Anyone know where we can relax for the holidays. (Hint: Boquete, Panama)?

Blog by Terry Richmeier

No matter where you are in the world, the holidays can be stressful. From driving to shopping to family dinners. However, we here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast believe we can help take the stress out of yours.

Even here in Boquete, Panama, for those living here, stress is just around the corner. Here is our friend Joyce Kinnear’s ordeal that caused just a little bit of Holiday stress for her and her daughter Amy:

It’s been a crazy week, and I’ve definitely been stretching myself, my cultural understandings and my knowledge of the community. It’s all good, but it’s been sometimes stressful and a lot tiring.

First of all, this week is the start of a month of holidays in Panama. We had the remembrance days around Halloween and the first couple of days of November. Today, Amy and I saw many, many people taking cut flowers up to the cemetery in remembrance of their passed loved ones.

Tomorrow is the independence from Colombia. It will be celebrated with parades, drum lines that go on all day (it seems), the entire town decked out in the red, white and blue Panamanian Flag, and, of course, a 4-1/2 day weekend that starts this afternoon.

After this holiday, there is Flag Day and the Independence Day celebration from Spain near the end of the month. I’ve been told that the parade for the second Independence Day can last all day, with every school in the area marching and drumming.

In the middle of all of these weeks with multi-day holidays, we are trying to get Amy her Friendly Nation’s Visa. We’ve had lots of appointments to get her to at the lawyer, bank and a doctor/lab (for health status check-ups). Even more stressful was that we had to have a document notarized in an old part of David that we’ve never been to before. The notary had no address (typical) and isn’t near any landmark we know. Maps aren’t really helpful in David, especially if Waze has no addresses to go off of, so it was a nightmare for me, the navigator, to direct our driver, Scott, as we attempted to find the location without dying in a car accident. We survived, but the stress was something.

Scott has since come down with a chest cold, so he’s out of commission for most things. Yesterday, Amy and I went on what was supposed to be a minor errand to pay for an overnight. I left the car at the car wash, where it was supposed to be done 15 minutes (before I got back). We ended up spending 30 minutes at the restaurant, because the brand new manager of this restaurant didn’t quite know how to do the reservations for the second restaurant/hotel. We got back to the car wash, and, of course, our wash had been abandoned mid-job, so that the cleaner could wash other cars. He left the doors all open, and the radio going the whole time. By the time we did get the car back—45 minutes after this, you guessed it, the battery was completely dead.

Fortunately, the young man was helpful in flagging down a woman and her car to charge our battery (as well as a truck driver to do the actual charging). The woman told me (this is all in Spanish, which was making my head hurt), that the battery was two years past its expected life—etched on the top of the battery. She suggested one store to get a new battery and strongly recommended that I get a new one before everything closed down for days. I drove up to that store. They said they had batteries, but none for Toyotas and suggested that I drive to David (45 minutes each way) to find another one. We drove into town, to a store I remembered. They were very nice, but also didn’t have any Toyota batteries.

Someone we know from our hiking group was driving past and needed to give me something. He suggested two other places. Thank goodness the second one had a battery we needed, was willing to replace the battery (for free), and was unbelievably nice. Honestly, I was so wired by this time that his kindness and that of the woman at the register nearly made me cry. She and I had a lovely conversation (all in Spanish again) while the battery was replaced.

I got home so worn out and stressed that I went to sleep on the couch and slept for about the next 12 hours. Today we took Scott to the doctor, and hopefully he’ll be participating in society again soon.

You definitely don’t need to spend your holidays in stress. It’s always good to get away from your regular surroundings. Come down to Boquete, Panama. Stay with us here at Casa de Montaña, set up a massage. Have a manicure. Let us place a free glass of wine or a can of beer in your hand, and relax, read a book, and do the holiday’s the right way – do them your way.

Working hard at volunteering in Boquete after retirement – resistance is futile!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

So, you’re thinking about retiring in Boquete, Panama? As many of us have already taken the leap, we want to welcome you to your next new adventure! We at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast had the great privilege of having two of our former guests, (and now friends) finish their journey home to Boquete, Panama. And now, here is their story of being here after about three months:

Scott and I have both been doing some volunteering in Boquete, and I’m sure we will do more over time, as we are relatively young and healthy and hard workers. Once that is discovered, we’re in trouble.

