You say Goodbye…. and We say Hello!

The next chapter for Casa de Montana:

Manzar and Terry here to say goodbye from “Casa de Montana Bed and Breakfast”! For the past 5 years we have been the faces and gracious hosts of “Casa de Montana Bed and Breakfast”. As times change, faces change, too!

We have decided to explore a new adventure back in the United States and for that reason we have handpicked two amazing people to be the new faces at “Casa de Montana Bed and Breakfast”. With renewed excitement, starting on June 1, 2018 Ed Crupar and his lovely wife Nuriana will be the new owners, taking over the daily operations and beginning their new adventure at Casa de Montana Bed and Breakfast serving you, their guests.

Ed and Nuriana met in Bocas del Toro in January of 2014 and married on December 1, 2016. Ed and Nuriana have been living in Boquete since December of 2014 and many of the Locals here know them as the owners of “Boquete Sandwich Shop” where Nuriana continues to be an amazing Chef. You and your friends can expect the same great service and tranquility that made us the #1 Bed and Breakfast along with some new enhancements such as the creation of an extended Breakfast menu.

For booking info and more about Casa de Montana Bed and Breakfast please visit us at www.casademontana.com

Featured Article in International Living!

During a recent interview with International Living, we were asked several questions about us materializing our dream! Please read more here…

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An expat living and having an accident in Boquete, Panama. Don’t call the police first!

By Terry Richmeier

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It was another beautiful day here in Boquete, Panama: sunny, warm and not a cloud in the sky. I was driving in Alto Boquete (located just before the road descends into downtown proper) investigating potential gym memberships. Suddenly, while turning left into the entrance of a parking lot, the Casa de Montaña van was hit from behind. It was then pushed into another car, sustaining damage on both sides. The bumper was torn off and all the air bags deployed, including those along entire right side interior, as well as in front of the passage seat.

As one might imagine, this was a bit of a shock. The first thing to happen was all three drivers involved exited our respective vehicles to make sure no one was injured. That established (gracias, a dios) the next thing to happen, to my surprise, was the other two drivers started snapping pictures with their cell phones.

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Confused, I made a call back to Casa de Montaña to let Manzar know what happened, and that I would be needing an interpreter.   I then followed suit and started taking pictures of my own. Within moments of the call to Casa de Montaña, my insurance agent showed, as did the insurance personnel of the other vehicles. My agent, fluent in both Spanish and English, also began snapping pictures of everyone’s vehicles. She was able to speak with the others involved and started making phone calls, one of which was for a tow truck.

At this point, I was completely bewildered… Where is the police? Has someone called them? Why are we taking pictures with our cameras? Why are we calling the insurance adjuster? Why are we calling the tow truck driver? Shouldn’t the police be coming?

Once the insurance adjuster came for each of the vehicles, the other two drivers began to move their vehicles out of the way of the other traffic, but I wasn’t inclined to move my van until the police came.   Which, subsequently, they did!

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First, the police officer told me to move my vehicle and directed where I should park. Shortly after, I was to fill out a police report. Thankfully there were just a few lines to complete and I was able to write in English. With the report soon finished, all parties where then asked by the police officer if they take responsibility for the accident. No one did and so what happens next?

So here is how it goes:   The insurance companies all work together to see, via the pictures taken, who is at fault. If they cannot make that determination, then there is a court date set up. It was arranged through my insurance company for a lawyer to attend court on my behalf.  The whole accident is basically handled by the insurance companies, which is the reason they are called first. No tickets are given by the police and the police report is only for the court to review.

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The experience this accident provoked was really quite a learning experience. The most important thing for you to remember, should you have an accident, is to call the insurance people first. Following this, be sure to take pictures – both close-up and from far away to capture the exact positioning of all vehicles involved.

As an expat involved in this accident, I believe what transpired was the best-case scenario I could have hoped for. During the course of the event, many people — expats and local Boquetenians alike — stopped to make sure we all were ok. Concern extended as the convenient store gave bottled water to us without charge, and many people in the shopping center offered to be of service. I felt taken care of and not taken advantage of. I felt that there was no “blame game” from any of the involved parties and that they were calm and tried to ease my own nervousness. I’m not sure the same could have been said if this accident happened in the US.

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Just as a side note, Magda Crespo Insurance is the local insurance agent and they have been our insurance company since we have arrived. Give them a call if you are interested in relocation to Boquete, Panama.

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Earthquakes in Boquete and all over Central America!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast has been open for almost a year now and last November and December, we experienced our first earthquakes and a year later, during November and December we experienced it again! Does this mean that Boquete will experience seasonal earthquakes regularly and why would that be? Here is how the story unfolded…

Terry was sitting in the office and Manzar was at the Chox Chocolates store buying an anniversary gift for our guests. We had several guests staying with us including a couple who is planning to relocate to Boquete. That’s when it happened! The earth and house shook. It lasted a total of about 20 seconds. Terry and the staff were frozen. Terry grabbed the desk, and silently prayed “Please stop! Please stop! Please stop!” It felt like the longest 20 seconds in recorded history! For Terry anyway. The rest of the Bed and Breakfast staff was like, “Eh, you get used to it! It’s no big deal. It happens this time of year.”

A day later at 3:56 am, another one! (Of course, this was just an aftershock.) The bed started shaking as if a quarter was inserted for a vibration massage. Terry woke right up and panicked! This time it lasted a longer time, but did not seem to have the intensity of the first one (although it was later determined that in was higher on the Richter scale than the first one). Now, do you think Terry could go back to sleep? No, he could not. Again, everyone at the Bed and Breakfast and friends around town said the same thing. “No big deal, you get used to it.”

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Within seconds of these two incidents, Facebook was filled with comments, likes, and pictures of the morning sky! Terry began to think, “Why am I the only one concerned about the ground opening up and swallowing me?” And that is the reason that the research on earthquakes in Boquete in November and December began.

First, we have found some history of the past year that has a satellite visual of where the epicenter of the earthquakes is. Take a look: http://earthquaketrack.com/pa-02-boquete/recent

An earlier article written in Panama Simple published June 27, 2013 by Dennis Smith states:

Panama is part of the Pacific Rim and Earthquakes do Happen Here

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Contrary to many tourism articles, Panama does have its share of seismic activity – aka earthquakes. This country sits on the Pacific Rim and some shakers are inevitable. Thankfully the shakers are usually low on the Richter scale and do very little if any damage.

So this is not meant to be a frightening post, but depending on where you decide to build, buy or rent your home or commercial building, you should be aware that you need to do your seismic substructure homework first.

Most of the earthquakes in Panama occur in the mountainous Chiriqui Province, which has not one but two volcanic craters – Volcan Baru and El Valle de Anton – both extinct.

Abelardo Serrano, the Regional Director of the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) in the province of Chiriqui puts things in perspective. He said SINAPROC is preparing the public for the possibility of any earthquake, and they said the main thing is to remain calm. Serrano said that the population in Chiriqui has to learn to live with the threat of earthquakes, and for this they should prepare themselves beforehand, during and after the event.

Why? Because 26 of the 50 earthquakes that have occurred in Panama in recent years have happened in the Chiriqui province.

The quakes are rated on the scale as follows, 10 – extraordinary, 9 – outstanding, 8 – far-reaching, 7 – high, 6 – noteworthy, 5 – intermediate, 4 – moderate, 3 – minor, 2 – low and 1 – insignificant.

Earthquakes do happen in Panama. Make sure your foundations are safe and sound.

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So, one of the questions that Terry had during that early morning while laying in bed, feeling gravely concerned, was what makes some earthquakes feel so much worse than others in terms of shaking? A local Ex-Pat Boquetenian, (People who live in Boquete) David Harn, wrote an article on the local website Boquete.ning.com in regards to this very question on October 10, 2014. Here is his response:

Many people confuse magnitude, which is a number that quantifies the energy released by an earthquake with intensity, which is the amount of shaking at a given location.

Technically, “The Richter scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale, which defines magnitude as the logarithm of the ratio of the amplitude of the seismic waves to arbitrary, minor amplitude.”

The term “intensity” refers to the amount of shaking that we humans feel. It is arbitrary, and based on survey reports and damage estimates.  For the victims of disastrous earthquakes, intensity is far more important.

-An earthquake has one magnitude, but many intensities.

