Alguien sabe donde podríamos relajarnos en las vacaciones? (Mi sugerencia: Boquete, Panama)

Blog por Terry Richmeier.

Traducido por: Generoso Guerra.

No importa en que parte del mundo estés, las vacaciones pueden ser estresantes. Desde manejar, ir de compras hasta las cenas familiares. Sin embargo, aquí en Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast creemos poder quitarte el estrés de encima.

Inclusive aquí en Boquete, Panamá. Para quienes reciden aquí, el estrés está a la vuelta de la esquina. Aquí está nuestra amiga Joyce Kinnear’s con prueba rigurosa del estrés causado a ella y su hija Amy por las vacaciones o días feriados:

Ha sido una semana muy loca y definitivamente he tratado de adaptarme, mi entendimiento cultural y el conocimiento de la comunidad. Todo está bien pero a veces ha sido un poco estresante y agotador.

Primero que nada, esta semana empieza el mes de fiestas Patrías en Panamá. Tuvimos días de conmemoración alrededor de Halloween y los primeros días del mes de Noviembre. Hoy, Amy y Yo vimos a muchas, muchas personas con arreglos florales en camino al cementerio para honrar la memoría de aquellos seres queridos que han fallecido.

Mañana se celebra el día de la independencia Panamá de Colombia. Será celebrado con desfiles, bandas musicales que marchan a lo largo del día (eso parece), el pueblo entero cubierto por el rojo, blanco y azul de la bandera Panameña y desde luego un largo fin de semana de 4 días ½ que empieza esta tarde.

Luego de este día, se celebran el día de la bandera Panameña y la separación Panamá de España ya casi al finalizer el mes. Me han dicho que los desfiles de la segunda fecha de indepencia puede durar todo el día, con todas las escuelas del área y  escuelas visitantes marchando al compass de los tambores.

A mediados de estas semanas con varios días festivos, estuvímos tratando de obtener la Visa para Amy. Hemos tenido muchas citas con el abogado, el banco y laboratorios (para monitorear su salud). Aún más estresante fue cuando tuvímos que notariar un documento en la parte vieja de la ciudad de David en la cual nunca antes habíamos estado. La notaria no tenía dirección (típico) y no estaba cerca de nada que conocieramos. Los mapas no son realmente útiles en David, especialmente si Waze no tiene direcciones donde ir. Fue una pesadilla para mí dirigir nuestro conductor, Scott, mientras intentabamos encontrar la locación sin morir en un accidente automovilstico. Sobrevivímos, pero el estrés fue algo horrible.

Scott desde entonces ha caido con un resfriado, por lo que está fuera de la mayoría de las cosas. Ayer, Amy y Yo fuimos a lo que se suponía sería un recado menor; terminamos pagando una noche. Dejé el carro en un lavautos, donde se suponía lo harían en 15 minutos (antes de volver). Terminamos esperando 30 minutos en un restaurante porque el nuevo gerente de este restaurante no sabía como hacer reservaciones para el Segundo restaurant del hotel. Regresamos al lavauto y por supuesto nuestro lavado había sido abandonado a medias, solo para que el trabajador pudiera lavar otros carros. Él dejó todas las puertas abiertas y la radio prendida todo el tiempo.  Luego al momento en el que recibimos el carro — 45 minutos después de esto, como adivinaste; la batería estaba completamente muerta.

 Afortunadamente, un joven caballero fue muy útil al hacer señas a una mujer en su carro para cargar nuestra batería (así como a el conductor de un camión el cual realmente cargo nuestra batería). La mujer me dijo (todo este es en Español, lo cual hizo que me doliera la cabeza), que la batería se había pasado por 2 años su tiempo de vida— grabado en la parte superior de la batería. Ella sugirió una tienda en donde comprar una nueva batería y fuertemente me recomendo que obtuviera una nueva antes de que todo cerrará por días. Manejé hasta dicha tienda. Ellos dijeron que tenían baterías, pero ninguna era para Toyotas y me sugirió que manejara hasta David (45 minutos de ida y venida) para encontrar otra. Fuimos al pueblo, a una tienda la cual yo me acordaba. Fueron muy amables pero tampoco tenían baterías para Toyota.

Un conocido de nuestro grupo de excursión necesitaba darnos algo  y pasó cerca nuestro. Él nos sugirió otros 2 lugares. Gracias a Dios el segundo lugar tenía la batería que necesitabamos, estaban dispuestos a reemplazar la batería (gratis) y fue increiblemente amable. Honestamente, estaba tan exhausta a esa hora que su amabilidad y la de la chica en la caja que casi me hacen llorar. Ella y Yo tuvimos una Hermosa conversación (todo esto en Español nuevamente) mientras reemplazaban la batería.

Llegué a casa tan cansada y estresada que me acosté en el sofá y me dormí por las siguientes 12 horas. Hoy llevamos a Scott al doctor; ojalá pueda reincorporarse pronto a participar en la comunidad.

Definitivamente no tienes que pasar las vacaciones o días festivos bajo estrés. Siempre es bueno escaparse de la rutina diaria y sus alrededores. Ven a tierras altas Boquete, Panamá. Quédate  con nosotros aquí en Casa de Montaña, ordena un masaje en tu cuarto al igual que una manicura. Dejános poner una copa de vino o una cerveza en tu mano de cortesía y relájate, lee un libro y disfruta de las vacaciones de la manera correcta – Disfrútalas a Tú manera!.

 

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.

Ha mejorado el arte perdido del reciclaje en Panamá?

Escrito por: Terry Richmeier.

Traducido por: Generoso Guerra.

Aquí en Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast hacemos nuestro mejor esfuerzo para proteger el medio ambiente a toda costa. Nosotros reutilizamos, reducimos y reciclamos todo lo que podemos.

Cuando por primera vez llegamos a Panamá aterrizamos en el Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocúmen en la ciudad de Panamá. Habíamos ordenado un taxi para que nos recogíera y nos trasladaría hasta nuestro hotel. En el camino pudimos apreciar pilas de basura alrededor de la ciudad y aumentando al llegar a las barriadas de la parte noroeste de la ciudad. Cuando nos mudamos a Boquete, Panamá notamos el mismo patron de basura en el área. También nos llego la noticia de que en la ciudad de Panamá las playas tenían el mismo aspecto cubiertas con basura. Sorprendentemente, la mayoría de estas pilas de basura no existen hoy en día!, Así como la basura en camino a Boquete. Se aprecia un mejor futuro en relación al reciclaje y control de basura en las calles de Panamá. Hay mucha más conciencia y esfuerzo en marcha a limpiar los alrededores, están apareciendo programas de voluntaries cada día. Aquí les dejo un mensaje de nuestra ex huésped Joyce Kinnear:

En la mañana del domingo previo a Halloween, Me desperté a las 5:30 a.m. para unirme al grupo de reciclaje “Boquete Recycling” y comenzar nuestra tarea de “limpiar Boquete” a las 7 a.m.. El grupo entero se dividió en al menos 4 grupos. Recogímos basura por al menos 2 horas (7 bolsas con nuestro pequeño grupo), también una bolsa de metals reciclables y botellas de plástico reciclable. Pudímos quedarnos más tiempo pero teníamos otro evento al cual asistir.

 Boquete está intentando de que la “reutilización, reducción, reciclaje y limpieza” sea una parte más de la vida diaria. Ha sido difícil obtener el servicio de reciclaje en pueblo tan lejos de todo en Panamá. Siempre hemos dicho que en Boquete estamos al final de la línea de distribución y eso incluye el reciclaje.