My volunteering, so far, is with the knitter’s and crochet’s group. Scott is working with an animal group, and I’ll talk about them next time.

The knitter’s and crocheter’s group makes blankets, hats and sweaters for babies and their siblings. The group works with a clinic that provides well baby checkups and classes for mothers (nutrition and other child rearing items) and the hospital clinic for preemies and children with malnutrition in David.

The idea behind these clinics is that many of the indigenous young girls begin having children at 12 or 13. Since they, their mothers and grandmothers are so young, it is often the case that they haven’t had some of the nutrition and other training that is so necessary in rearing healthy babies. They often can’t afford the even extremely inexpensive care provided by the health system here.

Combined with crushing poverty of many families, there are too many babies and children with malnutrition and similar health issues. Check out the video:

The clinics provide assistance for the mothers and children. The mothers are given our blankets, sweaters and hats for their babies for free. Prior to the clinics providing these items, I am told that some of the poorest mothers from the high mountain areas where it gets quite chilly were wrapping their babies in newspapers. Our group leader says she hopes no one ever has to wrap her baby in newspaper again with our help.

I’ve been finding out about other activities that are related–donations of food provided to 120 families each month (by Buenos Vecinos de Boquete), services for handicapped children and adults and many other things. I’m really glad to be helping in a bit of this and can see that in a couple of years I will have to be protecting myself from working too hard.

 

Scott and Joyce have, within a short period of time, jumped in and have settled into the community with their joy, hard work and loving hearts!

 

Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast has been able to help. From the beginning of their stay with us, we have been “hands on” in helping them to acclimate to their surroundings. Come and stay with us, especially if you are thinking of making a move to retirement and volunteerism. We will take the same “hands on” approach to see if Boquete, Panama is right for you.

 

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the flyers below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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Carnival in Panama

Blog by Andres Lay & Joy Huppe

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

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

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

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The First Carnival Queen


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

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

Parade competition brings out spectacular sights

Spectacular parades are an everyday occurrence during Carnival.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Casa de Montaña – We keep growing and changing!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

On January 10th, 2015, we celebrated our 1 year anniversary as a Bed & Breakfast! We keep thinking of ways we can updates things, especially our gardens and open areas.

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We know that changes are continual and are part of what one has to do to make the space look nice and well taken care of. Keeping up with all the upkeep and changes can be a challenge and Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast is no different. We are taking it in our stride and try to keep a positive attitude. This positive attitude comes in handy when one wants to be creative!

We are fortunate enough to have had all of our staff working with us for an entire year now. We have been able to meet incredible guests who have taught us an amazing amount and we have created worldwide friendships.

And we too need to continue to grow. Here are some of our New Year’s developments:

  • We have hired a professional gardener who has been planting tropical trees, trimming, weeding and moving plants around the property. This has created a much more of a cohesive look, especially on the hill around the main water feature.
  • We’ve adjusted the Sunday’s Panamanian Breakfast to be completely vegetarian and have changed the recipes to be more authentic to Panama. (Previously, we were told by one of our workers that we had actually been using recipes that were more Costa Rican than Panamanian! Oops!).

We’ve created a new and different Friday Mexican Breakfast that has been quite well-received. You can read about this on our website:http://www.casademontana.com/amenities/international-breakfast/cambios2

 

  • We began offering “Pakistani/Indian Cooking Classes” for locals and guests staying with us during our class time. We have added a link to our website with the recipes : http://www.casademontana.com/cooking-classes/
  • We have created a video and posted it on our “Directions” tab to get you to Casa de Montaña once you enter Alto Boquete on Boquete-David road. http://www.casademontana.com/about-us/directions/ This is in addition to the original video on the main page that showcases the home.
  • We have added a Boquete Relocation tab for those who are looking at a possible move to Boquete, Panama. http://www.casademontana.com/boquete-relocation/
  • We have created a “Boquete Overview Tour” designed just for you to get to see all the neighborhoods and communities here in Boquete. So you can make an informed decision. You can check this out on our website: http://www.casademontana.com/boquete-relocation/
  • We have placed a new Panamanian flag out in front of Casa de Montaña in order to be a part of the community and pride of Panama.
  • We have placed two new signs on the road, one at the beginning of Downtown Boquete (aca Bajo Boquete) to indicate 2.5 km distance to Casa de Montaña and the other one by La Posada Restaurant to indicate that we are only 1.0 km up the hill from there.
  • We have partnered with Boquete Outdoor Adventures to offer package tours and stays for a discounted price for you. See our ad on our website: http://www.casademontana.com/specials-savings/
  • Here is a photo of some of our recent guests during Social Hour!cambios3So, as we look toward 2015 and beyond, we are envisioning great times spent providing the best possible services to all of our guests or should we say “our new friends”!?! You are the reason we are here and when you come and stay at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, you are coming home!

