flung across in a complete circle and it hit another car on the opposite side. This really jolted me. Thank God nobody was hurt, or so I thought at the time.

Although I was fine for nine months, suddenly in October I woke up and could not stand up straight. I had to hold onto the end table, then reach out to grab the dresser, then reach out to grab the walls and anything that I could hold onto in order to get to the bathroom. I thought I was going to need a wheelchair! This was just the first day of many months of falling down, having weakness in my legs and arms and hands. 2Every step was exhausting and I needed many naps throughout the day. Walking our guests upstairs to their room completely took all the energy I had! I finally got to the point that I just wanted to crawl into bed and not get up again. I gave up on Zumba class and I gave up on life as I slipped into a depression.

 

3I went to the doctor. I went to the Chiropractor. I went to the acupuncturist. I loaded up on different vitamins. I had massages often. I purchased a back rest. I took muscle relaxers. I took advice from absolutely everyone. I practiced yoga from Youtube. I did stretches daily. Nothing seemed to completely cure me. Yes, I had a pinched nerve for sure!

 

What is a pinched nerve? And why does this happen? This is what I learned from the Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pinched-nerve/basics/definition/con-20029601 A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness. 4

A pinched nerve can occur at several sites in your body. A herniated disk in your lower spine, for example, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Likewise, a pinched nerve in your wrist can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome).

With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks. Sometimes, surgery is needed to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. Pinched nerve signs and symptoms include:

  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve 5
  • Sharp, aching or burning pain, which may radiate outward
  • Tingling, “pins and needles” sensations (paresthesia)
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area
  • Frequent feeling that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep”

 

6The problems related to a pinched nerve may be worse when you’re sleeping.

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure (compression) is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues.

 

 

In some cases, this tissue might be bone or cartilage, such as in the case of a herniated spinal disk that compresses a nerve root. In other cases, muscle or tendons may cause the condition.  7

In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, a variety of tissues may be responsible for compression of the carpal tunnel’s median nerve, including swollen tendon sheaths within the tunnel, enlarged bone that narrows the tunnel, or a thickened and degenerated ligament.

A number of conditions may cause tissue to compress a nerve or nerves, including: 8

  • Injury
  • Poor posture
  • Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis
  • Stress from repetitive work
  • Hobbies or sports activities
  • Obesity

This pressure causes inflammation of the nerve and disrupts the nerve’s function. If a nerve is pinched for only a short time, there’s usually no permanent damage. Once the pressure is relieved, nerve function returns to normal. However, if the pressure continues, chronic pain and permanent nerve damage can occur.

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For me, I’m 95% better but still suffer from some weakness and my depression has lifted. I’m currently doing ARPWave/Therastim treatment. And this seems to be working for me. What is this you ask? The Therastim (also called “ARPwave”) uses conductive electrode pads to provide neuromuscular stimulation. It treats the neurological origin of soft tissue conditions, not just the physical symptoms.

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  • The Therastim features a state-of-the-art electrical mechanism designated as a class 2 medical device by the FDA. Treatment includes unique Therastim protocols and testing techniques.  Therastim has been proven to be an effective treatment for those who have been told they need surgery and for those who have already had surgery.
  • By increasing range of motion and decreasing pain, Therastim can be a highly effective way to prepare for physical therapy.
  • Therastim is used by many elite athletes and teams throughout the world.
  • Therastim dramatically reduces recovery time for ankle sprains and strained tendons or ligaments.
  • Every year, thousands of patients receive Therastim treatment, it has proven effective on all types of chronic pain including RSDS and FibromyalgiaWhat is amazing to me is that all of this is available right here in Boquete! Plus, this is not all that is available here in Boquete. Many more options such as Yoga, botanicals, energy healing and much more…  So whether or not you’re traveling to Boquete or looking to move here, give us a call and we can get you connected with any one or all of these service providers while you stay at Casa de Montaña for your recovery!

    Contact Us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

 

Special invitation for Lunch with Chef Craig Jacobs and the Lucero Group in Boquete

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

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During Sandeep’s (owner of Lucero) last visit to Boquete, Panama, recently we had the opportunity to get to know him better. Now, who is this man? Well, he is the President of the Lucero Golf Community. He has been working extremely hard at getting ready a fitness center, club house and a gourmet restaurant located in the Lucero community.  Recently Lucero finished two tree houses, tennis courts and new housing projects from Duplexes to Condos and many other homes.

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With the restaurant planning to open toward the end of July, Sandeep brought onboard Chef Craig to create an extensive International menu. Chef Craig has had several restaurants in Boquete in the past including Fish House, and Las Ruinas. Chef Craig has returned to Boquete after a three year adventure in which he lived in Guatemala  for 2 years and for the last one year in the mountains of Thailand. During his stay in Thailand, he spent many hours learning from the cooks there to prepare authentic and amazing Thai food. Chef Craig is constantly learning and we were told that he has placed an order for products and spices directly from Thailand for some amazing Thai food on the menu! He is also attending Casa de Montaña’s Pakistani/Indian cooking class (time permitting, since he is REALLY busy right now as you can imagine!). Chef Craig is eager to continue to learn ethnic and cultural dishes. Perhaps some Indian/Pakistani dishes may just end up on the menu as well?

