Cooking Class #8

 

Celebrando Semana Santa en Panamá

Blog por Andres Lay

Traducido por Omar Fuentes

Panamá no tiene religión oficial, aproximadamente 82 por ciento de la población panameña se identifica como católica romana. Tomando esto en cuanta, te podrás imaginar que la pascua, el día de la conmemoración de la resurrección de Jesucristo, es una fecha muy importante aquí en Panamá. El domingo de pascua es celebrado el 16 de Abril este año. Pero esto no inicia aquí, antes del domingo de resurrección hay 40 días de ayuno, oración y penitencia. La última semana es llamada la semana santa que inicia con el domingo de ramos y culmina con el domingo de resurrección. Durante este periodo hay tres días de oración: el jueves santo conmemorando la última cena; el viernes santo conmemora la crucifixión y muerte de Jesús; y el sábado santo, el último día de cuaresma.

Para muchos católicos, la cuaresma es el momento litúrgico más significante del año. No es el tiempo de recordar a Jesucristo de manera triste sino, un periodo de devoción, oración y reflexión de los misterios de la pasión y muerte de Jesús. La semana santa es el tiempo para orar, sacrificar, arrepentirnos de nuestros pecados y renovar la fe cristiana. También es tiempo de celebración para muchos panameños, ya que muchos optan los días libres para relajarse y viajar.

La Pascua es un tiempo oportuno para los panameños para viajar a visitar sus familiares alrededor del país. Muchos se dirigen a playas o pueblos con montañas (Como Boquete), pasan tiempos con sus familiares, o disfrutan de alguna otra manera de entretenimiento. También hay cierta cantidad de católicos panameños que se congregan y participan en actividades que se dan en la iglesia.

Ayuno y abstinencia durante cuaresma

Como anteriormente mencione, cuaresma es el periodo de 40 días de ayuno, oración y penitencia… Pero qué significa esto?

  • Ayuno significa comer una comida cada día
  • Abstinencia significa no comer ningún tipo de carne
  • Miércoles de ceniza y viernes santo son días de ayuno y abstinencia
  • La abstinencia es requerida en creyentes mayores de 14 años, y el ayuno desde los 18 hasta los 59 años de edad.

Similar a cualquier otra festividad en Panamá, durante estas fechas las reservaciones en hoteles se agotan rápido. Si está deseando viajar a Boquete durante esta época, asegúrese de hacer su reservación en Casa de Montaña pronto. Ya estamos recibiendo reservaciones y muchas preguntas para estas fechas de Semana Santa, contáctenos pronto. Esperamos compartir están fecha especial con usted.

 

Celebrating Holy Week in Panama

Blog by Andres Lay

While Panama has no official religion, approximately 82 percent of the population of Panama identify as Roman Catholic. Therefore, as one would imagine, Easter — the holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ — is an important time here in Panama. This year, the Easter holiday is celebrated on Sunday, April 5th, though it doesn’t begin there. Preceding this is Lent, which is a period of forty days of fasting, prayer and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week (aka, “Semana Santa”) which begins with Palm Sunday and culminates with Easter Sunday. Within this period is the Easter Triduum, a three-day period of prayer: Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper; Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus; and Holy Saturday, the last day of Lent.

For many Catholics, Easter is the most significant liturgical moment of year. It is a time not for sadly remembering Christ’s sufferings, but rather a period of devotion to prayer and reflection on the mysteries of the Passion and Death of Jesus. Holy week is a time to pray, sacrifice, repent for one’s sins, and restore one’s Christian faith. It is also a time for celebration, and for many Catholic Panamanians it has become a holiday for relaxation, travel, or both.

Easter is an opportune time for Panamanians to travel within the country to visit relatives. Many sojourn to beaches or mountain towns (such as Boquete), spend quality time with family, or enjoy one form of entertainment or another. There is also a significant amount of Catholic Panamanians who congregate and participate in activities they perform with their church.


Fasting and abstinence during Lent

As previously mentioned, Lent is a period of forty days of fasting, prayer and penance… but what does this mean? It breaks down like this:

– Fasting means to eat only one main meal each day.

– Abstinence means not eating any meat.

– Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the days of abstinence and fasting.

– Abstinence is required of believers older than 14, and fasting is required of those from age 18 to 59 years old.

Similar to many other holidays in Panama, accommodations during this time tend to be a hot commodity. If you are desiring to travel to Boquete during this time, be sure to make your reservation at Casa de Montana soon. We are already getting inquiries and bookings for Holy Week, so be sure to contact us promptly! We look forward to sharing this special sacred occasion with you.

Así hablamos en Panamá

Blog por Omar Fuentes.

Los panameños tenemos una manera muy distintiva de hablar. Hay muchas expresiones que quizás no tengan sentido para ti. Pero en realidad tienen un significado.

Aquí hay una lista de las expresiones más populares que escucharas en la calle o cuando viajes en transporte público. Así podrás tener una idea de lo que está pasando en tu entorno.

 

 

 

 

Palabra utilizada Significado real Significado para los Panameños
Mantequilla Grasa de la leche separada por agitación o mezclado. Algo irrelevante o de poca importancia
Marear Sentir nauseas Molestar a alguien, o mentir para evitar pagar una deuda.
Fresco Moderadamente frio Lazy person
Chilea De la palabra en inglés “chill” Tomalo con calma
Goma Pegamento Resaca
A otro nivel Pasar a otro estado de donde estaba. Mejor de lo usual!
Ayala vida! Palabra utilizada para demostrar asombro. Dios mio!
La botaste Tirar algo Hacer algo que llama la atencion y es gracioso
Chuleta loco Chuleta se refiere a la carne del cerdo y loco a no estar cuerdo Que problema!
Que xopa! Es una inversion de la palabra que paso Que pasa?
Meto! Palabra que demuestra asombro en algo, utilizada en la provincia de Chiriqui. Es como decir “ayala vida”
Offi! De la palabra en ingles “Off course” Seguro! Si.
Eres una botella Se refiere a tener forma de botella Persona que recibe salario sin trabajar.
Cuara De la palabra en inglés “quarter” Moneda de 25 centavos
Cojelo suave Agarrar algo con calma Calmate!
Pinta Medida para liquidos Cerveza
Transar De la palabra en inglés “transaction” Robar
Gial De la palabra en inglés “girl” Mujer
Plata Metal Indica dinero
Guaro Esta palabra es proveniente de lationamerica Licor
Chiquillo Diminutivo de la palabra chico Para referirse a un niño
Buco De la palabra en francés  “beaucoup” Mucho
Parkiar De la palabra en inglés “park” Reunirse en un lugar y divertirse
Chantin De la palabra en inglés  “Shanty” Casa
Chance Oportunidad Billete de loteria
Vaina Algo que cubre Para referirse a una cosa a la que usualmente no saben el nombre.
Gringo Del ingles “Green go!” Esta palabra se utilizó para pedir que las tropas Americanas salieran del país.
Estoy salado Tener sal en el cuerpo Tener mala suerte
Fren De la palabra en inglés “Friend” Amigo

Algunas de estas palabras son originarias de la construcción del canal de Panamá con la llegada de personas de Estados Unidos y Francia.

Aparte del idioma de español en Panamá, existen 5 grupos indígenas que tienen su propio lenguaje, los cuales no están relacionados en lo absoluto con el idioma español.

Nicolás es parte de nuestro equipo de limpieza y mantenimiento en Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast, pertenece a la comarca Ngabe Bugle. Él dice que él aprendió a hablar español cuando empezó a ir a la escuela. Cuando él era niño muchas Ngabe Bugle no hablaban español, pero hoy en día solo pocas personas no saben hablar español. La mayoría ya son bilingües.

Espero hayan disfrutado de esta información. Hay muchas otras expresiones que compartiré en futuros posts. Así que cuando escuchen a un panameño usar alguna de estas expresiones, tendrán una ideas de lo que está pasando. Cuando estes en Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, puedes acercarte a hablar con Nicolas o conmigo (Omar) ya que crecimos en este país y podremos compartir más información interesante contigo!

Panamanian Language – Fascinating Spanish Slangs and Expressions!

Blog by Omar Fuentes.

Panamanians have a very distinctive way of speaking, there are a lot of expressions that might not make sense to you, since they actually have an alternative Panamanian meaning (slang).

Here is a list of some of the most popular Panamanian expressions that you will hear whenever you are walking on the streets of Boquete, around Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, other hotels in Panama, or going on any public transportation. We have created a short list so you can have some idea about what they are referring to.

 

 

 

 

Spanish Word

True Meaning   Panamanian Slang Meaning
Mantequilla Butter Means that is not that important, irrelevant.
Marear Get somebody dizzy Bother someone, lie just to avoid paying a debt.
Fresco Fresh Lazy person
Chilea Chill Take it easy
Goma Glue Hangover
A otro nivel To another level Better than usual
Ayala vida! Oh Life! Oh my God!
La botaste You threw it Do something that calls the attention and is funny.
Chuleta loco Pork chops crazy What a problem!
Que xopa! What’s up What’s going on?
Meto! N/A It is an expression that shows amusement on something. Most likely used in Chiriqui
Offi! Off course Sure!
Eres una botella You are a bottle Person that receives a salary without working
Cuara From the word “quarter” Twenty five cent coin
Cojelo suave Take it slow Take it easy!
Pinta Pint Beer
Transar From the word “transaction” Steal
Gial From the word “girl” Woman
Plata Silver Indicantes money
Guaro This word comes from Latin America Liquor
Chiquillo From the word chico (small) To refer to a kid
Buco From the French “beaucoup” that means a lot. A lot!
Parkiar Park (Like Parking a car) To get together and have fun
Chantin From the English word “Shanty” To refer to their home
Chance Chance Lottery bill
Vaina Sheath To refer to a specific thing
Gringo Green go! This word was used by the natives to take out any American military from their territory
Estoy salado I am salty To have bad luck
Fren Friend To refer to a friend

Some of the words that are used come from a different language that has had influence in the country during the Panama Canal construction like France and United States.

Besides Spanish, there are 5 different indigenous groups that also have their own language, which is not related with Spanish at all and most Panamanians do not know the languages.

Nicolas who is part of the team at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast is from the Ngabe Bugle tribe (Pronounced No vay Boo glay), he stated that he learned to speak Spanish when he went to School. When he was a kid not many Ngabe Bugle spoke Spanish but nowadays only few people there do not know how to speak Spanish, most of them are bilingual.

I hope you enjoyed this post. There are some more expressions that I will share with you in future posts. So now whenever you listen to a Panamanian using any of these expressions you will have an idea of what’s going on. When you stay at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, come and talk with Omar and Nicolas about their growing up Panamanian and their languages.

Pensando en mudarse a Boquete? Flexibilidad es Crucial para adaptarse al nuevo país. (Ya no estás en Kansas!!!)

BLOG por Terry Richmeier

Así que has estado investigando, leyendo y escuchando mucho acerca de retirarse o mudarse a Boquete, Panamá. Te emocionas a medida que aprende más sobre vivir la vida de un extranjero! Escuchas que el costo de vida es menor y tu dinero puede ir más lejos. También que el cuidado de la salud es económico y te gusta lo que escuchas. Lees sobre el clima perfecto y el estilo de vida tranquilo de una comunidad pacífica. Cuanto más lees, más te emocionas y planeas tu viaje para visitar Boquete. Vienes con más preguntas e incluso después de todo lo que lees, su mente sigue produciendo más preguntas…

Así que aquí en Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast queremos hacerte una pregunta. ¿Cuán flexible eres? ¿Eres consciente de las diferencias culturales y puede adaptarse a esas diferencias? ¿Qué hay de la vida nocturna de Boquete, y la disponibilidad de productos que están acostumbrados? Queremos crear una conciencia de que puede que tengas que hacer algunos ajustes y seas capaz de ser flexible cuando te mudes aquí.

Lo más probable es que el primer ajuste que puedas tener que hacer es sobre la barrera del idioma. Ahora, a menos que usted sea lo suficientemente bendecido como para haber tenido clases de español o haber crecido aprendiendo español, puede experimentar ansiedad y estrés simplemente tratando de comunicar sus necesidades. Manzar y yo tomamos una verdadera clase básica de español para los viajeros ofrecidos por el centro de educación comunitaria donde estábamos viviendo en ese momento. Eso fue todo. Entonces tuvimos que lanzarnos a aprender un nuevo idioma tan pronto como llegamos. ¡Es un ajuste pero muy trabajable! Aquí en Boquete, hay un montón de extranjeros de habla inglesa que están registrados en las clases ya sea en: Habla Ya, español por el río o contratan tutores privados para aprender español. Obtendrás lo que necesitas y la competencia del idioma español llegará con el tiempo. Aquí en Boquete, Panamá, muchos lugareños también hablan algo de inglés y mientras usted trata de hablar español, los lugareños están realmente impresionados y trabajan duro para entender lo que estás diciendo. Las palabras que necesita son más fáciles de acceder y, por supuesto, los teléfonos inteligentes ofrecen Google Translate, que siempre ayuda. Aprendí sobre la comida en primer lugar ya que sentí esto como el aspecto más necesario a la hora de aprender español!

La siguiente lucha para mí fue conseguir los elementos que necesitaba. He aquí un ejemplo: yo uso un cepillo de dientes Sonic Care y para mi sorpresa, los cepillos de dientes de repuesto no estaban disponibles en Panamá. Bueno, como ustedes saben, estas pequeñas “molestias” son oportunidades para encontrar una solución. Yo, como muchos otros, compran en Amazon.com y envían las cosas que no podemos encontrar aquí.

Algunas diferencias culturales que pueden tomar un ajuste de su parte, se resuelven fácilmente si quieres experimentar un cambio. Adaptarse a la cultura y la práctica de la comprensión. Estamos en el ambiente Panameño y somos nosotros los que tenemos que adaptarnos a la vida aquí, no al revés. Aquí en Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast hemos luchado para tener una “vida tranquila y pacífica”. Esto parece realmente grande en la medida en que usted puede ver con su corazón, ¿verdad? El problema ocurre cuando se le dice que vendrán y conectarán el cable o Internet mañana, lo que puede significar en cualquier momento entre mañana y un mes a partir de ahora, ¡NO HOY! Esto es parte del estilo de vida tranquilo y debe ser capaz de adaptarse a esto.