Stress-free vacation to Boquete, Panama over the holidays!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

As I sit in front of my computer and ponder, “Man alive, I need a vacation!” I begin to wonder why I feel so stressed. I sit here thinking that I don’t have time to ponder the “whys” of feeling stressed! I’ve got to buy this gift for that person and I’ve got to get gas on the way home and I’ve got to make something for that holiday party to share, or do I just stop off and buy something?

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Meanwhile, on Facebook, many of my Facebook friends are posting newsfeeds and I can hardly keep up! I have just fallen behind and need to focus back on these newsfeeds, “like” them and possibly comment. Oh, and my cell phone just buzzed that I have a message through WhatsApp. As I look at it, I have just received a message from a friend asking for a ride into town when I go to get groceries. Of course I say “sure, no problem” and proceed to spend the next five minutes writing a detailed response letting my friend know that I will be going on Thursday this time instead of my normal Wednesday as I already have alternate plans for Wednesday.

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While writing this detailed message on WhatsApp, my phone rings and with annoyance in my voice I answer and say “Hello”. Well, it’s Manzar and he is asking me where I am. Once again, I feel the blood pressure rise. “Why the hell did you call to ask me where I am?.” What was a simple question to make sure that I am at a point and place that I can answer my phone and that I can talk to him, became an instant annoyance for me and that is where I know that something is wrong! I’m stressed!

Upon reflecting on my level of stress, I begin to realize many different things. First I need a get-away plan. Go far away from here, where I can relax. Where I can I go to renew myself. So, let’s begin to plan a trip! I will start by getting airline tickets. Log onto the airline and pull out the charge card. Next, I need a place to lay my head. Pull out the charge card and done. Then, I need to plan some activities to help me relax. Charge card and done. I notice a pattern – it is really not that difficult to plan everything once I realized that I needed some time for myself!

Ok, I can’t wait for my vacation so I can relax. Except that it’s going to take me a year to pay that Charge Card off! Oh well, that stress factor can wait until I’m done with my trip.

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Ok, the time is here to pack. I’ve got everything including my swimsuit and my laptop. This way, I can make sure all my friends on Facebook know that I’m relaxing and having a great time!!! I will post pictures of my events and of course, all the good food I am eating! I can get a Sim Card while I’m there and that way I can get to contact with the rest of the world. Also, I can check my work emails and I can still get that project done for work. Ok, so stop and look at what just happened to me. I am taking a vacation because I needed a respite from all the social media and from the electronic world and then, I bring it with me on my respite!

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How many of us do this? What has happened that we need to be in contact on the social media all the time? Why is it that we feel completely welded to our electronic devices? How many of us feel rested and ready to come back from our vacation refreshed? If you do, I commend you. As for me, I know that when it’s time for a vacation, I’m going to “Take a trip on the Wild Side” and leave my computer. Leave my cell phone. Leave my Social media. Leave all those stress factors back at home. Live in the present. I believe that this will be a difficult but worthy task and that the gain from this will be the rest, relaxation, and respite that I need.

Perhaps, for your next vacation and get a way, maybe think about eliminating the electronic connection to the stressful world that you are living in, just for a few days anyway!

I hope to tell you that I had an incredible experience. I hope to tell you that we actually spent some quality time together! That no matter what we did with our time, it was ours and it was not robbed from us. That no one we know experienced our vacation through social media until we returned home and shared it with everyone. Tranquility, serenity and renewal can all come together. Now, that’s a “Trip on the wild side”!

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While you are waiting to take that much-needed vacation, here is a link that has ways to reduce your stress right now!

http://greatist.com/happiness/23-scientifically-backed-ways-reduce-stress-right-now

Plan your vacation during the cold winter months now and stay with us at Casa de Montaña where we can take the worry (and stress!) out of your planning. Let us help you in coordinating all the activities while you stay with us. Or you can just come and chill out and not do a thing while you de-compress from all of your responsibilities back home.