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We had the opportunity to tour the kitchen, the bar and the new restaurant. Along with the up and coming fitness center. What an amazing place this is going to be! Beautiful furniture created locally by the Panamanian carpenters! With a bar area, amazing restrooms, and tons of special touches, the restaurant promises to deliver!  There is going to be seating for around 78 people and some additional seating also available on the large outside terrace for special occasions.

How did Manzar and Terry get this opportunity to have a special invitation for lunch? Well of course it started when we met Sandeep. Manzar and Sandeep connected right away with cultural ties to South Asian culture and language! But even more than that was the love of Indian/Pakistani food. Manzar spoke about his love for cooking this delight! During the conversation, plans were made for Sandeep to come over to Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast to see our home. Also Sandeep had his staff come over to tour CDM as well. During Sandeep’s visit, Manzar and Terry spoke with Sandeep about placing Lucero Community on the Boquete Overview Tour that CDM offers for those looking at Boquete as a possible relocation opportunity. Sandeep and his staff themselves took the Boquete Overview Tour and were able to get a better feel for how diverse of spread out Boquete really is.

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So then it was our turn. We received a special tour of Lucero, the golf course and the tree houses. We toured the fitness center, club house and new restaurant! And even beyond that! We received a special exquisite and amazing luncheon from Chef Craig Jacobs himself!

The luncheon had taken place in one of the Duplexes that was recently finished and furnished! We felt like we were part of the Lucero “family”! We had amazing food, met and laughed with the staff. We thoroughly had an amazing time.

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We at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast invite you to take our Boquete Overview Tour. Look at our Specials for savings and we will indeed stop off at Lucero, have a cup of coffee with the staff and you will really enjoy your experience! We are confident that you will enjoy the breathtaking views of Lucero as well as all of Boquete, Panama! Just let us know that you would like the “Boquete Overview Tour” and we will make sure you have an amazing informational filled experience!

 

 

Vacation, all I ever wanted! Vacation get-away to Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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It’s only June so why are we talking about vacation and holidays? Especially Thanksgiving and Christmas? They are amazing holidays to bring loved ones to a warm climate for a very different experience. Instead of sitting in the house on a cold day, and eating until you are comatose and sleeping in front of the TV or just vegetating, plan your trip now and come on down for a Holiday! A holiday of whitewater rafting, island hopping, cloud forest canopy tour, coffee tour or just relax at the bed & breakfast!

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The crazy part is that now is the time to plan such a trip. Tickets for airlines, places to stay always go up during the holidays. And the closer you get to the holiday, the more difficult it is to find a place or a ticket or even a tour. We are noticing that there are suddenly many more inquiries and bookings for the holidays. Some people do know how to plan early!

How much do the prices go up during the holidays and when should one purchase tickets?

Here is what Hopper’s data (which comprises billions of flight searches) found (summer 2015). We suspect that the same patterns apply for 2016:

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First, how much should you pay for your holiday flight? The average domestic roundtrip for the holidays is currently about $383, which is down about $10 (or 3%) from last year at this time. So you may see a very small price drop between what you paid last year and what you’re paying this year.

Unlike Thanksgiving prices, which tend to start high and remain high as the holiday draws near, Christmas flight prices tend to rise more steadily as Christmas approaches and then spike in the last 10 days. Right now, demand is still pretty low for Christmas flights, but our team found that prices are actually rising faster than in 2014. This means you should consider booking quickly.

When should you book your Christmas flight? Based on last year’s data, on average the best time to book is about 80 days before departure. This year we’ve seen some cheaper deals earlier based on deeper sale discounting in September. For every day closer to Christmas, average round-trip holiday airfare goes up about $1.60. But prices move around constantly so it pays to watch for a deal. (One way to do that is with the Hopper app, which will alert you when a deal is found, when prices drop, or when prices are about to go up.)

When is the best time to visit Panama? Quick answer, ANY TIME OF THE YEAR!!!

We just happen to get more tourists from late November through mid-April is because North Americans and Europeans usually try to get away for a vacation during their colder months.

The first thing you should know is that Panama has only two seasons, the dry season from December to mid-April, and the wet, or “green”, season from mid-April to mid-December. As you might deduce from their names, the dry season means little or no rainfall, while the green season can mean rain almost every day. With the exception of the month of November, it typically rains just in the late afternoon and it is often a hard rain.

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As mentioned earlier, dry season is the main tourist season, not so much for the absence of rainfall, but also because snow bird Americans and Europeans are looking to escape to a warm climate in the winter months.

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But the “green season” is also a good time to come to Panama. Prices and availability are better. And the green season is much greener. Panama sparkles and comes to life after a tropical rain. Moreover the rain doesn’t normally last more than a few hours in the afternoons and evaporates so quickly you’ll forget it was there.

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If you’re traveling to the Caribbean side of Panama to places like Colon, Bocas del Toro and San Blas, the dry season/wet season pattern does not neatly apply. There is some rainfall year round. Highlands destinations such as Boquete, Chiriquí and el Valle de Anton have the same wet and dry season but there may be some rain showers in the dry season.

You will never have to worry about hurricanes. Unlike the rest of Central America, Panama is blessed to be far enough south that hurricanes are never a problem.

