Macho, Macho Men: A tale of two men in Boquete, Panama.

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast we have met people from all over the world! We meet all of these people while they are at their happiest time in their life -they are on vacation!

And what about the locals? What do tourist run into when they arrive in Panama and especially in Boquete?

They will find kind and caring locals and if you try to speak Spanish at all, Boquetenians will greet you with a great big smile! Panamanians and especially Boquetenians, love to show tourists their country and their world!

With the world having so many different personalities, you can pretty much be assured you will recognize some familiar personalities when you are touring Boquete, Panama. From arrogance, to a presence of all-encompassing love!

One short story from a friend of ours, Joyce Kinnear talks about two men she recognized as good and not so good! In this story, Joyce talks about a foundation that Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast supports through donations.

A tale of two men:

This week I met the stereotypical macho, Latin American man for the first time in the years we’ve been visiting and now living in Central America. He was everything I dislike about the stereotype–macho, dominant, totally inconsiderate of others, especially women and poor workers. All of this was done with a wink and an attitude where he seemed to think this all made him the sexiest thing alive (as opposed to reality where most of the women on the bus wanted to puke)

The second man I met today at an event for the foundation, which provides therapy, skills and socializing for handicapped children and adults, as well as help for the caretakers. At this event, one man stood out. He guided his son, who appeared to have cerebral palsy and some brain function issues, carefully to his chair, dancing with his son and making sure the boy had a lovely time. I found out that the boy’s mother and man’s wife died in a car accident a couple of years ago. This man has been caring for his son and clearly adores the boy.

I want to point out that while I have met one example of the first man, there have been many of the second type around me in Panama. Perhaps the tired old stereotype of the Latin American man needs a major overhaul to that of a view of a man who loves his family and children, works hard and yet still dances with them to ensure they live happy and full lives, no matter the child’s abilities.

So, come down to Boquete, Panama! Stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. Let us help you set up some time to visit the foundation, or other different volunteer groups here in Boquete. Spend some time seeing the different personalities of the Panamanian and especially the Boquetenians people! You won’t regret it a bit.

 

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!

 

Special invitation for Lunch with Chef Craig Jacobs and the Lucero Group in Boquete

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

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During Sandeep’s (owner of Lucero) last visit to Boquete, Panama, recently we had the opportunity to get to know him better. Now, who is this man? Well, he is the President of the Lucero Golf Community. He has been working extremely hard at getting ready a fitness center, club house and a gourmet restaurant located in the Lucero community.  Recently Lucero finished two tree houses, tennis courts and new housing projects from Duplexes to Condos and many other homes.

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With the restaurant planning to open toward the end of July, Sandeep brought onboard Chef Craig to create an extensive International menu. Chef Craig has had several restaurants in Boquete in the past including Fish House, and Las Ruinas. Chef Craig has returned to Boquete after a three year adventure in which he lived in Guatemala  for 2 years and for the last one year in the mountains of Thailand. During his stay in Thailand, he spent many hours learning from the cooks there to prepare authentic and amazing Thai food. Chef Craig is constantly learning and we were told that he has placed an order for products and spices directly from Thailand for some amazing Thai food on the menu! He is also attending Casa de Montaña’s Pakistani/Indian cooking class (time permitting, since he is REALLY busy right now as you can imagine!). Chef Craig is eager to continue to learn ethnic and cultural dishes. Perhaps some Indian/Pakistani dishes may just end up on the menu as well?

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We had the opportunity to tour the kitchen, the bar and the new restaurant. Along with the up and coming fitness center. What an amazing place this is going to be! Beautiful furniture created locally by the Panamanian carpenters! With a bar area, amazing restrooms, and tons of special touches, the restaurant promises to deliver!  There is going to be seating for around 78 people and some additional seating also available on the large outside terrace for special occasions.

How did Manzar and Terry get this opportunity to have a special invitation for lunch? Well of course it started when we met Sandeep. Manzar and Sandeep connected right away with cultural ties to South Asian culture and language! But even more than that was the love of Indian/Pakistani food. Manzar spoke about his love for cooking this delight! During the conversation, plans were made for Sandeep to come over to Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast to see our home. Also Sandeep had his staff come over to tour CDM as well. During Sandeep’s visit, Manzar and Terry spoke with Sandeep about placing Lucero Community on the Boquete Overview Tour that CDM offers for those looking at Boquete as a possible relocation opportunity. Sandeep and his staff themselves took the Boquete Overview Tour and were able to get a better feel for how diverse of spread out Boquete really is.

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So then it was our turn. We received a special tour of Lucero, the golf course and the tree houses. We toured the fitness center, club house and new restaurant! And even beyond that! We received a special exquisite and amazing luncheon from Chef Craig Jacobs himself!

The luncheon had taken place in one of the Duplexes that was recently finished and furnished! We felt like we were part of the Lucero “family”! We had amazing food, met and laughed with the staff. We thoroughly had an amazing time.

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We at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast invite you to take our Boquete Overview Tour. Look at our Specials for savings and we will indeed stop off at Lucero, have a cup of coffee with the staff and you will really enjoy your experience! We are confident that you will enjoy the breathtaking views of Lucero as well as all of Boquete, Panama! Just let us know that you would like the “Boquete Overview Tour” and we will make sure you have an amazing informational filled experience!

 

 

How to celebrate 50 years of marriage in Boquete, Panama?

Blog by Terry Richmeier and Joy Huppe

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Celebrating a “Golden Anniversary”…

Recently, family members of Casa De Montaña Bed & Breakfast telephoned to let us know they would like to come down and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary here with us. We were thrilled, elated, ecstatic… and then, the panic set in!   How does one do justice to honoring such a milestone? How to create a memorable experience that reflects the love and commitment a 50th anniversary represents?

First… well… ok, what to do? Think, think, think, what can we do???

There is always the ability to have a celebration here at Casa de Montaña. We can hire a band… perhaps, the popular Dos Amigos! We can ask a good friend to make a wonderful cake. We can create delicious food and serve some bubbly! We can send out invitations to all our Boquete friends and celebrate with dancing.

Then, the thought occurs to us that this would be “our” friends that we have invited and not anyone that the family knows. Why celebrate your 50th with strangers? Or do we?

Well, how about an upscale dinner out at one of the finest Boquete, Panama restaurants? How does that sound? It sounds great, but not really all that different than any other special day… and this need to be really special.

How about a dinner cruise? That would be right up their alley! Ok, checked on that and it’s just not available in the Chiriqui region…

Well, feeling somewhat let down and without further ideas, we started reflecting on marriage in general… with the hope that it would lead to the idea of what will create a perfect celebration of sharing your life with someone for 50 years!

Continuing on this train of thought, we started asking questions… many, many questions…

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What is the secret to making love last?

What would it take to stay together in a marriage for 50 years? What kind of sacrifices would a person have to endure? Can love remain when all else is going wrong? Does each person in the marriage lift each other up or tear each other down? With so many failed marriages, what can we learn from a couple that has been married for 50 years? Why are there so many failed marriages? What brings people together and more importantly what keeps them together?

Well, first of all, marriage has changed a lot in the past fifty years. Currently in the United States a shocking 53% of all marriages end in divorce, while in Panama that number drops to 27%.   So for a couple to stay together for half a decade is not only an accomplishment, but a rarity! In the United States only 6% of all marriages make it to the 50 year milestone, though recent studies have shown slight increases in relationship longevity.