 Fue muy alentador el ver muchas personas reuniendose tan temprano en la mañana para recolectar basura y reciclarla a lo largo de la vía principal del pueblo. Tuvímos muchas personas ayudándonos y agradeciendo; Una joven se quedó con nuestro equipo por una hora ayudando a recoger basura justamente antes de salir del pueblo y continuar con su travesía.

Ahora solo nos queda averiguar como devolver las botellas de agua y cerveza a su debida empresa para obtener una remuneración a nuestros esfuezos de reciclaje dado que sus productos son la mayoría de desperdicios. ¿No sería eso significativo?.

Otro ex huésped llamado Colin el cual vive en la Ciudad de Panamá, junto a un grupo de amigos han empezado a recoger basura de las playas. Dicho suceso fue descubierto por los ciudadanos y se ha convertido en un esfuerzo mutuo de limpieza. Las playas empiezan a parecer playas nuevamente.

Aquí en Boquete como podrás ver los esfuerzos están dando resultados. Quizás algún día tendremos nuestra propia compañía de reciclaje en acción.

El Gobierno Nacional de Panamá recientemente firmó una nueva ley que dará inicio en el año 2019, no habrán bolsas plásticas permitadas en los comercios de Panamá! otro gran avance.

Estamos aquí en Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, continuamos con la reutilización, reducción y reciclaje con lo que podemos. Desde recoger la basura de nuestro jardín hasta la reducción de uso de recursos valiosos y reciclando al compartir con los programas de la comunidad.

 

 

Ven y hospédate con nosotros, dejanos saber que te gustaría que hicieramos para salvar nuestro medio ambiente. Detalles como dejar una nota en la puerta dejandonos saber que te gustaría reutilizer las toallas o dejar la señal de no molestar en la puerta. Cualquier manera que prefieras ayudarnos a reutilizar, reducir y reciclar.

 

 

 

The lost art of recycling being reclaimed in Panama?

Blog by Terry Richmeier.

Here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast we try our best to be environmentally friendly. We re-use, reduce, and recycle what we can.

When we first came to Panama we arrived at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. We had arranged for a taxi pick us up and drive us to our hotel. On the way, we noticed piles of trash all over the city in the northwest neighborhoods of town. When we moved to Boquete, Panama we noticed the same thing here as well. We were also told by others that the beaches in Panama City were completely covered in trash as well. Amazingly, most of those piles are now gone! So is the trash along the way to Boquete. The future looks better for Panama in regards to recycling and trash control. There is more awareness and efforts underway to clean the surroundings and volunteer programs are popping up in places. Here is a message from a former guest Joyce Kinnear:

This Sunday morning before Halloween, I got up at 5:30, so that we could join the Boquete Recycling group at 7 to “clean up Boquete.” The whole team split into at least four groups. For two hours, we picked up trash (7 bags with our small group), as well as a bag of recyclable metal and recyclable plastic bottles. We would have stayed longer, except that we had another event to go to.

Boquete is attempting to get “reuse/recycle/reduce” and “clean up” to be a larger part of life. It’s been difficult to get recycling service in town, so far from everything in Panama. We always say we are at the end of the distribution line here in Boquete, and that includes recycling.

 

It was heartening to see so many people gather together so early in the morning to pick up trash and recycling along the main road into town. We had a number of people thank us and help us—one young woman staying with our team for an hour to help in cleaning up the trash before she had to go.
Now, we just need to figure out how to get the beer and water bottling companies to pay for recycling efforts, since their products are the majority of what seems to get dumped. Wouldn’t that be something?

Another former guest that lives in Panama City named Colin, has started, with a group of friends, picking up the trash from the beaches. This was discovered by the city and now has become a city effort as well. The beaches are starting to look like beaches again.

 

 

Here in Boquete, as you can see, efforts are being made. Perhaps one day we will have our recycling company back in action.

The Panamanian government has just signed a law that starting in 2019, there will be no more plastic grocery bags allowed in Panama! Another great move forward.

And, we here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, continue to do what we can to reuse, recycle, and reduce. From picking up trash in our yard to reducing usage of our precious resources and recycling by sharing in the community programs.

 

When you come down and stay with us, just let us know what you would like us to do in order to save our environment. Things such as placing a note on the door that you would like to re-use your towels, or leave your room to not be disturbed or cleaned. Whatever way you prefer to help us reuse, recycle, and reduce.

 

No es necesario el Otoño en Tierras Altas Boquete?

Blog por Terry Richmeier.

Traducido por Generoso Guerra.

YO ODIO la nieve! De verdad la odio! Y crecer en Colorado, por muchos anos tuve mi justa dosis de nieve. Particularmente tampoco me gusta el Otoño. Porque? Porque el invierno lo acompaña de la

mano…

Pero, no son todas las personas, algunas si les gusta el frio y la nieve. Muchas disfruten el cambio y variedad de colores que se aprecian en Otoño y debo admitir, cuando vivi en Minnesota, la cosecha de manzanas y los puestos de venta de pastel a un lado de la carretera fueron asombrosos durante los viajes en carro atravez del estado en Otoño.

 

 

 

 

Estamos aqui en Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, bueno, no podemos mentir y si extranamos el Otoño un poco, si solo un poco…. No tenemos mucho del Otono aqui. Solo una suave y delicada lluvia en la tarde, llamada por los locales Bajareque. La cual comienza alrededor de las 2 pm hasta la noche! Tranquilas y frescas mananas las cuales son perfectos para dormir hasta tarde. Y eso no es nada malo…..

He aqui una declaracion de parte de nuestra amiga Joyce Kinnear:

Hemos estado en la parte Este de los Estados Unidos el ultimo par de semanas y estaremos regresando a Panama pronto. La parte Oriental de los Estados Unidos a mi punto de vista siempre me ha parecido un poco como a un pais extranjero. Desde luego he pasado la mayor parte de mi vida en la parte Oeste (Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, California y Nevada), el este siempre me ha parecido similar a Europa—llena de historia, museos y monumentos. Tambien, los cambios de estacion son mas parecidos a los que vez en cartas y haz leido en libros.

Otono en el Oeste realmente no es muy diferente al verano. Depende en la ubicaion, talvez sea el clima mas caliente o un poco mas lluvioso. Los arboles en su mayoria son abetos y pinos, entonces el “color” del cual haz leido no esta alla, pastos amarillentos, pocos alisos y alamos. Nunca me senti atraida al Otono. Panama es similar en eso, cuando vives cerca del Ecuador “Otono” realmente es inexistente. Como California, te mueves de lo seco a lo humedo con algunas variantes en tipos de flores y esquemas de colores, pero no es nada como el gran cambio que acontese en la costa Este.

En los ultimos anos he visitado mis hermanas en Maryland y Carolina del Norte. Realmente, la costa Este obtiene lo mejor en otono. Los colores son sorprendentes, con arboles mostrando una altagama de colores amarillos, naranjas, rojos hasta un Chocolate marron que es realmente spectacular. Los flores estan floreciendo en su mejor otono. El clima, cuando esta soleado es asombrosamente hermoso durante el dia. La Temperatura es calida  y el ssol tiene ese pequeno descenso en el cielo que permite tomar fantasticas fotografias y placenteras caminatas sin sudar en lo absolute.

Maryland, en particular me atrae. Allá hay una gran cantidad de museos y sitios historicos con una asombrosa diversidad de personas, restaurantes y barriadas. Si no fuera por el invierno, estaría interesada en vivir ahí.

