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.

November – A month full of independence day celebrations and parades!

By Eliecer Andres Lay

3de noviembre

As you are planning a visit to Boquete, one thing to remember is that November is a month of celebrations! Good time to put your party hats on and join in with the locals. Many of the parades pass right in front of Casa de Montaña on their way to downtown. Panamanian people, young and old, really take pride in their heritage and are always ready to put on a great show for locals and visitors alike.

Panamanians celebrate throughout the whole month of November for different reasons. The first event that is happening is on November 2nd  , which is the Day of the Dead. This day people usually remember all the families that have died in the past, and people go to the cemetery to bring flowers to the family tombs. The town is usually quiet on this day, not many people go out, and most of the businesses are closed. The next day, November 3rd, is where all the celebration begins. This day is the Separation Day of Panama from Colombia. All the Primary schools, high schools and Independent bands, go out on the main street of Boquete for a parade. Most of the Boquetenians go out to watch the parade which is mostly instrument bands and some musical bands. Also, people from different part of the country come to watch the parade, or just for a vacation since it is a holiday weekend in Panama. All the local schools, the firemen, the authorities and more are part of this parade. The next day, on the 4th, is the national Flag Day. Just like the day before, all the schools, and all the bands from Boquete go out for another parade similar to the first one. This parade starts at the central park and circles around the downtown area. The second big celebration in Boquete is on November 28th which is the Independence Day and all the Panamanians celebrate the independence from Spain. On this day the biggest parade in Boquete takes place where more than 90 bands from all over Panama are invited and they compete with each other to win the honor of the best band in Panama. There are few different categories that the bands are judged on – from best high school bands, best independent band, best primary school band and best music band. A lot of people come to Boquete that day and the parade starts at 8:00 am and usually ends around 11pm.

So if you would like to come and enjoy the parades in Boquete, book your room now at Casa de Montaña. You never know, you may not even need to leave your room to see some of these parades!

Here is some historical information that you may find interesting:

An excerpt from

November 3: Separation Day

On November 3rd, Panama celebrates its separation from Colombia.

From 1821 until 1903, Panama was part of Gran Colombia (a short-lived republic that also included modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador).  However, Panama wanted independence from Gran Colombia.  In the mid-1800s, Panama tried and failed three times to separate from Colombia.  Moreover, from 1899-1902, a Colombian civil war broke out between conservatives and liberals, with the defeated liberal leaders later identified as the founding fathers of Panama. Meanwhile, the French government began efforts to construct a canal across Panama.  After the French miserably failed, the United States bought out French efforts, but soon found itself clashing with the Colombian government over payment and control of the canal.  In order to secure its right to the canal, the United States (under Theodore Roosevelt) backed a Panamanian independence movement led by prominent Panamanians.  With the support of the United States, Panama declared its independence on November 3, 1903.

The revolution was a peaceful affair and was over by November 6.  When Colombian forces landed in Panama to quell the independence movement, one Panamanian railroad official convinced the officers to ride ahead in a train to Panama City.  When the Colombian officers arrived in Panama City, they found themselves taken prisoner by Panama-based Colombian soldiers who had been paid off by revolutionaries.

November 4: Flag Day

Panamanians celebrate Flag Day every November 4th, the day after Panama declared its independence.  On November 1, 1903, Maria Ossa de Amador secretly began making the first Panamanian flag.  She constructed three flags based on three different designs, one of which was later adopted as the official flag of Panama.  All three flags were flown on November 3, 1903, when Panama declared its independence.

The Panamanian flag symbolizes the political situation at independence – the blue represents the Conservative Party, the red represents the Liberal party, and the white represents purity and peace.

Here is the flag options that were presented:

Design Presented by Phillipe Bunau-Varilla


Original designed presented


The original design was modified a bit and this is the result


November 5: Colon Day

November 5th is Panama’s version of Columbus Day.  It commemorates Christopher Columbus’s (Cristóbal Colón’s) arrival to the Americas.

November 10: Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos

Beginning with the Spanish conquest in the early sixteenth century and into the nineteenth century, Panama was an important colony for the Spanish Empire.  Perhaps most important to the Spanish was Panama City, which was an important port for all of the treasures and resources that the Spanish plundered from Latin America.

On November 10th, Panama remembers its Primer Grito de Independencia – its first cry for independence from Spain.  On November 10, 1821, villagers in the small town of la Villa de Los Santos wrote a letter to Simon Bolivar.  The letter complained about the Spanish governor and asked Bolivar for revolutionary assistance.

Simon Bolivar was an important revolutionary hero throughout Latin America and was the President of Gran Colombia from 1819 to 1830.

November 28: Independence Day

On November 28th, Panamanians celebrate their independence from Spain.  On November 28, 1821, eighteen days after Primer Grito de Independencia, Panamanians took the first step towards this sought-after independence.  A meeting was held in Panama City and it was decided that Panama would cut off ties to the declining Spanish empire and join Gran Colombia.

Panamanians are proud of their heritage. Come and join us in celebrating the freedom that is the right of each and every Panamanian. We are so happy that here at Casa de Montaña we are now part of the culture that embraces diversity and freedom for all.


%d bloggers like this: