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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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!

 

 

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!

 

Panama uses the U.S. dollar (which is doing ok at the moment!) but what is happening to currency around the world lately?!

Blog by Terry Richmeier and Manzar Lari

Here at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast we are very fortunate to have guests from all over the world. Lately, we are hearing from our guest’s issues that they are facing in their country with the value of their money.
For example, in Canada their currency the “Canadian dollar” does not seem to be doing well. In fact, the Canadian dollar has reached an all-time low. In an article from “Financial Post” titled “Canadian dollar hits 11-year-low in its worst losing streak since 2013” they talk about this issue. Why has this happened? The Canadian dollar is in the midst of its worst losing streak in more than two years as global economic growth looks set to derail the country’s plan for an export-led recovery.

1The currency plunged to an 11-year low after Norway, another large oil exporter, unexpectedly cut interest rates and said it may ease monetary policy even further. Signs that economic growth in China, the world’s biggest commodity consumer, is slowing down have sent prices for everything from oil to copper plunging and prompted speculation demand won’t be quick to recover.

Will a weak Canadian dollar really lead to stronger exports? An article from Reuters http://blogs.reuters.com/macroscope/2015/09/09/will-a-weak-canadian-dollar-really-lead-to-stronger-exports/ seems to not think so:

Canada’s near two-year-long attempt to boost exports through a weaker currency so far has proved to be futile. The country’s policymakers had hoped a lower exchange rate would benefit exports and in turn propel the economy. On the face of it, that is not an odd assumption to make as a weaker Canadian dollar should make the country’s exports relatively cheaper – and therefore more attractive. But a close look at the historic trend of exports and currency movement, as well as Reuter’s polls, suggests policymakers might be indulging in a pointless exercise, especially when the price of oil – a major Canadian export – has fallen so sharply.
The evidence shows that Canada’s export performance, and not just of crude oil, has been good even during periods when the dollar was strong.
A weaker currency, in turn, should bolster domestic demand by making it more expensive for people to buy imported products or even vacation abroad.

The Worst Performing Currencies at Year-End 2015 Worldwide (according to investopedia.com)

2As the U.S. economy recovers, the dollar has strengthened, making it one of the best performers over the last year. This is how other world currencies have fared vs. the dollar.
The Russian Ruble was hit hard in 2014, losing nearly 40% of its value following economic sanctions by the West and low oil prices. So far, in 2015, the ruble itself has remained fairly unchanged, however the ripple effect to former Soviet countries, including Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Moldova, has made these nation’s currencies among the worst performers so far this year.

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Brazil’s economy stagnated in 2014-2015, along with a general decline in commodity prices, which it relies on for exports. Political uncertainty and rising inflation has caused the Brazilian Real to lose nearly 20% so far this quarter.
The euro, the common currency of the Eurozone member nations, has seen its value steadily decline due to persistent economic woes, prompting the European Central Bank (ECB) to begin quantitative easing (QE) efforts in order to jump start the economies there. Furthermore, fear of a Greek exit from the euro and the contagion that would cause throughout the peripheral nations has depressed its value.
Scandinavian countries, although not members of the Euro currency, are nonetheless intrinsically linked to European economic activity. Sweden and Norway, in particular, who rely on oil production as a large part of their economy have seen their currencies fall just under 10% so far this year, extending losses from 2014. Likewise, the British pound has lost similar amounts.
Canada and Australia, both traditionally stable economies during economic downturns, have not been able to escape the effect of low oil and commodity prices. The Canadian dollar is down nearly 9% and the Australian dollar down almost 6.5% year to date. The New Zealand dollar, which is closely correlated with the Australian economy has also lost nearly 5% of its value so far this year.

5This is where we here at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast become concerned about our future guests in being able to take a much-needed vacation! We love meeting and spending time with not only the Canadians but people from all over the world. Debra, our Assistant Manager, is herself from Canada! So, what can we do to help? We ask all our future guests to give us a call or email us your inquiries and we will see what we can do to offer a bit of a discount to you to ease some of the financial burden. Please call us at Panama #: 507-730-9472 or U.S. #: 952-931-9770 or contact us directly through our website: www.casademontana.com. We want you to enjoy a vacation or two in your hard working year. We also want you to be able to enjoy activities and tours while you are here. So, let us try to help out with your stay with us!