Pero ahora, es tiempo de prepararse para volver a la profundidad de la temporada lluviosa en Panamá. Heme aquí esperanzada de no inundarme con la lluvia!

Si eres como yo o no, planea en venir a Boquete, Panamá y quedate  con nosotros en Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast! Invierno es verano aquí puedes disfrutar el sol mientras vas de canotaje o mientras disfrutas the un masaje en tu cuarto, todo mientras otros estan paleando.

Why fall into Fall in Boquete?

Blog by Terry Richmeier.

I HATE the snow! I really do! And growing up in Colorado, I had my fair share of snow. I didn’t particularly like fall either. Why, because it was followed by winter….

But, that is not everyone, some do like the cold and snow. And many enjoy the changing of the colors in fall. And I must admit, when I lived in Minnesota, the harvest of apples and the off the road pie shops were amazing during the fall drives through the state.

We here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, well, we cannot lie, and we miss the fall just a little….We don’t have much of a fall here. Just a gentle rain in the afternoon. From about 2 pm into the night! Cool, crisp mornings that are perfect to sleep in. And that’s not too bad…..

Here is a statement from our friend Joyce Kinnear:

We’ve been in the eastern part of the United States for the past couple of weeks and will be heading back to Panama soon. The eastern part of the US has always felt a bit like a foreign country to me. Since I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in the west (Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, California and Nevada), the east has always seemed a bit like Europe to me—filled with history, museums, and monuments. Also, the changing seasons are more like you see in cards and read about in books.

Fall in the west is really not so different from summer. Depending on the location, you might have hotter weather or a bit more rain. The trees are mostly evergreen firs and pines, so the “color” that you read about isn’t there or a bit of yellowing in the grasses and few alders and aspen. I never got the attraction of fall. Panama is similar, in that when you live near the equator, “fall” is really nonexistent. Like California, you move from wet to dry with some variations in flower types and color schemes, but it’s nothing like the massive changes in the east coast.

Houses

The last couple of years, I have visited sisters in Maryland and North Carolina. Really, the east coast does its best in the fall. The colors are amazing, with trees ranging from yellow, to orange, to red, to a maroon/brown that is really spectacular. Flowers are blooming in their fall best. The weather, when sunny, is amazingly beautiful during the day. Temperatures are warm, and the sun has that slightly lower in the sky profile that makes photographs turn out great and walks pleasant without getting sweaty.

Maryland, in particular, appeals to me. There are so many museums and historical sites with an amazing diversity of people, restaurants and neighborhoods. If it wasn’t for winter, I’d be interested in living here.

But now, it’s time to get ready to head back into the depth of the rainy season in Panama. Here’s hoping I don’t get too inundated with rain!

So, if you are like me, or even if you’re not, plan to come down to Boquete, Panama and http://live.ipms247.com/booking/book-rooms-casademontaa with us at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast! Winter is summer here and you can bask in the sun, white water rafting, or enjoy a massage in your room, all while others are shoveling out!

 

 

Yes, it is the right time to buy real estate in Boquete, Panama! Here is the reason why …

Blog by Manzar Lari

Ok, so I am slightly biased, I happen to own a property and business in Boquete and I would obviously want someone to buy a home and get settled in an area of Panama that has long been named as the land of “eternal spring”. Now there are some latest property tax changes that are coming soon that will be a game changer for anyone on the fence about renting or buying in Panama.  Finally there is some data to support my bias!

There are many wonderful and competitively priced homes for all tastes and budgets available for sale in the Boquete area. While most of them are listed with at least one (or more of the realtors in the area), many of them are available “For Sale by Owners” as well (we know many of the owners so contact us if you are interested!).

If you have done your research and have visited Boquete at least once and are ready for an overseas adventure, why not consider making Boquete your “forever” home?

Here is the latest info on tax relief by Panama Government:

National Assembly approves reform that reduces property tax in Panama!

Tue, 09/19/2017

The National Assembly approved Monday in the third and final debate a controversial bill that reforms the Tax Code on Property Tax (IBI), considered by the Government as the “most important” reduction of this tax in 40 years.

The reform establishes that properties that register as main dwelling will benefit from a reduction of more than 60% of the tax and owners of a primary residence with a registered value of $120,000 or less, will be exempted from paying real estate taxes FOREVER! What a game changer for property owners in Panama!

The MEF said that this project “constitutes the most important comprehensive reform of the IBI in the last 40 years and establishes a greater fiscal balance, which benefits the majority of the owners.”

 Any amount from $120,000 up to $700,000 will be taxed at only 0,5%. Leaving a home owner to only pay the bare minimum per year in real estate taxes once the tax exoneration period is over.  

 From a press release by the Assembly:

Money collected from the taxes will be given to municipalities to secure resources for decentralization.

Having been established, the progressive rate combined with the tax benefit known as family property tax or the main dwelling will be: 

  1. 0.00% on the taxable base up to $120,000.00
  2. 0.5% on the taxable base over $120,000.01 and up to $700,000.00
  3. 0.7% on the taxable base over $700,000.00The combined progressive rate on commercial real estate, industrial, other residences and others is as follows:

     1.    0.00% on the taxable base up to $30,000.00

    2.   0.6% on the taxable base over $30,000.01 and up to $250,000.00                                                     0.8% on the taxable base over $250,000.01 and up to $500,000.00 

    1. 1% on the taxable base over $500,000.01
  1. This is about a 70% reduction in yearly taxes or no taxes for the vast majority of Panamanians… I am guessing this will greatly stimulate an inflow of people who were on the fence about living in Panama, or who wanted to move to any tropical country but could not afford to pay or didn’t want to waste a lot of their money just on taxes before. This is great news!

     This truly is amazing! I think it goes into effect almost immediately (January 2018?). Why not take advantage of it? We routinely have guests at the B&B who are at various stages of relocation to Panama. Most of them end up taking my “Boquete Overview Tour”, designed for someone contemplating a move to Boquete. This 3.5 hour tour is packed with information that only a resident of Boquete can give you. Not to mention the various neighborhoods, developments and gated communities we visit during the tour. Boquete landscape, its people and the community are exceptional. I cannot wait to show you the area! Please book directly  with us to qualify for the current specials. See you soon!

Ready to transition from another culture to Panamanian culture?

Blog by Terry Richmeier

For us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we chose to move to Boquete, Panama for many reasons. Some of which are to leave Corporate America and to live out a lifelong dream. There is a trend that is happening and Expat communities are just one way to go.

First, check out our story and then check out one person’s thought, our friend Joyce Kinner, a recent transplant:

I have been wondering lately what it is about a person that makes the person successfully able to move far away from family and friends and into another culture? This can apply for people moving within the US from one cultural area to another—we certainly felt this way moving from New Mexico to California, but it really is a question when I see people here from various parts of the US and Canada. Some seem to do much better than others.

At first, I thought that maybe people from areas in the US or Canada with diverse cultures, especially a lot of people from Latin America, might do better than others. I suppose that holds true for many, but we know people who are doing very well here and are from the middle of Michigan, Indiana, Alberta and other more typical bastions of stereotypical white culture. Many of my friends in California thought that perhaps those with a more cosmopolitan world view would be happier in Panama than others from a more insular world view, but that doesn’t always hold true either.

There are people who live here in Boquete as if they were living in the rural Midwest. They hang out with only North Americans, visit restaurants with only North American clientele (where all the wait staff speak perfect English), shop at the stores with produce and groceries from North America, learn very little Spanish, and for large purchases run down to our local “Costco” (Price Smart) for that really diverse feeling–:-) Many of these people are quite happy and enjoy their retirement a lot.

