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.


A local family moves to Boquete

Blog by. Maria Isabel Zapata


panama. aptm mariaWhen my husband first told me he was thinking about moving to Boquete my first reaction was: What in the world are we going to do there? I thought of Boquete as a small village with nothing to do. I had different plans for us in the city, and even though I wanted a change, I never thought of Boquete as that great change. We were living in a small apartment, my father in law, my husband, my two kids, my two dogs and me! Beautiful view of the city but too expensive for what we could pay and not enough space.IMG_1436

So my husband decided I should come and stay for a few days in Boquete. We arranged to come for Christmas and spend it with his partner, so I could meet him and see where my husband was going to be spending most of the time.

It was a long 7 hour drive with the kids, I would have preferred to come by air. We arrived late in the night so all we wanted was to sleep. It was so nice and different to wake up with the twittering birds and a nice cup of coffee.

My expectations were not high but as soon as I got to Boquete, everything in me changed. Everything was so calm and people were nice and polite. The weather was perfect, and my kids were so happy. Just driving around town and seeing the beautiful gardens of Boquete made me feel at peace.


IMG_1446The berries! Oh I love berries! It was a little difficult to find fresh berries in the city. So it was a great thing for me to be able to have fresh ones. I specially loved the strawberry and cream tarts from a German bakery. The owner makes the cream fresh and by hand. I have to confess that every now and then I can’t resist the temptation and I have to have one.IMG_1465

I met Debra on this trip and spent Christmas with her, Pascal and friends. I have to say that they made me feel like at home, and my kids were so incredible happy. My husband so calm, that I just didn’t want to leave. Trust me when I say, that’s how you will feel here at Casa de Montaña.

We went back to Panama City and decided to definitely move to Boquete. It was a sweet and sour decision for me. I loved Boquete and couldn’t wait to move, but I sure was going to miss my girlfriends and it was hard for us to leave my father in law, since he didn’t want to move with us. I decided to see my friends for one last time since we were moving soon


We already knew where we were going to live, since we were taking Pascal’s old house. If you decide to move here and don’t know where yet, here at Casa de Montaña we have an over view tour of Boquete, in which you can see the different neighborhoods. We can also help you set up an appointment with a realty company here in Boquete.

I was really excited about moving, but there was something else I wanted to do, which was to find some volunteer work to get me out the IMG_1804house and spending a few hours a day with adults. I’ve been a full time mom for the past 3 years and now as my children would be in school it would be the perfect time to do something on my own. That’s how I found out that Manzar and Terry where looking for someone to volunteer in the office part-time.   Debra suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to gain some new skills in the tourism industry. How amazing was that! I felt like everything was in the right path and went ahead and set up a skype interview with Manzar and Debra.

So now it was time to pack, and let me tell you… you never know what you have until you have to move! It was a kind of stressful moment, but even though my kids were wondering why everybody was packing their toys and what were we doing, they behaved so well they even helped us pack!

You might wonder what made us take the decision to move here. We wanted a change of life. Better quality for less cost. We really got tired of the city and small apartment. We wanted a nice house with a garden where our dogs and kids could play, and not have to worry about the cars passing by. Being here on Christmas made us realize this was the place.

IMG_2361Finding school for our kids wasn’t too difficult either. We wanted a place near Casa de Montaña, so that I could go pick them up after work. We found this little place called Aprendizaje Divertido, just a few blocks from here. The teacher was lovely and the kids there looked happy. We didn’t look for anything else and decided right away. Since my little baby is only one year old and has always (and only) been breastfeeding, it was a hard adjustment for her not to be with me for half a day. The teachers were so lovely and understanding of her feelings, it helped her feel better and now she is very happy. IMG_1874

Moving here was the best decision we could have made for our family. We now live in a house with a garden and fruit trees. My dogs can be free and they even have little furry friends around the neighborhood they visit (without our permission!)

We have breakfast outside every Sunday morning, and there is so many things to discover here that we never get bored. So far we have visited Volcan, Janson’s Coffee farm and Cerro Punta. We go for walks around town every time we can. We love visiting the gardens, being able to have a cup of coffee with a beautiful view, but most of all we love the great quality of life our kids are having here.

Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña! I assure you, you won’t want to leave!

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Pack your suitcases with YARN and Love and head to Boquete, Panama!

Story of the Boquete Knitters and Quilters group

Blog by Terry Richmeier (and info from Brandy Gergory)

6Why yarn you ask? What in the world is Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast wanting with yarn, you say? Why should I take up room in my suitcase for yarn of all things?

Simply said, Casa de Montaña wants to support our local community in an amazing, warming, and giving way! Read on below:

Meet Brandy Gregory! When she moved here seven years ago, she wanted to meet people with a common interest: knitting. She put out a notice that essentially said, “I’ll lend you my b1needles, I’ll give you yarn, but you have to knit for the babies.” On January 23, 2009, six women showed up on the back patio of the Fundadores Hotel to talk, get to know each other, and to knit and crochet baby things: blankets; caps; sweaters and booties. About five years ago, they moved to the Fundacion pro Integracion (the Handicap Foundation) in Alto Boquete, where they meet every Friday afternoon from 1PM to 3PM. In the seven years since then, they have expanded their group to include some amazingly talented quilters. The group is called the “Boquete Knitters and Quilters”.