-The intensity of shaking generally decreases with distance from the hypocenter (Which is the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the epicenter, which itself may be many miles below the surface.)

-The intensity of shaking also is influenced greatly by the type of underlying material – soft sediments shake more than hard rock.  (That’s why the Marina District in San Francisco and the elevated section of freeway in Oakland suffered so much damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake  – they were fairly distant from the “hypocenter” of the earthquake, but had been built on old SF Bay mud flats, which liquefied  when the quake shook them hard.)

-Earthquake magnitude is quantitative and exact and is a measurement of the size of the earthquake – it is expressed as a number; intensity is qualitative and more subjective and is a measurement of the earthquake effects – it is expressed as a Roman numeral.

-The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale is what we use in the U.S. Other countries use other scales.

The article includes much more information on such topics as Trans-Panama Pipeline – (it transports up to 600,000 barrels per day (32,000 gallons/minute across the mountains through the rainforest.)  [A 2010 study published by the Seismological Society of America. A graphic example of the importance of underlying material. Plate tectonics. Managua, less than 6.2 magnitude that destroyed the city in the 1970s and much more.

Spend some time taking a look at the discussion: http://boquete.ning.com/forum/topics/a-primer-on-earthquake-hazards-in-panama?commentId=1434455%3AComment%3A591667

At Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we have tried to build our home to withstand these low to medium level earthquakes which are a norm in the Chiriqui province. We are glad that the only Volcano, Volcan Baru, that is visible from almost all parts of Boquete is a dormant volcano! Just like any other catastrophic events no one can really prepare oneself for those outliers. If history is any indication, these outliers have a very low probability of occurring. In the meantime, come down and enjoy the verdant valley of Boquete formed by the rich volcanic soil that has been deposited here over the centuries. We believe that all clouds have a silver lining!

Healing Powers of the cloud forests

Blog by Terry Richmeier

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Boquete is one of a select few places in the world that has a cloud forest. What are cloud forests you may ask? They are nature’s “water towers,” providing billions of gallons of fresh, clean, filtered water. They are home to thousands of indigenous people, and storehouses of biodiversity, at least 80 percent of which has not yet been catalogued. A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is generally tropical or subtropical, evergreen, moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level.

Ok, so what does that mean for me and why do I care about a cloud forest? First it has a “Watershed Function”. Because of the cloud-stripping strategy, the effective rainfall can be doubled in dry seasons and increase the wet season rainfall by about 10%. Essentially, It’s almost impossible to re-create this level of humidity in a glass house or greenhouse. The second is vegetation: Tropical montane cloud forests are not as species-rich as tropical lowland forests, but they provide the habitats for many species found nowhere else. For example, the Cerro de la Neblina, a cloud-covered mountain in the south of Venezuela, accommodates many shrubs, orchids, and insectivorous plants which are restricted to this mountain only. We also use many of the vegetation for modern medicines. Third is Fauna: The diversity in animals is also very high. In Peru, more than one-third of the 270 endemic birds, mammals, and frogs are found in cloud forests. One of the best-known cloud forest mammals is the mountain gorilla (Gorilla b. beringei). Many of those endemic animals have important functions, such as seed dispersal and forest dynamics in these ecosystems. By changing this environment, we will lose many animals that rely on the cloud forests.

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Wow, this seems to be a lot of big stuff to take in. Essentially, we know that there are many of our cloud forests that are being lost to population growth, poverty, and uncontrolled land use. Significant areas are being used for plantations, agriculture, pasture, tea and coffee farms, and lodging. Cloud forests are being strongly affected by climate change as well.

Here in Boquete, we know of two expat women, Elizabeth and Dianne, who purchased some land in our own cloud forest area. What they found on this land was that there were many plants that were once used for medicinal purposes. As they began to discover these plants, trees and shrubs, they started to put together the thought that this area and space was once a live pharmacy of the indigenous type. The two ladies felt that the indigenous people may have used these plants as help for their ailments and sicknesses.

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You can read more about their adventure through their webpage: http://cloudforestbotanicals.com/

They offer tours at the Cloud Forest Botanicals where you can learn the medicinal value and uses of the various plants. Many of these lotions, tinctures and creams are available for purchase as well. We can assist you in setting up these tours when you come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

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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