There are countless studies and research on marriage trends that have revealed some interesting information. For example, it has been shown that the more money a couple makes the less likely they are to divorce… though interestingly, the more expensive the actual wedding ceremony (and ring) the more likely a divorce. Also, couples that date for three or more years before becoming wed have a greater chance of remaining together. Not surprisingly, couples that dated less than 6 months before marriage have a greater increase of divorce. It has also been shown that there is a “four year itch” trend where many couples decide to divorce in their fourth year of marriage. Also noted was the tendency for the first two years of marriage to “set the tone” for the remaining duration of the relationship.

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Just one of the many statistics out there on marriage/divorce…

Another interesting find was that, according to a new study, after 50 years of marriage, your sex life may actually improve! This was cited as being due to a renewed sense of trust and commitment. The same study also states that “older couples” (age 57-85) who are sexually satisfied feel happier in their marriages.

With all the data available, we could spout marriage statistics until we’re blue in the face… but the juiciest information comes from direct experience. So, what are the couples who are in long-term marriages saying on this topic? What is the “secret” to a long, happy married life? Here is a sampling of responses:

“We made a pact to never fight about money. Financial problems lead to divorce. We didn’t want our relationship to deteriorate over something as inconsequential as money. We’ve been through financial ups and downs, including bouts of unemployment and significant credit-card debt. But we never cast blame and remain calm during financial discussions.”

“Always find things to laugh about. Laugh together. Times are tough. Tragedy happens in all families. Things will go wrong. But if you find ways to laugh about “it” you’ll form a special bond and can overcome anything!”

“Each person should seek to do good for the other person, instead of fighting over ‘what about me.’ Then the experience is one where each person is giving and serving the other. A win-win solution.”

“If you’re in it for life, you’re both going to do a lot of growing up and maturing over the years—you have to stay intimately in touch with each other’s growth over all this time or you end up not knowing the person you’re married to as he/she changes over the years.”

“Dump friends, family and situations which have a negative effect on your life and marriage—and expect your spouse to do the same. Keep your sex life interesting. Listen to each other’s fantasies. Do not be afraid to dress and act sensual in the bedroom. And plan exciting vacations together.”

If video is more your style, here is a recent “What you don’t know about marriage” Ted Talk you might enjoy.

For those with less time, here is a truncated version on the secret to a happy marriage.  🙂

 

Thus far we have been viewing marriage through the lens of North-American culture. But what about Panamanians, and in particular the indigenous Ngobe-Bugle tribe with whom we share this region?

While love is a universal language (or so we like to believe!)… the institution of marriage is approached differently in various cultures. Here in Panama, as in the United States, the majority of people choose their spouses. (Read: arranged marriage is not common.) Couples in the rural lower to middle classes often decide to marry and have children together, though an official wedding ceremony may not happen for several years, if ever. The practice of cohabitation without official marriage in Panama rose in popularity in the 1960s and has remained high ever since. In fact, half of all cohabitating couples (both married and unmarried) remain unwed. In the upper classes, couples are more likely to choose to participate in a formal marriage ceremony before starting a life with another person.

The Ngobe-Bugle Indians view marriage as the most important event in one’s life. In this sub-culture, it is typical for fathers to arrange their children’s marriage, based on the selected spouses’ land, wealth, and position in the group. Polygamy (the “art” of having more than one wife) is accepted and practiced, though slowly becoming less common with the cost of living on the rise.

For both the indigenous groups and the local Panamanians, it is generally accepted that the man may or may not have a mistress “on the side” and, if so, he is to be financially responsible in supporting the children his mistress may bear him. Married women, however, are expected to be faithful to their husbands.

In Boquete and in Panama, weddings happen all year long. In fact, Boquete is a popular wedding destination for Panamanians and visitors alike. And with the area’s natural beauty, it is no surprise as to why this is.

Casa de Montaña is a great place to stay when in town for a wedding – yours or somebody else’s! Did you know that we offer a special discount to wedding parties that book our entire bed and breakfast?

Anyway… to come back full circle… even after all our research and reflection on long-term marriages, we are no closer to finding an ideal way to celebrate with our loved ones. Our desire is to honor a 50 year marriage of our parents with the best and most wonderful 50 year anniversary possible… And we are asking for your help!

