Cell phone coverage in Boquete, Panama

Blog by Terry Richmeier

The first month that we moved to Central America and stayed in Panama City, Panama. We thought, “What have we done!?” We were without communication to the states! Within days of arrival, we ran up to the mall, purchased some in-expensive phones and minutes, along with a phone number! Now, we thought, we will be ok!

However, I sat on the bed in the condo that we were renting and plugged in the phone to start charging it. (We had to stay in the City in order to finish up our residency.) And realized, this is a local phone with no way to call my Mom and Dad or my friends back in the states! Which I desperately needed to call! I felt lonely and scared!

So, I began to look for different ways to communicate with limited Wi-Fi. (Our condo only had a small phone device for Wi-Fi.) Well, it wasn’t easy, however, we did end up Skyping to our friend who would take over her laptop to my parents and we had set up a weekly. Boom, connected again!

So, my question is, “Is it just a problem here in Panama? Or all around the world? Is my experience an isolated experience based on my own lack of knowledge?”

Here is another story from Amy Kinnear and her experience with a U.S. carrier before moving here to Boquete, Panama:

The Joys of Communicating Overseas. Before getting a new cellphone carrier, I made sure to let them know that it was extremely important that I had a phone that could work in Panama. They promised me that when I went to Panama I would was have unlimited text and data, as well as be able to make calls. It would just be more expensive. I stupidly believed them. A few months later I decided to move to Panama and would be flying to Panama City to meet my parents, for our connection to David, Panama. I had only been to Panama once before and was nervous because my Spanish is horrible. I was not stressing much at first because my carrier assured me multiple times that my phone would work in Panama. I would just call and let my parents know when I got to Panama City, so that we could meet before the flight to David. A soon as the plane landed, I called them. No signal! My heart dropped. What was I going to do if they needed to reach me? “No worries,” I told myself. I would follow their instructions on how to get to my next gate. I had a gut feeling that they were not going to make our connection. How on earth was I going to get to Boquete? What was I going to do once I got there? I had no way to get in their house without the keys, and I needed a place to stay. If my carrier would have worked the way they promised, I could have just called my folks. I did not even have data like I was told I would. So I could not message them on Facebook either. I was able to pay to use the airport’s Wi-Fi. I tried to contact my mom on messenger, but her phone was not working. I had to message my ex-boyfriend, so that he could text my mom to see what the plan was while I was also messaging everyone I had met in Panama last year to see if I could get a ride from David to Boquete once I landed. Finally I Facebook called Manzar to see if Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast had a room available and if they knew anyone I could call for a taxi. It all worked out in the end, but needless to say I am very upset with my ex-provider. I went a few weeks without a local phone, but I felt uncomfortable only to be able to call if I was connected to Wi-Fi. The phones are very affordable here. I have a very basic local phone, but it is nice to know that I can communicate with people while I am out and about, and it only cost about $20!

So, there are several options available for you here in Panama. First, if you are just traveling here, you can get International coverage by contacting your own cell phone provider. Or you can purchase a worldwide usage phone. And another option is to purchase a SIM card upon arrival so you have a local phone number and then purchase minutes through a purchased cell phone minutes card. And also remember that you can buy a monthly data plan which has unlimited data use. This would be good for use wherever there is WIFI and you can connect with family and friends back at home through WhatsApp or contact an Uber or taxi driver without costing any more money!

Now, if you are planning to relocate to Panama, outside of the options that are listed above, you can bring with you a Vonage phone and keep your local number. You will be able to stay in touch with all your family and friends!

We here at Casa de Montaña bed and breakfast know how important staying connected is! We do our best to keep you connected and we can help you with contacting people close or far! So, come and stay with us and relax knowing that you can get in contact back at home!

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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So, you want to buy, build, rent or restore a business in Boquete, Panama?

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We here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast began to think about what it took to move to Boquete, Panama, construct a building for the business, create the business and make it number 1 on TripAdvisor in our region. Then we thought, let’s talk about it to others and tell them just what it takes.

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So, whether or not you are thinking about buying an existing restaurant or B&B or creating a brand new business of some kind, let us walk you through the joys and challenges of making money here in the paradise called Boquete!

