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!

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!

Holiday Stressors, NOT this year, in Boquete, Panama!!!!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Black Friday, Black sale, buy this, a party here, a party there, spend more money, eat, eat, eat…..And these activities are endless….

We here at Unfortunately, Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast finds the same stressors in Boquete, Panama. From the fact that it’s not easy getting around to the congestion and celebrations of the holidays. In November and December, there are an amazing number of holidays. Two different Independence days, Mother’s day, Labor Day, Fireman’s parade, Horse Parade, just to name a few.

 

In the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research report, in the U.S., working long hours, fighting traffic, caring for aging parents, paying bills are stressful enough, then to add the holidays! Here are some of the key findings:

  • Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season. In addition, they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.
  • Holiday stress has an impact on lower middle income individuals. This group feels the weight of stress from work plus the seasonal rush to find time to get everything done. In addition, their worries about money are heightened by the commercialism of the season and the pressure to spend a lot of money.
  • Emotions run high during the holidays: people in the United States report feelings of love,

happiness, and high spirits. The most important aspects of the holidays are the opportunities

to connect or reconnect with friends and family.

  • People in the United States are more likely to feel their stress increases rather than decrease during the holidays. The holidays can be a hectic time for many, and a lack of money, a lack of time, and the hype and commercialism of the season causes increased stress for people in the U.S.
  • During the holidays, stress takes on a different character than at other times of the year.

Men and women alike feel a duty to make the holidays the best they can for their families.

 

I couldn’t find a study for Boquete, Panama, however, I believe the stressors are the same. So, I wanted to come up with some possible solutions as well. I thought about how massage takes away my stressors, at least for a Few days! We have an amazing couple that do a really great job at massage. Then there is nature, and sitting and drinking a glass of wine. Reading a book, attending an art class, or bird watching, just to name a few. All of which can be done here in Boquete, Panama, while staying with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

However, if that’s not in the plans for you this year, here are some other options from the Mayo Clinic to “de-stress” your holiday:

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
  4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

    • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
    • Give homemade gifts.
    • Start a family gift exchange.
  1. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
  2. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  3. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

    • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  1. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include:

    • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
    • Listening to soothing music.
    • Getting a massage. (We can help you with this if you are in Boquete)
    • Reading a book.
  1. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. (Did you know that Manzar Lari is a certified Life Coach and offers a free half hour initial consultation?)
  • Take control of the holidays

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

  1. Catch a Plane (My personal favorite and added to the list by me)

Get on a plane and come down and spend the holidays, or any other time of year at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Vacation, all I ever wanted! Vacation get-away to Boquete, Panama!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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It’s only June so why are we talking about vacation and holidays? Especially Thanksgiving and Christmas? They are amazing holidays to bring loved ones to a warm climate for a very different experience. Instead of sitting in the house on a cold day, and eating until you are comatose and sleeping in front of the TV or just vegetating, plan your trip now and come on down for a Holiday! A holiday of whitewater rafting, island hopping, cloud forest canopy tour, coffee tour or just relax at the bed & breakfast!

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The crazy part is that now is the time to plan such a trip. Tickets for airlines, places to stay always go up during the holidays. And the closer you get to the holiday, the more difficult it is to find a place or a ticket or even a tour. We are noticing that there are suddenly many more inquiries and bookings for the holidays. Some people do know how to plan early!

How much do the prices go up during the holidays and when should one purchase tickets?

Here is what Hopper’s data (which comprises billions of flight searches) found (summer 2015). We suspect that the same patterns apply for 2016:

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First, how much should you pay for your holiday flight? The average domestic roundtrip for the holidays is currently about $383, which is down about $10 (or 3%) from last year at this time. So you may see a very small price drop between what you paid last year and what you’re paying this year.

Unlike Thanksgiving prices, which tend to start high and remain high as the holiday draws near, Christmas flight prices tend to rise more steadily as Christmas approaches and then spike in the last 10 days. Right now, demand is still pretty low for Christmas flights, but our team found that prices are actually rising faster than in 2014. This means you should consider booking quickly.

When should you book your Christmas flight? Based on last year’s data, on average the best time to book is about 80 days before departure. This year we’ve seen some cheaper deals earlier based on deeper sale discounting in September. For every day closer to Christmas, average round-trip holiday airfare goes up about $1.60. But prices move around constantly so it pays to watch for a deal. (One way to do that is with the Hopper app, which will alert you when a deal is found, when prices drop, or when prices are about to go up.)

When is the best time to visit Panama? Quick answer, ANY TIME OF THE YEAR!!!

We just happen to get more tourists from late November through mid-April is because North Americans and Europeans usually try to get away for a vacation during their colder months.

