Boquete’s Tuesday Market: Something for everyone!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

When you come and stay with us here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, you will be served a different International Breakfast daily with most of the products coming from the Tuesday Market vendors. Along with that, if you are here on a Tuesday, we will encourage you to go to the Tuesday Market and check out all the different locally made and grown products it has to offer! The market is open from 9 AM to 12 Noon and is located across the small bridge downtown in the building known as the BCP Teatro. The market offers something for everyone. Our special favorites are baked goods by Mort’s Bakery, Gluten Free goods from Gluten Free Gold Bakery, designer “Chox” chocolate and Anna’s fresh produce.  While you are at the market, see what “Tuesday Talks” are about! Below is a story of Joyce Kinnear’s experience with the Tuesday Market and Tuesday Talks:

One of the things we like about living in Boquete is the Tuesday market. For us, it fills our need for a Farmer’s Market—enabling us to purchase organic produce, bagels, hummus, freshly made food from Germany, Hungary, and the Caribbean, and also filling our Trader Joe’s requirement for premade frozen food that we can whip up during the week. The fact that said food is tasty Thai, spicy Creole, or wonderful Indian is even better, since we lack restaurants for those and other spicy foods in the area.

We also enjoy most of the Tuesday talks. One of the women in the community spends a lot of time finding interesting speakers on a variety of topics of interest to expats in Panama, from attorneys discussing changes in laws, to geologists describing the potential actions of our local volcanoes, to so many other topics. Today, we listened to four Peace Corps volunteers in small villages between here and the Costa Rican border.

Two of the volunteers are with the part of the Peace Corps that works in education and English language education. Two others work on environmental issues. They all had interesting discussions about how they live and develop projects in small communities to enable people in those areas to access available assistance and increase community interactions.
Of particular interest to us was one young man who is working to improve the quality of home cooking fires among the indigenous. He has gotten grants from the Panamanian government to construct 14 units (and
is working on 20 more) that will reduce the amount of smoke put off by cooking fires in the home and thus reduce asthma related diseases, as well as improve local air quality.

Another young volunteer is working in a school of 700 students in Volcan, a town of about 15,000 near the border. She is doing many things, from teaching English, to teaching Science classes to leading student clubs and groups. Her school gave her a room and some assistance in developing the first library in that town or school. With funds she was able to get from her own meager stipend and local teacher’s equally meager funds, they have been able to start a library with about 20 books in a school of 700 elementary students.
She told us that among these low income (and many indigenous) students, reading comprehension is extremely low. Families are mostly illiterate, books are not around, and students never learn comprehension. The majority fail college entrance exams, because they are unable to pass tests at a fourth grade level. This volunteer is working with the local government, teachers and community to try to increase reading comprehension and improve future life potential for these students.

It was inspiring. Listening to the talks gave several people in the audience ideas for ways to assist the volunteers and local communities to help to enhance the lives of these students and their families.

This small town surrounded by the Mountains of Boquete, Panama is a wonderful place to gather anything from souvenirs to intellectual stimulation! Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast is extremely proud of our community, volunteerism, and the Tuesday Market. Come and stay with us and experience this special place!

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

Saying Goodbye to guests and staff at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, Boquete

Blog by Terry Richmeier

1Over the past three years we here at Casa de Montaña have had the pleasure of getting to know our guests and each one of you have made such an impact on us.

We opened with the very first guests. A couple that was from Holland and the wife had just finished her degree to become a doctor. They needed a break and choose Casa de Montaña as that place of respite. Along with them, we had a lovely couple that has a home here in Boquete, Panama, already. The husband wanted his wife to see the bathroom and open shower concept that we introduced to Boquete. She was quite pleased and they took several photos of the shower concept to share the idea to their contractor. We genuinely smiled incredibly proud that we made an impact! This impact started from an open house that we had in order to introduce ourselves to the new community that we fell into and in love with.

From there we continued as we spent the time during our social hour talking with all of 2you, our guests, getting to know you, getting to know more about the world in which you live. The stories of places you visited and your experiences. We learned about Germany, Holland, and cities within them. We learned about Ukraine, Russia, Australia, Israel and South Africa! And the list will go on and on…..

We enjoyed hearing the stories of your adventures here in Boquete, Panama, as you learned about the many steps to getting a cup of coffee to your table. And as you went on the Canopy Tour and you zipped speeding down the track hanging far above the trees! And your whitewater rafting trip to the Costa Rican border! It’s as if we took the adventure along with you!

During this time we had the opportunity to grow. We grew in staff so that we had people here that could speak to you both in Spanish and English. We grew in popularity through TripAdvisor and booking.com.  It is so heartwarming to read what you experienced during your stay here with us. We still to this day go back and read them. Remembering you and your time spent with us. And most importantly, we felt a kinship with each and every one of you, our guests, our hearts were and are still filled with love and happiness! Our lives will never be the same.  The energy, blessings and gratitude we receive do not end!

3What does end is the time you, our guests are here with us. Just before you leave, many times we stop and ask to take a picture with you. Our hearts step up to our throats making it difficult to speak. We act like nothing is wrong and we smile for the shot. Still inside, we are struggling to let you go. You have taken us by storm and we are left with that photo and a small piece of your lives.