Others leave Boquete because it is too much like North America. Currently, many of these people are heading to Colombia, Ecuador or Spain for more of a feeling of being in a different country (or for cheaper cost of living, to be fair).
The majority of people leave here because they feel they need to be back in the US or Canada. This is often for medical reasons—in search of chemotherapy or major health treatment under Medicare or the Canadian Health System. But, there is the final group of ‘leavers,’ that I think show what it takes to survive in a different culture—you need to be independent and flexible about living in the social norms in which you were raised or allowing new patterns of life.

This results in a mixture of independent people from all walks of life living here in a small Panamanian town peacefully, mostly, with the local townspeople. Whether these independent people are here because they can’t afford to retire most places in the US or Canada, or they have a strong desire to travel and see different places, or they grew tired with some state of affairs in the home location—all are independent. Many people say that someone back home, whether parent, sibling, child, grandchild or friend, feels that the ex-pats have abandoned people or country. That is definitely far from the truth, as electronic forms of communication make us pretty much as available as we were before to most family and friends. Discussions about why people moved here, live here and stay here all tend to revolve around the strong desire to do something different with the last years in life—whether that’s hiking new areas, being able to travel more to the southern hemisphere, retire early (or at all), or whatever. The people who are happy here seem to enjoy independence, with, of course, the caveat that no one is ever far from his or her phone and social media activity with family and friends.

So, if you think you have an “adventurous side’ to you and/or are thinking of “something different with the last years in life”, or just want to explore living in a different culture, Boquete is definitely worth a try! Come and stay with us, let us take you on a Boquete Overview Tour, and ask us more about Boquete, Panama and why we love living here while you sleep in an amazing memory foam bed with tea, coffee, wine and beer right at your fingertips. See you soon!

How does one become legal to live, work and get health services in Panama?

Blog by Manzar Lari

Panama is a country full of natural beauty, laid-back people ready to embrace individuals from other countries and a government that welcomes expats to make Panama their home. We did our research several years ago and realized that there were many different visa options available for us. We picked the one that most suited our needs and hired a lawyer highly recommended by International Living to help with obtaining our permanent residency as well as making sure we could open a business. It took only 4 months to accomplish this! Sure, it cost us thousands of dollars but we felt that it was justified. The system is designed for people with the financial means to go through the residency process relatively painlessly.

There are many health care options available as well. We chose an option that gave us health coverage not only in Panama, but internationally as well. All this for a reasonable price! Unfortunately, not everyone has the same level of accessibility here. Yes, even the ones who were born here in Panama – there are bureaucracies one has to navigate.

Here is another story from our friends Joyce & Scott who moved here five months ago:

This afternoon a hummingbird got in the house. It panicked, naturally, and started flying crazily through the rooms and into the walls trying to get out. Scott spent about 15 minutes directing the bird out of different rooms. Eventually, the bird, exhausted, just froze in place on top of the hall dresser. In a concerted effort that came from years of trying to work together to tie down a cat to give it medicine or cut its claws, we were able to get the bird surrounded, so that Scott could carefully grab and hold its tail feathers to carry it across the house and outside.

The crazy actions of the frightened bird and the quiet skill needed to get that bird safely out of the house reminded me somewhat of how you have to work through bureaucracies—not just government ones either. We have been spending some time figuring out how to get packages mailed to us through a mail service in Miami. They are good and said to be the absolute easiest to work with, yet it has required a couple of weeks and several trips down to the office to make sure things are working. We are told that the packages are now in Miami and should arrive here in a couple of days. We’ll see.

This, however, has been a complete breeze compared to some government bureaucracies. As an example, Panama requires all citizens to have a cedula (identification cards with numbers). In order to have a cedula, a person must have a birth certificate. A cedula is required to access any government agency—public hospitals/clinics, education, or anything.This system is not unlike what has often been advocated for in the US as a way to reduce illegal immigration. However, the largest effect that we have seen is that it keeps a large number of indigenous people, who should have the most right to access government services of anyone in Panama, from getting those services.

The problem is that, as mentioned previously, a large number of indigenous people, especially women, are illiterate and uncomfortable with modern society. Their children are often born at home, delivered by other indigenous women, and do not get issued birth certificates. Because their mothers or both parents are illiterate and uncomfortable with modern society (and perhaps not even able to speak Spanish very well, just knowing their own language), the children never get birth certificates or cedulas. Thus, they are never able to go to school, get medical care at a reasonable cost, or access any government service. Lest you feel too much righteous anger at the parents for not getting the children these documents, consider how difficult this process is for literate people who are comfortable with bureaucracy.

A North American couple we have met here in Panama have been living among some indigenous people and trying to help their neighbors. They have spent over 18 months trying to get two children birth certificates and cedulas. One finally has hers, but the boy is still waiting on his cedula. Two college educated people, fluent in English and somewhat competent in Spanish, with the help of lawyers that they were paying, have spent 18 months trying to get these children the documents to prove that they are legal residents of a country that their ancestors have lived in for thousands of years. It’s quite a depressing tale of bureaucracy, but also with a ray of hope. The two children are, at least, in school, after the couple were able to talk the local school and the district administration in David to allow the children to attend during the birth certificate and cedula process. These two children can now read, write and do basic math. Their children will, in turn, be that much higher on the path to a comfortable life.

We feel fortunate to be able to live in paradise called “Boquete”! We try to live with gratitude for what life has given us and the wonderful people who either live in our little town or visit us from all over the world. Please come and visit us any time of the year and if you decide to make Boquete your home, we can assist you with information and connect you to people who can help as well. See you soon!

Language Barriers when Traveling to Boquete, Panama

Blog by Terry Richmeier

We finally figured out some pronunciation issues that we have encounter while living and working at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast, Here in Boquete, Panama! For example: the only sound that the “I” makes is actually an “E” sound. There is no soft ‘eh’ sound for the “I” as it the word “it”. You would pronounce “it” as “EEET”. This has presented itself as a challenge for checking in guests that have Spanish Names such as “George’ is pronounced “Hor Hey” and spelled “Jorje”. But it doesn’t stop there. We have met wonderful guests from all over the world and we have, without a doubt, pronounced their names wrong. One story of our friend “Joyce” is below:

My name is pretty much unpronounceable in Spanish, especially Panamanian Spanish. First of all, I learned when my daughter Amy Kinnear was taking phonetics in college, that the letter “J”, as pronounced in English, is very difficult and unusual. Children and second language learners have a very hard time with the pronunciation of “J” in English. Also, the silent “e” at the end of a word is a tough one for many languages.

When we lived in Germany, a lot of people had difficulty in pronouncing my name. I was called a lot of strange things. Germans in the 1980’s, however, were used to hearing such names as “John” and other very English names, so most people were within some variation of my name.

It’s even worse here in Panama. Panamanian Spanish has a strong tendency to pronounce the second syllable of a word. Also, it seems that almost NO names are less than two syllables.

Thus, a name with an unpronounceable first letter, an unpronounced final letter that is pronounced in Spanish AND that doesn’t have the decency to have a second syllable to accent is just not a name that people can say.

We have a friend who is Panamanian, but who lived and worked in the US for over 30 years. His English is nearly perfect. However, when he said my name today, I realized that for those in the know, you could tell from how he said my name that he is not a native English speaker. The pronunciation was just off. It wasn’t some of the stranger variations of my name (yoi-CEE or something even stranger), but it wasn’t JOYCE.

I feel badly especially for my mother Judi Baker Nieman Correa, who used to tell me as a child that one thing she really liked about my name was that it was impossible to create a nick name from it. At least when I was little, she hated nick names and refused to let any of us have one.

Here, I have so many nick names that I can’t even count them all. Any word or collection of sounds that has an “oy” in the middle of it is fair game for being what someone might be calling me.

My name, Terry is fairly easy in Spanish and sounds quite lovely! It’s sound is more like Taary! I love it! On the other hand Manzar is not so simple for Spanish speaking. Manzar in Urdu sounds like Munzer. In English, most people pronounce it Man Zar like it’s spelled. And in Spanish it sounds like: Maanz zahr. So, when you are contacting Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast to find out more about our specials,  or to ask about our Boquete Overview Tour for relocation, or to find out about more about your reservations. Don’t be surprised if we hear something different than you pronounced or originally ask! Our staff and us will listen carefully to your questions and do the best we can to answer you! We love learning about different pronunciations from different parts of the world and we look forward to you bringing that to us!

“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” in Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Manzar Lari

Yes, you fans of Rocky Horror Picture Show, here in Boquete, Panama, have truly entered an alternative universe. The importance placed on time in the U.S. or other industrialized nations is almost non-existent in this country. People are not running from one commitment to another and feeling overwhelmed.

As expats we hear a lot of the locals tell us “tranquilo” (calm down!) if we come across as quite intense by their standards. It takes some time to get into their rhythm of doing things. Since we own a Bed & Breakfast and half (or more) of our guests are visitors from other countries, we usually need to have things fixed, cleaned or prepared on a much more of a definite timelines since our guests’ expectations are different than a typical Panamanian’s. This can cause some issues. The “tranquilo” thing doesn’t always work for us (as a business) even though we try our best to get into the groove with the local norms on a personal level.

A typical expat moving here as a retiree may actually be able to incorporate the laid back lifestyle much more easily than we have because of our special circumstances. Joyce & Scott, our new Boquete transplants, keep giving us information about their experiences and adjustments with their new surroundings as compared to the Bay Area where they lived for decades:

We are really in a time warp sometimes. Not only are we retired, but we are retired in Latin America (the land of “Manaña”), in Panama (which is sometimes more “manaña” than other places) and 7- hour drive from any sense of business and commerce in Panama City. In our little mountain hamlet, sometimes, as someone in our hiking group said this morning, knowing that the day ends in “y” is all you need!

 

Some days it seems like we slog through the entire day to get one thing accomplished. Other days, like today, it seems like a HUGE victory to find out where we can buy a regulator for the natural gas tank for the BBQ. We’ve been trying to find that thing for weeks, and finally succeeded.

The whole time warp thing was exacerbated to me this afternoon when I walked into the knitter’s and crocheter’s group. One of the women said that she hadn’t been keeping track of the news, but only was wondering if the US was at war with North Korea yet? Everyone assured her, that as far as they knew, some hours previous to our meeting, we were not at war. Then the group got down to the more serious discussion of what to do about Panama’s latest restriction on importation of medications from the US, what types and colors of yarn went together well and who was traveling to where in the next few months? There was an interesting little side argument between a couple of the US women and an Australian about whether medications are more expensive in the US, Australia or Panama, but it lacked any fire of intensity.

In our little time warp, today we forgot to go to an event downtown this evening. We forgot to go, because the evening was so lovely that we walked down the street to sit and chat with neighbors on their front porch for an hour or so. It was lovely. I couldn’t help feeling like we were really in a time warp—instead of spending a couple of hours on my Friday evening slogging through traffic on the highway stressing about work and politics, instead I was missing a dance by sipping wine and discussing life for a leisurely evening.

One of the appeals for either visiting or moving to Panama is the laid back and happy attitude of the locals. They truly know how to have fun and they are really welcoming of visitors and expats to their community. It is especially true of the people of the Chiriqui province where Boquete is located. Most expats we know have embraced this lifestyle and by all accounts seem to be much happier as well.

Let us help you relax and do the tours and activities you want according to your timeline! Please check out our “Exploring Boquete” tab on our website and book directly with us for your upcoming vacation. See you soon!

Gluten Free or Celiac Disease and travel don’t mix … or do they? In Boquete they do!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Over the four years that we have been open as a business, we have encountered many guests who are Gluten Free or have Celiac’s disease, and we’ve made every effort to provide breakfast that they can eat and enjoy that would fit into our different International breakfast themes.Well, we believe the problem has been solved for good!

According to an article in “LiveScience” Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to overreact to two proteins in gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. If a person with celiac disease eats gluten, it can trigger an immune response that damages their intestines and prevents them from absorbing nutrients.

Recently a friend of ours, Colleen, has opened a Gluten Free Bakery and Kitchen called “Gluten Free Gold Kitchen”.  Colleen has always cooked since she was 5 years old. She cooks according to her cravings. She wants a certain taste and tries to find recipes or ingredient’s that she can put together for that taste! This is a weird concept to her since a lot of the things she craves she has never had before, so sometimes it takes days to get it right.

Colleen had seen Boquete, Panama, mentioned on a retirement Facebook advertisement. So when she decided that she didn’t want to complete the last 10 years of her working life with snow, she started researching snowless places.

Her journey to learning about Gluten Free living started six years ago at a farmers market in Alberta. Some of her regular customers had spouses that were celiac and they asked her about doing something for them. She started with two items in October and by December 85% of what she made was gluten free and by spring she had her kitchen renovated and converted it to a dedicated Gluten Free Facility. Colleen felt that she has always had grand ideas when it comes to the business but she has now concentrated on getting her kitchen going.

It was not easy to get her flours in Panama. It took her six months to find a company here in Panama that produces Gluten Free flours. Now 85% of her ingredients come from here in Panama! Her biggest challenge is to get the flours that she can’t get here in Panama in large quantities and at reasonable prices. However, it seems that the Panamanians are finding out about Gluten Free Diets. A lot of the kids here have been diagnosed with celiac. Here in Panama, Gluten Free awareness has tripled! People don’t realize how sick Gluten can make you. Being on the bathroom floor, writhing in pain for days because someone didn’t take your allergy seriously.

Colleen tries to work the menu around what her suppliers can get to her or what is in season. Mostly she gets bored quickly and prefers to offer an endless variety! The exciting part about offering such a variety is that 50% of the guests that come to the Kitchen are not Gluten Free. They just love the food! And Colleen offers her breakfasts and lunches “to go”.

And as if that’s not enough, every day, the “Gluten Free Gold” offers a vegetarian choice and about three times per week a Vegan Choice!

We here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast are very excited to have “Gluten Free Gold Kitchen” arrive in Boquete, Panama and open. So when you are making your reservation to stay with us. Let us know right away that you are Gluten Free or Vegan and we will be contacting Colleen and bring her products here for you to enjoy for breakfast along with our other great International recipes! We will work together to make your stay free from that bathroom floor and withering pain! And when you are here, you can visit the “Gluten Free Gold Kitchen” for lunch and also bring home your dinner! Oh, and by the way, go and like Colleen’s Facebook page ! She loves to talk to anyone about Gluten Free and Vegan products.

 

Neighborhood feel of Boquete, Panama: Just like the bygone days of the U.S.!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

On any given morning here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast, you will open your eyes to the smell of morning coffee and your prepared breakfast. This is our normal morning, but, what about the community?

 

 

 

Walking past the bed and breakfast will be dog walkers, children heading to the bus station, the elderly couple walking down the street and stopping to smell the flowers or pet the dogs. You will see a special lady who will go around picking up the trash in front of every house and place it in a trash bag. You will see men stopping to talk to each other, never seeming to be in a hurry. And that’s just a start.

