The Barber Shop Experience in Boquete

Blog by Terry Richmeier

When we initially moved to Boquete, Panama, and I went for my first haircut at the barber shop, the experience was far from what I expected! And why was that?

First of all, before I even entered the store front, I was greeted by loud Latin music and a bunch of men standing around. As I entered through the door, even more men sitting and standing and having a laugh or two as they waited for their turn. I immediately thought, this is a bad idea and began to turn around to leave. At that moment, the Barber caught my eye and nodded at me and pointed to a sofa. There, on the sofa, a young boy politely stood to his feet and offered me the sofa.

Then began the many nods of acceptance of my presence, and smiles of politeness, a gringo amongst the sea of Panamanians. The conversations in Spanish resumed and I sat there, as if I was a fly on the wall, waiting for my turn at the pile of food in the middle of the room!

As I looked around I thought, “All these men have short hair already and really, this should go quite fast”. And then I began to realize that this is an experience I need to soak up and take in. It’s not at all like it is in the U.S. Where you are a number and to get you in and out and paid quickly and onto the next. This is not a place for making your profit through assembly line haircuts. The process was more about a men’s club! Away from their women and much talk while you are being groomed. The average time for actual haircut is a customary half hour. It includes the cut, conversation, the hair on the neck is trimmed, and sharp blades run across your facial hair cleaning you up and creating a relaxed atmosphere.

Along with that, you are brushed with talcum powder and splashed with what I think is after shave. And when all is said and done, you get your bill. A request to pay $3.50!

This experience left me bewildered and it did not quite please my internal clock that is telling me “You need to hurry and you need to get this done”. That fight is over! I am now able to shut off that internal life bleeding clock!

My style with my hair and the bald spots that suddenly appeared this past year now require me to be more specific with my needs. Along with having a full beard that is cut down to nothing, I, along with Casa de Montaña’s previous Manager, have come up with a schematic that relays the message to my Now Permanent Barber. My hair cut seems perfect to me every time! Of course the cost has gone up! I now pay $7.50 for my haircut and beard trim. Which includes a softener that is placed on my beard. In the U.S. my cost was never less than $25.00 with tip. Here, I tip well, I feel that they need to make a living wage.

And, what’s amazing to me is that these Barbers are keeping up with the trends that are desired by young and old! Recently Casa de Montaña’s own Office Manager Generoso (Meaning Generous) received a fairly new haircut. Something from the 80’s that is being revived! Take a look and let us know what you think?

The only thing that is missing from my haircut here in Boquete, Panama that I had in the U.S. is a glass of wine or beer while you are getting your haircut. But, you can have that when you come and stay with us as we offer you a free glass of either one daily! While you are here, come and plan on checking out the Barber!

 

For you women, there are many hairdressers here as well, from high end to English speaking. Your experience will be equally great. And, though I don’t know about the cost, you can fill in the blanks for us!

Having your haircut while on vacation at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, can actually take away that feeling of “I have to get this done and get on with my day” Shut down your “internal lecturer” and enjoy a haircut while vacationing in Boquete, Panama!

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!

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