Let’s start with the joys:

  • You are your own boss. You have independence from the corporate world.
  • You set and establish your work hours
  • You have much more flexibility
  • You get to meet new people from around the world
  • You can be more creative
  • Panama makes it easy to establish a business
  • We are here to answer your questions and make your dreams come true. (Contact us)
  • Your investment can go a long way
  • Boquete has the highest number of Ex-pats living here in all of Panama
  • There are tax breaks and tax exclusions depending on what you buy. (We can get you in contact with accountants) Contact us

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do your research about where you wish to relocate. You can check with International Living https://internationalliving.com/countries/panama/boquete/ and Best Places in the world to retire. https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/questions-and-answers/1001-what-are-the-expats-like-in-boquete-panama , for example.
  • Once you narrow your search to Boquete (and we know you will!), take a look into the laws around residency.
  • Then you can begin to look into websites that carry the business, land and spaces for rent for the kind of business you are looking for. (You can also contact us  we may have some leads for you).
  • Next you should contact a lawyer to make sure s/he help you with the legal matters of setting up a new business or the transfer of an existing business. (We can also help with this as well contact us. .
  • Consider the culture and what it would mean for you to have a business in a Latin culture.
  • Are you going to have the challenge of needing a loan to equip you properly for your business? (Loans in Panama are difficult to get. Contact us for some possibilities of banks.).
  • Will you need employees to help you run your business? Panama has many requirements for you to employ Panamanians such as paying “Decimo”, “Payroll”, and “Social Security”. We can help with contacts to get you started in the correct direction. Contact us .
  • Take the time to talk with business owners both those that are selling and those that are not. Ask pointed questions.
  • Check out the reviews on the business that you are buying. (This could be a negotiation tool.)

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These are just a handful of things that you will need to do when you begin your journey to your business. We are here for you in any way we can be. Come down and stay with us. Call  us up to let us know that you are looking at buying a business and we can give you the best possible price during your stay. Take a Boquete Overview Tour or the Boquete Scenic Tour that we offer. You can read more about this by clicking on Specials). And ask us as many questions as you have. We can help you in your decision making by our contacts, and ex-pats that live here. You will not be alone in your journey to a fantastic new life! Call Manzar now, let him know what kind of a business you are looking for and even get more information on possible businesses that are available for sale!

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Dreaming of opening a Bed & Breakfast / Inn in Boquete, Panama?

Blog by Terry Richmeier and Manzar Lari

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Has this been a lifelong dream of yours? Do you want to reinvent yourself? Do you enjoy being around people? Are you open to taking some risks in your life? Do you like to travel and appreciate different cultures? Do you have some financial means to make your dream a reality? Well, it sounds like your time has come to take that leap and own an international B&B!

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we started out by spending a few years researching what it takes to start and open a bed and breakfast. During that time we were getting our business plan solidified and our finances in order. After all the preparations, building our home, learning the government requirements, jumping through hoops and finding the financial support, seminars on running a bed & breakfast and developing a marketing plan, we opened Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast on Friday, January 10th, 2014. We are truly blessed that our business has been well-received by our guests and the Boquete community alike. Our biggest challenge has been to learn all aspects of operating a business in a different culture than we had been used to. With all kinds of challenges we face we have to dig in and research and find the answers as well find support that will work best for us.

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Within the past several months, we have been approached by people who are looking into the possibility of opening their own bed and breakfast or even a restaurant or two.  We have chosen to share our experiences and knowledge with these folks. We have sat down with these folks for a chat. It generally starts with an informal conversation and answering any questions that they might have. We generally continue through emails back and forth. Questions from Marketing to Hours of Operation to the choice of builders and architect, all are fair game.

Recently we completed a three month training for a lady whom we equipped with all she needs to get her own bed and breakfast underway. She is a friend of ours who has had the dream for many years to be a bed and breakfast owner/operator. It was a good opportunity for us to sit down and write up all the processes. In addition, we created a checklist that contained each aspect of the business so that we didn’t miss training her on anything. The process worked out really well. She was eager to learn and took her role of a “trainee” very seriously! One minute she was helping out with the recipes in the kitchen, a bit later she was working in the office learning our business machines, and later in the evening she was hobnobbing with the guests at the upstairs bar for the Social Hour! This gave her some solid experience in seeing for herself what day-to-day life looks like at a bed and breakfast. It worked out for us too since we learned some things also as we looked at all aspects of our operations. We were able to update and fine-tune some processes that needed to be changed. We also appreciated the extra help we received from her as much as she appreciated learning new skills.