En Panamá la gente es pacífica y no confronta. Boquete tiene perros que hablan entre sí todo el día y la noche. Hay gallos que cantan todo el día y la noche. Panamá celebra en voz alta sus vacaciones e independencias (de España y Colombia). Los panameños están orgullosos de su patrimonio y se nota!

Puede que tengas que ir a 5 tiendas diferentes para encontrar lo que está buscando. Y tendrás un tiempo duro encontrando estacionamiento en frente de la tienda que desea visitar. Estos son todos los ajustes que usted puede enfrentar y hacer una resolución de aprendizaje y pacífica. La aceptación es la clave. Aprender a preguntar precisamente lo que necesita reemplazará las confrontaciones. Use tapones para los oídos al intentar descansar con ayuda de los perros ladrando y los gallos. Cuando hay una gran celebración, tomar el tiempo para vacaciones en otro lugar. Pase sus vacaciones con su familia y amigos. Tómese un día entero para ir de compras y no tener prisa. Haga que alguien espere a que la gente aparezca para que no esté encerrado en sentarse y esperar.

Cuando vinimos aquí a Boquete, Panamá, nos enamoramos de él de inmediato y comenzamos nuestro viaje a la construcción de nuestro Bed and Breakfast. Y nos lanzaron en el proceso de ajustes casi inmediatamente! Es realmente factible, sólo tiene que ser flexible y listo para hacer ajustes también.

¡El viaje vale la pena! Si tiene más preguntas o siente que le gustaría conocer más sobre la cultura aquí en Panamá y en Boquete, por favor envíenos sus preguntas  y programar un tiempo mientras usted está aquí para venir a visitar. Echa un vistazo a nuestra Tour Boquete Overview mientras estás aquí mirando su potencial nuevo hogar!

Te veo pronto.

Moving to Boquete, Panama? Flexibility is crucial in adapting to the new country (You are not in Kansas anymore!!!)

BLOG BY Terry Richmeier

So you have been researching and reading and hearing a lot about retiring or moving to Boquete, Panama, and you are getting excited as you learn more about living the life of an expat! You hear the cost of living is less and your money can go farther. You hear healthcare is economical and you like what you hear. You read about the perfect weather and the tranquil lifestyle of a peaceful community. The more you read, the more you get excited and you plan your trip to visit Boquete. You come down loaded with more questions and even after all you read, your mind continues to produce more questions…

So we here at Casa de Montaña bed and breakfast want to ask you a question. How flexible are you? Are you aware of cultural differences and can you adjust to those differences? How about the night life of Boquetenians, and the availability of products you are used to? We want to create an awareness that you may have to make some adjustments and are you able to be flexible when you move here.

Most likely the first adjustment that you may have to make is about the language barrier. Now, unless you are blessed enough to have had Spanish lessons or grew up learning Spanish, you may experience anxiety and stress just trying to communicate your needs. Manzar and I took a real basic class of Spanish for travelers offered by the community education center where we were living at the time. That was it. Then we had to throw ourselves into learning a new language just as soon as we arrived. It is an adjustment but very workable! Here in Boquete, there are a lot of English speaking ex-pats who are registered in classes either at Habla Ya or Spanish by the river or they hire private tutors in order to learn Spanish. They are getting what they need and Spanish competency will come eventually. Here in Boquete, Panama, many locals also speak some English and as long as you try speaking Spanish, the locals are really impressed and work hard to understand what you are saying. The words you need become easier to access and of course, smart phones offer Google Translate, which always helps. I learned about food first and foremost as I felt this as the most necessary aspect of learning Spanish!

The next struggle for me was getting the items I needed. Here is an example: I use a Sonic Care toothbrush and much to my surprise, the replacement toothbrushes were not available in Panama. Well, as you may know, these little “annoyances” are opportunities to find a solution. I, like many others, shop on Amazon.com and have the stuff delivered that we cannot find here.

Some cultural differences that can take an adjustment on your part are easily resolved if you let yourself undergo a change. Adjust to the culture and practice understanding. We are in the Panama world and we are the ones that have to adjust to the life here, not the other way around. We here at Casa de Montaña bed and breakfast struggled and still do with the “tranquil and peaceful life”. This seems really great as far as you can see with your heart right? The problem happens when you are told that they will come and hook up the cable or internet tomorrow, which can mean anytime between tomorrow and a month from now, just NOT TODAY!  This is part of the tranquil lifestyle and you must be able to adapt to.

