Boquete: Valley of Eternal Spring… and some allergens!

Blog Joy Huppe

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Boquete Panama, where the skies are painted with rainbows!

 

Ah, Boquete… located in the cool mountain highlands of one of the most naturally diverse countries on the planet, where palm trees rub shoulders with pine trees, and humming birds flit from one scented bloom to another in an endless landscape of color: greens of every hue, brilliant reds and fuchsias of the bougainvillea, the bold orange of the “bird of paradise” flower, cheerful yellow marigolds, hauntingly beautiful white and purple orchids… It is no wonder you’ve been dubbed “The Flower Capital of Panama” and “The Valley of Eternal Spring.” Breathing deep, locals and visitors alike oxygenate their lungs with your fresh, clean air, and slip into a more tranquil rhythm of life. Ahhhhh… ah CHOO!

What’s this? Allergies? In paradise??? Well, in a word – yes. Though not all are affected, and different allergens irritate at different times of the year, there is a bit of a trade-off for all this natural beauty.

The signs and symptoms of airborne allergies are familiar to many: sneezing, often with a runny or clogged nose; coughing and postnasal drip; itching eyes, nose, and throat; watering eyes; and “allergic shiners” (dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses.)

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Ah CHOO! Yes, even allergies can happen in paradise.

 

The good news is that Boquete’s actual air quality itself is high, and air pollution is low. Although there are no emission controls here in Panama and some vehicles burn too much oil, thanks to the little-to-no presence of local industry, combined with an almost constant mountain breeze, the air here remains pristine. And with the proliferation of all things green, there is no scarcity of oxygen.

There are, however, two main culprits that could potentially interfere with one’s ability to “breath easy”, and they are Pollen and Mold.

Pollen takes effect in dry season, when the fragrant dust of all those pretty flowers is mixed into the air by the seasonal winds. Seasons here in Boquete are fairly well defined and predictable. Dry season typically starts in mid-December and runs through the middle to the end of April. During this time there is little rain and strong winds are the norm. Wind velocity can range from “gentle caress” to “I am about to lose my mind” with sustained winds of 50 mph and potential gusts peaking at 70 mph.

During this time, those of us with more sensitive constitutions may experience some of the allergic symptoms listed above. If you find yourself sniffling in paradise, don’t worry… there are a variety of actions you can take. One sweet remedy is to eat the local honey. Honey contains pollen from area plants and helps the body adjust to the proteins in the pollen. In addition, honey offers a number of other health benefits (including hangover relief!) For more information about Boquete bees and the benefits of their honey, click here.

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One Sweet Remedy: Honey from Boquete Bees

 

Another course of action is to take an over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine, which works by inhibiting the immune system’s release of certain chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions. It has been shown that if allergy medicines are taken before exposure to pollen, they can help to stabilize the immune system before symptoms begin to manifest. In other words, plan ahead. If you know are prone to pollen allergies, and yet dream of frolicking amongst chrysanthemums during the annual Boquete International Flower and Coffee Festival (projected 2016 dates: January 14 – 24, 2016), start taking an antihistamine a week or so in advance.

Rainy season, which typically runs from May through November, with the heaviest rains occurring in the month of October, brings with it the second culprit allergen – Mold. Though not usually a concern for short-term visitors, sensitivities to mold and mildew brought about by damp, humid conditions can be a concern for residents and long-term visitors. Again, there are steps one can take to minimize it’s effect.

One simple solution is to run a dehumidifier, which will reduce the ambient humidity in the air. All of the rooms here at Casa de Montaña are equipped with dehumidifiers for this purpose. Other steps that can be taken are making sure there is good air-flow in all indoor spaces, as well as inspecting wall hangings, furniture, clothing, and even shoes and belts (mold loves leather!) for signs of mildew, and if found, performing a through cleansing of all affected items.

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Rainy season is the perfect time to slow down and savor all Boquete has to offer.

 

Now that you know a little bit more about the different type of potential allergies here in Boquete, you can be better prepared when you visit, depending on what time of year you choose. Dry season typically overlaps with “high season” for tourism. During this time, there are a number of holidays and festivals, including the Boquete Jazz Festival, The Flower and Coffee Festival, Carnival, and the Orchid Festival. Rainy season tends to find less activity here in Boquete, but has a unique draw of it’s own. The mountain landscape becomes even more lush and green, and the crowds diminish, heralding a sense of peace. Since the rain oftentimes does not start until later in the day, mornings become a time for exploration and adventure. Afternoon is then a time for sipping coffee, relaxing, and chatting with friends, or curling up with a good book. Plus, “deals” are more common during this time. During the months of May through September, Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast offers discounted room rates and special package deals. Rain or shine, we look forward to sharing our Boquete home with you.

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