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So come and stay with us here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast and ask us all the questions you want about opening a business or bed and breakfast in Panama or even in your own hometown. We will honestly tell you all we know, or at least our experiences and perspectives, and encourage you to follow your dreams, whatever they may be!

Restaurants in Boquete

By Eliecer Andres Lay

 

I have dined in pretty much every single restaurant in Boquete searching for ones that are going to meet my “high” expectations! One of my favorite restaurants is La Posada Boqueteña which is an Argentinian restaurant that offers mostly grilled food. My favorite dish is the huge plate of nachos which includestortilla chips, pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese, chicken and more. Another one of the tasty dishes is the mixed tray which includes grilled steak, chicken, yucca, potato, pork and more.Here is an example of the mix tray that they offer.

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In Boquete, the cuisine options have been growing for the past few years.  Not too long ago you could not find many varieties of restaurant as you do now. From American, Italian, Chinese to Argentinian – these are some of the type of cuisines you can find when you visit us in Boquete.  Depending on what you are looking for, there is a likelihood that there is a restaurant waiting for you that will meet your needs. The prices in Boquete are affordable depending on what you are desire. Panamanian food is usually less than $5 dollars and it will include a full meal. There are some Panamanian restaurants in Boquete that are known for their low prices and good food, giving a great value for your money. El Sabroson, Los Orquideas, Nelvis and Km 35 come to mind as some of the best Panamanian restaurants around town.

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As a general rule, tipping in Panama wasnot obligatory so people did not need to give any tip unless they really wanted to. Nowadays, depending on which kind of restaurant you are visiting, the tip (or propina) will be included on your bill as the government is starting to make it obligatory.  Most of the restaurants will include the tip on the bill so you do not need to worry about adding a tip to the total bill. Just make sure you look closely at the bill to see if there is an additional amount listed under “propina”.

Lee Seltzer has shared his personal reviews about some restaurants of Boquete in his blog, and this is what he wrote:

American

Baru Restaurant: Right at the central park, open 11am- 10pm for food longer for a bar.

Big Daddy’s: I have not had a burger but the word on the street is they are excellent

Argentine
La Posada: A good grill, great pizza, live music on Saturday nights. In my opinion they have the best pizza in Boquete and the best steak.

Breakfast
Punto de Encuentro Cafe: Olga is wonderful. The food is good and the atmosphere is still good.

Panamonte: A past Sunday brunch favorite. It has been several years since I have had breakfast there.
Central ParkWatch the town wake up and enjoy something tasty. I love the liver and onions for breakfast.

Chinese

Yings: Good food a little more expensive than David but better than most in David and a lot more convenient in Alto Boquete.

French
Art Cafe (formerly La Crepe: Excellent crepes and more. Revisited several times and I can recommend their specials, excellent food.

International
The Rock:The Rock is solid. This is the place for a dinner undisturbed by loud music or a blaring television. It is all about good food, good service and consistency. The management is international, the cuisine international and the quality of product as good as you will find in all of Panama, not just Boquete. The Rock has withstood two floods literally destroying it and hopefully it will withstand the test of time.

Mikes Global Grill: Good food, good entertainment and worth the trip for a truly international menu.

Italian
some people like Il Pianista.

Mexican
Antojitos:Trini’s food is as always excellent.

Panamanian
El Sabroson:One of my favorites for fast cheap eats. Try the trout (trucha).

Cafe Nelvis: Still my favorite for fried chicken. They have moved across from the elementary school Bajo Boquete.

Central Park:Was my favorite Boquete Breakfast spot before Sugar and Spice, a great view of the park and usually good eats.

Milquiburger: I still have not tried a burger because the fried chicken so damn good.

Seafood:

Boquete Fish House: Excellent fresh seafood prepared as you want it. Check the board for the daily specials.

Sandwiches

Sugar and Spice:I call Sugar and Spice a Bakery because it is, but it is also a great place to have a sandwich on fresh baked bread. Highly recommended.

New restaurants keep opening up in Boquete so it is important to ask us about the latest list of restaurants and our recommendations. We have an updated list available in our office of all the restaurants and a map showing the locations. Just recently a restaurant called “Black & White” (a Spanish Tapas place) opened up in Bajo Boquete (Boquete downtown). We have been there a few times. The food and the service are excellent! As Boquete keeps growing and changing, so does the restaurant scene. Now if Boquete would only get some Thai, Pakistani/Indian, and Vietnamese restaurants, we would be all set! Any takers?

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