Boquete – Home of the Resplendent Quetzal!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

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From time to time we have some guests who stay with us at Casa de Montaña that get an opportunity to find and enjoy viewing an indigenous bird called the Quetzal without actually searching for it. Others do come in search of these birds on their trek through the trees as they are hiking. The guests are not always lucky enough to find this elusive bird. The bird only shows itself to a chosen few!

Gorgeously plumed Quetzals live in the mountains of Central America. The bird was sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples, and royalty and priests wore its feathers during ceremonies.

The resplendent Quetzal is an aptly named bird that many consider among the world’s most beautiful. These vibrantly colored animals live in the mountainous, tropical forests of Central America where they eat fruit, insects, lizards, and other small creatures.

During mating season, male Quetzals grow twin tail feathers that form an amazing train up to three feet (one meter) long. Females do not have long trains, but they do share the brilliant blue, green, and red coloring of their mates. Male colors tend to be more vibrant.

Resplendent Quetzal pairs use their powerful beaks to hollow holes as nests in rotted trees or stumps. Inside, they take turns incubating two or three eggs—though males have such long tails that they sometimes stick outside the nest.

Young Quetzals can fly at about three weeks of age, but males do not begin to grow their long tail plumes for three years.

Manzar and Terry spotted two iridescent blue Quetzals their first time in Boquete and have never seen another one since. At the time, they felt that this was a sign that they were both supposed to move to Boquete, Panama, to start a new chapter in their lives.

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Recently we had some guests who stayed with us that were on the Quetzal tour and hike. They went without and guide and felt very disappointed that they did not encounter this amazing bird on their hike. During a small resting period, a man came passing by and they spoke to the man about their disappointment. So, the man looked at them then looked up in the tree above them and then told them to look up! Right there above their heads was the resplendent Quetzal that they were looking for the whole time!!!

So, if you are ever here in Boquete, Panama. Try to get a tour guide if you are bird watching and would like to see this beautiful bird. At Casa de Montaña, we can assist you in giving you a map to the Quetzal Trail, or set you up with a tour guide as well. If you want to venture out on your own, remember, you may need to just look up into the camouflage of the trees and spot “The Resplendent Quetzal”!

 

 

Healing Powers of the cloud forests

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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Boquete is one of a select few places in the world that has a cloud forest. What are cloud forests you may ask? They are nature’s “water towers,” providing billions of gallons of fresh, clean, filtered water. They are home to thousands of indigenous people, and storehouses of biodiversity, at least 80 percent of which has not yet been catalogued. A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is generally tropical or subtropical, evergreen, moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level.

Ok, so what does that mean for me and why do I care about a cloud forest? First it has a “Watershed Function”. Because of the cloud-stripping strategy, the effective rainfall can be doubled in dry seasons and increase the wet season rainfall by about 10%. Essentially, It’s almost impossible to re-create this level of humidity in a glass house or greenhouse. The second is vegetation: Tropical montane cloud forests are not as species-rich as tropical lowland forests, but they provide the habitats for many species found nowhere else. For example, the Cerro de la Neblina, a cloud-covered mountain in the south of Venezuela, accommodates many shrubs, orchids, and insectivorous plants which are restricted to this mountain only. We also use many of the vegetation for modern medicines. Third is Fauna: The diversity in animals is also very high. In Peru, more than one-third of the 270 endemic birds, mammals, and frogs are found in cloud forests. One of the best-known cloud forest mammals is the mountain gorilla (Gorilla b. beringei). Many of those endemic animals have important functions, such as seed dispersal and forest dynamics in these ecosystems. By changing this environment, we will lose many animals that rely on the cloud forests.

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Wow, this seems to be a lot of big stuff to take in. Essentially, we know that there are many of our cloud forests that are being lost to population growth, poverty, and uncontrolled land use. Significant areas are being used for plantations, agriculture, pasture, tea and coffee farms, and lodging. Cloud forests are being strongly affected by climate change as well.

Here in Boquete, we know of two expat women, Elizabeth and Dianne, who purchased some land in our own cloud forest area. What they found on this land was that there were many plants that were once used for medicinal purposes. As they began to discover these plants, trees and shrubs, they started to put together the thought that this area and space was once a live pharmacy of the indigenous type. The two ladies felt that the indigenous people may have used these plants as help for their ailments and sicknesses.

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You can read more about their adventure through their webpage: http://cloudforestbotanicals.com/

They offer tours at the Cloud Forest Botanicals where you can learn the medicinal value and uses of the various plants. Many of these lotions, tinctures and creams are available for purchase as well. We can assist you in setting up these tours when you come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

Boquete Coffee – High quality coffee that is performing well on the international market!

By Eliecer Andres Lay

Are you a coffee enthusiast? Then look no further! A visit to some of our Boquete coffee farms is a must when you stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

coffehttp://infusionistas.com/cafe/panama-renueva-la-oferta-del-cafe-de-calidad/

The perfect weather and altitude of Boquete, as well the volcanic soil provides excellent conditions that make the coffee produced in Boquete one of the best coffees in the world. Panama is a small country that produces great coffee crops. Because of the limited land mass, growers in the highlands, such as Boquete, decided to specialize when it comes to coffee production. Coffee from Panama competes for quality, not quantity. Most Panamanian coffee is grown in Boquete, or highlands of Chiriqui. Farmers are very proud of their crops. Coffee quality control includes testing for soil, elevation, weather patterns and even the vegetation growing around the coffee bushes. Panama plants different types of coffee, the most famous is a variety called “Geisha”. The requirements for Geisha are very strict and requires great care in the production. This coffee has been known to be exported and sold at record prices to Japan and Taiwan. At the last auction held by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the best bid for 14.5 pounds Panamanian coffee got sold for $289.29!!!

 

Different “Coffee Tours” that are available in Boquete

Here at Casa de Montaña we think that Finca Dos Jefes tour is the best! It is a very informative and interactive tour combining a field experience as well as an opportunity to roast your own coffee to your liking and bring it back with you to take home! There are several Boquete tours you can take or just buy their coffee that is not always available anywhere else in Panama. Finca Dos Jefes, Kotowa, Café Ruiz, Finca Lérida, Finca La Milagrosa, Janson Familia Coffee and Hacienda La Esmeralda are some options available to you for a tour. Each plantation has its unique appeal. Visit one or more on your next visit to Boquete. Below is a video of Finca Dos Jefes Coffee Tour:

 

Did you know… there are several steps in producing coffee?

There are many steps in bringing coffee to your favorite cup to help you wake up in the morning! Come to your tour fully equipped with these steps and impress your tour guide:

  • Cultivation: Apart from the differences in the systems of pruning and cultivation of Arabica coffee, most others follow the same general pattern in most areas where coffee is grown.

 

  • Propagation: The coffee is spread on a large scale by means of plants grown from seed or by grafting or cuttings. In the case of propagation by seed, there are procedures one has to follow related to storage of the seed to prevent spoilage. Thus for Arabica, for example, dry air storage is recommended at temperatures of 10 ° C with a moisture content of 10-11%

 

  • Shade: While there is still some debate among experts about the need for shade coffee cultivation, it should be noted that the modern trend is not to use shade plants, and the vast majority of new plantings are made ​​without this. It is a proven fact that coffee invariably produce higher yields without shade plants. It should be noted, moreover, that in the case of using shade plants, they would have to:
  1. a) Be productive
  2. b) Have similar needs for water and nutrients because otherwise an imbalance between coffee and these plants occurs

 

  • Soil Management: The most difficult issue with coffee cultivation, especially in tropical regions of the highlands, is the problem related to soil conservation. It is essential in order to establish a coffee plantation, one has to protect the soil from the erosive action of tropical, torrential rains as soon as the clearance is made. In mountainous areas and on steeper slopes, coffee can be planted along the contours. The selective weeding, removing plants that can compete with coffee trees, and / or planting of herbs to enrich and protect the soil, can be used in order to improve the quality of coffee plants on steeper slopes.

 

  • Fertilization: It is shown that fertilizers are absolutely necessary in the cultivation of coffee trees that are in the sun as well as in soils that are especially in middle to low fertility. In recent years there has been an introduction of a trade liquid fertilizer or foliar fertilizers. These are applied by spraying the leaves of plants, provide supplementary nutrients, and are similar to the solid fertilizers that are applied to the soil.

 

  • Pruning: There are two main aspects to consider regarding the pruning of coffee: first, the training of young trees to build a strong and well balanced plant with good structure, fruiting branches, and second, the pruning of branches so they keep producing fruit (coffee beans).

 

  • Harvest: The harvest season varies depending on the proximity to the tropics of the country producing the coffee. Generally the harvesting of coffee is done between October and February in countries closer to the Tropic of Cancer, and from May to July in the countries closest to Tropic of Capricorn.

 

  • Breeding and Selection: The breeding and selection of coffee has continued in two main channels – one has been the outstanding selection of local breeds, in various countries where coffee is grown; the other is the improvement of Arabica and other species.

 

  • Pests and diseases: Many efforts have been made ​​towards introducing agronomic techniques that include controlling weeds, pests and diseases. The effects of weeds are well known to the farmers. With the rising cost and scarcity of labor, it is necessary to find the most economical solutions that cause the least amount of damage to the environmental.

 

 

An excerpt from Infusionistas.com

Panama has not historically been “famous” in the cultivation of coffee, but rather largely overshadowed by its neighbors in this regard. That perception has been corrected in recent years mainly because of the great attention that has won the Geisha variety grown in farms in the region, capable of producing a “floral”, highly appreciated and sought after coffee in the international market. It is only in the district of Boquete in the province of Chiriqui where small family farms produce these unique coffee, brightly colored, with floral aromas and fruity clean taste, considered among the best in the world. The cool, moist mountain air, organic practices, expanded areas for growing shade coffee, painstaking care, all help to produce exceptional coffee. Panama has held annual coffee competitions since the late 90s, but it was in 2004 that the Finca La Esmeralda won the first prize and gained fame with the Geisha variety grown in a high elevation on their farm.

This variety of Arabica coffee exported from the wild forests of Ethiopia, was introduced in Central America in 1950, but its production was virtually non-existent in Panama until recently. Today there are several Panamanian farms that offer this variety as well as in Colombia and Costa Rica. There are many varieties of Arabica coffee beans that include flavors that are floral, fruity, sweet, or like chocolate! These are being produced in Boquete Panama and other highland areas of Panama. Panama has the lowest coffee production in Central America, however, the coffee growers in Panama are committed to quality over quantity and have established a solid reputation for excellence with the aim of sustainable growth of coffee targeting the gourmet market. In 2010, again a batch of this famous product of the Hacienda La Esmeralda farm has set a new world record when sold in an online auction at $170.20 per pound (460 grams).

Boquete have some of the top producers of coffee in the world and it is the best place to go and taste a good coffee. Boquete offers you different types of coffee tours – starting from seeing the end to end processes and ending with roasting of your own coffee to take home! One of the coffee processing plants (Café Ruiz) is located just a few doors down the hill from Casa de Montaña! During your next trip to Panama do not forget to visit Boquete and try one of the best coffees in the world.

Boquete’s Green Season – A time to cleanse your body and soul!

A view from the guestroom window

A view from the guestroom window

It is not a surprise to us that some tourists prefer coming to Boquete during the Green Season when it rains the most. We thoroughly enjoy this time of the year as well. The color green is much greener! Come to think of it, ALL colors seem to be so much more vibrant. The peak rainy months are September and October. In the U.S. it’s starting to cool down and there is always the possibility of snow in the Mountain, Upper Midwestern and Northeastern states. Here in Boquete, we enjoy both the Green and the Dry seasons and that’s all we have to be concerned with.

We tend to start the morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky. Around 11 AM, the clouds begin to roll into the valley over several hours (we took pictures of some of this happening, out of the window of our guestrooms, the other day). Then around 2 pm, it starts raining with a wonderfully soothing cool breeze. The perfect time to sit on the back porch, enjoy some coffee or cocoa or even a nice glass of wine and watch the rain fall to the earth and create the “purifying green” that we get to enjoy here year around.

DSC00657What’s also very nice about September and October is that you can plan to do the zip line tour, coffee tour, quetzal walk and any other tours in the mornings when it rarely rains. There are fewer tourist here and there seem to be discounts available for those who plan on having an adventure here at this time of the year. Also, in general there are greater varieties of blooming orchids and flowers here as well.

For those of you who especially enjoy having some time to read a book, sit and watch the rain and just have an incredibly slow relaxing time, this may just be the months of the year for you to come down and visit us!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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