The first thing you should know is that Panama has only two seasons, the dry season from December to mid-April, and the wet, or “green”, season from mid-April to mid-December. As you might deduce from their names, the dry season means little or no rainfall, while the green season can mean rain almost every day. With the exception of the month of November, it typically rains just in the late afternoon and it is often a hard rain.

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As mentioned earlier, dry season is the main tourist season, not so much for the absence of rainfall, but also because snow bird Americans and Europeans are looking to escape to a warm climate in the winter months.

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But the “green season” is also a good time to come to Panama. Prices and availability are better. And the green season is much greener. Panama sparkles and comes to life after a tropical rain. Moreover the rain doesn’t normally last more than a few hours in the afternoons and evaporates so quickly you’ll forget it was there.

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If you’re traveling to the Caribbean side of Panama to places like Colon, Bocas del Toro and San Blas, the dry season/wet season pattern does not neatly apply. There is some rainfall year round. Highlands destinations such as Boquete, Chiriquí and el Valle de Anton have the same wet and dry season but there may be some rain showers in the dry season.

You will never have to worry about hurricanes. Unlike the rest of Central America, Panama is blessed to be far enough south that hurricanes are never a problem.

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Here in Boquete, Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast is already starting to see early bookings and holiday planning! This is exciting for us and we want to make sure we get your reservations to restaurants and tours before the mad rush of tourists arrive.

For us, the easiest way to make sure we take care of you properly is to get this planned out early. Look for our specials and contact us directly by calling us or through our website. We look forward to hosting you!

Boquete: Valley of Eternal Spring… and some allergens!

Blog Joy Huppe

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Boquete Panama, where the skies are painted with rainbows!

 

Ah, Boquete… located in the cool mountain highlands of one of the most naturally diverse countries on the planet, where palm trees rub shoulders with pine trees, and humming birds flit from one scented bloom to another in an endless landscape of color: greens of every hue, brilliant reds and fuchsias of the bougainvillea, the bold orange of the “bird of paradise” flower, cheerful yellow marigolds, hauntingly beautiful white and purple orchids… It is no wonder you’ve been dubbed “The Flower Capital of Panama” and “The Valley of Eternal Spring.” Breathing deep, locals and visitors alike oxygenate their lungs with your fresh, clean air, and slip into a more tranquil rhythm of life. Ahhhhh… ah CHOO!

What’s this? Allergies? In paradise??? Well, in a word – yes. Though not all are affected, and different allergens irritate at different times of the year, there is a bit of a trade-off for all this natural beauty.

The signs and symptoms of airborne allergies are familiar to many: sneezing, often with a runny or clogged nose; coughing and postnasal drip; itching eyes, nose, and throat; watering eyes; and “allergic shiners” (dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses.)

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Ah CHOO! Yes, even allergies can happen in paradise.

 

The good news is that Boquete’s actual air quality itself is high, and air pollution is low. Although there are no emission controls here in Panama and some vehicles burn too much oil, thanks to the little-to-no presence of local industry, combined with an almost constant mountain breeze, the air here remains pristine. And with the proliferation of all things green, there is no scarcity of oxygen.

There are, however, two main culprits that could potentially interfere with one’s ability to “breath easy”, and they are Pollen and Mold.

Pollen takes effect in dry season, when the fragrant dust of all those pretty flowers is mixed into the air by the seasonal winds. Seasons here in Boquete are fairly well defined and predictable. Dry season typically starts in mid-December and runs through the middle to the end of April. During this time there is little rain and strong winds are the norm. Wind velocity can range from “gentle caress” to “I am about to lose my mind” with sustained winds of 50 mph and potential gusts peaking at 70 mph.

During this time, those of us with more sensitive constitutions may experience some of the allergic symptoms listed above. If you find yourself sniffling in paradise, don’t worry… there are a variety of actions you can take. One sweet remedy is to eat the local honey. Honey contains pollen from area plants and helps the body adjust to the proteins in the pollen. In addition, honey offers a number of other health benefits (including hangover relief!) For more information about Boquete bees and the benefits of their honey, click here.

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One Sweet Remedy: Honey from Boquete Bees

 

Another course of action is to take an over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine, which works by inhibiting the immune system’s release of certain chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions. It has been shown that if allergy medicines are taken before exposure to pollen, they can help to stabilize the immune system before symptoms begin to manifest. In other words, plan ahead. If you know are prone to pollen allergies, and yet dream of frolicking amongst chrysanthemums during the annual Boquete International Flower and Coffee Festival (projected 2016 dates: January 14 – 24, 2016), start taking an antihistamine a week or so in advance.

Rainy season, which typically runs from May through November, with the heaviest rains occurring in the month of October, brings with it the second culprit allergen – Mold. Though not usually a concern for short-term visitors, sensitivities to mold and mildew brought about by damp, humid conditions can be a concern for residents and long-term visitors. Again, there are steps one can take to minimize it’s effect.