Indigenous Emberá Indians of Panama

Indigenous Emberá Indians of Panama

Blog by Debra Harwood

 

Embera ladies

 

Panama is home to different and distinct Indigenous tribes and here at Casa de Montaña, from time-to-time, we will be sharing a little bit about each tribe through our blogs. We begin with the Emberá (Choco) Indians who live in the Darien province of Panama.

In the late 1700’s the Emberá began migrating from the Choco region of modern-day Colombia into what is now called the Darien Province. They also settled as far west as Gatun Lake in the areas of what would later be called the Canal Zone.

The Emberá homes are constructed of natural materials and are raised around 8ft off the ground. They cook in their homes by using 3 large logs placed on a dirt bed then lit at the ends and pushed close together so a pot can rest on them. When done cooking they just pull back the logs until needed again. Originally they did not live in villages but around 1950’s started to form small settlements along the bank of the rivers which play a central role in daily life for fishing, bathing, transport, and many domestic chores.

embera home

emberea boat

embera cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boats have also played important roles in Emberá tradition. The craft of constructing dugout canoes was historically a very significant skill for Emberá men, at times serving as a rite of passage or prerequisite for marriage according to history.

The main crops cultivated by the Emberá are plantains, bananas, corn, sugar cane, rice, beans, and yucca root. Unfortunately, slash and burn techniques are still in wide use and soil depletion and deforestation are problems in many areas.

child with inktatooing

Jagua is an important fruit in the life of Emberá people. It is used as a black dye to paint people’s skins. The pigment remains embedded in the skin until the external layer is naturally exfoliated, generally lasting between 10 to 12 days. It is indelible dark blue or black, like a two-week tattoo. The jagua body painting is still in use for all celebrations and is one of the most enduring and important customs for the Emberá people.

The canasta is the famous woven basket of the Emberá. It is made out of a fiber people call chunga and is so tightly woven that it can hold water! These baskets vary in sizes and colors but all are labor intensive to make. Master weavers can take up to six months to finish a large piece which might sell to a collector for over a thousand dollars. Most women make smaller pieces to sell to tourists. So remember when you see these baskets that a lot of time has gone into creating them so maybe this once you can forget about trying to barter.

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Today there are approximately 33,000 people living in Panama and 50,000 in Colombia who identify as Emberá.

An established Emberá alphabet has been officially recognized by the government of Panama, consisting of:

21 consonants (b,b, ch, d,d, dy, g, j, k, 1, m, n, p, r, rr, s, t, v, w, y, z) and

12 vowels (a, e, i, o, u, ʌ, ấ, ẽ, ĩ, ő, ũ, λ)

 

To date, there have been very few books published in the Emberá language. These are mostly educational materials produced by the Panamanian government or by Christian missionaries. The most significant of these to date is a Bible translation containing the Old Testament and parts of the New Testament.

Here is a YouTube video about Emberá people that you may find interesting:

I can truly say that the Emberá are a kind and happy people. My childhood years were spent living on the Rio Chico as my parents were missionaries in the Darien region for over 25 years. From these gentle sweet people I learned that the accumulation of money and worldly possession do not bring contentment or happiness to one’s life.

men and women

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we are always curious about learning more and more about the indigenous people of Panama and the customs that make Panama so diverse and welcoming! We will post additional blogs in the future to provide additional information about the indigenous cultures. When you stay with, let’s talk about this and other topics (such as your cultural heritage) during our vibrant Social Hour. I am really proud to be a Panamanian who was fortunate enough to be raised in an environment that truly supported and nurtured me. See you soon at Casa de Montaña!

 

 

Story of one person looking for healthy living in Boquete, Panama!

Story of one person looking for healthy living in Boquete, Panama!
Blog by Terry Richmeier

I was feeling pretty lousy!

Lousy

sugar-l

Coming back from a 10-day vacation in October, I arrived home and developed a pinched nerve within a few days. My energy was low, so I had a Pepsi, and then I had coffee with Nestle Quick in it. That didn’t work, I was still tired so I just increased the sugar. I had some candy bars and hot cocoa. I was back doing my usual routine and more. My cycle of sugar consumption reached a new high!

Soon, I developed restless legs at night. Waking me up every time I started to head into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. I wondered how I will EVER be able to get a good night’s sleep.

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I started to take muscle relaxers at night in order to try to relieve the pressure on my pinch nerve. I knew that these muscle relaxers would knock me out so I could only take them at night. This induced more tiredness and more desire for sugar.

Waking up in the morning, I felt groggy and not ready to get up. My body was weak and even walking to the bathroom took great effort and energy. “What happened to me?” I thought, “Have I developed some kind of a permanent condition?”sick-soldier.

Next, I went to a doctor. I was loaded up on an anti-inflammatory medicine. By then, I was frustrated and feeling no relief from the pinched nerve or the tiredness. It basically sucked!

So a dear friend of ours who is a doctor, that worked for many years in the emergency room in the U.S., sat me down and said it’s time to try a DIET!!!! Now, in my head, I’m like, “Oh here we go again! All about the weight! Why can’t we address the real issue of my pinched nerve!?”

We began to talk about a special diet that is designed to reset the metabolism, let the vital organs do their job the way it’s supposed to be done, clear out the allergies, give me more energy and the outcome from the food that I’m supposed to eat would be weight loss as a bonus. What an added benefit?!?!

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So our friend had me order the book called “THE FAST METABOLISM DIET written by Haylie Pomroy”. I did exactly that. I began to read about how this woman is a celebrity nutritionist for horses! HORSES? What? I’m not a horse! As I read on, I learned that this woman spent many years studying and learning about nutrition and practicing what she learned. I was not quite convinced, however, Manzar decided to participate in this diet as well to help me along with this program and also reap the benefits of the diet himself. I reluctantly agreed.

The diet is divided into three phases per week. The first two days are designed for “Unlocking” fat and creating incredible energy through targeted foods and cardiovascular exercise. The next two days are designed around “Unleashing” your metabolism and creating a benefit of watching the weight fall off! During these two days, you are also required to do weight lifting. And the third phase is for the remaining three days of the week. “Unwind” as your stress level decreases by the day! During these three days, some kind of meditation or yoga or time of rest is required. Here is a link to Haylie’s web-page for additional information and short video:

Fast Metabolism Diet

After reading Haylie’s book cover-to-cover and reading over the recipes not only in her main book, as well as the accompanying recipe book that we purchased, we were struck with a nagging thought – are we going to be able to find all the ingredients here in Boquete or in David?! We wished there was a Whole Foods store nearby. Alas, we may need to search for ingredients at the local grocery stores and hope for the best! Our first stop was “Organica” in Los Establos Plaza in downtown Boquete. Wow, we hit the jackpot! Many of the healthy ingredients are now available in our own town and we never knew it. For other ingredients we needed to take a trip to David. We went to PriceSmart, Super Baru and Super 99. We were able to find most of the remaining ingredients in those stores. What we couldn’t find, we could either do without in the recipes or pick other simpler recipes that didn’t require those ingredients. The good thing about living in Boquete is that we have an abundance of organic fresh fruits and vegetables for a decent price. This diet relies heavily on these fresh ingredients and we have no shortage when it comes to that!

We set up the four-week plan by first coming up with a weekly schedule of breakfast dishes, snacks, lunches and dinners, staying true to each phase of the diet. It was fun to look over the recipe book and pick out our favorite recipes. Early on in the process we both decided that it was going to be easiest if we just replicated the first week for the remainder of three weeks – we can certainly eat the same dish once a week. To make it even easier, we cooked enough for 4 meals for two people for each of the weeks. We kept one meal in the fridge and the other three in the freezer. The first week was the most difficult since we cooked a TON of food. You should have seen our freezer by the middle of the first week, it was full of Tupperware containers! All that upfront work paid off though – we didn’t have much to do during the remaining three weeks. We only had to worry about the breakfasts and snacks and the rest of the meals we pulled right out of the freezer each day.

Couple of things about this diet … one has to drink half of their body weight in water in ounces to flush out all of the toxins and fat cells. Also, one has to have breakfast within a half hour of waking up. One also has to eat each meal at the scheduled time. Typically, we had to eat something every three hours. I must say, we followed the plan pretty closely for the entire four weeks.