People in Boquete, Panama, live outside. We even have an outside space designed for every room. We also serve breakfast outside on the back terrace. This is very different than the communities that lock themselves up tightly and live their lives behind walls and locked doors.

Below is a testimonial from a newly transplanted couple Joyce & Scott Kinnear:

We have had some lovely sunny afternoons this week. A couple of days it didn’t rain at all (or not enough to hardly matter) and the other days, it waited until night to rain.

It is interesting the difference between our neighborhood in California and here in our neighborhood in Panama in the afternoon.

In California, when I would be working from home or have the day off, there was lots of traffic going past our house—sometimes doing some pretty crazy stunts. Also, there were lots of people walking past the yard or waiting for the bus. Many of these people would pick our flowers or drop trash in our yard. We were constantly picking up cigarette butts, dog crap, old and nasty alcohol bottles and fast food containers. It was nasty. However, there were never any people out in the yards around us. I almost never saw our neighbors. The people next to us lived next to us for nearly 20 years. We maybe saw them outside the house 1 time a year or so—usually going to their car. Other neighbors we saw less often. The only people we usually saw were the seniors from the nearby senior facility. They would walk the neighborhood and stop to talk to me about how lovely the flowers were.

When we are here on a sunny afternoon, the neighborhood is literally buzzing with people. We do see some cars or people walking down the road, but what you hear is the noise of people living in their yards. There will be contractors in several houses near us. Other houses have gardeners out doing work. The woman across the street may come out to sweep her driveway. Other neighbors putter in their gardens or sit on the veranda to read, have a drink or look at their phones. Any of these people are more than happy to stop what they are doing to chat for a few minutes if you pass by.

Since children go to school early in the morning, they are often at home the majority of the afternoon.

As I weed the flower beds, I can hear the neighbors’ children behind us playing and laughing in their yard or the baby crying for attention.

There is just so much life in our neighborhood on a sunny afternoon. How can you not love this?

Is this the isolated experience of people just in Boquete, Panama? Or more of a small town experience? Who knows, but peace and tranquility can be yours while you are staying at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. Come and stay with us and experience living life in Boquete, Panama for a little while. Come and slow down. Oh, and if you think you want to know more about this lifestyle, check our Boquete Overview Tour and see for yourself the neighborhoods that are mentioned by Joyce…..

Is it worth taking the journey to Panama? Yes it is!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

I feel old! The first thing that Joyce said when she wrote about her trip back home to Boquete, Panama, from the U.S.!

The fact is that you can indeed arrive in one day to Boquete, Panama, where Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast is located. However, unless you get a head start in the morning, you may lose your sleep schedule if you are taking a red-eye flight and you may need a day or two to feel “normal”. Is it worth it? Or would it be better to make the journey slower (stop along the way)? Take the time to see what is best for you as you read a local Boquetenian, Joyce’s, recent journey:

I feel old. The trip back to Panama from Reno just exhausted me. We had a late afternoon flight to Las Vegas, which was 30 minutes late (quite a trick for a 75 minute flight). After getting our luggage in Las Vegas, we had a short night at a hotel (getting up at 1:30 am) to catch our far too early flight to Panama City.

After the 6-1/2 hour flight, we got our luggage again and went through immigration, where we had our own line as “foreign residents”! Luggage was a crazy scramble. The current terminal in Panama City is just too busy. They are building another one, but until it is finished, things are busy, busy, busy at Tocumen International Airport.

A really friendly guy–a former contractor for the US at the military bases, when the US was in Panama–drove us to the bus terminal on the other side of Panama City. We then got on a bus which left immediately for David. Of course, this bus stopped at every hamlet in the country, and we arrived in David about 11 pm.

Fortunately, we were able to get a taxi relatively quickly, and we were home by midnight. Still, it was an exhausting trip, and a couple of days later, I still have not returned to a normal sleep schedule.

You know it can be done! You can get directly to Boquete from most places around the world. But is it worth it? Several people travel from Europe and other faraway places across the globe. They do indeed have an adjustment to make with their sleep schedules, and yet, they endure the journey to get to explore the exciting trails, beaches and activities that Panama has to offer. There are also many activities in Panama City and other locations inside of Panama to see and accomplish, so take your time. If you need an adjustment or feel sleep deprived, we can offer you an excellent bed and an in-room massage. Arrive safely to Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast! Contact us now or book through our website where we offer specials and savings.

 

Panama Relocation versus Living elsewhere: What do we miss?

blog by Terry Richmeier

If you are thinking about relocating to Boquete, Panama, then you will have to think about what you may miss about living in your own country. We here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast have experienced this ourselves! When you are here in Boquete, you do miss things from your previous home, and when you fly back to see family and friends, you miss things from Boquete. And so have other expats. Here is recent transplants Joyce and Scott’s thoughts:

We have been on a trip back to the Western part of the US for a couple of weeks and will be headed back to Panama soon. So, the question—what have we missed from the US (besides family and friends and our amazing conversations we’ve had the past couple of weeks), and what are we missing now from Panama?

Well, I have missed dry weather. It’s wet season now in Panama, but hot and dry in the Western US. I love hot and dry weather, and I’ve been soaking up the sun. Also, it’s cherry, sweet corn and stone fruit season here, and I’ve been eating as much corn, cherries, peaches, nectarines and especially apricots as I can fit inside for

the drought that we will have when we return to Panama.

It’s been nice to go to a Michael’s arts and crafts store, too. For someone as interested in yarn and painting as I am, having a specialty store in every town is nice. Of course, we have missed San Francisco, the Sierra Nevada mountains, the summer flowers in the US and so much more.

What are we really looking forward to when we get back to Panama? Of course, the people are the most important thing, and we have a number of friends we are looking forward to seeing.

Food also is near the top of this list. We were at Safeway just yesterday and saw super, super green pineapples for $3 each. They didn’t smell like pineapple at all and looked tasteless. I will be glad to see the vendors and their $1 pineapples when we return. The constantly good coffee will be wonderful to return to, as well. We’ve had some nasty stuff at hotels and buffets here (not from our friends, of course!), and I am so looking forward to consistently wonderful coffee every morning—especially when served with the hojaldras downtown (they’re like sopaipillas for you New Mexicans).

It will be lovely to do all of this just after a hike through the green and beautiful mountains filled with hibiscuses and other flowers in and around Boquete.

Life is what you make it, and every place in the world is special and beautiful. The more you travel, the more you feel at home everywhere, but miss other parts of the world that you have grown to love.

We couldn’t have said it better or any differently! For us at Casa de Montaña, we miss family and friends the most! And the only way to solve that problem is for you to come and visit your family and friends here in Boquete, Panama. Give us a look, come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. Surprise your loved ones with a visit and take care of that special place in the hearts of your loved ones that only you can fill!

 

Shopping for what you need (and want?) in Panama!

Blog by Manzar Lari

Our guests at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast often ask us whether or not we can purchase everything here in Panama that we used to purchase in the U.S. One would think that it would be an easy question to answer but it isn’t for us. Our story is probably no different than most of the expats who move here. We have been in Panama for almost 4 years. We are used to a different way of living now. Unless it is something we absolutely need, we have learned to do without. We typically shop at the stores in David for household goods and some hard-to-find items. Sometimes we never find those items! We have a Mailboxes Etc account. We can generally buy something on Amazon.com and then have it sent to the Mailboxes Etc address in Miami and then they forward our package to the Boquete location of Mailboxes, Etc. It takes an extra week, but we do receive the package safe and sound at their downtown Boquete store. Oftentimes, we have friends pick up small things for us while they are on vacation in the U.S. We do the same for our friends when we are on vacation. I guess after living here for a while, either you learn to make do without certain products or you figure out a way to get them through other sources (for a higher price).

