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.


Language Barriers when Traveling to Boquete, Panama

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Casa de Montaña in Boquete we are cooking up a storm!

Blog by Terry Richmeier


picture-1So why did we choose international style breakfasts for our guests here at the hotel? Well, it all started with a dream that we both shared of owning our own B&B business and our enjoyment of flavors from all over the world. We have been fortunate enough to get to travel from Canada to Colombia and many places in between. And during our travels, we enjoyed many different cuisines and international foods.  One might ask, how many different ways can you do breakfast? Isn’t breakfast just eggs and toast and some juice and coffee? Our answer to that is a resounding “NO”!

So we sat down (while still living in Minneapolis) one day several months before the opening of Casa de Montaña and began to dream about what we enjoyed the most in food. Thinking specifically about the breakfast flavors we would choose. picture-4The choices in the beginning were somewhat different then what is being served now. picture-2 picture-3This evolution may be because of the ability for us to get certain items here in Panama that we might need. Also, originally we were thinking of breakfasts that included meats. We ruled that out pretty quickly since more and more people are vegetarians or vegan these days. Also, even if someone eats meat, they would gladly skip having meat for breakfast. We decided to do an informal survey of our friends and family about meats versus having a vegetarian breakfast. The vegetarian breakfast won out by far! So, we went back to the drawing board and started again!

picture-5We were fortunate to have Manzar and his sisters take part in learning to cook from their mother! She was an amazing cook and this led us to our first international breakfast (from Pakistan) of Puri, Chana Masala and Kolonji Potatoes.  It is eaten more as a brunch in Pakistan and has been one of our most flavorful and complimented breakfasts! We usually serve it on Tuesdays.

During the time we were developing our breakfasts, Manzar’s oldest sister Rakshinda was visiting in Minneapolis and we decided to make and taste all of the recipes that we had developed. Of course we started with the Pakistani breakfast first and Manzar and his sister made the recipes look so easy. This was a week-long trial period in which we said yes to all of our choices. The joy and fun we had that week was amazing! Who knew this could turn out to be more of an act of love than a challenge!

We made all of the fabulous and vegetarian breakfast that are listed on our website. Starting with Sunday here are the following picture-6breakfasts: Panamanian, Italian, Pakistani, Belgian, American Western, Mexican, and French!

You can take a look at the reviews of our breakfasts on our TripAdvisor page.  as well many reviews telling you about other services we provide and the amenities we have at our Bed & Breakfast.

We started with diverse breakfast choices but why stop there? Here in Boquete, Panama, even the hotels and restaurants do not have many international dining choices for lunches and dinners. So, we wanted to share what Manzar, his mother, sisters and sister-in-law all know in cooking up and preparing Pakistani/Indian cuisine. picture-7We started to share this skill with many of the Boquete residents and guests of Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. We had our first Pakistani/Indian cooking class almost three years ago and it went very well with a full class of incredibly talented people! That was the start of many different classes to come. We are now in the process of repeating some of these incredible cooking classes so that others can learn and enjoy amazing international dinners. By the way, neither David nor Boquete has a single Pakistani or Indian restaurant! You can see photos, menus, and the recipes of these classes on our website.

There is more to come. We have had guests ask if we can schedule a cooking class while they are staying with us. We gladly accommodate if we have enough advance notice. Our next class is this coming Wednesday, January 11th and we are planning to have cooking picture-8 classes in the coming months as well. Who knows, we may do some Thai and Mexican cooking classes next? The possibilities are endless when it comes to what we can come up with. Here in Boquete we are only limited by our own imagination.

When you come and stay at Casa de Montaña ,  talk with Manzar about the secrets that make the International cultural food taste the best. Talk to him about how to cut and fry up the  onions (for example) when cooking Pakistani food or what order to add the ingredients picture-9to make the amazing flavors of the spices blend to create the greatest tasting food! He is full of secrets passed along to him from his mother. And who knows, maybe you too can request cooking class be set up during your stay here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast!

And if cooking is not for you, then come and enjoy our breakfasts while you are relaxing and resting. After breakfast, we can set up an in- room massage or a tour or two. Take a look at our current specials. See you soon!


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