One simple solution is to run a dehumidifier, which will reduce the ambient humidity in the air. All of the rooms here at Casa de Montaña are equipped with dehumidifiers for this purpose. Other steps that can be taken are making sure there is good air-flow in all indoor spaces, as well as inspecting wall hangings, furniture, clothing, and even shoes and belts (mold loves leather!) for signs of mildew, and if found, performing a through cleansing of all affected items.

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Rainy season is the perfect time to slow down and savor all Boquete has to offer.

 

Now that you know a little bit more about the different type of potential allergies here in Boquete, you can be better prepared when you visit, depending on what time of year you choose. Dry season typically overlaps with “high season” for tourism. During this time, there are a number of holidays and festivals, including the Boquete Jazz Festival, The Flower and Coffee Festival, Carnival, and the Orchid Festival. Rainy season tends to find less activity here in Boquete, but has a unique draw of it’s own. The mountain landscape becomes even more lush and green, and the crowds diminish, heralding a sense of peace. Since the rain oftentimes does not start until later in the day, mornings become a time for exploration and adventure. Afternoon is then a time for sipping coffee, relaxing, and chatting with friends, or curling up with a good book. Plus, “deals” are more common during this time. During the months of May through September, Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast offers discounted room rates and special package deals. Rain or shine, we look forward to sharing our Boquete home with you.

Christmas Season in Panama – Boquete Style!

Blog by Andres Lay

 

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Christmas is coming up, and all the Boquetenians and Panamanians are getting ready for this special holiday. After a month full of holidays in November, where Boquetenians celebrated the Independence Day with all kinds of parades and music bands, people are warmed up for more. The celebrations in November took place on the 3rd, 4th, 10th and the 28th throughout the whole country. On December 8th Boquetenians also celebrate Mother’s day which is a special day for everyone to honor their mothers. People come together as a family and have a special day with their mother, by giving them gifts and to spend time with them. For most Panamanians Mom means a lot to us since she is the one that gave us the opportunity to live, she is the one that is always there for us when we need her, she is the princess of the house. In short, she is everything to us!

Panamanians start to prepare their houses, by painting them, putting up Christmas lights, decorating with Christmas trimmings and getting ready for Christmas with happiness that abounds in their hearts. Also, most people buy Canadian Christmas trees, that the supermarkets import from Canada, and decorate them with lights and Christmas decorations. The Central Park in Boquete is also decorated with beautiful lights and different decorations like a nativity where Child Jesus is placed at midnight on Christmas Eve. In Navidad (Christmas) people usually buy food and keep it frozen until they prepare it on Christmas Eve. The Panamanian traditional foods for Christmas include homemade Turkey, Ham, Arroz de Guando (rice with a national bean), Tamales, ensalada de papas (potato salad), fruit breads and more. In most neighborhoods people gather to celebrate Christmas. People get together with their family to eat Christmas Dinner. The tradition in Navidad is to have dinner at 12 midnight on Christmas Eve with your closest family members, listen to Christmas Carols while having a glass of wine and wait together until midnight. Some families go to church to pray with their loved ones and to wait until midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Most young people expect to go dancing and clubbing after midnight. A lot of Children are kept awake until midnight to open their gifts, and some will wait until next day after Santa Claus has arrived. Kids get ideas for their list of toys with the help of their parents, by watching it on TV, or by looking at store catalogs of toys to choose from. They present this list to the Child Jesus way before Christmas day, just to be sure! Children wait anxiously for their toys. The presents are discreetly placed under the tree by “Santa Claus” when the kids are sleeping, typically not until after midnight.

There are places (including shopping centers) like Conway, Arrocha, or others where they put large trees and the kids have fun walking through there. Normally, a huge tree is placed in the Central Park (Cervantes Park) in David, like shown in the picture below.

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Christmas Day is a holiday in Panama so most of the stores, restaurants, and supermarkets are closed. It is a day for people to relax, be with their relatives and enjoy the joys of Christmas. In Boquete, on Christmas day, Boquetenians go out during the evening to watch the parade. The parade usually starts in the Basketball Arena in Los Naranjos close to Casa de Montaña, just up the street, and it is a parade where all schools participate. People are part of the parade with their decorated cars, motorcycles, golf carts, big trucks and more. The parade passes by on the main street right in front of Casa de Montaña (yes, we have the front row seat!), all the way down the street to downtown and usually ends up at Los Establos plaza. Even though most of the indigenous people do not celebrate Christmas, they will go out to watch the parade with their kids, especially since the mayor will be giving candies or gifts to them. In Boquete’s Central Park, the mayor always has a Christmas celebration for families in need, or indigenous people who do not have many resources. For the celebration, the mayor brings a Santa Claus who gives gifts to all the kids, give them hugs or just spend time with them. Christmas time in Boquete is truly a time to celebrate, be thankful for what we have and to show our appreciation of others in our life – a magical time! So if you are planning on coming to Boquete during Christmas time, book your room now at Casa de Montaña, and enjoy all the festivities that Boquete has to offer.