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Here in Boquete, Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast is already starting to see early bookings and holiday planning! This is exciting for us and we want to make sure we get your reservations to restaurants and tours before the mad rush of tourists arrive.

For us, the easiest way to make sure we take care of you properly is to get this planned out early. Look for our specials and contact us directly by calling us or through our website. We look forward to hosting you!

What you may see, smell or hear in Boquete, Panama, that you most likely won’t anywhere else!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

So, I was sitting in the office today and heard the sound of hoofs clanging! I paid no attention as this is a normal and frequent ritual that happens in front of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast. Then it occurred to me that this is NOT a normal daily occurrence in most people’s lives. So, I thought I would write about the different things you may encounter here in Boquete, Panama.

Now that I’ve heard the hoofs of the horse coming down the road, I jumped up and headed directly for the door to snap a photo. Darn it, too late!  I will have to be ready tomorrow and try again. Several days have passed before I could capture the horse and rider but here they are:

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In Boquete, Panama, horses are a way of life and owners seem to take great pride and care for their horses. It’s not unusual to see horses riding up and down in front of the bed & breakfast. Nor is it difficult to spot riders downtown either. In fact once a year, there is a horse parade of over three hundred horses and this takes place in downtown Boquete, Panama. And you can see little ponies every weekend for kids to ride.

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Another bit unusual item in Boquete neighborhoods is the sounds of Rooster’s starting their serenade all hours of the morning! Once you w4are here for a while, you become immune to the sound.  Many people in town raise roosters and hens in order to have food on their table. The roosters can be sold for $9.00 a rooster and the sounds can be heard from near and far throughout the valley!  Roosters are a source of income as well as a way to fertilize the hens and are a major part of the ambiance of Boquete!

Then there is the indigenous butterfly that has see-through wings. An amazing creature that is small in stature and is quite w5unusual.  An amazing snapshot to capture with your cell phone or camera! In order to see these butterflies, you may have to walk up a mountain or two but you will find it all to be worth it.

While you are out climbing the mountain, keep an eye out for the resplendent Quetzal and a sloth or two. There is also the Cotamundi  and a Howler Monkey that you may encounter. In fact the country of Panama is home to 218 mammal species, 226 species of reptile, 164 amphibian species and 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world. Panama also boasts 940 avian species, which is the largest number in Central America.
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/panama/wildlife/animals#ixzz45F9MnZX4

 

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Now, I want to tell you about the smells in the morning and afternoon here in Boquete and at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast. As the bed & breakfast is located just 6 houses away from the roasting plant of Café Ruiz, you will come across the smell of fresh roasted coffee w7twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I’ve been around a lot of people who tell me that they don’t like coffee but love the smell of coffee being roasted! It is an amazing smell and for myself, I find that I’m drooling from the smell of the roast. This makes me want to have another cup of the rich coffee that we serve for breakfast!

Another smell that we get here at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast is the smell of wood burning in the evenings around dinner time. Many people here in Boquete, Panama, do not have a stove or even electricity and so they start a bonfire and get to cooking up their dinners. The smell is never too strong but just a slight reminder of times of camping and sleeping out w8under the stars! I get nostalgic about days gone by of my childhood in Colorado.

We have never lived in a place (or even visited one) where there are huge rainbows on a daily basis! Boquete is one of those places. Usually the day starts out bright and sunny. Suddenly a light misty rain develops (called Bajareque by the locals) and it sweeps the whole valley. The rain is so soft and misty that one can walk out in it and not get wet! Shortly afterwards a rainbow (sometimes two!) starts to develop across the valley. Within half an hour there is a huge rainbow with beautiful vibrant colors visible across town from all different vantage points. I have taken dozens and dozens of photos of the rainbows over the years and I never get tired of them. Our guests find this phenomenon mesmerizing. One day my partner was driving along the Bajo Mono loop and saw that there was a rainbow very close to him. Before he knew it, HE WAS DRIVING THROUGH THE RAINBOW! This kind of stuff doesn’t happen every day. And no, in case you are wondering, he did not find a pot of gold!

 

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You will also hear many different sounds of birds that you don’t normally hear elsewhere. One of my favorites, and at first most confusing, is a bird that sounds like he is whistling at you because you are so gorgeous! You know that sound your loved ones makes when you dress up really nice and they are stunned at how nice you look?!  For me, at first, I thought someone was whistling at me. I would look out the bedroom door and window and wonder who the heck that is. Not seeing anyone. It took me a couple of days before I knew that it was a bird!

Have you ever watched a couple of great big ox’s walk in front of your home with a farmer behind them taking them to the field to work? Or have a hen run across the road, jump your fence and end up walking right into your bedroom? Well, we have! And it’s a joyous thing to get these extra sights, smells and sounds along with the usual, daily, neighborhood children playing and people just stopping by to say hi!

We really look forward to you coming and staying with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast to experience these extra sights, smells and sounds for yourselves!

 

 

Do I need vaccinations before my trip to Panama?