In Panama the people are peaceful and non-confrontational. Boquete has dogs that talk to each other all day and night. There are roosters that cock-a-doodle-do throughout the day and night.  Panama celebrates loudly their holidays and independences (from Spain and Colombia). Panamanians are proud of their heritage and it shows!

You may have to go to 5 different stores to find what you are looking for. And you will have a hard time parking in front of the store you wish to visit. These are all adjustments that you can turn around and make a learning and peaceful resolution. Acceptance is key. Learning to ask precisely what you need will replace the confrontations. Wear ear plugs when trying to rest with help with the barking dogs and the rooters. When there is a big celebration, you take the time to vacation somewhere else. Spend your holidays with your family and friends. Take a whole day to shop and don’t be in a hurry. Have someone wait for the people to show up so you are not locked into sitting and waiting.

When we came down here to Boquete, Panama, we fell in love with it right away and we began our journey to building our bed and breakfast. And we

were thrown into the adjustments process almost immediately! It’s really do-able, you just need to be flexible and ready to make adjustments as well.

The journey is worth it! If you have more questions or feel you would like to know more about the culture here in Panama and in Boquete, please send us your questions  and schedule some time while you’re here to come and visit. Check out our Boquete Overview Tour  while you are here looking at your potential new home! See you soon.

At Casa de Montaña in Boquete we are cooking up a storm!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

picture-1So why did we choose international style breakfasts for our guests here at the hotel? Well, it all started with a dream that we both shared of owning our own B&B business and our enjoyment of flavors from all over the world. We have been fortunate enough to get to travel from Canada to Colombia and many places in between. And during our travels, we enjoyed many different cuisines and international foods.  One might ask, how many different ways can you do breakfast? Isn’t breakfast just eggs and toast and some juice and coffee? Our answer to that is a resounding “NO”!

So we sat down (while still living in Minneapolis) one day several months before the opening of Casa de Montaña and began to dream about what we enjoyed the most in food. Thinking specifically about the breakfast flavors we would choose. picture-4The choices in the beginning were somewhat different then what is being served now. picture-2 picture-3This evolution may be because of the ability for us to get certain items here in Panama that we might need. Also, originally we were thinking of breakfasts that included meats. We ruled that out pretty quickly since more and more people are vegetarians or vegan these days. Also, even if someone eats meat, they would gladly skip having meat for breakfast. We decided to do an informal survey of our friends and family about meats versus having a vegetarian breakfast. The vegetarian breakfast won out by far! So, we went back to the drawing board and started again!

picture-5We were fortunate to have Manzar and his sisters take part in learning to cook from their mother! She was an amazing cook and this led us to our first international breakfast (from Pakistan) of Puri, Chana Masala and Kolonji Potatoes.  It is eaten more as a brunch in Pakistan and has been one of our most flavorful and complimented breakfasts! We usually serve it on Tuesdays.

During the time we were developing our breakfasts, Manzar’s oldest sister Rakshinda was visiting in Minneapolis and we decided to make and taste all of the recipes that we had developed. Of course we started with the Pakistani breakfast first and Manzar and his sister made the recipes look so easy. This was a week-long trial period in which we said yes to all of our choices. The joy and fun we had that week was amazing! Who knew this could turn out to be more of an act of love than a challenge!

We made all of the fabulous and vegetarian breakfast that are listed on our website. Starting with Sunday here are the following picture-6breakfasts: Panamanian, Italian, Pakistani, Belgian, American Western, Mexican, and French!

You can take a look at the reviews of our breakfasts on our TripAdvisor page.  as well many reviews telling you about other services we provide and the amenities we have at our Bed & Breakfast.

We started with diverse breakfast choices but why stop there? Here in Boquete, Panama, even the hotels and restaurants do not have many international dining choices for lunches and dinners. So, we wanted to share what Manzar, his mother, sisters and sister-in-law all know in cooking up and preparing Pakistani/Indian cuisine. picture-7We started to share this skill with many of the Boquete residents and guests of Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. We had our first Pakistani/Indian cooking class almost three years ago and it went very well with a full class of incredibly talented people! That was the start of many different classes to come. We are now in the process of repeating some of these incredible cooking classes so that others can learn and enjoy amazing international dinners. By the way, neither David nor Boquete has a single Pakistani or Indian restaurant! You can see photos, menus, and the recipes of these classes on our website.

There is more to come. We have had guests ask if we can schedule a cooking class while they are staying with us. We gladly accommodate if we have enough advance notice. Our next class is this coming Wednesday, January 11th and we are planning to have cooking picture-8 classes in the coming months as well. Who knows, we may do some Thai and Mexican cooking classes next? The possibilities are endless when it comes to what we can come up with. Here in Boquete we are only limited by our own imagination.

When you come and stay at Casa de Montaña ,  talk with Manzar about the secrets that make the International cultural food taste the best. Talk to him about how to cut and fry up the  onions (for example) when cooking Pakistani food or what order to add the ingredients picture-9to make the amazing flavors of the spices blend to create the greatest tasting food! He is full of secrets passed along to him from his mother. And who knows, maybe you too can request cooking class be set up during your stay here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast!

And if cooking is not for you, then come and enjoy our breakfasts while you are relaxing and resting. After breakfast, we can set up an in- room massage or a tour or two. Take a look at our current specials. See you soon!

5

Saying Goodbye to guests and staff at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, Boquete

Blog by Terry Richmeier

1Over the past three years we here at Casa de Montaña have had the pleasure of getting to know our guests and each one of you have made such an impact on us.

We opened with the very first guests. A couple that was from Holland and the wife had just finished her degree to become a doctor. They needed a break and choose Casa de Montaña as that place of respite. Along with them, we had a lovely couple that has a home here in Boquete, Panama, already. The husband wanted his wife to see the bathroom and open shower concept that we introduced to Boquete. She was quite pleased and they took several photos of the shower concept to share the idea to their contractor. We genuinely smiled incredibly proud that we made an impact! This impact started from an open house that we had in order to introduce ourselves to the new community that we fell into and in love with.

From there we continued as we spent the time during our social hour talking with all of 2you, our guests, getting to know you, getting to know more about the world in which you live. The stories of places you visited and your experiences. We learned about Germany, Holland, and cities within them. We learned about Ukraine, Russia, Australia, Israel and South Africa! And the list will go on and on…..

We enjoyed hearing the stories of your adventures here in Boquete, Panama, as you learned about the many steps to getting a cup of coffee to your table. And as you went on the Canopy Tour and you zipped speeding down the track hanging far above the trees! And your whitewater rafting trip to the Costa Rican border! It’s as if we took the adventure along with you!

During this time we had the opportunity to grow. We grew in staff so that we had people here that could speak to you both in Spanish and English. We grew in popularity through TripAdvisor and booking.com.  It is so heartwarming to read what you experienced during your stay here with us. We still to this day go back and read them. Remembering you and your time spent with us. And most importantly, we felt a kinship with each and every one of you, our guests, our hearts were and are still filled with love and happiness! Our lives will never be the same.  The energy, blessings and gratitude we receive do not end!

3What does end is the time you, our guests are here with us. Just before you leave, many times we stop and ask to take a picture with you. Our hearts step up to our throats making it difficult to speak. We act like nothing is wrong and we smile for the shot. Still inside, we are struggling to let you go. You have taken us by storm and we are left with that photo and a small piece of your lives.

As Terry has said, “I can imagine that most parents experience this feeling as their children, now adults, go off to college, or get married and move onto their adult lives.” It is difficult for us to say goodbye, however, you have shaped our lives so tremendously and you have energized us so incredibly, that we are renewed and ready to receive new guests and open our hearts to them and all who stay here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast!

Along with our guests, we have had several employees that have moved on in their lives as well. We also have to say goodbye to them. Sometimes it feels like we are attending a funeral and for days, the remaining staff and all of us are affected.

Just real recently we said goodbye to Debra. Debra decided, after having experienced Casa de Montaña, that she was ready to open a bed and breakfast with her boyfriend in Quito, Ecuador. It about broke our hearts into pieces. Veronica created an exquisite thanksgiving dinner and we all sat together and quietly said how much we loved Debra, some of us could not verbalize it. It was a rather quiet meal until we found humor and all of us, laughed almost too loudly as it was forced.

This is not an isolated incident. It happens every time. And now, it’s happening again. Our wonderful Maria Isabel has decided that at this point in her life, she wants to be with her children. It’s always tough to work when you’re a mother with children and Maria Isabel has an opportunity to be a stay home mom! We can’t fault her for that and what a blessing for her and her children. Maria has this to say shortly before parting from Casa de Montaña:

4I have worked at Casa de Montaña for only 8 months, and I have made great friends. From Veronica whom with her motherly care takes care of all of us, along with Nicolas who is always on top of all the little details on the house maintenance. Natalia who is so detailed on the cleaning and can swiftly clean a room, and Junior who takes great care of our garden. Terry and Manzar have always been so fun to work with.  It’s sad to leave, and it feels like I am leaving my family, not just coworkers. I am sure I will be coming back to visit and bring cupcakes! (Otherwise Terry would not let me in hahaha).

 

So if you see a tear or two running down our eyes, we are ok, we just had to remove our heart from our throats one more time.

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For those who have not been here yet, or who have not stayed with us yet, please do contact us as we have a place in our hearts that only you can fill!

Boquete Video Festival Sponsored by Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

Blog by Veronica Pitti

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

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

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


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

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

Veronica Pitti

 

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Contact Us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

 

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Do I need vaccinations before my trip to Panama?

Blog by Debra Harwood

 

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

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

Most travelers should check into the following before travel:

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

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

 

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Some travelers should check into the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata

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

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

 

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

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.

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

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!

 

A local family moves to Boquete

Blog by. Maria Isabel Zapata

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chicas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boquete Community Players: A true cast of characters!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Cloud Forests of Boquete, Panama

Blog by Debra Harwood

Cloudforest at around 1,600m in Macaya Biosphere Reserve on the Massif de la Hotte, Haiti

Here in Boquete we are fortunate to have some incredible cloud forests where you can spend hours hiking in what truly is a beautiful and breathe taking place on our planet. A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical, moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and vegetation, and why some people call them a mossy forests. Cloud forests usually develop on the saddles of mountains, where moisture introduced by settling clouds is more effectively retained.
Typically, there is a relatively small band of altitude (500m – 4000m) in which the environment is suitable for cloud forest development. This is characterized by persistent fog at the vegetation level, resulting in the reduction of direct sunlight.  Within cloud forests, much of the moisture available to plants arrives in the form of fog drip where fog condenses on tree leaves and then drips onto the ground below.

cloud-forest-panama-1

Cloud forest are extremely important in our world. They are very delicate and dependent on local climates and are strongly affected by global climate change. Results show that the extent of environmentally suitable areas for cloud forest in Mexico will sharply decline in the next 70 years and would lead to extinction of up to 37 vertebrates specific to that region. In addition, climate changes can result in a higher amount of hurricanes, which may increase damage to tropical mountain cloud forests. So the results of climate change will be a loss in biodiversity, altitude shifts in species ranges and community reshuffling, and, in some areas, complete loss of cloud forests. In 2004, an estimated one-third of all cloud forests on the planet were protected which shows that we realize their importance and I do hope that as of 2016 we are protecting well over one-half.
These rare ecosystems are valuable for their beauty and biodiversity conservation, but they also have value to those living around them. They maintain water cycles, provide food sources, and are often attractive centers of tourism and because of that provide many people with their livelihoods.
Important areas of cloud forest are in Central and South America, East and Central Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua-New Guinea, and in the Caribbean.

cloud_forest_bridge_

If you have never experienced a cloud forest please make sure that while you are here in Boquete you take advantage of Mother Nature’s beautiful gift. So pack a light lunch, your camera, rain jacket and take your time and just breathe in the sights and sounds.  I make sure I am out hiking several times a week and I never get tired spending time in the cloud forests here.
Here at Casa de Montana we would be happy to assist you in setting up hikes depending on your hiking level during your stay with us. Nobody should miss out on this great experience!!!

Pack your suitcases with YARN and Love and head to Boquete, Panama!

Story of the Boquete Knitters and Quilters group

Blog by Terry Richmeier (and info from Brandy Gergory)

6Why yarn you ask? What in the world is Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast wanting with yarn, you say? Why should I take up room in my suitcase for yarn of all things?

Simply said, Casa de Montaña wants to support our local community in an amazing, warming, and giving way! Read on below:

Meet Brandy Gregory! When she moved here seven years ago, she wanted to meet people with a common interest: knitting. She put out a notice that essentially said, “I’ll lend you my b1needles, I’ll give you yarn, but you have to knit for the babies.” On January 23, 2009, six women showed up on the back patio of the Fundadores Hotel to talk, get to know each other, and to knit and crochet baby things: blankets; caps; sweaters and booties. About five years ago, they moved to the Fundacion pro Integracion (the Handicap Foundation) in Alto Boquete, where they meet every Friday afternoon from 1PM to 3PM. In the seven years since then, they have expanded their group to include some amazingly talented quilters. The group is called the “Boquete Knitters and Quilters”.

Brandy told Casa de Montaña “We give our finished items to the Centros de Salud in Palmira and in downtown Boquete. We supply the pediatric oncology department in David with our softest caps for the children and teens who lose their hair during chemotherapy. We also donate to other aid organizations on a case by case basis. Essentially, we donate wherever the need is discovered. We know that the staff at the various agencies are more familiar with their clients than we could ever hope to be.”

After thinking about this for a minute of two, I wondered why Brandy and her group would spend so much time on knitting. What did they seem to get back from working their fingers to the bone? Here is what Brandy had to say: “Creating community” is probably our greatest joy! Initially, all of us in the group were expats, 3but when we moved to the Handicap Foundation, some of the Latina Panamanian ladies were intrigued by our work (knitting is not common in the culture in Panama.) They asked to learn “como tejer con dos agujas” — “how to knit with two needles”. With the help of on-line resources — and a LOT of laughter — we taught them. The beginner project was a scarf in their choice of color, and was our gift to them. We then explained that they were more4 than welcome to stay in the group and knit for “our babies”. They stayed. They knitted. They knitted in public! And they were seen by Ngäbe-Buglé ladies who asked if we would let them learn how to knit. Of course we said “Sure!” So we have all three cultures: Expat, Latina Panamanian, and Ngäbe-Buglé Panamanian working side by side, friend next to friend, for a common cause. Brandy also advised us “Because we do not donate directly to individuals, we rarely see our completed work. It is high in the mountains of the Comarca, where it is needed and used. But that does not lessen our joy in our work.”

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So, my next thought was “What is the difference between knitting, sewing, crocheting, tatting, macramé? And what are the origins and purpose behind the history of knitting?     So, why not ask Brandy? Here is what she said. “There are whole books devoted to this subject! But, knitting is looping yarn with two or more needles to create a stretchy fabric; sewing is joining two or more pieces of cloth (usually woven) with thread; crochet is looping yarn with a small hook to create a stretchy fabric; tatting is looping thread in a special shuttle to make lacy looking trims that can be fastened together to make fabric; macramé is knotting anything from thread (like making some laces) to rope (to make plant holders or even hammocks).   The oldest known knitted piece dates possibly from the 11th century and is from Egypt. I’m guessing here, but because woven fabric has little “give”, knitting was developed to allow “ease”. In Elizabethan England, all knitting was done by men — and lace stockings were very popular.

7I had a few more questions that I thought I should ask before I have you bring some down in your suitcase for donating as mentioned above. So, again, I asked Brandy 1: “What can a donation of a tube of yarn create?” and 2: “How hard is it to learn to knit?” and 3:“Do you have to know how to knit to be in the group?” Here are Brandy’s answers:

“It is possible to find yarn in Panama, but the quality is poor and the price is quite high. When we moved down here, I actually used all of my yarn for packing material! When I went to the states for visits, I’d go to Joann Fabrics, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and shop for the sale yarn, often filling an extra suitcase with goodies! Now the Boquete Knitters and Quilters host The Great Boquete Soup Fest — the next one is March 18 at the BCP — and raise “yarn/fabric money”. We order mass quantities of yarn, fabric and quilt batting on-line and have it shipped down. We also ask for donations from people visiting from North America and other parts of the world.”5

1:”We use acrylic yarns because it stands up better to being beaten on a rock in the river. We love Caron “Simply Soft”, Red Heart “Soft”, Lion Brand “Pound of Love” and “Homespun”! Two 4-ounce skeins of Caron “Simply Soft” or Red Heart “Soft” will produce a sweater. A Pound of Love will yield a couple of sweaters and possibly a cap. Three skeins of “Homespun” makes the softest, sweetest warm baby blanket you’ve ever seen! And we use the “bits and bots” of left over yarn to create striped caps or booties. We try to use every inch possible.” 2: I learned how. It can’t be that hard! Seriously, there are only two stitches to learn: knit and purl. Everything – EVERYTHING — is based on those two stitches! 3: Nope, you don’t need to already know how to knit! We can teach you since there are only two stitches to learn: “knit” and “purl”. We’ll get you started with your very own scarf — our gift. And if you decide knitting or crochet is not for you, that is not a problem. Your scarf is yours. Right now, the group is all women, but, as long as a guy does not mind being in the minority, we’ll welcome him!

So I asked one last question from Brandy and that is this: “What would you like to see happen in the future with the Knitters group? Your wildest dream come true?” and here is her response “I’d love to see our group grow. I’d especially love to have more Panamanians join us, learn a new skill, and get to know us and each other — “being knitted together in love”. My wildest dream come true would be for Joann Fabrics to open a store in David! Since I know that will never happen, I’d have to say that my wildest dream would be for the Boquete Knitters and Quilters to be able to raise about $7000 a year which we would spend on yarn, fabric and batting. We split our funds 50/50 between knitting/crochet supplies and quilting supplies.”

1012So, since hearing her desire, we here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast would love to help out and the thought that we had for our future guests is this … Just run up to the store, grab some yarn (on sale?) off the shelf and stick it in your suitcase! Bring it down here with you and we will make sure that your donation gets to Brandy and her group of Boquete Knitters and Quilters group! And if you have any questions of Brandy that you would like to ask, you can email her group at the following email address: BOQUETEKNITTERS@HOTMAIL.COM. Also, let us at Casa de Montaña know if you are interested in having a knitting class or a day with the group and we will try to arrange it for you. And THANK YOU Brandy and the group for warming the children and the hearts of Boquete as well!

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

Blog by Manzar Lari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier and Manzar Lari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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