Brandy told Casa de Montaña “We give our finished items to the Centros de Salud in Palmira and in downtown Boquete. We supply the pediatric oncology department in David with our softest caps for the children and teens who lose their hair during chemotherapy. We also donate to other aid organizations on a case by case basis. Essentially, we donate wherever the need is discovered. We know that the staff at the various agencies are more familiar with their clients than we could ever hope to be.”

After thinking about this for a minute of two, I wondered why Brandy and her group would spend so much time on knitting. What did they seem to get back from working their fingers to the bone? Here is what Brandy had to say: “Creating community” is probably our greatest joy! Initially, all of us in the group were expats, 3but when we moved to the Handicap Foundation, some of the Latina Panamanian ladies were intrigued by our work (knitting is not common in the culture in Panama.) They asked to learn “como tejer con dos agujas” — “how to knit with two needles”. With the help of on-line resources — and a LOT of laughter — we taught them. The beginner project was a scarf in their choice of color, and was our gift to them. We then explained that they were more4 than welcome to stay in the group and knit for “our babies”. They stayed. They knitted. They knitted in public! And they were seen by Ngäbe-Buglé ladies who asked if we would let them learn how to knit. Of course we said “Sure!” So we have all three cultures: Expat, Latina Panamanian, and Ngäbe-Buglé Panamanian working side by side, friend next to friend, for a common cause. Brandy also advised us “Because we do not donate directly to individuals, we rarely see our completed work. It is high in the mountains of the Comarca, where it is needed and used. But that does not lessen our joy in our work.”


So, my next thought was “What is the difference between knitting, sewing, crocheting, tatting, macramé? And what are the origins and purpose behind the history of knitting?     So, why not ask Brandy? Here is what she said. “There are whole books devoted to this subject! But, knitting is looping yarn with two or more needles to create a stretchy fabric; sewing is joining two or more pieces of cloth (usually woven) with thread; crochet is looping yarn with a small hook to create a stretchy fabric; tatting is looping thread in a special shuttle to make lacy looking trims that can be fastened together to make fabric; macramé is knotting anything from thread (like making some laces) to rope (to make plant holders or even hammocks).   The oldest known knitted piece dates possibly from the 11th century and is from Egypt. I’m guessing here, but because woven fabric has little “give”, knitting was developed to allow “ease”. In Elizabethan England, all knitting was done by men — and lace stockings were very popular.

7I had a few more questions that I thought I should ask before I have you bring some down in your suitcase for donating as mentioned above. So, again, I asked Brandy 1: “What can a donation of a tube of yarn create?” and 2: “How hard is it to learn to knit?” and 3:“Do you have to know how to knit to be in the group?” Here are Brandy’s answers:

“It is possible to find yarn in Panama, but the quality is poor and the price is quite high. When we moved down here, I actually used all of my yarn for packing material! When I went to the states for visits, I’d go to Joann Fabrics, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and shop for the sale yarn, often filling an extra suitcase with goodies! Now the Boquete Knitters and Quilters host The Great Boquete Soup Fest — the next one is March 18 at the BCP — and raise “yarn/fabric money”. We order mass quantities of yarn, fabric and quilt batting on-line and have it shipped down. We also ask for donations from people visiting from North America and other parts of the world.”5

1:”We use acrylic yarns because it stands up better to being beaten on a rock in the river. We love Caron “Simply Soft”, Red Heart “Soft”, Lion Brand “Pound of Love” and “Homespun”! Two 4-ounce skeins of Caron “Simply Soft” or Red Heart “Soft” will produce a sweater. A Pound of Love will yield a couple of sweaters and possibly a cap. Three skeins of “Homespun” makes the softest, sweetest warm baby blanket you’ve ever seen! And we use the “bits and bots” of left over yarn to create striped caps or booties. We try to use every inch possible.” 2: I learned how. It can’t be that hard! Seriously, there are only two stitches to learn: knit and purl. Everything – EVERYTHING — is based on those two stitches! 3: Nope, you don’t need to already know how to knit! We can teach you since there are only two stitches to learn: “knit” and “purl”. We’ll get you started with your very own scarf — our gift. And if you decide knitting or crochet is not for you, that is not a problem. Your scarf is yours. Right now, the group is all women, but, as long as a guy does not mind being in the minority, we’ll welcome him!

So I asked one last question from Brandy and that is this: “What would you like to see happen in the future with the Knitters group? Your wildest dream come true?” and here is her response “I’d love to see our group grow. I’d especially love to have more Panamanians join us, learn a new skill, and get to know us and each other — “being knitted together in love”. My wildest dream come true would be for Joann Fabrics to open a store in David! Since I know that will never happen, I’d have to say that my wildest dream would be for the Boquete Knitters and Quilters to be able to raise about $7000 a year which we would spend on yarn, fabric and batting. We split our funds 50/50 between knitting/crochet supplies and quilting supplies.”

1012So, since hearing her desire, we here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast would love to help out and the thought that we had for our future guests is this … Just run up to the store, grab some yarn (on sale?) off the shelf and stick it in your suitcase! Bring it down here with you and we will make sure that your donation gets to Brandy and her group of Boquete Knitters and Quilters group! And if you have any questions of Brandy that you would like to ask, you can email her group at the following email address: BOQUETEKNITTERS@HOTMAIL.COM. Also, let us at Casa de Montaña know if you are interested in having a knitting class or a day with the group and we will try to arrange it for you. And THANK YOU Brandy and the group for warming the children and the hearts of Boquete as well!

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