Blog by Debra Harwood

 

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Travelers to Central America from North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand generally have more questions about what kinds of vaccinations, if any, they need to have done prior to their journey to Panama and other countries in Central America. Travelers are looking for a peace-of-mind, especially if their journey takes them to some remote regions. The best thing to do is to contact your local “travel clinic” first. They will most probably have the latest information about any kind of virus outbreak warnings and recommendations from agencies like the CDC (for the travelers from the U.S.). Here is what we have found in our own research from talking to other people and doing our internet searches:

Routine vaccinesThese vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.  You should be up to date on these no matter even if you travel or not.

Most travelers should check into the following before travel:

 Hepatitis AThis vaccine is recommended because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Panama, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

 TyphoidYou can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Panama so this vaccine is recommended for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

 

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Some travelers should check into the following:

 Hepatitis BYou can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so this vaccine is recommended if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures while on your trip.

RabiesAlthough rabies can be found in bats and other mammals in Panama, it is not a major risk to most travelers. Rabies vaccine is recommended for only these groups:

  • Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites or other animal bites (such as adventure travel and caving).People who will be working with or around animals (such as wildlife – professionals and researchers).

Yellow FeverYellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Panama, so depending on what areas of Panama you plan on exploring you may need to have a yellow fever vaccine.  For example, remote areas of the Bocas del Toro, Darien Region or San Blas Islands.

MalariaWhen traveling in Panama, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Bringing some mosquito repellent with you is a good idea.

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Remember some vaccinations involve a series of shots over several months so spending time researching in advance is wise.  In addition, ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing in that country. Don’t let the fear of a little needle scare you, it only hurts for a second!!!

Most seasoned travelers know to pack a few meds such as Ibuprofen, Imodium, and Antihistamines along with bug repellant, sun block and band aids. It is always good to be prepared for your trip so you feel relaxed and ready for the journey!

So come explore Panama! We are a country of beautiful beaches, breathtaking cloud forests, dense jungles, a world class city and of course the Panama Canal which is one of the man-made wonders of the world!

Remember when in Boquete come stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast where we will treat you like familyJ

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105 years of Boquete, Panama: An Incredible Anniversary Celebration!

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata

Having lived only two months and a half here in Boquete, it was a joy for us to be at the celebration of the 105 years foundation of the district of Boquete.medellin

When I found out there was going to be a horse parade I got really exited! I grew up in Medellin Colombia, and we also have a horse parade there every year  for  “ La feria de las Flores”.( I think I will have to talk about that in another blog. ) So obviously I love horses and I love parades, it’s a tradition for me, and since we don’t live in Medellin, it was wonderful for me to be able to show  my kids a little bit of my traditions in another country!

 

First I would like to share with you about the foundation of Boquete!  In Spanish, the word Boquete means ‘gap or opening’. It was through this gap that curious gold seekers trekked, looking for a cheaper and quicker way to the Pacific. Farmers began settling in the region near the end of the nineteenth Century. By the early twentieth century, several villages had been populated: Lino, Quiel, Bajo Mono, Los Naranjos, and Bajo Boquete, which now is the town center of the district.

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Boquete was founded on April 11, 1911. Initially, the head of the district was Lino, but it was moved soon after to Bajo Boquete. For many years, the district had three “corregimientos” (townships): Bajo Boquete, Caldera, and Palmira. In 1998, the “corregimientos” of Alto Boquete, Jaramillo, and Los Naranjos were created.

The creation of the District of Boquete was decreed by the Law 20, dated January 17, 1911. This law was sanctioned by Pablo Grosemena, then President of Panama. The first municipal authorities settled on April 11, 1911 and their names were:

  • Felipe Gonzales (Mayor)
  • Maximo Santamaria (Magistrate)
  • Camilo Castillo ( President of the Council)
  • Domingo Turner ( Secretary)
  • Paulino Ruiz (Treasurer)

In addition to tourism, Boquete’s main industry remains agriculture, especially the growing of coffee beans. Boquete is well known for its coffee, judged to be among the finest in the world, which I love too, I mean, do you know any Colombian who doesn’t love coffee?!

So now, on April 11, 2016 we celebrated the foundation of this beautiful town.

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The celebration lasted for three days, starting on Friday with the election of the beauty queen, where the girls showed to the public beautiful fantasy dresses. The election of “el abanderado” and a wonderful folklore dance where the women were dressed with “la pollerapollera”. La pollera is the costume typical of Panama. It consists of a long skirt, sometimes with a colorful and beautiful embroidery that pairs with a blouse of the same color as the skirt, “las peinetas” which is a golden hair accessory and “tembleques” which were originally made of fish scales and pearls.

 

 

On Saturday morning the little kids in town had a lot of fun with a “cabalgata’ on their own with toy horses. It was both really cute and funny to see them walking on their little toy horses.  They also had games and “pinta caritas” (girls painting the kids faces) for them.

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And so it was time for the big cabalgata! I was so excited and also worried I wasn’t going to make it to the cabalgata in time to watch it. All the signs said they would start at 1 pm. It was getting closer to 3 pm and I was still at home trying to make all my family to jump in the car and get going. Try to do that with two babies and two dogs!

When we got there I saw all the horses near their trunks and I thought I had missed it. My husband kept telling me that the parade wasn’t going to be at 1 pm and I didn’t want to believe him – I really am a kid when it comes to horses!IMG_2712

So we walked around town and we saw these little cute ponies and my son immediately fell in love with it and wanted to ride it. Oh it’s times like these I wish I was a kid too so I could ride it as well!  He was so happy he could ride the pony that I am pretty sure he wanted to take the pony home with us (I kind of did too!)