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So, what are the final results of this crazy 28 day horse diet?! We just finished up our four weeks. When I started, I was at 300 pounds. Now, after week four (the end of the diet), I’m at 281 pounds. A total loss of 19 pounds in four weeks! Not bad. I feel amazing with energy to not only get through the entire day but my memory has improved and during my conversations with guests and friends I am much more attentive and present. I’m enjoying my food and do not feel hungry since there are so many different recipes to choose from and I can eat as many delicious vegetables as I want at any given time. I look and feel better. Manzar also lost weight. He was at 220 pounds and is now at 203 pounds. The best part is that anytime I need a metabolism reset, I can go back on the diet. In fact, we are planning to do exactly that starting in April of 2016. Haylie suggests that one should do the 28 days program once a year or more. After doing the 28 day program, one can also do it just for a week whenever one chooses.

I feel that this is the last diet book I will ever need! I AM NOW A RACEHORSE! LOL!images

Here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we not only want you to have a great laid back and relaxing time while you are visiting Boquete, Panama, we also want to share with you our successes and offer you a healthy and happy visit. We know that when we are on vacation, we cannot always eat the way we do at home. And that’s ok! Come and enjoy our vegetarian breakfasts, let us know about your dietary needs, and allow yourself to enjoy your food and your vacation! We would love to share with you our experience on this diet and let you know how different we feel and how living in Boquete has been instrumental in achieving our goals!fmd-rev

 

Is it safe for women to travel alone around Panama?

Debra at canal

What is it like traveling alone as a women? That is a question I get asked every time I set out on an adventure. I understand for some women it would be something they would never think of doing alone for many reasons.
What always comes to mind first is will I be safe. Of course important to think about when traveling by yourself. Here are a few things I try and remember:
– Always keep a local map with you and make sure you familiarize yourself with it before leaving your hotel…most hotels offer a free map of the area
– When out at night it’s wise to take a taxi back to your hotel. Here in Boquete its costs just a few dollars
– Remember alcohol will dull the senses so do not overdue it
– Never leave with people you just met no matter how sweet and nice they appear
– I also send a quick email back home to a family member with information of where I am staying It takes only a few seconds but important for the people on the other end as well
– Know how to handle yourself in the case of unwanted attention, and that usually will happen

Debra in Casco ViejoNow about eating out alone in a restaurant. The first few times you experience it may seem a little strange. What I do is bring my ipad or a guide book so that I have something to keep me occupied. What I liked about eating out in Ecuador was that if you are alone at a table for 4, other people will come and sit with you. It’s just how they do it there and I enjoyed that. I have met some wonderful people that way and now I am not shy to do the same. Remember to be respectful of the people and customs of the country you are visiting, you are a guest in that country and so behave as one.

Also I found that staying in a B&B’s makes me feel safer and like I have a temporary home away from home. There is always someone around with useful information about the area and you don’t have to eat breakfast alone…bonus!!
Another helpful idea before you leave home is to spend time researching where your off to especially if you have limited time and want to make sure you see the things that are important to you. Book tours in advance so you won’t miss out. Also be aware of the country currency (it may surprise some people but the American dollar is not the worlds currency) and the availability of ATM machines. I never try to carry much cash and I do use ATM machines and have yet to have an issue with them.

Debra in Bocas del TorroWe here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast welcome single travels. We know that you will feel at home and safe during your stay with us. We are happy to assist you in booking tours or giving you information about the area so you see all there is to offer.

Lastly remember it is ok to travel alone. There is not a thing wrong with it and does not mean you’re a failure in any way. People travel alone every day all around the world. Please do not let fear keep you from exploring, it’s your choice. I guarantee you will feel proud of yourself after your first adventure alone and each time you will be more comfortable and gain more confidence. I have been traveling alone to almost every province in Panama and can say with certainty  this is one friendly and safe country to spend time exploring.

Debra Boquete
There is a big beautiful world out there just waiting for you to discover. So go get started making some priceless memories today!

Remember, when traveling through Panama don’t forget to stay with us at Casa De Montaña Bed & Breakfast in beautiful Boquete.

So, you want to get married in Boquete, Panama?

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

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Taken from: http://www.expat-blog.com/en/guide/central-america/panama/10077-getting-married-in-panama.html

Procedures related to marriage in Panama are not very complicated. You can get married even if you are not a resident of the country.

Panama ranks among the top destinations for expatriates wishing to marry abroad. If you want to also make your wedding a truly memorable occasion, Panama can offer what you are looking for. However, expatriates have to fill in certain formalities, although Panamanian citizenship or permanent residency are not mandatory requirements. Note that you must be at least 18 years old to be allowed to get married in Panama. We have been told that renewing your vows by getting married again in Panama is also a good way to cut down on red-tape and delays involved in getting one’s marriage certificate and related documents shipped and notarized and authenticated! Why not make a party out of it and “re-energize” your commitment to each other AND get your residency paperwork in order at the same time?!?! Win-Win!

Different types of weddings are celebrated in Panama: civil, religious or court marriages. However, gay marriage is not legally authorized…yet!

Proceedings

The request for civil marriage must be made at the marriage court, known as the ‘Juzgado in Turno Matrimonios’ at least three days before the scheduled date of marriage. Documents to be produced are:

  • a health certificate for each spouse issued by a recognized public or private physician within 15 days before the marriage
  • your birth certificate issued in your home country and authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama
  • your children’s birth certificates if you have any
  • a certificate of celibacy issued in your home country during the two years preceding the scheduled date of marriage (check with your home country’s authorities before proceeding)
  • a divorce or death certificate in case of a previous marriage
  • a Panamanian identity card (if you are a resident) or your passport and visa
  • a statement signed by both parties by stating their wish to marry and mentioning their personal details such as their name, age, nationality, occupations, address, etc.

You will also need two witnesses who are more than 18 years and with whom you have no family ties. If they are expatriates, they will also have to produce their passport and visa attesting of their legality of being in the country of Panama.

If you are marrying a Panamanian citizen, you will not only be able to obtain permanent residency but you will also have the right to apply for a work permit. However, you are required to register your marriage in Panama. Moreover, cohabitation relationships may be pronounced as a “de facto wedding” provided you produce evidence as to the relationship’s authenticity.

Once all these procedures have been completed, you have to celebrate your civil wedding at the court of marriage in the presence of your witnesses. The judge will issue a marriage certificate after your wedding is formalized. Note that you can choose the date and time of the wedding.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama www.mire.gob.pa
Judicial Service of Panama www.organojudicial.gob.pa

So, what culture do you come from? What are your traditions that you want to bring to your perfect wedding? Starting out, we want to include some cultures and traditions for that special day! Starting with a traditional Panama Wedding. There are as many different traditions as there are cultures. We are taking some of our favorites and our list is very small compared to what is available. These are taken from focusministriesinc.com:

INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL WEDDING TRADITIONS

Panama Wedding Traditions – It is customary for the groom to give the bride 13 gold coins during the wedding ceremony, which the Priest blesses. These are a symbol of the groom’s commitment to support his new bride.

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African Wedding Traditions – The Origins of weddings in Africa date back thousands of years and include the combining of two tribes into one family unit. Children marry as young as 13 to 15 years old and divorce is rare as marital problems are worked out on a family and sometimes community level.

Girls are trained from childhood to be good wives and even learn secret codes and languages that allow them to talk to other married women without their husbands understanding them.

Korean Wedding Traditions – Weddings often feature a fortune teller called a Kung Hap, who is called upon to foretell the couple’s future before they are married to determine whether they will live together harmoniously or not. This is especially important as engagement gifts for a traditional Korean wedding can total $40,000.

Filipino Wedding Traditions – Early customs required the groom to throw a spear onto the front porch steps of his fiancé’s home as a dramatic statement that she belongs to him.

In the past weddings lasted as long as 3 days with ceremonies performed each day, until the 3rd day when the couple would join hands and declare their love for one another 3 times. This was followed by the binding of their hands by a priest, who then declared them married.

Middle East Wedding Traditions – This is where the tradition of wearing wedding rings originated and at the wedding each guest is given five almonds that symbolize the five sacred wedding wishes of health, happiness, wealth, fertility and longevity.

