Boquete Video Festival Sponsored by Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

Blog by Veronica Pitti

1

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

 

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

tblog1

 

 

 

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.

tblog2

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.)

tblog3

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!

tblog4 tblog5 tblog6 tblog7

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.

tembleques

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.

montuna-santena

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.

img_4770 img_4812

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.

julia1_20x28, 3/22/10, 1:20 PM,  8C, 3920x5896 (1103+984), 100%, calibrate,  1/30 s, R9.2, G1.7, B37.1

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)

pollera-de-lujo

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.

img_5080 website_polleraphotoshoot

 

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!

img_4822

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:

flyer-english flyer-spanish

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!

youtubepicture

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

1

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.

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

9

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

10

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

    Contact Us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

 

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:

w1

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.

w2 w3

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

 

w6

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!

 

w9

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.

boquete viejo

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.

reina abanderarotraje de fantasia

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.

cabalgata niños

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.

IMG_2729

 

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!

IMG_2765 cabalgata

 

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!

IMG_2684 pets day

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.

church day

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

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

 

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

uber 1

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

uber 2

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

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

uber3

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

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

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

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

uber4

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

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

uber5

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

uber6

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

uber7

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

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

 

uber8

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

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

Uber11

Boquete Community Players: A true cast of characters!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Presentation1

 

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

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

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

 

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

3

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

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

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

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

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

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

6

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

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

 

 

 

COPA AIRLINES – Several flights between Panama and other countries!

Blog by Debra Harwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog by Manzar Lari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 4 5

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

 

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.

34

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!

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

1  2

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.

                                          3 4

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.

 

                                                      5 6

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!

                               21

 

 

 

 

 

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:

 

3

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.

4

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!

5

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!!!

 

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!

001

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”!

Dreaming of opening a Bed & Breakfast / Inn in Boquete, Panama?

Blog by Terry Richmeier and Manzar Lari

Our Logo Re-Sized

Has this been a lifelong dream of yours? Do you want to reinvent yourself? Do you enjoy being around people? Are you open to taking some risks in your life? Do you like to travel and appreciate different cultures? Do you have some financial means to make your dream a reality? Well, it sounds like your time has come to take that leap and own an international B&B!

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we started out by spending a few years researching what it takes to start and open a bed and breakfast. During that time we were getting our business plan solidified and our finances in order. After all the preparations, building our home, learning the government requirements, jumping through hoops and finding the financial support, seminars on running a bed & breakfast and developing a marketing plan, we opened Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast on Friday, January 10th, 2014. We are truly blessed that our business has been well-received by our guests and the Boquete community alike. Our biggest challenge has been to learn all aspects of operating a business in a different culture than we had been used to. With all kinds of challenges we face we have to dig in and research and find the answers as well find support that will work best for us.

1483282_471002276342951_462131993_n

Within the past several months, we have been approached by people who are looking into the possibility of opening their own bed and breakfast or even a restaurant or two.  We have chosen to share our experiences and knowledge with these folks. We have sat down with these folks for a chat. It generally starts with an informal conversation and answering any questions that they might have. We generally continue through emails back and forth. Questions from Marketing to Hours of Operation to the choice of builders and architect, all are fair game.

Recently we completed a three month training for a lady whom we equipped with all she needs to get her own bed and breakfast underway. She is a friend of ours who has had the dream for many years to be a bed and breakfast owner/operator. It was a good opportunity for us to sit down and write up all the processes. In addition, we created a checklist that contained each aspect of the business so that we didn’t miss training her on anything. The process worked out really well. She was eager to learn and took her role of a “trainee” very seriously! One minute she was helping out with the recipes in the kitchen, a bit later she was working in the office learning our business machines, and later in the evening she was hobnobbing with the guests at the upstairs bar for the Social Hour! This gave her some solid experience in seeing for herself what day-to-day life looks like at a bed and breakfast. It worked out for us too since we learned some things also as we looked at all aspects of our operations. We were able to update and fine-tune some processes that needed to be changed. We also appreciated the extra help we received from her as much as she appreciated learning new skills.

DSC023401

So come and stay with us here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast and ask us all the questions you want about opening a business or bed and breakfast in Panama or even in your own hometown. We will honestly tell you all we know, or at least our experiences and perspectives, and encourage you to follow your dreams, whatever they may be!

The Headaches of Traveling – Yes, Even to Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

So you are headed out on vacation and you are possibly even going across the oceans. You’re excited to see Panama and in particular, Boquete. This “Valley of Eternal Spring” is calling out your name and you want to experience everything, especially outdoor activities. You have even planned a wonderful full body, hour-long massage for when you are there!