 

There were so many things at the fair, from food, drinks, popcorn and “raspao” which is a traditional treat. It’s a cold beverage made out of ice, liquid flavor and condensed milk, not so healthy but so good for those hot days! We stopped and had some at the kiosk of a very nice gentleman who gave me extra condensed milk because I took a picture of him.  IMG_2717 IMG_2715

 

The people started to gather on the sides of the streets and got ready to see the horses pass by.  I heard some familiar music that made me think about my dad and I started looking toward where it was coming from. I saw this guy playing an Andean flute, so off course it was familiar to me – my dad loves that music and I grew up with it.

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As I listened the music, in the background the horses started to appear and I was starting to get excited! The parade started with the “abanderado” or representative of the celebration, followed by the rest of the horses and some cars with music bands. God were they pretty!

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The horses looked so healthy, beautiful and the riders looked so proud!  I would be very proud too! I specially loved the paso fino horses since some of them were even dancing to the music and they looked so gorgeous.  I was so amazed by the fact that several kids were riding their own big horses like a professional!

The parade lasted for three hours and it was so worth watching! Every time they passed by they would be doing something different, between dancing to the music or showing their beautiful pasos finos.  I was so in love. One of the horses lost a shoe in the middle of the street and so my husband insisted on taking the shoe. So I took the shoe and brought it home with me, it was a memento for me. My husband says it brings good luck.  I just hope it would bring a horse too!

 

What I really loved about the fair is that they did a great job in including everyone in the family to enjoy the celebration. There was dancing and traditional music presentations, the kids parade, the big horse parade and they even had a disco!  On Sunday they had a special morning for the furry members of the house. They had a dog and cat parade, custom competition and a lot of games. My two little furry babies were so happy to make new friends!

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It was time to celebrate and give thanks to God for the foundation of the town. The people of Boquete attended a thanksgiving mass where they prayed for Boquete and celebrated the anniversary.

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The experience of the fair was really magical for me and my family. We could see how proud the Boqueteños are of their culture and even the expats looked proud.  It made me proud too of belonging here now. I just wish there would be more fairs like this one!

Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast and enjoy the beauty of Boquete – our people, horses, coffee, flowers and birds!

 

Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast gets an Uber Education in Panama City!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

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It all started at Spanish class. During the Spanish class, conversation ensued with Manzar and his class mates about a short trip that the owners of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast would be taking to Panama City…..

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Now if you know anything about me at all, you know that I prefer to fly instead of taking a bus across the country. I also do not enjoy “haggling” with taxi drivers over the price we are going to have to pay. Or even to wait for their arrival when after having struggled to schedule a pick-up on the phone with the dispatch person in my limited Spanish!

Manzar knew all this and so he set out to surprise me as he learned about an application to download to his smart phone. Side Note: If you don’t have a smart phone, time to get one as they are wonderful! The application is called Uber.com and has fantastic features such as GPS tracking of your driver, rating your driver and much more!

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So, how was our experience using this application? And, how was the service we received? How about the cost?

Let me start from the beginning? What is Uber? Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. As of May 28, 2015, the service was available in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide.

Uber was founded as “UberCab” by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. Klout ranked the San Francisco-based company as the 48th-most powerful company in America in 2014. By late-2015, Uber was estimated to be worth $62.5 billion.

The legality of Uber has been challenged by governments and taxi companies, who allege that its use of drivers who are not licensed to drive taxicabs is unsafe and illegal.

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Still, the company thrives and has especially expanded here in Panama City, Panama, as many more people pay less using the Uber system and the ride is comfortable and reliable.

So, downloading the application took only minutes and then there are literally three steps to getting this set up for use. 1 – Take a picture of yourself for your Uber driver to know who they are looking for. (Your phone number will be given to the driver and the driver’s phone number will be given to you through this application. Tracking on both sides insures safety.) 2- Give your email address for your statements of cost and usage to be sent to you. 3- Take a picture of your credit or debit card and funds are taken out safely from your account without any money exchanging hands. Sweet!

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Ok, so we begin, we submitted our first trip from the airport to our hotel. The cost was significantly less than a taxi which was good so far ($26 even during the rush hour as compared to the $35 we are used to paying). Next – just how long will we wait? Within a few seconds we received a call from the driver to inform us that he is on his way. The license plate, name, phone number, and photo of the driver all popped up on our phone. Wow, we felt a lot better!  Within a few minutes of the request our driver was there! He helped us place our luggage in the trunk of the late model SUV. (By the way, you can order an Economy, Premium, Accessibility, and carpool vehicles.) The vehicle was very nice, clean and the driver was extremely calm during the crazy driving of the city! We arrived safely at our hotel and we rated this driver high! He did a dang good job and was friendly as can be! We felt completely safe and at ease.

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This was the beginning for us of a stress free mini vacation as we took the Uber to the malls, and the restaurants and to our friend’s home! We found it to be fun and exciting! We even took the Uber to Taco Bell! Ok, ok, so we went a little crazy but it was so easy, and felt wonderful to get around a complicated city with ease. Each and every driver was amazingly friendly with clean cars and great personalities. We would typically receive a phone call from each person to let us know they are on the way. Even without the phone call we could see the movement of the driver on the map of the Uber app as he/she progressed toward us!