It is always interesting to see the settling-in process new residents of Boquete go through while they learn the rhythm and norms of their new culture and surroundings. The stories and experiences of our new Boquete residents Joyce and Scott continue:

So, I’m not a big shopper. Clothing stores are meant to be gone through fairly quickly, in my mind. I’m much faster than my daughter Amy and slower than my husband Scott. However, I am a bit crazy about garden and hardware stores. I find them very fascinating.

So, imagine the heaven of finding yourself in a country that does a lot of repair work. Lots of repairs are done for a variety of reasons—the weather is hard on things, people have less money to buy new things so repair the old, and some contractors are terrible and you have to fix things that were just built/installed. I’m sure there are more reasons, but all of this has resulted in hardware stores that sell absolutely everything you could ever imagine to repair anything you could have ever thought about.

Our closest hardware store is a large maze of aisles just filled with every screw, nail, and piece of plastic and little doo dad you could possibly imagine. Since the store is absolutely jam packed, all the way to the 20 foot ceilings, with stuff everywhere, new items can be placed absolutely anywhere you could imagine—and places you can’t.

For the hardware enthusiast, such as myself, this means that you can spend hours in the store, looking at each item and always find some new little gadget that will be useful for something or other. Oh man, it’s like a child let loose in a candy store for me.

Amy thinks I’m weird, of course….

The shopping adventures of Joyce and Scott continue from Boquete/David to Panama City:

Today we took a taxi to David for an early morning bus ride to Panama City. The taxi went well, but it was the most expensive part of our day. It wasn’t bad though. For a 30 mile drive to David, it was only $35. In David, we paid a little over $15 each for a 6-1/2 hour bus drive to Panama City and Albrook mall, which is right on the canal on the northern side of the City. It was a very smooth and easy drive for us. It didn’t seem as long as it might have, since as I’ve not been feeling well for several days, I slept most of the drive.

When we arrived in Panama City at the mall, we took a taxi to our hotel, which is on the old military base. It was such a short drive (only about three miles), that we decided to walk back to the mall after checking in.

The Albrook mall is the largest mall in Latin America, from what we have been told, and it is immense. I estimate that it is about a mile long and 2-3 stories. There are numerous large department stores, plus any number of other stores, including about every shoe store known to human kind. You could spend days in that mall.

We went into a three story HUGE department store that seems to emphasize inexpensive items. After our three months in the small town of Boquete with occasional trips to the mall in David, it was really a bit overwhelming to see so many items and so many people in one store! There were tons of things that looked interesting, but we were mostly able to restrain ourselves—fortunately for our pocketbooks!

So, apparently there are many more items of interest available in the malls of Panama City! Joyce has written above about Albrook Mall but there all sorts of other malls like Multiplaza Mall and Multi Centro Mall, for example. Many of the Boquete/David residents also make regular trips to Panama City for their shopping and dining needs. We do the same periodically. Plus it is great for a change of scenery as well. After the hustle and bustle of Panama City, it is always great to be back home in the cooler and quieter Boquete environment and familiar surroundings.

There is a new mall in David that is under construction and promises to be similar to the Albrook mall, only smaller. The main David bus terminal will be relocated from its current location to the new mall. From the looks of it, it is about halfway done. Maybe in a year or two we will be able to do most of our shopping there? Rumor has it that the best grocery chain (in our opinion!) in Panama, Riba Smith, will have a store there! We can’t wait. Look at the architect’s rendering of the David mall below:

Hope to see you down in Boquete soon. We have a lot more information available for you! Make sure you ask us about life in Panama when you come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

How does one find a good builder, contractor or a handyman in Boquete, Panama?

Blog by Manzar Lari.

Short answer – It is not easy! Long answer, do your online research before coming here. In addition, talk to acquaintances and friends who have been here a lot longer than you. As I usually say to our guests at the B&B who are contemplating a move to Boquete, “talk to at least 12 different people locally about a topic of interest to you, synthesize and then distill the answers and then come up with your own truth”. Each person speaks from the standpoint of their own experiences and points-of-view. As a good “researcher” one has to initially gather as much information as one can until one starts hearing the same kinds of answers and collecting more data is not going to help inform the conclusion(s).

I do a “Boquete Overview Tour” for people who are considering moving to Boquete and we touch on many topics that may be relevant to a future Boquete resident. I have noticed that the visitors generally have tons of questions and they are “hungry” for answers. Frequently, people are looking to buy land and build their dream home here. I inform them that you will never hear people publicly say that someone is an awful builder or that the contractor didn’t do what they were paid to do. You can only find those things out when you talk verbally and in person with someone. We have different slander and libel laws here as compared to the U.S. and people are very cautious about divulging their true (negative) experiences to strangers.

Just recently our friends Joyce and Scott had this to say:

Friends here in Panama wanted me to discuss the issues with contracting. This is a tough and complicated subject that I (Joyce) have been thinking about for a while.

The problem is that contracting is never fun, wherever you are. There are always problems from delays in construction, parts not being available, costs being more than you expect, etc. This happens in the US as much as in Panama.

I’ve been trying to figure out the difference in these situations and I think it’s mostly that in the US there are more ways to find out about a contractor before you try to work with him. In the US, there seems to be more controls through state licensing and disciplinary procedures on incompetent contractors, YELP reviews and so on. It’s a bit more based on word of mouth references here.

Word of mouth references are always good, of course, wherever you live. Some of our best experiences in both the US and Panama have been in working with friends or people recommended by friends.

The problems that we have experienced in Panama seem to be that it is harder to find out if a contractor isn’t what he is cracked up to be. We have heard stories from friends of contracting with an electrician, who blows up everything in the house through bad wiring mistakes and then later says, “But I’m really not an electrician, so it’s not my fault if things don’t work out.” Other bad experiences include contractors getting the money for parts and using that money for someone else’s job or just never showing up at all (or, as in our case, abandoning the job after taking money and just disappearing from existence). It’s just difficult to find out if a contractor really knows what he is doing and whether he will complete the job.

I suspect that word of mouth worked better in the past when Boquete was a very small town, and everyone knew what was going on everywhere in town. With the growth in population in the past few years, the competition for the best contractors and the escalation in costs that come with population growth, the historical practice of working only with contractors who have a good reputation through word of mouth has some problems.

Let’s just say that while there are always horror stories about contracting experiences wherever you live, the stories, experiences and lessons learned are a bit more expensive, worrisome and common here in Boquete!

We have been in Boquete for almost four years and our experiences were not so different than the newbies Joyce and Scott when we first arrived in August 2013. Hopefully we have become a little wiser in those four years! Bad experiences have a way of teaching us some life lessons. We are fortunate that we have been able to find some reliable and trustworthy individuals who show up (mostly!) when they are supposed to, finish the job, give us a warranty, and not charge us exorbitant amounts of money.

If you are contemplating a move to Boquete, why not book a room with us  and schedule a Boquete Overview Tour? Terry and I (Manzar) love to assist our guests in any way we can to make your transition to Boquete a smooth one. See you soon!