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Seriously… we’d love your suggestions!

We would welcome your thoughts and ideas with open arms… just send us a note or two with what would make a celebration of this sort, special for you.  Thank you in advance for your input. We are looking forward to brainstorming together on this.

In closing, we’ll leave you with this heart-warming quote from Osho:  “Real love is not an escape from loneliness, real love is an overflowing aloneness. One is so happy in being alone that one would like to share.”   (Imagine that!)

Carnival in Panama

Blog by Andres Lay & Joy Huppe

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

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

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

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The First Carnival Queen


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

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

Parade competition brings out spectacular sights

Spectacular parades are an everyday occurrence during Carnival.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Re-creating and Re-inventing yourself

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

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Manzar and Terry just recently celebrated a year of service as the owners of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast after coming from corporate jobs in the U.S. For some, an international move is daunting enough, let alone starting a new business in a foreign country. Besides “what were you thinking?!?” … such an endeavor brings a host of questions. What is the inspiration for this level of change? How does one prepare oneself? How does one stay focused and motivated when the “going gets tough?” When embarking on this adventure in a relationship, how can partners support each other spiritually, emotionally, and otherwise? What sacrifices may be required to achieve The Dream?

We invite you to come hear our story – and share yours – over a glass of wine (or beverage of your choice) during our popular Casa de Montana social hour. Meanwhile, pique your inner “Lewis and Clark” with the following.

We came across a tale recently on Pinterest. A Canadian couple quit their jobs, sold their belongings and decided on a lifestyle of travel. Currently blogging and photographing their way around the world, they post their experiences on their website www.onemoderncouple.com.

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However, we don’t want to paint only one side of the picture. For every success story, there is also the time when challenges and fears arise which must be minimized and/or overcome. Reinventing oneself is not necessarily easy, but there are some steps to take along the way that help ease such a great undertaking.

First, it is important to reflect on the changes you want to make. Be clear as to what exactly you would like to change and why. Spend some time writing down how you envision your new life. Next, make a game plan. Ask yourself what steps you would need to take to manifest your vision. Once you begin the process, stay motivated. Keep your eyes on the prize, so to speak. One way to do this may be to create a vision board – or spend some time each day doing something (however small it may be) that will bring you closer to your goal. (i.e., study your Spanish!) And last, but not least, share your plan with others. Having a cheerleader in your corner can be invaluable, especially during those moments when you may feel overwhelmed or discouraged.

Reinventing yourself is difficult to say the least and still, we believe, it’s well worth the fight! Finding what you enjoy doing in life is the best thing you can do for your health and overall wellbeing! Here in Panama, the expat community has created several helpful Facebook pages such as Expats in Boquete and Jobs For Expats In Panama. Of course, this is just a start. Be sure to reach out to others who have, or are in the process of changing their lives. Create a community to face potential challenges together. Send an email or two with questions to those who have already taken the plunge. Support will be your greatest asset! Feel free to let us know your thoughts, what your plans are and how they are going.

Casa de Montaña – We keep growing and changing!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Finding Happiness during this Christmas/Holiday Season in Boquete, Panama

Blog by Manzar Lari

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Why are happiness, joy and belonging so important during the holiday season? Is it because all year long we are focused on so many other things, or should I say “busy work”, that we don’t allow ourselves to take inventory of the truly meaningful things in our lives? Meaningful things such as close friendships, significant romantic relationships and unconditional family connections?