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Life Coaching – Happiness is an inside job!

Blog by Manzar Lari

 

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Does being “happy” mean one has to be happy ALL the time? Is that just an ideal that people strive for but can NEVER reach? What is the definition of happiness anyway? Does it vary from person to person?

So many questions come to mind related to happiness that it is impossible to relax about it! When the latest survey about happiness rated people of Panama the “happiest” in the world, did you stop and think what was meant by it? What criteria did they use to measure it? Some of you may agree with the survey and others may be thinking to themselves, I know a lot of unhappy people here in Panama – this couldn’t possibly be true!

As a Life Coach I have a tendency to look at practical ways someone can achieve their goals when I am working with a client. When someone tells me that they want to be happy, I have a tendency to find out from them in tangible terms what happiness will look like for them – how they would be feeling, what they would be doing, how would they perceive themselves, etc. A few months ago I started working with Pinnacle Partners in providing assessments, trainings and coaching related to happiness in the workplace. It all starts with a person’s sense of how happy they are and what contributions they feel they are making to a company while being recognized and supported by their managers. Easier said than done, right?! No matter whether we are talking about our personal lives or our work life, the desire to be happy is the same desire. The term happiness conjures up different images for different people. Most people I have talked to want to be happy but feel that it is somehow an unattainable goal. Happiness in my opinion is a personal journey and that is the reason why the heading of this blog says “Happiness is an inside job!”

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Here is an excerpt from Robert Holden’s book, “be happy” that highlights the point stated above:

Choosing Happiness – The real reason why happiness means so much to you is that happiness is your true nature. Happiness is who you are, and it is what you experience when you accept yourself, when you relax, and when you stop neurosing about being a “size zero,” about “why he hasn’t called”, and about “what I should be doing with my life.” Happiness isn’t “out there.” And, when you really think about it, the blocks to happiness aren’t “out there” either. Why? Because there is no “out there” out there.

The happiness course shows you how your psychology creates the world you experience and how it can either enhance or block your awareness of true happiness. Happiness is not a state of mind; it is your true nature. That said, certain states of mind can either help or hinder your experience of happiness. In other words, happiness is your original nature, but you may well be suffering from psychology. Your psychology (that is, your perceptions, your beliefs, and your self-talk) is what stands between you and happiness now, success now, and love now.

The excerpt above is an invitation for each of us to “alter our psychology” about happiness and embark on a journey that takes us through self-acceptance, changes in perception and living a life of gratitude in order to be truly happy. Happiness really is an “inside job”!

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My own journey began a few decades ago with the realization that I cannot find a “cure” for my own unhappiness outside of myself – a geographical cure or a relationship cure or any other type of external cure was not really the answer. All the answers I had been looking for were already inside of me. I needed to pay attention, change my perceptions and my belief system. This set the stage for me for a life-long journey of exploration. I invite you to start your own journey if you have not already done so.

For more information about Life Coaching, please contact Manzar Lari through the website www.aworldofpossibilitiescoaching.com or directly by calling the U.S. # 952-931-9770 or the Panama # 507-730-9472.

 

Boquete’s Green Season – A time to cleanse your body and soul!

A view from the guestroom window

A view from the guestroom window

It is not a surprise to us that some tourists prefer coming to Boquete during the Green Season when it rains the most. We thoroughly enjoy this time of the year as well. The color green is much greener! Come to think of it, ALL colors seem to be so much more vibrant. The peak rainy months are September and October. In the U.S. it’s starting to cool down and there is always the possibility of snow in the Mountain, Upper Midwestern and Northeastern states. Here in Boquete, we enjoy both the Green and the Dry seasons and that’s all we have to be concerned with.

We tend to start the morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky. Around 11 AM, the clouds begin to roll into the valley over several hours (we took pictures of some of this happening, out of the window of our guestrooms, the other day). Then around 2 pm, it starts raining with a wonderfully soothing cool breeze. The perfect time to sit on the back porch, enjoy some coffee or cocoa or even a nice glass of wine and watch the rain fall to the earth and create the “purifying green” that we get to enjoy here year around.

DSC00657What’s also very nice about September and October is that you can plan to do the zip line tour, coffee tour, quetzal walk and any other tours in the mornings when it rarely rains. There are fewer tourist here and there seem to be discounts available for those who plan on having an adventure here at this time of the year. Also, in general there are greater varieties of blooming orchids and flowers here as well.

For those of you who especially enjoy having some time to read a book, sit and watch the rain and just have an incredibly slow relaxing time, this may just be the months of the year for you to come down and visit us!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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