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I wondered about all these drivers and how they like working for the Uber system. I am happy to report back that all the drivers we talked to have been very happy working for the company. Some work full time and others do it to make extra money in addition to their “day jobs”. They choose their own hours and seem to make good money doing this. They reported meeting really great people from all over the world and even locally! One driver told us that there are approximately 1000 Uber drivers in Panama City area.

I recently read an article from Canada where Uber is taking the wheelchair bound citizens through a program called UberAssists New ‘door-to-door’ service will cost the same as standard Uber trips. You can read more about that here:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/uber-assist-ottawa-1.3507585

 

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There is a whole new world out there for us as we travel to different countries and around the world, this is a budget-friendly and wonderful way to get around when you are away from home!

We are hoping that Uber will come all the way to David and Boquete, Panama, and will be available for you one day during your trip to Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast! Until then, send us an email, or call and we can help you with your transportation needs!

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A local family moves to Boquete

Blog by. Maria Isabel Zapata

 

panama. aptm mariaWhen my husband first told me he was thinking about moving to Boquete my first reaction was: What in the world are we going to do there? I thought of Boquete as a small village with nothing to do. I had different plans for us in the city, and even though I wanted a change, I never thought of Boquete as that great change. We were living in a small apartment, my father in law, my husband, my two kids, my two dogs and me! Beautiful view of the city but too expensive for what we could pay and not enough space.IMG_1436

So my husband decided I should come and stay for a few days in Boquete. We arranged to come for Christmas and spend it with his partner, so I could meet him and see where my husband was going to be spending most of the time.

It was a long 7 hour drive with the kids, I would have preferred to come by air. We arrived late in the night so all we wanted was to sleep. It was so nice and different to wake up with the twittering birds and a nice cup of coffee.

My expectations were not high but as soon as I got to Boquete, everything in me changed. Everything was so calm and people were nice and polite. The weather was perfect, and my kids were so happy. Just driving around town and seeing the beautiful gardens of Boquete made me feel at peace.

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IMG_1446The berries! Oh I love berries! It was a little difficult to find fresh berries in the city. So it was a great thing for me to be able to have fresh ones. I specially loved the strawberry and cream tarts from a German bakery. The owner makes the cream fresh and by hand. I have to confess that every now and then I can’t resist the temptation and I have to have one.IMG_1465

I met Debra on this trip and spent Christmas with her, Pascal and friends. I have to say that they made me feel like at home, and my kids were so incredible happy. My husband so calm, that I just didn’t want to leave. Trust me when I say, that’s how you will feel here at Casa de Montaña.

We went back to Panama City and decided to definitely move to Boquete. It was a sweet and sour decision for me. I loved Boquete and couldn’t wait to move, but I sure was going to miss my girlfriends and it was hard for us to leave my father in law, since he didn’t want to move with us. I decided to see my friends for one last time since we were moving soon

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We already knew where we were going to live, since we were taking Pascal’s old house. If you decide to move here and don’t know where yet, here at Casa de Montaña we have an over view tour of Boquete, in which you can see the different neighborhoods. We can also help you set up an appointment with a realty company here in Boquete.

I was really excited about moving, but there was something else I wanted to do, which was to find some volunteer work to get me out the IMG_1804house and spending a few hours a day with adults. I’ve been a full time mom for the past 3 years and now as my children would be in school it would be the perfect time to do something on my own. That’s how I found out that Manzar and Terry where looking for someone to volunteer in the office part-time.   Debra suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to gain some new skills in the tourism industry. How amazing was that! I felt like everything was in the right path and went ahead and set up a skype interview with Manzar and Debra.

So now it was time to pack, and let me tell you… you never know what you have until you have to move! It was a kind of stressful moment, but even though my kids were wondering why everybody was packing their toys and what were we doing, they behaved so well they even helped us pack!

You might wonder what made us take the decision to move here. We wanted a change of life. Better quality for less cost. We really got tired of the city and small apartment. We wanted a nice house with a garden where our dogs and kids could play, and not have to worry about the cars passing by. Being here on Christmas made us realize this was the place.

IMG_2361Finding school for our kids wasn’t too difficult either. We wanted a place near Casa de Montaña, so that I could go pick them up after work. We found this little place called Aprendizaje Divertido, just a few blocks from here. The teacher was lovely and the kids there looked happy. We didn’t look for anything else and decided right away. Since my little baby is only one year old and has always (and only) been breastfeeding, it was a hard adjustment for her not to be with me for half a day. The teachers were so lovely and understanding of her feelings, it helped her feel better and now she is very happy. IMG_1874

Moving here was the best decision we could have made for our family. We now live in a house with a garden and fruit trees. My dogs can be free and they even have little furry friends around the neighborhood they visit (without our permission!)

We have breakfast outside every Sunday morning, and there is so many things to discover here that we never get bored. So far we have visited Volcan, Janson’s Coffee farm and Cerro Punta. We go for walks around town every time we can. We love visiting the gardens, being able to have a cup of coffee with a beautiful view, but most of all we love the great quality of life our kids are having here.

Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña! I assure you, you won’t want to leave!

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Boquete Community Players: A true cast of characters!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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So my questions begin, and boy do I have MANY! When I wanted to know about acting, theater and the many different plays that the Boquete Community Players routinely performs, I thought I would go right to the source!

BarbaraFMeet Barbara Fiorucci – my guru for information! I inundated her with questions in the last week or two and found out some very interesting things. Take a look below.

One of my very first questions was about my confusion with the name “BCP” and wondered if there was more than one group of theater companies in Boquete. Barbara told me BCP that stands for Boquete Community Players. Barbara shared, “There are many players past and present who have graced our stage- both on and off. Ours is a community theater that involves anyone and everyone in our area that enjoys experiencing the arts- in the audience, backstage and onstage. The arts include, not only full and one act plays, but concerts, musical reviews, movies, speakers and media displays. All things Arts for everyone!” Wow, that’s exciting!

 

Then I thought, are the plays done only in English or are they in Spanish as well? I’m so glad I asked that question as I found out, during the last ten years of BCP history, the 2plays and musicals have all been performed in English with some Spanglish thrown in from time-to-time and some Spanish language songs but not a full-fledged Spanish play. Ryan Pridgen, one of the amazing local talents, is about to change all that. He has a group of 20 Panamanians he is training and preparing for a run of one act Spanish plays. Presented IN SPANISH April 28, 29, 30 and 31. This is a first for the BCP! Barbara shard, “we intend to keep the Spanish shows coming!”

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By now, I’m imagining running through my lines and acting and becoming full of anxiety. As if I was even going to THINK about putting myself on stage! I wondered how these actors and actresses remember their lines. Hmmm… I suppose I will ask Barbara. This is what she told me, “Our performers range in age from 11 to 85 and beyond.” “Actors usually have 3-4 weeks of rehearsal to be “off book”- meaning working without a script. They get there by running lines alone or with their fellow actors. After the first month, we begin each rehearsal by running the lines of the whole play. Repetition is the only way to get lines down. During later rehearsals, we have a line coach who sits with the script in the audience, during rehearsals, ready to cue actors who need a line. Eventually, we fly without support. Actors are expected to support each other during dress rehearsal and shows.” And of course, for those of us thinking about possibly doing some acting, Barbara told me “Actors do not have to have any prior experience onstage to audition for a show”!

4a 4bMy next thought was about costumes. Boquete is a small town and where the heck do the costumes come from? So Barbara let me know “We have a prop and costume closet which we pull from for every show. Charlotte Lintz modifies, creates and gathers costumes for each show. Erin Ross begs, borrows and makes any props we need. Scene furniture is either created from scratch or re-purposed from furniture we have used in other shows. Dave Thomas is our master builder.”

So, I began to think, well the stage may not be for me if I plan to live past the anxiety that it produces for me, what else can I be involved in? I think I can paint and I am amazing at decorations! So I asked Barbara if there is a regular crew or can anyone come in and do 5 the behind the scene stuff? This is what I found out: “Jakki Champ is our stage manager extraordinaire! She runs the backstage area for all of our shows. Harry Halbert is our light man. Nick Garey does lights and sound. Dave Thomas builds the sets. We are lucky to have a very hard working and dependable crew to support us onstage. That said, we love to welcome anyone interested to work with us back stage during any shows”.

So now I’m curious, I asked Barbara what is the next play they are working on and what is coming up after that? Here is her response, “The Play That Goes Wrong auditioned Monday, February 15 and Tuesday February 16 1-4 PM in the theater. This play will be performed on April 21, 22, 23 and 24 at the BCP.”

“Tony and Tina’s Wedding, an interactive musical/play will audition mid-July for a mid-September opening”.

Barbara also informed me that performances for all shows are advertised on local websites, news media and on posters and banners around town. Mailboxes etc. sells tickets before each show. During the four weeks before a show, tickets are also sold outside the theater at the Tuesday Market.

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Now my thoughts turned to Barbara and why she would spend so much time on this “volunteer” collaboration? I spoke to her about her dreams and desires for BCP and what gives her such joy to do this and what is the most exciting thing she has seen? Here is what she told me: “I love using theater to build collaboration and unity within a group of people. At the time of the performance, a cast of actors has grown into a finely tuned machine, all working together, off each other. They are supporting each other, seeing, listening and paying attention to each other and reacting to and from each other. For me, it is a wonderful challenge to create that moving, living, feeling machine. In the time I have been an artistic director, we have rebuilt the stage and made plans to enlarge the green room back stage. Our Hex Room is now Cafe Villa, so we have food, drinks and free Wifi on the property. The most exciting thing that has changed since I have come on board is that for the first time in our 10 year history, we will have a Spanish play with Panamanian actors performing on our stage. Ryan Pridgen, actor and director, has overseen this project which will be performed at the end of April!”

We here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast have been privileged to attend many of the theater plays and we continue to get a laugh or two, enjoy a Christmas special and watch some entertaining venues with guests who stay with us. If you are planning a trip down and staying with us, drop us an email to see if there is a play going on during your stay. What other place in Panama can you go to see a live play other than Boquete Panama and the BCP theater group!? You can also check their website for events and history at: http://bcpeventscenter.org/

 

 

 

COPA AIRLINES – Several flights between Panama and other countries!