For many of us, the holiday season brings all this to the forefront. Many questions run through our head… Did I get invited to a Thanksgiving dinner somewhere? Did I receive any e-cards stating “Have a great Christmas and New Year”? Did I take the time to write to someone else who I have been meaning to contact all year long? Should I wait and see if there are any Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties or should I plan one of my own? Will anyone even come to the party if I organized one? What is the best gift to buy for each of my family members and friends? While Holiday time can affirm for us what we already know about our relationships and what we have in our lives, it can also be a realization of our own loneliness and lack of belonging. Belonging, happiness and joy are so intertwined for most people that it is difficult to look at one without the other. To experience unbridled joy one has to be on their own path to happiness all within the context of a sense of belonging and nurturance.

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I grew up in a culture that did not celebrate Christmas but I do understand the spirit of Christmas. Most cultures share that “spirit” in common. They may call it Hanukkah, Eid, Diwali or by any other name but they share the same essence of goodness and connection with others. In Boquete, Panama, this spirit lives on. It can be seen in the decorations around town, the holiday and Christmas parades where old and young dutifully partake in are all symbols of the connection with each other and to a higher power. It is great to watch all these festivities. Maybe in the coming years I would feel more of a connection to the people of Boquete and take part in these celebrations myself instead of watching them from the sidelines? I digress! Back to happiness. How can one feel happier during the holidays? Here are some tips:

  • Give a little piece of yourself – volunteer your time and resources
  • Give yourself a break – get rid of all the “shoulds” that create additional stress
  • Give others a gift that they will remember – It doesn’t have to be an actual present. It can be a heartfelt note sharing your gratitude
  • Give thanks – try to remember the things you are thankful for in your life
  • Give it a rest – take some time out for yourself and relax

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Take a look at the attached link to an article that says the above in more detail. She seems to know what she is talking about!

 

http://prettyfluffy.com/regular-columns/eds-letter/5-ways-to-find-happiness-this-christmas

 

If you are interested in Life Coaching services offered by yours truly (Manzar Lari), please take a look at my Life Coaching website and contact me through the website:

www.aworldofpossibilitiescoaching.com

I would be great to hear from you!

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast we are ready for the holiday season and would love to have you come stay with us and be part of this magical time of the year!

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

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Panamanian’s perspective: Positive things about learning English & Spanish

By Eliecer Andres Lay

Learning a second language can bring positive results to your life. English is the most spoken language in the world and is becoming a fundamental part of Panamanian life as well. In Panama, several companies are hiring people who are bilingual. Spanish as well is becoming of greater importance in the world. For example, people from different countries are moving to Panama and other countries in Central / South America in greater numbers. It’s no wonder that Spanish is a popular second or third language. Even though learning a new language can be challenging, it can be done! I did it. Here is my story:

My aunt who has been living in the US for about 23 years, asked me if I wanted to go to the US right after I graduated from high school, so I could learn more about the US, their culture and also to get better with my English. When I first moved to the US, I took an English course for about 2 years. It made communicating and making friends much easier.

I learned more about American culture and it was fascinating to live in a different country. I had the opportunity to join my college soccer team, and it was imperative to know English. The team was made up of students from different cultures and countries.

Learning English and Korean was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Now I communicate with people from different countries and there are more opportunities available to me since I am trilingual, plus now I am able to travel to English speaking countries with great ease.

From an article in Why Learn Spanish?se habla español

Who’s learning Spanish these days? For starters, residents of the United States, a bunch not known for conquering monoligualism, are studying Spanish in record numbers. Spanish, too, is becoming of greater importance in Europe, where it often is the foreign language of choice after English. And it’s no wonder that Spanish is a popular second or third language: with some 400 million speakers, it’s the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world (after English, Chinese and Hindi/Urdu), and according to some counts it has more native speakers than English does. It is an official language on four continents and is of historical importance elsewhere.

The numbers alone make Spanish a good choice for those wanting to learn another tongue. But there are plenty of other reasons to learn Spanish.

Excerpts from an article on learning a second language:biblioteca

Learning to speak a second language well may be the best thing you can do to improve your life.