 

Expats residing in Boquete, Panama, from many different cultures. Are we living in harmony with the locals? Come and see for yourself!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

At Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast, we have been in business now for 3.5 years and have discovered there are differences in each culture we have encountered! Differences that are neither bad nor good, just different. Here in Boquete, Panama, for example: you see the Indigenous women in their Mola dress and now we are starting to see more and more of the Indigenous men wearing western clothes. And the younger generation is now in shorts. Something that was really NOT acceptable for Panamanians several years back. I (Terry) myself spend my life here in shorts! This is not an isolated incident, and is just one example of many, as Panama is known to have so many different cultures living here. Are they coexisting in harmony without major problems?

Here is one experience from local expats Joyce and Scott Kinnear…..

Scott and I have lived outside of the US twice—once in the 1980s when we lived in rural far Western Germany and now we are living in rural Panama. We’ve noticed a large difference between the stereotypes with which we were and are viewed in these two experiences. I don’t know if these differences are due to locations, our own stereotypes about the people there, the difference in time or what, but it is interesting.

In Germany, we were told that Americans were too nice, too friendly, too ready to smile all the time (lots of white teeth) and far too naïve. We were not really accepted into our village until we discovered that our landlord was trying to cheat us by having the grandmother’s electricity plugged into our meter. When we figured that out and stood up to our landlord, the landlord and neighbors began to treat us as part of the community—inviting us to their homes and sharing drinks and food at the local beer fests.

On the other hand, in Boquete, we hear that North Americans (particularly US citizens) are viewed as too rushed, too pressured, too hurried and less friendly than the locals. This seems to me to be because things are very likely to not happen or happen much later than originally planned here in Panama, especially Boquete, and North Americans (used to time schedules and things being completed within a certain time of when originally agreed) tend to get a bit upset, even pushy when things don’t work out.

I don’t think we’ve changed that much over time, but it is interesting that what we hear about ourselves and our cultural background has gone from “too naïve and smiley” to “too pushy and demanding.” I wonder if the Germans and other Europeans who have moved to Boquete feel this difference even more than we do?

Anyway, bouncing from different cultural expectations is very interesting, as long as you stay flexible and calm. For a psychology major, it is always interesting.

 

 

For the crew of Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast, it is also very interesting. We can only recommend that you come and stay with us, and experience more than just the Latin American culture in Panama but many other cultures that are represented in Boquete, Panama at the same time! It make for great discussions and who knows, maybe even friends from all over the world. Contact Us and Come

We are feeling a bit bugged (in Boquete) and want to inform you as to why!

blog by Terry Richmeier

Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast  has been open for 3.5 years now and we feel fortunate enough not to have experienced any scorpions, spiders, or snakes inside our Bed & Breakfast! That’s saying a lot considering where we live! Tropical climate attracts and sustains a wide variety of creatures.

A couple that stayed with us, just made the move to Boquete, Panama. They purchased a home high on the mountaintop and made a list of the top bugs that “bug” them. Read below:

By Joyce Kinnear

The things a person learns about bugs when moving from a temperate/arid climate to a tropical one:

 

  1. It is hard to tell a centipede from a caterpillar when it is crawling on your neck.

2. Many bugs dislike the smell of cinnamon and lavender, which is why my doorways look like witch’s circles with cinnamon around them, and my cleaning supplies are all lavender scented.

Bar of natural aromatherapy soap with dried lavender and essential oil

 

 

3. The dilemma is real about spiders in the house–they kill bugs, BUT they can also bite you. When they are crawling all over the house, which is worse?

 

4. Scorpions are, in fact, pretty damn ugly, whether small and in your bed or large and in a bathroom.

  1. Beetles/June bugs are unbelievably stupid, but loud, when they fly around the house, noisily bumping into walls everywhere, crashing and then doing it again.
  2. Moth balls serve a purpose, as you can tell when the only thing with light in your house is the cell phone, and you become a moth attracter of amazing capabilities.
  3. Ants are the worst possible pests–the leaf cutters that can destroy a plant before your eyes, the little black ones that crawl all over your feet and into your shoes and leave stings that itch and hurt for weeks, or the little red ones that feel like hypodermic needles are injecting you.
  4. Coffee flies are practically microscopic, but the sting hurts and itches for at least 3 weeks.Our thoughts on these bug problems:
    1. Why does it matter if it’s a centipede or caterpillar? Some species can be poisonous here. That said, having any bugs crawl on you is creepy!
    2. You can make an all-natural lavender scented mix to spread around your house.
    3. No spiders – EVER! Enough said.
    4. Scorpions tend to be in the mountains and are not found in the area we are located.
    5. These guys don’t hurt anything, they just look creepy. That said with full knowledge of not having them in our Bed & Breakfast or near us.
    6. There is a season when the moths are flowing through the town. Still we haven’t seen them inside our Bed & Breakfast.
    7. Then only ants we seen are so small you can hardly see them. We exterminate frequently.
    8. Coffee Flies go for blood! They are all over tropical areas. That said, they usually bite at dawn or dusk.We here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast, believe that the bugs are not to be bugging our guests! We spray frequently inside and out to prevent them from making their home inside ours and on you! You will be able to rest peacefully knowing that we are on the job of de-bugging your life and travels here in Boquete, Panama. Come and stay with us and don’t be bugged!

Scott is volunteering in Boquete, Panama – both Scott and Joyce are really busy!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

(This is a follow-up to last week’s blog titled: Joyce is working hard at volunteering in Boquete after retirement – resistance is futile!) 

So, you get nervous around large animals and yet you love them and want to help! This is me as well and you’re not alone! This is called Zoophobia: However, this is not what her husband (Scott) has…

This is Joyce’s story…..

Scott is the animal lover between the two of us. I have always been extremely nervous of some animals–particularly large ones that have a tendency to jump up on me. Animals can sense my nervousness, and it’s a negative feedback for us both.

Scott, on the other hand, is really, really good with animals. They nearly always like him, especially how he scratches their itches–literally. A couple of weeks ago, he was scratching a goat between its horns. The goat was in love and cried when we left.

So, he has started volunteering with a group (Amigos de Animales) that does monthly neutering and spaying. Vets are brought in from Costa Rica and some from other parts of Panama–apparently, the few vets in this area work on large, farm animals. Volunteers bring in strays and coordinate local families to bring in their pets. The day long clinic neuters and spays hundreds of animals, with volunteers running all parts of the operation except the actual surgery. Scott says it’s quite an operation.

Many of the animals who are spayed and neutered are strays, feral or abandoned. Recently, a local woman was introduced to one of the animal organizations in town. She is a soft hearted woman who was taking care of 39 drop-off and feral cats. The organization is helping her pay for food, move the cats into homes and pay for the low cost spaying and neutering with the organization Scott is working with.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Because of this, Boquete is not beset with hundreds of feral and wild dogs and cats roaming the streets, as is the case in many places we’ve visited. Because people are not inundated with so many wild and somewhat dangerous animals, people tend to treat the animals better, thus they are not mean, and the positive circle.

Here is a video of two dogs that are loved tremendously!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23872rWorXM&list=PLwz-744OmrNPdFOjzK8uojrPnMUnaLDLp

 

This is a great thing for the animals and the people in the community and Scott is really enjoying working with the animals. The last two times, he’s had the job of waking cats up from the surgeries. As anyone who knows Scott has experienced, he loves playing with cats, so he’s gotten to have fun while helping out. I can imagine him doing more with this organization over time, as they always seem to need more help.

We here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast help out in the form of donations as well as our staff volunteering. Animales also supplies a calendar for purchase each year and the proceeds go to the clinic. Come and stay with us, if the time is right, we can get you in touch with them and you can volunteer to help in the clinic or support them financially. You have a great heart and we cannot wait to meet you!

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