Blog by Debra Harwood

1It seems that most airlines these past 10 years have been cutting services left and right. On most airlines you have to buy your food, pay for all checked luggage and at times deal with unpleasant employees. The exception seems to be Copa Airlines.   I have been flying with them for many years and they continue to impress me with their consistent great customer service and on-time flights.

Who here in Boquete was not thrilled when we heard they would start flying into David again? Copa resumed their flights between Panama City and David on January 15th, 2015. They brought the cost down making it much more affordable to fly between Panama City and David. This forced AirPanama to bring their prices down as well. This was a huge win for the travelers! During the short 50 min flight Copa serves you a drink and snack. It’s unheard off in this day and age! On their international flights they not only serve a meal free of charge, they offer beer or wine free of charge as well. I believe some other major airlines could take a lesson from Copa on the importance and need for great customer service.

So I decided to do a little research on Copa Airlines since I not only fly with them I recommend them to my friends as well.

Copa was founded in 1947 by a group of prominent Panamanians investors with the 2assistance of Pan American World Airways. It began domestic operations to three cities in Panama shortly afterwards. The airline then abandoned its domestic flights in 1980, in favor of international flights and at present fly to 75 destinations in 30 countries with their fleet of 105 airplanes. In January 2015 they re-started their domestic routes within Panama.

As of 2013, Copa Airlines employed over 9,000 people, most of them residing in Panama and is one of the fastest growing and largest companies in the country. It is headed by Chief Executive Officer Pedro Heilbron. I say a big thank you to Mr. Heilbron for his excellent management skills!!! Oh and thanks as well for starting the direct flights to Toronto, Canada in 2011. Makes it very convenient for myself, family and friends to travel to Panama. I can now leave my home in Boquete, fly to Panama City, wait a few hours and then take a 5 hour direct flight to Toronto all with Copa. No overnight needed in the city any more!

3In its history Copa Airlines has had only one fatal crash. It happened on June 6, 1992 on a flight from Panama City to Cali, Colombia. The aircraft crashed in the Darien Gap and all 40 passengers and 7 crew were killed. It also has had one hijacking attempt which was on Aug 7, 1994 on a flight bound for Guatemala, this later was reported as a “misunderstanding” by Panamanian authorities.

4In April 2015, the airline announced an order for 61 Boeing 737 MAX 8/9 aircraft worth $6.6 billion at list price. Making an investment of that size shows the confidence that Copa has in going forward.

So when planning your trip to Panama make sure you not only book a stay at the beautiful Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast in Boquete, you as well book Copa Airlines for your travels. I am confident you will be happy you did!!!

Bird species of Panama – Boquete seems to have all 978 of them!

Blog by Manzar Lari

The picture below is taken in the back of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast!

1We live in such an amazing part of the world! One of the most important things that makes this small Central American country of Panama truly amazing is the incredible varieties of birds – big, small and colorful, we have them all!

Recently, we had some guests stay with us at Casa de Montaña who came especially to check out the birds in this area. Allan (our guest) had a camera that had lenses that spanned about two feet in length! I had never seen anything like that before. You could tell by talking to him that he was a real bird enthusiast and he already had a lot of knowledge about several of the bird species of Panama and Costa Rica. Allan informed me one morning that there were probably more species of birds around the back part of our home, by the breakfast terrace, than any other place around Boquete! I was surprised to hear that. As a bird enthusiast I am sure he is much more keenly aware of the surroundings and I am sure the zoom lenses on his camera really help him spot and identify these birds. I offered to have him borrow our book on “Birds of Mexico and Central America”, which he finally did on their last day at our Bed & Breakfast. He probably didn’t even need to borrow the book and did so just to make me happy?!

2Allan promised to send us some of the photos of the birds once he returned home to International Falls, Minnesota, USA. He did exactly that today. I am truly blown away by the images of these beautiful and majestic birds of Boquete area. As I am writing this blog, one of these amazing birds is tapping on the office window. It has been doing that for a while today. Wondering if it is looking for a job as an office assistant?! By the way, we are still looking to replace our former employee Andres who worked for us for almost two years. We think we have found the right person but she is moving to Boquete from Panama City, hopefully soon! But I digress! Back to the topic at hand – birds!

So what do some of these birds look like? Check out the following link from a blog written by blogger Jim O’Donnell who is also an amazing photographer:

http://www.aroundtheworldineightyyears.com/birds-of-panama/

As Jim writes, “Panama is literally the bridge between North and South America. That puts it in a very special place being THE meeting point of species from both continents. Not to mention the Caribbean and the Pacific ecosystem.”

Here are some more photos that Allan shared with us of birds he captured through the lenses:

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6Each day at Casa de Montaña is a brand new day of appreciating our 7surroundings and learning things we never learned before. Bird watching as a hobby has been around for centuries but it is totally new to us. We appreciate what knowledge, experience and passion each of our guests brings to the Bed & Breakfast and we are open to embracing it all! What is your passion? Are you ready to come down and tell us your story? We would love to host you this year. Now I better go and “study” the birding book before Allan comes back to visit again!

 

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