  • Get access to knowledge through the web and books:The web has over a billion pages of information and books on any subjects from all over the world.
  • Communicate with people:In regards to English, one billion people in the world are learning it. 75% of the world’s letter and post cards are written in English and almost all conferences and competitions are conducted in English.
  • Push your career forward: If you want a good job in business, technology, or science, get out of that armchair and start learning a second language now! (If you already have a good job, start learning before you lose it!)
  • Travel: when you are traveling to Panama, the native language is Spanish. However most Panamanians would be able to converse with limited English. It is not necessary to be perfect at it, but at least you need to know how to communicate with people.
  • Culture: when you are in another country, it is important to familiarize with the culture more. You can do some research about the country you want to visit before you travel there, that would get you an idea about their costumes, food, people’s attitudes and more. It is important to know at least the basics of their language, so you are able to order food or ask for common questions.

Andres is a full-time student at Universidad del Istmo in David, Panama, and is also employed at Casa de Montaña

Helping Others!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Helph OtherYes, our main job is to take care of you while you are staying here at Casa de Montaña. We want to make sure that you have the best experience possible and that includes the people that we partner with to set up tours, breakfast and our social hour.

And, with that said, we also want you to know that we are involved in our community as well. Our entire team is dedicated to spending our time, talents and money working with different non-profit organizations. If you are interested in volunteering for a day or two (or more?) while you are visiting Boquete, please let us know. Here is a current list of what we are involved with:

1 Amigos de Animales (Friends of the Animals). This program raises money that is used to spay and neuter dogs and cats in Boquete and the surrounding Chiriquí regions. With many of the animals, they do not have homes or owners and are still a part of our surroundings and neighborhoods. Amigos de Animales has a staff of veterinarians who will volunteer their time to spay and neuter these animals. They also provide this service for furry friends of our local Panamanians and Ex-Pats alike. When possible, they ask for a $10.00 donation to cover the costs of supplies, anesthesia and all other expenses. Over the past several years, the quality of life for our four legged friends has increased dramatically! We have attached the website here to learn more: http://www.fadab.org/

2. A partner to Amigos de Animales, ARF (Adopt, Rescue, and Foster), it does an amazing job in finding the owners of their new pets. We witnessed a motherless kitten that was less than three weeks old that was rescued and fed every two hours for several days straight. The end results were astonishing! We’ve attached their website to learn more: http://www.arf-boquete.com/

3. Another area that we are involved in is Buenos Vecinos de Boquete (Good Neighbors of Boquete). This program is similar to a food bank. Money is raised to buy food from a local vendor at a largely reduced price. This food consists of very basic staples such as rice, beans, oil etc. Several of the locals do not have a stove to cook on and will cook on an open wood fire. Others are handicapped and are in need of more support from the outside community. This program connects with another program called “The Handicapped Foundation of Boquete” (which also receives donated food from Buenos Vecinos de Boquete). Casa de Montaña has volunteered to fill bags of food and our staff has helped deliver the food donations to the people who are in need of it. Many of our staff, being raised in Boquete, are familiar with the families and feel that this is a great way that they can support their community. Casa de Montaña is also going to be part of the efforts to raise money for supporting Buenos Vecinos de Boquete. The cost for providing monthly food rations is currently at $360.00 per family per year. Here is the website for Buenos Vecinos de Boquete with more information: http://www.buenosvecinosdeboquete.com.pa/

Side Note: Here is an article of thanks that goes out to those who support the Handicapped Foundation of Boquete. http://vive-boquete.blogspot.com/2014/05/news-boquete-fwd-thank-you-from.html

There are many more volunteer opportunities in Boquete and as Casa de Montaña strives to deliver an even better experience for you during your stay, we could help arrange for some volunteer opportunities for you if you have an interest. Our community would welcome your support and you could become a part of our community during your visit, leading to a much richer and fuller experience of Boquete!

Welcome to Boquete’s Newest B&B!

Welcome to Casa de Montaña, located in beautiful Boquete, Panama. (More info to go here)

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