Your journey to the airport starts out great but you end up with headaches, neck aches, pain in your legs and joints and that’s just since you got on the plane and sat down! Suddenly the fun vacation trip that you embarked on doesn’t seem like too much “fun”. You are now concerned about the long journey. Or is it the lack of sleep or the fact that you will miss your own bed bringing you down? Worse yet, hope you are not getting sick. Your mind starts to race and you think of several possibilities, each worse than the previous one!

Image 001

So you give yourself a pep talk. “Ok, this is going to be fun and I can take some medicine when I arrive and I will feel better and then I can get back to enjoying my vacation. I have taken the airborne so I should be protected and I have all my shots. Damn it! I am going to have a great vacation so just stop this nonsense”.

And you are right, you will have a great time and you will be just fine. Many factors can affect our mood and our thoughts and traveling can indeed take its toll on both. Having a positive outlook is a great beginning and can make an entire trip better. With that part intact, what can you do with the physical burdens of traveling? Are there some exercises that can be done during your travels and your time away from home?

Image 002

Here is some information taken from http://www.staytuned.com.au/health-articles/10-tips-to-prevent-back-and-neck-pain-during-flights/

Frequent business trips and long haul travel can have a detrimental effect to lower back and neck health.  Sitting for long periods in a cramped chair and a stuffy environment can create and exacerbate musculoskeletal complaints.  It’s the last thing you need if you are in and out on a quick business trip where efficiency is the key and the worst thing to happen when you arrive at your long awaited tropical destination.

1. Drink lots of water before and during your flight.  This works on many different levels.

  • Drinking lots of water will leave you feeling less jetlagged and less dehydrated post flight.
  • Water keeps your joints and discs hydrated which in turn reduces stiffness and decompression of your spine.
  • It makes you need to go to the toilet.  This means you have to be mobile throughout the flight.

 

2. Every hour, get up and walk for five minutes around the cabin.

  • Not only does it increase circulation and help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, but it reduces stiffness in the joints and tightness in your muscles.

3. Complete some easy stretches for your lower back every hour.  Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 1 to 3 times each.

  • Seated glute stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Flank stretch

4. Carry a good travel pillow, preferably not a blow up one, so your neck is as supported as possible.  Also carry socks so that you don’t get cold feet and tense up.  An additional pillow to place under your feet or at the small of your back is also very useful.

5. If you have a history of lower back pain, before your flight it is possible to purchase convenient blow up lumbar supports to fit into the small of your back while you are sitting.  This helps to maintain the normal curve in your lower back, promoting excellent alignment and helps you to maintain good posture.

6. Complete some easy stretches for your neck every other hour.  Hold the stretches for 30 seconds and repeat 1 to 3 times.

  • Trap stretch
  • Pec stretch
  • Rotator cuff stretches
  • Shoulder shrugs and circles.

7. Research prior to your flight where the best seats are on the plane.  The websites seatexpert.com and seatguru.com have done all the research for you.  Type in the plane model that you are flying, it will outline the pros and cons of all the seats.  You can then try to request one that will best suit your needs for the flight. Optimally, seats that recline fully or the pods in first class and business class are the best for your back.

As a general rule, requesting an aisle seat or exit row means more leg room and avoiding seats near the toilets where people queue will prevent being bumped into.  The last row of chairs in an aircraft generally don’t recline.

8. Heat and Ice Packs.  It is possible to purchase heat and ice packs that can be activated without the use of a microwave.  Consider purchasing a small quantity of these to provide symptomatic relief of any back or neck pain.  Be sure not to burn yourself.  It is recommended to place a piece of cloth or clothing between you and the heat/ice pack.  Also take note of the liquid content in the heat or ice pack.  Make sure the volume does not exceed that of airline allowances.

9. Medication.  Speak to your pharmacist or GP regarding appropriate medication that might assist you if your back becomes irritated during the flight.

10. In the event that you do aggravate your back and neck during the flight, it is useful to have pre researched an appropriate health care practitioner that you could visit conveniently.  This not only cuts out a lot of hassle that wastes time in your trip but also gives you some peace of mind.  If you are super organized, requesting a letter from your current health care practitioner describing your back pain complaint and current management will help the new practitioner to get a handle more quickly on your presenting complaint.

Also, take a look at this very quick video: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/exercises-airplane-10614.html

We hope that you find the above information helpful. At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, each room has a super comfortable queen size bed with a memory foam mattress and pillows. We can also assist you in setting up Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates classes. There are places in town to get Spa treatments. We can even schedule a massage therapist who can do in-room massages! We truly believe that a vacation should be a time for relaxation and rejuvenation of your body, mind and spirit and Boquete is just the place to do it. See you soon!

Looking to relocate to Boquete, Panama? Take the Boquete Overview Tour first!