It is common for a Middle Eastern wedding to feature five different parties including the engagement party, the party to celebrate the signing of the wedding contract, the Henna Party, Reception and Bridal Shower.

Italian Wedding Traditions – Considered the land of love, which is where the gold wedding ring first gained popularity. Italians also get credit for the first wedding cakes, as bread or cake was traditionally broken over the bride’s head to insure fertility.

A groom in Italy may carry a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off evil spirits and the bride wears a veil to cover her face and hide her from jealous evil spirits. Tearing her veil is considered good luck.

English Wedding Traditions – This is where the tradition of “something old, new, borrowed and blue” began with a nursery rhyme. Something old was a symbol of continuity, something new – hope for the future, something borrowed – happiness and something blue – purity.

The bride sews a good luck charm, such as a silver horse shoe of British Royal brides to the hem of their dress for good luck.

The traditional English wedding cake is a fruitcake, made up with raisins, cherries, ground almonds and marzipan. The top layer of the cake is the “christening cake” which the couple saves for the baptism of their first child.

German Wedding Traditions – At German weddings it is a tradition and considered good luck for the guests to bring old dishes to break. After the dishes are broken, the newly married couple sweep them up together to symbolize that nothing in their house will ever be broken again.

After the wedding reception the best man steals the bride and takes her to a local pub, where they drink Champagne until the groom finds them. He then has to pay for their drinks. Later on, friends of the couple block the exits of the reception hall with ribbons and garlands.

Mexican Wedding Traditions – It is customary for a white ribbon or rosary, called a “lasso” to be draped around the necks of the marrying couple during the wedding vows as a symbol of their union. As the couple leaves the church their guests throw red beads at them for good luck.

At a Mexican wedding reception guests form a heart-shaped circle around the newlyweds as they dance their first dance as husband and wife.

Jewish Wedding Traditions – Jewish weddings have many traditions, including the signing of the wedding contract by the bride and groom, which is called a Ketubah. It is then framed and hung in the couple’s home.

After the vows and seven blessings are read, the groom crushes a wine glass to symbolize the fragility of human happiness. A lively Israeli dance called the “Hora” is performed at the reception.

 

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These are some of many wedding traditions around the globe that are performed somewhere each and every day of the year. Even though wedding can take place any time in Panama, right now is the start of the wedding season in Boquete, Panama. This is a very exciting time for you to “tie the knot” and take the plunge! Here at Casa de Montaña we know and understand the stress and the costs that are involved in putting on a wedding. Give us a call and we can set up special prices for family and friends that will be in town for your wedding. We also have the perfect room for the lucky couple!

The diversity of food choices in Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast we love different flavors of food from around the world. People of Panama have their own delicious cuisine but it is good to try out different flavors as often as we can! With ex-pats from countries around the globe living in Panama and many of them in Boquete, it’s time for us to meet the needs of the tastes we so love!

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At Casa de Montaña we recognize this need and offer a breakfast with an international flair! Flavors from Mexico, Italy, Pakistan, France, Belgium, North America and of course Panama! Manzar Lari, having grown up in Pakistan has a real knowledge of South Asian and East Indian cooking. He brings this to his Cooking Classes that he hosts to teach and share recipes passed down from his mother and the culture he grew up in. Those recipes can also be found on our website by clicking on the following link: http://www.casademontana.com/recipes/ Please feel free to print them off (since each of them are in a pdf format) and give them a try. Don’t forget to let us know how they turned out or if you have any questions. And while we are sharing the above recipes, we thought we would share a few of our other favorite flavors from other places in the world! Starting right here at home in Panama!

One of the greatest sweet breads you can ever sink your teeth into is the local Hojaldra! This is usually served with breakfast and has an incredible texture of crispy on the outside and a soft, succulent interior. Of course the locals will enjoy this bread just the way it is, however, we love to dunk it into a delicious imported maple syrup! Here is the recipe:

 

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Intl. Food: Panamanian                            Yields: 4.5 Servings                      

Ingredients:

1 2/3 Cups Flour + 1/3 Cup Flour for kneading

1 teaspoon Salt

2 ¼ teaspoon Baking Powder

½ teaspoon Sugar

1 Tablespoon Butter, softened

2/3 cup of water

 

Procedure:

  1. Keep 1/3 Flour for kneading.
  2. Soften Butter.
  3. Mix the Flour, Salt, Baking Powder, and Sugar before incorporating the batter.
  4. You will want the mixture to look like wet sand.
  5. Gradually add Water until you end up with very wet dough.
  6. Begin to add the additional flour and knead it in.
  7. You want the dough to feel soft, but not sticky.
  8. Turn it out onto your counter-top and knead it for about 5 minutes.
  9. Separate it into balls, whirl a bit of oil on the bottom of the mixing bowl before dumping the balls of dough in.
  10. Let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, the more they rest the more time it’ll have to rise.

FRYING THE HOJALDRA:

  1. You can roll them out with a rolling pin and stretch them out like a pizza dough just before dropping them in preheated oil on medium high heat. Should be about 5 inches in diameter.
  2. They fry very quickly, about 2 minutes per side, so don’t wander off! Enjoy!

 

Asian cultures have been known for hundreds (if not thousands) of years that wrapping things in lettuce makes an amazing snack or meal. This Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps are Vietnamese-inspired version of a blissful, healthy, flavor-packed return to the wrap’s humble roots.

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Ingredients:                     Yields: 2 Servings

12 oz flank, skirt or sirloin steak

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp hot sauce (we like Siracha)

2 Tbsp fish sauce

Juice of Lime, plus wedges as garnish

1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

½ red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 carrot, grated

1 head Bibb lettuce leaves separated

 

Procedure:

  1. Heat the grill to hot or heat a grill pan over high heat for at least 5 minutes. Season the steak with salt and pepper and toss it onto the grill. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until its firm but yielding to the touch. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the hot sauce, fish sauce, and juice of 1 lime in a small saucepan over low heat.
  3. Slice the steak thinly (if it’s flank or skirt steak, be sure to cut across the grain) and drizzle half of the warm sauce over it. Set out the jalapeno and onion slices, cilantro, carrot, and lettuce, along with the lime wedges and sauce. Use the leaves like tortillas to wrap up the steak slices with the other ingredients.

 

Note: Are you a vegetarian? You can grill mushrooms with goat cheese

2nd Note: You can use curry chicken or grilled fish and guacamole or ground turkey sautéed with ginger, garlic and soy sauce and last of all you can use pulled pork as an option for changing up this recipe. Enjoy!

 

When people look for Subgum chow mein they usually have an idea or memory of a wonderful time and place where they enjoyed this dish with friend and family; it is a difficult thing to replicate. Directly translated “sub gum” in Cantonese means “diverse and varied”, whereas in Mandarin “sub” or “sup” means “10” and “gum” means “Sticky.” So altogether we have a diverse and varied combination of 10 fresh ingredients to accompany your preferred protein in a thick sauce creating a delicious, classic dish for you and your loved ones. This recipe was given to us through the chef of our favorite restaurant in the Minneapolis MN area in the US. It’s by far one of our favorites!

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Subgum Chow Mein

 

Ingredients:                     Yields: 4 Servings

2 Cups diced chicken (or protein of choice)

½ cup vegetable oil, (2 tablespoons if only using veggie, seafood or steamed tofu)

4 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)

The “Sup” 10

2 cup celery

½ cup each of the following:

Onion, bell pepper, water chestnut, bamboo shoot, peapod, cabbage, carrot, white mushroom, & roasted cashews

 

Sauce (Mix together)

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons Michu rice wine or sherry

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ – ½ tsp white or black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons cool water

 

Note: Chopped green onion and extra cashews for garnish are optional

 

Procedure:

  1. Cut all your veggie diagonally, about 1/2” long and ¼” thick
  2. Heat oil in wok until bubbly, toss in chicken, stir fry until ½ cooked (just white outside, this is called blanching) 1-2 minutes
  3. Turn off flame & pour off excess oil, discard, or save for later
  4. With the small amount of oil left sauté garlic and ginger, medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds, toss with meat, brown a little for roasty flavor
  5. Add broth, turn up heat to high
  6. When rapidly boiling add veggies (if too soon veggies overcook)
  7. As it comes to a boil again, add cornstarch/water mix, cook for a minute longer to fully incorporate the starch

Note: Total cook time is about 5-7 minutes over high flame, check your chicken to make sure it is cooked through. Serve over crispy noodles with side of steamed rice.

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast we would love to receive your favorite international dishes and recipes! Feel free to send us an email at: info@casademontana.com with your most delicious dishes and if you are planning a trip to Boquete, Panama, take a look at our specials and book now through our website and you too will enjoy the delicious tastes of an international breakfast here with us! We also schedule cooking classes from time to time. Make sure you ask us about the next cooking class. See you soon!!!

 

Featured Article in International Living!

During a recent interview with International Living, we were asked several questions about us materializing our dream! Please read more here…

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Choice of words can really make a difference! Reflections of B&B owners in Boquete

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

Recently at Casa de Montaña we put out a flier that was about a “back terrace sale” The intent was to sell off stuff that we purchased and brought down from the U.S. when we moved here. We had not used this stuff in over a year and a half since we opened for business. In the flier we tried to create a sense of urgency to come to the sale early and included the following statement “Everything must go!”

Back Patio Sale 1

That particular statement was received by many as an indication that we were closing up shop, selling off everything at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast and were moving out of town!!!

The “Bochinche” (gossip) around town spread like wildfire! People shared their concern by either emailing or calling us directly. This told us how others viewed us as an integral part of this community and made us feel all “warm and fuzzy” and made us realize that we are truly “home” in Boquete, Panama!

A different time that comes to my (Terry’s) mind is when I was trying to give a compliment about how wonderful our dinner was, when we were invited to a friend’s house, was received and interpreted incorrectly. What was said was this, “I think I’ve gained 5 pounds during this meal” What was meant was “Wow, what a delicious dinner”, what was Interpreted was: My food that I worked so hard on is so fattening. Totally different message!

This and other situations around choosing carefully one’s words invoked in me several thoughts around this subject. Should I be more careful and concise regarding the words I choose to say or write? Will what is said and meant always be up for interpretation from the receiver? And how often when we say something we offend them or they offend us? Is this something that comes from lack of confidence?

As I sat there meditating on this, I realized that improvements can be made on all sides. I thought about why this happens and how we talk to others. Does “Bochinche” happen because we want to share our feelings and thoughts around the topic? Do we want to have acknowledgment that we are on the right track with our thoughts? Do we want validation of our own feeling as well? Or do we just have too much time on our hands and not much going on in our own lives?

So often times, we receive something incorrectly. Whether from our other people or even our spouses and this makes us feel lousy about what was said. Is this something that can be changed? Is this something that should be changed? Is this our direct intuition that tells us to receive this information the way we do and it is correct? Or is it our pride? Or our decisive knowledge about that person we just received a message from? How many times is there an undertone from people telling us something? And sometimes, we just really heard it incorrectly!

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One thing that we looked at is that most people are not coming from a place of ill will or ill intent and just trying to start some gossip. It’s just their perception. Look at the following definition of perception:
Source: Boundless. “Introducing the Perception Process.” Boundless Psychology.

Perception is the set of unconscious processes we undergo to make sense of the stimuli and sensations we encounter.

Key Points:

  • Perception refers to the set of processes we use to make sense of the different stimuli we’re presented with. Our perceptions are based on how we interpret different sensations.
  • The perceptual process begins with receiving stimuli from the environment and ends with our interpretation of those stimuli. This process is typically unconscious and happens hundreds of thousands of times a day.
  • When we attend to or select one specific thing in our environment, it becomes the attended stimulus.
  • Organization of stimuli happens by way of neural processes; this starts with our sensory receptors (touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing), and is transmitted to our brains, where we organize the information we receive.
  • After we receive and organize stimuli, we can interpret those stimuli, which simply means that we take the information and turn it into something that we can categorize.

This is one reason why here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast we feel that attending the “Get Out of Your Own Way” 1.5 day workshop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi6nfYI10W8 would be a good choice for accepting the stimuli and information that one senses on face value and without judgment. Good way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and truly live in the present and enjoy each moment.

If that is not going to work out for you at this time, or you are planning a visit to Boquete, Panama, also know that Manzar Lari (Owner of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast) is a Counselor and a Life Coach and offers a free half hour session. You can meet with him and begin to “Get Out of Your Own Way”!

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