As Terry has said, “I can imagine that most parents experience this feeling as their children, now adults, go off to college, or get married and move onto their adult lives.” It is difficult for us to say goodbye, however, you have shaped our lives so tremendously and you have energized us so incredibly, that we are renewed and ready to receive new guests and open our hearts to them and all who stay here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast!

Along with our guests, we have had several employees that have moved on in their lives as well. We also have to say goodbye to them. Sometimes it feels like we are attending a funeral and for days, the remaining staff and all of us are affected.

Just real recently we said goodbye to Debra. Debra decided, after having experienced Casa de Montaña, that she was ready to open a bed and breakfast with her boyfriend in Quito, Ecuador. It about broke our hearts into pieces. Veronica created an exquisite thanksgiving dinner and we all sat together and quietly said how much we loved Debra, some of us could not verbalize it. It was a rather quiet meal until we found humor and all of us, laughed almost too loudly as it was forced.

This is not an isolated incident. It happens every time. And now, it’s happening again. Our wonderful Maria Isabel has decided that at this point in her life, she wants to be with her children. It’s always tough to work when you’re a mother with children and Maria Isabel has an opportunity to be a stay home mom! We can’t fault her for that and what a blessing for her and her children. Maria has this to say shortly before parting from Casa de Montaña:

4I have worked at Casa de Montaña for only 8 months, and I have made great friends. From Veronica whom with her motherly care takes care of all of us, along with Nicolas who is always on top of all the little details on the house maintenance. Natalia who is so detailed on the cleaning and can swiftly clean a room, and Junior who takes great care of our garden. Terry and Manzar have always been so fun to work with.  It’s sad to leave, and it feels like I am leaving my family, not just coworkers. I am sure I will be coming back to visit and bring cupcakes! (Otherwise Terry would not let me in hahaha).

 

So if you see a tear or two running down our eyes, we are ok, we just had to remove our heart from our throats one more time.

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For those who have not been here yet, or who have not stayed with us yet, please do contact us as we have a place in our hearts that only you can fill!

Where in the World are our Guests?!?!

blog by Joy Huppe

WorldWorld 2

Welcome, World Travelers! Casa de Montaña is pleased to invite you in. If you have stayed with us before, you may remember the large-scale map festively adorned with multicolored pins which greets you from right wall upon entering our reception office.  You may have even added a pin yourself, contributing to the map’s ever-expanding porcupine-like countenance! If you have not yet had the pleasure of being our guest, you may be a little confused and perhaps slightly wary of voodoo activity. No worries… let us explain.

Since Casa de Montaña opened its doors in January 2014, we have encouraged our guests to “make their mark” and designate their place of origin by inserting a pin into its corresponding location on our 8’ wide world map. We have watched in fascination as prick-by-prick, entire countries were overtaken and thin metal shafts claimed lands stretching from one corner of “tierra firma” to the other. Pins popped up in unexpected places: from the Congo in Africa, to Australia’s western shore, to the Middle East… to islands in Malaysia.   We are proud (and humbled) that such a diverse set of world travelers have chosen to include us in their far-reaching explorations. We are truly an international destination! Needless to say, Social Hour – which we host every night and includes a beverage of choice from our selection — takes on a whole other dimension when one has the opportunity to hobnob with folks from entirely different hemispheres.

Now that we are halfway through our second year (where does the time go?) we decided to tally the marks for a better understanding of where our guests are coming from. Counting each little pin head was no small task (don’t ask who ended up with this fun job)… but worth the effort. The result for the Top Ten Countries of Origin of Casa de Montaña Guests are as follows.

Guests Graph

 

Topping the count with a whopping 44% were local guests from Panama, followed closely by those who voyaged from the United States (37%). This was followed in descending order by guests from Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Netherlands, Australia, Costa Rica, and Spain. The list does not stop there, and we are happy to report that each continent, barring Antarctica, was represented. Perhaps we intuitively paved the way for this eclectic visitor mix when we dreamed up our International-themed breakfast menu.

For those of you who don’t already know, Casa de Montaña offers a unique (and satisfying) breakfast experience that features cuisine from a different part of the world each day.   Therefore, if you stay with us an entire week, you will never eat the same meal twice! It’s like a mini-world-tour for your mouth: Italy on Monday, Pakistan on Tuesday, then off to Belgium on Wednesday, heading to the American-West on Thursday, down to Mexico on Friday, a brief jaunt to France on Saturday, and being treated to a traditional Panamanian-style breakfast on Sunday. (By the way, with prior notice, we are able to cater to special dietary requests.)   What can we say?… We have an international flair. The proof is on our wall, and on your plate!

Casa-Crepes-Breakfast

Of course this global attention should be expected. Boquete, with its Quetzals, world-famous coffee and cool highland climate, is a sought-out destination by locals and far-flung travelers alike. Likewise, Casa de Montaña with its creative breakfasts, comfortable lodging and attentive staff is one of the most popular places to stay in town. Don’t just take our word for it… ask your fellow adventurers. (Both Trip Advisor and Booking.com have presented us with awards for having consistent outstanding reviews!) Or better yet, come visit us and experience Casa de Montaña for yourself. Don’t forget, returning guests are eligible for special discounts. Bon voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

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