By Terry Richmeier and Manzar Lari

bot

Considering an international move can be overwhelming. Even the idea of it seems just too far-fetched and unattainable to most people. Here at Casa de Montaña we were once in your shoes as well. We had many questions that permeated our daily thoughts and even took away our sleep on many occasions. These questions took us all over the place – from residency questions to fear based comments of ‘’what the heck are we thinking of doing’’!   We had a long journey ahead of us and we took it one step at a time, starting with the land purchase to designing of our home, building of our home, furnishing our home and then eventually setting up and starting our business as a bed & breakfast. Looking back we can now see how far along we have come but it all started with setting the intention to do something and then staying the course. We are pleased to say that things have actually worked out for us quite well. There are some things we have learned along the way and we continue to learn something new each and every day. We want to help you along your journey as you try to reconcile between your desire for something better or different and the fear of ‘’what the heck are we thinking’’!

First of all, if you have done any level of research about Boquete, you are most probably aware of many of the benefits people write about on the internet such as the spring-like climate, availability of creature comforts, many volunteer opportunities, easy residency qualification, senior benefits, a robust expat community and tranquil living, just to name a few. We want to go deeper. We want to go beyond the basics and really engage in a dialogue or two and see what is truly important to you! (Manzar really cannot help himself… he is a Life Coach and a Psychologist at heart and by profession and is quite passionate about seeing others materialize their dreams).

There is the question of ‘’Do we build a home, buy a home or maybe we just want to rent”? The answer is different for different people. It’s important to know in advance what you may or may not be facing once you move here and see how you want to progress. While it is assumed that there are always some risks involved here since you are not going to be able to know everything ahead of time, it is also advisable to get the “real scoop” from people who are already living here to mitigate those risks.

Of course, a good place to start is with an email conversation or two with us! Feel free to ask away and we will respond with our best knowledge on the subject. We have also put together a ‘’relocation’’ tab on our webpage (http://www.casademontana.com/boquete-relocation/) that will give you referrals to people in their field of expertise to get you started. There are links to some great websites and blogging sites as well. While this is all great information, it is still not going to be a substitute for actually coming and visiting a time or two to really get a feel for Boquete and the many Panamanians and expats that call this place their home. Just makes sure you give yourself several days (a week or more?) so you can experience some of the activities and sites for yourself and visit with some people for heart-to-heart conversations.

While you’re here, let’s sit down during our Social Hour or find some time to answer your questions to the best of our abilities as we have been through this process and continue to keep up on the latest information. From time-to-time we invite some of our many expat friends to join us during the Social Hour to have informal discussions with our guests who are contemplating a move to Boquete. Many of our guests have found these discussions to be very informative and helpful in solidifying their game plan as they formalize their strategy – an informed mind is a restful mind!

While you are staying with us, or even if you are staying elsewhere, set up and plan a BOT – BOQUETE OVERVIEW TOUR ($35 per person, minimum of two people). BOT is designed specifically for you to find out answers about Boquete and the neighborhoods within and surrounding Boquete. From the comfort of our van you will tour through and visit many of the neighborhoods in Boquete and you will learn about the types of housing (for sale as well as rental) available in each of the neighborhoods. We will talk about Boquete’s micro-climates and things to consider before committing to living in a particular neighborhood. The main goal of this 3.5 hour tour is to help you see possible areas and neighborhoods that you could call home here BEFORE sitting down with any of the realtors in town. Why waste your time looking at their computer with multiple listings and visiting potential homes to buy or rent when you don’t even have an idea of the various neighborhoods that may be more to your liking?

Some things to consider prior to committing to live in Boquete area: What kind of residency will I qualify for that will suit my needs? How much will it cost me per month to live in Boquete? What are my healthcare options? What kind of internet and WIFI signal strength is available in an area if I am planning to work remotely while living here? What about the cable service, is it any good? Will I get a lot of channels? Can I rely on the electrical power or should I be purchasing a back-up generator, just in case? Are there water distribution issues and is the water drinkable? Should I be concerned about safety? Are there zoning laws I should be concerned about if I am thinking of starting a business from my future property? Is mold a problem? Are there areas that have extremely high wind certain times of the year? Are there areas that get more rain? We may not have all the answers but we have resources that we can connect you to so that you can find the answers.

So begin with us and the Boquete Overview Tour through Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast and then we can get you connected to the right real estate persons for your needs as well as many of our expat friends. Oh, by the way, some of the real estate agents do rental management as well! Mention that you would like to schedule with us for the tour while you book through our website. Don’t forget to look at our current “specials” before booking your stay with us. They are tailor-made for you. See you soon!

Living in Panama and embracing the Spanish language!

Blog by Terry Richmeier and Manzar Lari

 

SpanishPreguntas

 

When we first moved to Boquete, Panama, we knew that we would need to learn Spanish or at least retain some words in order to order our lunch (almuerzo) or Dinner (cena) and maybe a word or two to know how to ask “how much?” (cuánto).

What we didn’t realize is that we needed to know more than what we originally thought. What words do you need to know if you have pain and need to see a Doctor? What if the pain is in your back or your neck? Then, when the plumbing clogs up and you need to describe this to the plumber, what then? And there are always these little things about food allergies or that you may not want anything to drink that has sugar (sin azúcar). When the order arrives, you end up getting a flavored tea that has Splenda in it and that was not what you wanted!

Frase

Navigating through these challenges and struggling for the right words to use can be frustrating to say the least. For some people it can be as easy as sitting down with a book of Spanish words and phrases and learn the vocabulary and grammar. For some others, it is advisable to take a Spanish class and for still others, taking private lessons is the key. And after all the time and money spent, most still have a difficult time retaining the new words and applying them in their proper forms of conjugation. How many forms of conjugation does one really need?!?! Practice is crucial in order to retain any new learning.

Here in Panama, the people are so happy and thus forgiving with our language difficulties. If we just try, they love us for trying. TERRY here at Casa de Montaña was out at a restaurant eating. He mustered up enough courage to try a back-words compliment by telling the waiter that he “did not like his food” (No me gusta mi comida). This was after Terry finished the entire plate. At first the waiter laughed and then thought for a second that Terry was not kidding. Maybe he really did not like his food after all? This made Terry nervous and so he tried to explain that he loved his food. (No, no, te amo!) What Terry actually said in Spanish was that he did not love the waiter. Embarrassing moments were shared by all! Everything turned out ok. However, Terry learned that joking in a different language is off limits until he knows more!

Here is a clip of a Spanish speaking person who tries to speak English. This must be what we as English speaking people sound like when trying to speak in a foreign language.

 

 

 

 

Ser y estar

 

Foreign languages are hard to learn as an adult. Studies show that learning a second language as a child is much easier. Take a look at this article from the American Council on the teachings of foreign languages:

http://www.actfl.org/advocacy/discover-languages/for-parents/cognitive

How to i learn

And why can some people comprehend and retain it better than others? The four components of language learning include: speaking, reading, writing and listening. The following article asserts that out of the four, listening (or comprehension) is the most difficult one to acquire and master:

http://www.mezzoguild.com/foreign-language-aspect-you-cant-bullshit/

 

As for Manzar (co-owner of Casa de Montaña), being fluent in two languages already, has an above average understanding of conjugations, has been open to learning Spanish, he is treating all this as a “delightful challenge”! He has gone from home studies, then to two Spanish classes and is now taking private lessons. This challenge is opening up new horizons for him and eventually he will become tri-lingual. He states that contrary to popular opinion it is really not that much easier for him to learn Spanish just because he already knows two languages!

Terry (co-owner of Casa de Montaña) on the other hand has just enough words to sound like the above video and is so proud when he can get his staff to understand him! Of course, most of that is the fact that the staff can think outside the box when communicating with Terry and can generally figure out what Terry is asking them!

Veronica (one of the staff) has decided to get a degree in English and every night, Monday through Friday, is going to classes at the University as she has a true desire to understand and speak English. We at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast are supporting her in any way possible.

Andres (our office staff) came to us speaking both Spanish and English and has helped us along the way with not only answering the phone in Spanish but interpreting during staff meetings and writing up all our informational flyers as well as information that we have included in the binders for the bedrooms and anything else that we need his assistance with.

Nicolas (our other staff) will start his day speaking to us in English and seems to easily understand our English, hand gestures and voice overs we use to tell him what we need done. He will quietly and respectfully slip in the correct word we need into the conversation helping us to learn new Spanish words!

Hola

In most countries around the world, the governments and schools are requiring that two languages are taught. Germany requires three languages and in Pakistan English and Urdu are required in many schools. Panama is no different! This country is working towards their schools becoming bi-lingual. Almost anywhere you go in Boquete you will find an English speaking Panamanian who will gladly help you get your point across.

The 4 most spoken languages in the world are in this order: 1-Mandarin 2-Englsih 3-Hindi/Urdu 4- Spanish. This means that Spanish is an important language for most of us to learn. The following article shares the top ten:

http://dailynewsdig.com/top-ten-spoken-languages-world-2014/

So while you are staying with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, why not enroll in a Spanish class or two? It is a fun way to learn a language as well as the culture and meet some interesting people. We have many options here to choose from. Do contact us directly through email or by calling us to inquire about the special Spanish language student rates and where to enroll! Hasta Pronto!!!

%d bloggers like this: