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Aerial photography Anxiety Dealing with a Crisis Distress Tolerance letting go of fear Stress

7 Anxiety Relief Techniques That Work

How to Quickly Reduce Stress in a Crisis

Take a moment to look at situations in a stable, rational way and adjust your perspective. Instead of investing your emotions in anxiety and stress, stop, pause and direct your responses to be calm and solution focused. Accept reality without fatiguing or exasperating yourself. Radical Acceptance is an anxiety relief technique to accept reality, even when it’s challenging and downright painful. During my work as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Counsellor, I teach others to learn necessary habits needed to relieve stress and anxiety, and maintain healthy mental health habits. The human condition has an ability for joy, love and happiness, but we all face challenges, disappointments and uncertainty along the way as a part of our life journey.

Take Charge and Shift Your Mindset

In this complex and unstable world we need to have tools. Our prehistoric brain highlights fear, anxiety and negativity and works against us. Take charge through daily practice of re-framing thoughts and shift your mindset. Productive thinking boosts self-esteem and puts the clutter of negative thoughts in the trash where they belong. Our primal survival instincts get triggered, scanning in our environment for danger. Then we scare ourselves with irrational fear thoughts such as if the worst came true we would fall apart. We think when we go through a trauma or loss we are alone, but this is not true, our primal nature is to support one another with compassion. Use that same skill to have self compassion towards yourself. This lowers cortisol the stress hormone, and increases resilience during stressful events.

Acknowledge Painful Feelings

Recognize fear thoughts and replace them with safe and comforting thoughts by firmly directing your mind. Change and loss is natural and can lead to personal growth. Uncertainty can mean you’re on the right track and are opening yourself to new opportunities. When you use your imagination during a tough change or painful event to see the good and imagine that you’re creating something better in that space, you are changing the neural pathways in your brain. Acknowledge difficult and painful feelings as they come up and know this will change.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where stands in times of challenge and controversy” Martin Luther King

Focus on How This Change Brings You a New Perspective

A challenge is an opportunity when you look at it with a brand new perspective. If you are going through a tough change, find the good that came from it. When you visualize a positive outcome and move forward, it does not mean you erase the memory from your mind. You are now focusing on how this change brings alternative possibilities. It may have given you the gift of wisdom, knowing you’re resilient or an increased understanding of yourself. Acknowledge the fear and the courage it took to move forward. Looking for the good does not negate what happened to you. With your eye on a positive outcome you can gain perspective, and this will shift you into a better state of mind.

Develop True Grit During Tough Situations

When you put pressure on yourself to achieve a goal, your brain does its best to step up to the changing conditions. By changing habits, for example, you are perturbing the equilibrium of what was normal. Instead of going into high anxiety after a change, practice calming skills such as deep breathing, which connects you with your vagus nerve. Your reactive brain wants to go back to being the same and fear drives it. Welcome personal growth challenges under pressure to develop resiliency and develop a sense of true grit when the going gets tough. Train yourself to stay calm with forward moving energy. This provides stability during a sudden change or threat in your environment. You can learn how to be productive even during a crisis. This is something that takes practice as our brain is reactive. If you allow it to overreact with challenges, the flood of cortisol and adrenaline can deplete your energy. 

Put the Challenge into Perspective with Others

As humans, we can reassure and support others. Engage your community with empathy by putting things in perspective, as this regulates emotions. Respond compassionately to somebody in distress. Without getting anxious with them respond with caring and connection. If you dive right in and become upset with them experiencing negative emotions, this can cause overwhelm. Respond with genuine warmth and concern expressing compassion. Sometimes bearing witness to their pain with empathy is all that someone needs. Put the challenge into perspective and offer decision-making skills. With practice you can nurture other people in their time of need by offering them the gift of your wise self with your supportive words. Helping others with warmth and compassion releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is a hormone that promotes feelings of love, bonding and well-being. 

Persistence,Courage and Strength

We need determination and endurance in life. Sometimes we need to tolerate pain and frustration, and during this time we need persistence and courage. Practice feeling strong by ignoring past hurt, perceived failures and let downs. Forge ahead and stop giving power to the past. Redirect yourself and focus only on the positive goal you wish to accomplish.

The Heart is the CEO

Remember that the heart is the CEO, and can quickly bring you to a state of ease. Instead of trying to master your worry thoughts ruled by the cognitive part of your brain, learn to re-calibrate to a belief of safety and refuge through regulating your heart rhythm. In my experience, this is the deepest and most permanent way to feel better. When you do heart focused breathing, you put your heart in a coherent state with thoughts of joy, love, appreciation, gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. This is a higher level of thinking which puts your heart rhythm in a smooth even wave. If you stay in a lower level state of anger, despair and anxiety your heart rhythm is in an incoherent state or in a jagged wave which can cause stress-related disorders.

Shift Out of Your Primal Fear State

At any point in time we are in our primal fear state which is the fight flight zone of the sympathetic nervous system or we are in the healing and powerful state of the parasympathetic zone of the nervous system. This means we connect with the benefit of the restorative vagus nerve. Our primal brain limits us with fear, insecurities, doubts, worries and anxieties, as this is the cognitive part of our brain which is a lower level state. When we are overthinking things and getting into a worry loop, this can be mentally draining and effect health. At any point in time we have the choice to shift out of this primal fear state into the higher and healthier state of our heart’s intelligence, connecting with joy, creativity and inspiration.

Call to Action

1) Make it your personal challenge to stay calm despite misfortune and set an intention that you are strong and serene. This prevents our amygdala or our emotion centre from irrational over response. Accept life’s uncertainty and develop a calm response pattern overtime. Stay solution focused and calm when waters get turbulent in life. Equanimity takes training and practice, as our primal brain is normally reactive to keep us safe from harm.

2) Find music with a strong rhythmic beat. Music is a right-brain exercise, where nonverbal creativity, intuition, and perception live. Immerse yourself in a challenging and creative project. Distress and stress are a left-brain activity with solving mental tasks, problem solving and analyzing. The left brain can get fatigued, stressed, and strained. Engage your right brain with creativity to relieve distress.

3) Have compassion for others and use this same skill to have self compassion towards yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. This lowers cortisol the stress hormone, and increases resilience during stressful events. Compassion releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is a hormone that increases well-being.

4) Sit where you can be uninterrupted for 3 minutes. Close your eyes and visualize yourself calm through mental rehearsal. Imagine what a composed person looks like and have an image of yourself as calm. The breath has both emotional and physical benefits. Oriental meditators believe breathing is the secret to longevity as it eases the strain on both the heart and vital organs. Learn to breathe and stay composed during unpleasant events and emotional upset. Easy, rhythmic breathing patterns can get you through challenging times.

5) Ride the wave with 4×4 breathing until the distress has passed. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4, hold for 4. Comparable to a wave, the emotion will appear intense, reach its peak, then pass and dissipate. 

6) Seek and find positive experiences for brain health, even in the middle of hardship and pain. Wonderful facts are still around you, even when life is difficult. With practice this builds strength, resilience, and boosts feel good brain chemistry such as serotonin. This benefits brain structure and health.

7) Whenever you are in your monkey mind with your thoughts are racing out of control understand that you are in a primal state and notice your negative inner dialogue. Say to yourself “OK, I am in a primal unhealthy state and I am now going to my powerful higher level state.” Put your hand on your heart, do heart focused breathing and know that your higher level of intelligence lies in the intuitive voice of your heart. Remember, your heart provides wiser counsel than the inaccurate primal chatter of the brain when under stress.

About the Author

Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters, which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.For more information go to:

https://www.awomanofworth.com/kim-mowatt

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Anti-Aging Blue Zone Cabo Blanco Reserve Costa Rica Frequency Medicine Healing Hiking in Costa Rica Howler Monkeys Mindfulness Montezuma Moringa Nicoya Peninsula Sound Healing Travel to Central America travel to Costa Rica tropical birds

Frequency Medicine: Healing our Mind and Body with Sound

Dr. Jeffrey Thompson who is the founder and director of the centre for Neuroacoustic research has over 30 years of clinical experience with  successful auditory, kinesthetic and visual therapeutic work. His programs in Sound Healing address a variety of health issues such as stress reduction, cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions. Joshua Leeds author of “The Power of Sound” is a researcher and educator in psychoacoustics, which is the study of the effect of sound on the human nervous system. Leeds stated “There is more on sound science than ever before. We know what is happening molecularly. In the future what we know as sound healing will be called frequency medicine.”

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The tools that Dr. Thompson uses are precise, using sound to affect brain wave patterns, which balance the automatic nervous system and synchronize the left and right brain hemispheres. I became interested in an article he wrote called “The Science behind Healing with Sound.”  Dr Thompson explains that different frequencies target the various density tissues in the body. Using vibroacoustic sound, it has been discovered that certain frequencies elevate the cells in the body to a higher level of healing, helping to rebuild tissue. These healing effects are especially interesting to me in view of my work for 33 years as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and study of neuroscience and biofeedback. I have observed steady and lasting improvement with people through Heartmath, and I was curious at the effect that sound has on neuroplasticity. If the brain changes according to it’s experience, it made sense that we could make positive changes in our mind and body through sound. I was inspired to examine the link between our deep and innate connection to nature and the profound physical and emotional healing that it can create. I had experienced a life changing horseback riding accident that required a long recovery, and the journey of healing my body took longer than I anticipated.

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 I knew I needed true grit, determination and to summon courage and perseverance to get to the other side of the injuries. There was a unique gift from this education I was receiving in my life. Brene’ Brown says beautifully in her book “Rising Strong” that we have “arena moments” or “the reckoning”. She says in this very wise book that these are the times that we find ourselves face down on the floor of an arena, those moments that are painful, but that we need to pay attention to these moments, as it is significant in showing us where we are. It is through this vulnerability that we can rebuild our lives. This well expressed metaphor has stayed with me. It was an arena moment that day I was swiftly face down in the mud. In an instant that was slow motion, shod hooves ran over my back and head with a frighteningly loud crack of my helmet,and the frantic sound of galloping and sheep bleating fading in the distance. Yes indeed,this for me was a continuation of the life lessons to embrace uncertainty, as it opens up a whole new way of seeing the world. I had to re-evaluate my safe and comfortable life and was reminded that what was safe and predictable could change in a minute flat. This was not just a nudge, and brought about some interesting questions. I have had horse accidents over the past 30 years, each one with it’s own unique and wise message. But this one was different. The horse is moving forward in a powerful direction, but I had been stuck in one spot. My cousin said to me one day with a knowing gaze, “It is like one long yoga pose”.

Fear of the unknown and the uncertain is natural.I realized that this accident was a wake up call, that I was stuck in my safe and familiar arena in 100 Mile house. Sometimes a drastic change can be what we need to point the arrow in a different direction. The fall was an important lesson, and after being hurled face down in the mud I was now listening. What I do know is there is nothing like being close to death to have you evaluate everything. The more that a stagnant state is allowed to continue the more difficult it can be to grow, learn and challenge yourself as well as experience new things. What I loved about traveling to Central America is that it pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Once that comfort zone muscle has been exercised fully what I do know is that it gets easier to plan strategies for other challenges that come your way. But, it is not pretty, it is very gritty, and the brain resists change due to fear. Instead of allowing the same well-worn path of thinking and doing that is safe and familiar, trying new experiences outside of a routine can give depth and color to your life that you never thought possible. Travel and expanding my experiences and having an appreciation for breathtaking beauty in another culture not only stretched my mind,but I also discovered that the sounds of nature in Cabuya had a profound healing effect on my body.

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When dawn breaks in the quiet fishing village of Cabuya, Costa Rica at 4:30 am you not only hear it, you feel it come magnificently and raucously alive. From our house bordering Cabo Blanco Reserve, the jungle is vibrant, surging with repetitive, soothing and  synchronized sounds of life. The sky opens up with a magnificent chorus of the many species of colourful birds. I hear a loud basal squawk, look over and  see a pair of large parrots lounging together among the tropical trees. Howler monkeys boom their glorious morning call through the jungle, their babies clinging with perseverance as they swing from the vines. Many troops of monkeys echo their call and communicate to one another from different areas of the vast jungle. Large iguanas, camouflaged to the colour of the earth, perform their morning stretch on the roof, One swishes its long tail through the lush foliage with following babies.Another quickly travels into the house and hides behind the fridge. Cicadas chime with the geckos and they sing and chirp in unison. The parakeets cover the trees in a joyous chorus while the larger colourful parrots settle in the trees while the parakeets flow in a different direction. There is an elderly Cabuya rooster with a crackle in it’s crow that starts at 4 am and will stop when the 5 am birds begin. With practice I keenly tuned into the sounds of  dawn which strengthened my ability to notice and listen to the quieter and more peaceful rhythms all day long.

The jungle reminds me how things become more beautiful as your perspective shifts. In the winter seasons that I have spent in Costa Rica since 2012, early morning yoga and meditation was my natural routine while waking to the call of  monkeys. I open the large doors to the stone terrace and walk out with Moringa tea and a Kale smoothie. Respectfully greeting the yoga mat in a natural surrounding daily gives me the steadiness of mind to meet any challenge that comes my way. I accepted the meeting of the mat in  physical and emotional discomfort, and trusted in my body’s ability to heal. In this beautiful country of Costa Rica, I have experienced an inward shift. I have slowly turned a page in the intriguing book of my life and have found an unexpected pearl of wisdom. The rhythms and sounds of the jungle have allowed me to see a beautiful path to a happier, joyful life despite adversity. I believe that peaceful steadiness of mind, enhanced by the acoustic rhythms of a beautiful, natural environment  can lead to powerful physical and emotional changes.

It has been well documented that ancient cultures were aware of how consistent rhythmic sound had extremely powerful healing benefits. Brain entrainment dates back thousand of years. Scientist Melinda Mayfield Phd, found that drums beat at a steady rate of 4.5 beats per second, shifting the brain into a 4.5 Hz brainwave frequency. This is a low Theta brainwave state that induces deep relaxation and creates an environment for healing in the body.

Another fact that intrigued me, was the healing of Gary Denham’s broken ankle in 2011. With ultrasound which is a high frequency sound, the ankle healed completely in 4 months. Normally this fracture would have taken 6-12 months. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Angus MacLean stated” We use it for difficult fractures, the ones with problems with healing, and it is a very simple painless treatment that we can give. It’s a very interesting scientific development, and there is good evidence that it just vibrates the cells a little which then stimulates healing and regeneration in the bone.”

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High powered thundering tropical rain roared as it hit the roof. Lightening cracked loudly, flashing through the windows in our house. I lay in bed, the room flashing with the lightning, a medium size lizard climbing on the rock wall of the inside of the house. The power was out, and the fans lay still, the humidity rising by the second. There are frequent water and power outages in Costa Rica, and we collect water in our milk jugs as a backup. Despite the raging storm, the neighbour’s rooster had started his call on-time this morning, managing to crow throughout the storm.The many iguanas sometimes end up in the house, behind the fridge, and drop from the roof beside you when you are sliding the big open air doors to the jungle sounds.

In the morning following the storm I walked outside, barely able to see my bare-feet in the dim light. I could see the silhouette of howler monkeys above me, jumping from tree to tree. In the shadow of the Guanacaste tree, out of my view, began the call of the bird who whistles like a man. This low baritone melodic tune imitates the sound of a man whistling in the field, tending to his crops. After much research, I am still unable to find out the species of this beautiful bird, but I continue to search for the name of this mysterious species. I looked forward to its exquisite serenade like the song Trinity each morning. This highly intelligent sound is perfectly timed at 5 am for 5 minutes, and then disappears.

We walk up the river of Rio Lajas near Cabuya seeking swimming holes and a waterfall. We climbed over rocks and through a shallow river, with vines draping down from the lush foliage. Howler monkeys send their booming call above and crash through the trees, watching us from above.

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A blue Morpho butterfly fluttered above, illuminated by beams of light filtering down through the trees. A warm and potent breeze washed across our faces. Large hummingbirds and brilliantly coloured butterflies dance from plant to plant, searching for the flowers with the brightest crimson glow.

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Large brilliant blue birds fly through down the river and land in the water for their bath. I see a Capuchin monkey screech, and then cross the river, and look at me with his human-like eyes, and then leap into the trees with her troupe, a small baby clinging to her back. A soothing sound of the natural cascading river among large earthy round boulders, roots and vines has me feeling very grateful for it’s mystery and beauty. I know that science has demonstrated that the brain does not know the difference between a real or imagined experience, and that listening to my audio recordings of monkeys and jungle sounds will take me here in my imagination, and this can also have a profound healing effect.

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There is flow, simplicity and beauty in Costa Rica. My concerns are so very small in comparison, as I am a quiet observer in this raw, and undeveloped perfection. There is untamed freedom of the jungle, with rock and silt and leaves beneath my feet. We climb over, and around large boulders, wading through the water leading to the soothing sound of  waterfalls. I know that you can make a comeback at any stage in life, no matter what happens. When you are thinking it, the change has already begun.

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“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.”     Arthur Golden

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Aerial photography Boquete Chiriqui Highlands Driving in Panama Expats in Panama Horses Pan-American Highway Panama firecrackers travel to panama Volcan

Horseback Ride or Hike in Fresh Spring Air the Lush Green Tropical Mountains of Boquete,Panama

I am back wearing my gold down jacket in snowy 100 Mile House hauling wood, stoking up the wood stove and making my lentil carrot apple soup.I have been cross country skiing with my good friends Fay and Ann Marie. We enjoyed the comradarie of our last few ski days of the season. On the ranch I can hear the sweet call of the lambs, and can see a calf running and frolicking playfully across the field.I continue to write about our adventures to expat communities in Panama from my notes. Glenn and I are back to work full time, myself in 100 Mile House, and Glenn in Vancouver. Below are my Cariboo March 13/16 photos.

Now back to the panoramic vistas,mountains and serene valleys blanketed by lush rain forests of Volcan Panama!

Quetzal trail to BoqueteDriving from Volcan to Cerro Punta

We left Volcan in the morning after a beautiful breakfast at the Volcan Bed and Breakfast. Our destination next was Boquete. We knew at this point after previously getting lost looking for David that we needed to go back toward the Pan-American Highway  at La Concession turn left and seek out the turn off to Bouquet. Along the way we saw another car with a flopping mattress on top of it’s hood, as well as chaos with police after a truck went off the road. Glenn was careful to go the speed limit, and let the speeders pass us one after the other. There was a very low speed limit posted, however cars and mini buses were going 3 times as fast as the limit. The turn off from the highway to Boquete was a little strange for me. Glenn turned at the Boquete sign and then with no signs for any guidance he twisted and turned around a subdivision and then ended up on an overpass. “Trust me I have a feeling this is it, even if it does not make sense,” he said. I responded with “It seems like it could be it,as there is a well paved highway going in the direction of Boquete,but I will believe it,when I see signs”. After driving for a period of time we saw Boquete signs and we were launched! It took some detective work, but we were on the right track. We had discovered that what might appear relatively easy on the map may not be.

Drive to Boquete

The drive was smooth and easy, and we were very happy and excited to see Boquete. We had heard many positive things about this popular beautiful mountain town. We were not sure how to find the accommodation that we booked so we parked in front of the bank. Glenn went into a real estate office and not only found help the realtor offered to follow him and he will show us the way. He showed us to an entrance to the gated community and then waved a cheerful goodbye. To make a long story short, we got lost in a maze unable to find our accommodation.When we did find it, the maid was cleaning and we noticed the house house did not have any water.We  had difficulty tracking down the owner. We found her by phone after e-mailing and calling for a period of time. She apologized, and said the problem could take days to fix. We cancelled our reservation and launched a search for a new home in Boquete.

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We parked in front of a cafe that had internet so we could search for accommodation and hopefully find something else. We stopped at Cafe Central coffee shop with free wireless internet at Hotel Central. We had a great conversation with the owner Timothy, who is an expat who said he was a cowboy and a surgeon before he started his new life in Panama. We searched on Booking.com and found Villa Marita and booked it instantly.We then got in our rental car to drive find our new home.By the photos,it looked like a quiet place in the mountains away from the bustle of town, but not too far away.

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We went up a winding road near coffee plantations to find a beautiful location with a spectacular view. It had a kingsize comfortable bed, and a large deck. I was ecstatically happy that it had a little kitchenette with a fridge and a sink. We went to the  large deck and breathed in the incredible beauty before us and the musical sound of the birds!I watched the weather change from a cloud forest mist to bright and sunny in a matter of minutes. Sitting on the deck I saw an incredible sight of a Peruvian Paso and rider coming through the green of the coffee plantation, and with much “Brio” and salsa, they did  a fast running walk up the road.They were going so fast, I missed it with my camera.

After we settled in, we went for a walk in the neighbourhood. There was a light mist of  refreshing rain, and then the sun came out like spring. We saw several beautiful rainbows during our stay, as well as many hummingbirds and butterflies.

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The flowers were also blooming and spectacular,with fruit trees lining the streets.

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Our walk in Bouquete

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The next day we decided to find the Lost Waterfalls. This was a hike to 3 waterfalls close to Boquete.We packed our snacks and our hydration packs as well as extra clothing.I took my Spot of course which is a safety device that can track your location. Glenn packed his camera equipment in order to get aerial photography at the waterfall locations.

Hike

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This was a beautiful and challenging hike with spectacular vistas and waterfalls.

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Some of the areas were very steep and we had to use both hands to climb. I was grateful to have my hydration pack of 2 litres of water and my sturdy hiking boots. I think when I do this over some day I would wear long light pants instead of my hiking shorts,or shorts that you can zip on leggings.

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We both have a good fitness level through weights,pilates and yoga, but I have to say this climb put us to the test!

Lost Waterfalls Hike

We were sweating bullets by the end and certainly felt it the next day. We had a relaxing evening on our lovely deck at Villa Marita, watching the sunset and basking in the feeling that we were on our second honeymoon.

One of the things I researched that we did not end up doing was horseback riding. Boquete Mountain Safari can take you through lush coffee growing regions on horseback in Caldera about 20 minutes from Boquete.This rural countryside has volcanic stone walls, golden fields and green rolling hills. There are miles and miles of open plains which are ideal for galloping  or strolling looking at the scenery. The temperature is also a little less cool than in Boquete and it tends to be a bit drier giving you the opportunity to appreciate a different panorama.With this horseback riding tour you will cross rivers and small streams, encounter beautiful landscapes and admire the Volcan Baru . At the end of the trip you will arrive to a look out point with panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and serene valleys blanketed by lush rain forests. From here you will be able to observe the Pacific Ocean, Chiriqui’s lowlands and the Baru Volcano, all at the same time. Some say the scenery is the main attraction of the horseback riding tour in Caldera. Boquete has an equestrian organization called The Chiriqui Saddle Club. It organizes and promotes group trail riding in the pristine natural tranquil setting of the rural mountains. Members and guests are required to follow the principles of nature conservation, and avoid littering, damaging, or polluting the natural environment. All perimeter fences and gates they state must be returned to their original position after use, and all private property rights observed to the letter. I love this!

There is a  horse festival in Bugaba called the Calvagata.It is described in the local news ; “The parade becomes a crowd pleasing mass of equine movement with happy and rowdy horsemen and horsewomen showing off some of the finest horseflesh in Chiriqui.” There is of course, at this event,fireworks! Panama fireworks are traditional for many events large and small.

I am going to talk for a moment about the places we went to eat in Boquete town.I mentioned previously the coffee shop who’s owner Tomothy was a cowboy and surgeon before he started his new life in Boquete. There are many more expats who have set up business’s here.Big Daddy’s Grill was one of our favourites. They have large portions and serve their fish fresh from the boats of Boca Chica. We both had huge salads sitting outdoors with fresh dark green vegetables.

We stopped at the local bakery and sat outside,taking in the ambience of the town.

Bakery

We liked Retro Gusto Italian Restaurant. It is owned by a Canadian, and is friendly and spacious with a good atmosphere. The cook came to our table to make sure we got exactly what we ordered.

Retrogusto

Italian Restaurant

Boquete Art Cafe  on the main street.I felt at home in this uniquely decorated restaurant where the owners are very friendly and welcoming and the French based cuisine is delicious. The owner spoke to us for a generous period of time and touched on many subjects, including good tips on how to discover real estate through word of mouth and for sale by owner.

French restaurant

You can also eat as the Panamanians do in a restaurant with delicious and inexpensive meals. This place was very popular; Restaurant El Sabroson on the main street.

Panamanian Restaurant

One great place to visit if you like beer is The Boquete Brewing Company. They brew their own beer and have a fairly large selections of beer. They do not serve food, but they do not mind at all if you grab food from nearby restaurants and bring it in. They serve popcorn with your beer,  have high speed internet, and are very friendly and conversational. As we walked through town we could see a Panamanian selling toques! Note the traditional and colourful green dress in the picture below.

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We then walked over the Calderas River Bridge breathing in the refreshing spring air.

River

We had the privilege to be invited to look at real estate with a couple who were seeking to become expats from their snowy location and lifestyle.The four of us left in the realtors car from our Villa Marita. I don’t have photos but I can tell you this- WOW to outdoor living space and classy well designed outdoor showers!  The really interesting part is that the realtor explained the differences in micro climates.

In Bouquet town it is like spring, not too hot or too cold, the temperature about 68. For many, this is perfect weather with breezes and ceiling fans a solution. Some enjoy the warmth of indoor or outdoor fireplaces in the evening. There is no heating needed, and most homes don’t have air conditioning.

As you travel further into the mountains to  areas like Volcancito, Jaramillo, Alto Quiel and Bajo Mano, there are those who find some evenings cold or chilly and and need of heat. We saw a young indian girl with a puffy down jacket on.

Descending from Boquete through Alto Boquete towards David, the air steadily warms with some hot afternoons.It is all very interesting research. If you are not careful about choosing your microclimate, you could find yourself in clouds and rain. Our villa Marita had the perfect climate!

Next I will post the last legs of our amazing adventure.We leave the rental car and take a bus through the Continental Divide from Boquete to Bocas Del Toro. We then travelled to Isla Colon,Isla Bastimentos and then flew to  the Gamboa area, to Panama City, and then back to Canada.

 

 

 

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Aerial photography Boquete Driving in Panama Expats in Panama Las Lajas Pan-American Highway Panama buses Pedasi Playa Veneo Renting a car in Panama travel to panama

Chiriqui Highlands a Panama Fairytale…Volcan,Bambito and Cerro Punta

“We all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.”  Paulo Coelho

Me in purple flowers 2

I like to think of myself as a resilient and adaptable person,however the contrast coming back from hot to freezing weather was surprisingly challenging. My fairytale is Cerro Punta, and  my abyss is a long and snowy winter. Here, in snowy 100 Mile House,B.C., I am continuing to post the blogs from my notes on our adventure in Panama for December and January . I am starting with the drive from David to Volcan. We are driving a Thrifty rental car that we rented in Pedasi. It had airbags,and was a very reliable vehicle.I am told that most Panama rental vehicles don’t have airbags. We drove from Pedasi down the Pan-American highway to Las Lajas then to Boca Chica and Isla Boca Brava,then on to David. Previous to renting a car we were in Playa Venao, Coronado and Panama City where we relied on public transportation and taxis. Renting a car offered us  convenience,flexibility and greatly increased the amount of area we could explore.It also offered us seatbelt which was not supplied in my experience with taxis and public transportation. As I mentioned in my previous blog about driving the Pan American highway,it does have it’s “heads up” or as a very good friend of mine says “eyes wide open hair straight back.”

Cerro Punta me in purple flowers

We left the maze of traffic in David,Panama and navigated our way back to the main highway. From there it was a 20 minute drive to La Concepcion . We knew where this was, as we breezed by it previously looking for David, and saw the Volcan turn off. From La Concepcion we turned right at the Volcan sign. It was a beautiful scenic 40 minute drive toward the town. It was a winding narrow road, that was well paved. People were passing on corners, with 2 cars passing at once on a curve. They seemed to be going at top speed and in a hurry. There were deep ditches without a shoulder to pull over for them to pass,so driving caution was needed.No pictures were taken due to the fast and furious passing us. We easily found our bed and breakfast Casa Volcan as it was on the main road leading to town. We were received by very wonderful hosts who gave us our private room with it’s own bathroom. They both made sure we had a map and directions to hiking, restaurants and other places to see in Volcan and surrounding areas. We organized our belongings and headed out to explore.

We stopped in Volcan town for water and snacks before finding our hiking spots. It is a smaller version of the artistic chaos that requires your full attention and eyes moving at all times.People pulling out randomly making their own rules,pedestrians crossing,similar to…and very close in chaos to 100 Mile House,B.C. ! The intersection where you turn to Bambito and Cerro Punta(right) is especially busy. If you stay left at the intersection you go to Nueva California, and Rio Cereno and other scenic places that I will mention later. Volcan has cool, springlike temperatures, and we saw a Panamanian selling toques! The place to buy all of your produce is at roadside stands between Bambito and Cerro Punta. You can get a massive bag of veggies for 3-6 dollars.Vendors sell sacks of vegetables, known as puercas.

Volcan town

We followed the map Ruthie gave us and turned right at the intersection toward Cerro Punta in search of hiking trails.

Driving from Volcan to Cerro Punta

The areas of Volcan and Cerro Punta in the province of Chiriqui is known as the Highlands  and are in the District of Bugaba which are 1000 meters above sea level. They have fertile lands of volcanic origin and producing the majority of produce for the country of Panama. Volcan has a beautiful view of Volcan Baru. Volcan is also known as “The Small Switzerland”,since many immigrants of Central European countries, as well as people from Yugoslavia and North America established themselves here in this beautiful area.The protected areas that are found in the Highlands maintain the forest and water resources of the province protecting important endangered species.

Cerro Punta view

The green valleys,forests and brilliant flowers reminded me of the Scottish Fairy Tale “The Land of Green Mountains”.It was like going back in time. We saw a beautiful sight of a Panamanian plowing his field with his horse.

Close up Horse plow

We were in search of the The Los Quetzales Trail. It can be hiked in either direction—from Boquete to Cerro Punta or from Cerro Punta to Boquete. The hike from Boquete is mostly uphill, while the route from Cerro Punta is downhill nearly all the way. It draws adventure minded people who love hiking and bird watching. The Quetzal is an exotic bird, and it was the season for sightings when we were here. It is a pigeon sized bird with emerald plumage. The male has brilliant crimson and trailing feathers.The Quetzal is found at elevations of 3500 feet in the cloud forest The Maya worshipped it as a sacred bird.It loves the avocado like fruit of the aguacatillo. In our search for the trail head we crossed a bridge over a river toward a very scenic and rustic country road. From there I was in celery heaven. You will see why when you look at these pictures of celery fields!

Cerro Punta Celery best shot

We decided to stop and take a hike up the quaint cobblestone road. The weather was like spring, misting,and then turning sunny and warm. Farmers were working harvesting and sowing crops on the steep hills. It reminded me of the Grimms fairy tale “The Elves and the Shoemaker”. I filled my lungs with the incredibly fresh air.

Cerro Punta Purple Flower pic 3

The weather misted and then went back to sunny again in a matter of minutes. Glenn brought his equipment and did aerial  photography that was excellent.I will post the videos he has done later separately.Glenn Cerro Punta

On the way back in Cerro Punta town we saw beautiful flowers and horses being walked by their owner.

Flower 2

 

 

 

Flower 1

Cerro Punta is home to two very important horse breeding centers. Haras Cerro Punta and Haras Carinthia are both located here and are well known for their thoroughbreds. We saw many different breeds of horses here. I fell in love with a Palomino Peruvian the next day, more on that later.

We then went to a good Italian restaurant recommended by Ruthie on her map and had a fantastic dinner at La Carbonera!

Volcan favourite restaurant

I had a huge dark green salad with a beautiful piece of salmon and house red wine that was full bodied and high quality. Glenn had a delicious pizza with a thin crust with many fresh vegetables. The next day  we planned to continue to look for the Quetzales Trail as well as explore other areas such as Rio Sereno. We were not far from our new comfortable home at Casa Volcan. We looked forward to sharing our adventures with our delightful and enthusiastic hosts.They are Canadians that moved from the cold of Canada’s east coast years ago to a warmer climate and a different way of life in a small town.This was a spectacular day for me as you can tell from the pictures at the beginning!

My next posts will be on Rio Sereno (close to Volcan), Boquete, a bus ride from Boquete to Bocas Del Toro, boating to Isla Bastimentos,Red Frog beach, our stay on Isla Colon, Bluff Beach,Drago Beach,and our flight from Bocas Del Toro with a finale of a stay at Gamboa prior to us going to Panama City and then flying back to Canada.

 

Valley

 

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Aerial photography Boca Chica Chiriqui Marine Park and Archipelago Driving in Panama Expats in Panama Go Pro video on island in Panama Howler Monkeys Isla Boca Brava Renting a car in Panama Roxy's Fishing Club Boca Chica snorkling in Panama travel to panama White sand beaches Panama

Chiriqui Marine Park and Archipelago,Losing the Car Rental Key and other stories

It was time to pack up from our beautiful location on Isla Boca Brava. We took our last hike said our goodbyes to our wonderful hosts on the island,and watched a huge troop of howler monkeys hop from trees immediately in front of our cabin.Glenn said he had misplaced the keys to our rental vehicle. We had driven from Pedasi to Las Lajas, then  to Boca Chica(Parked for 3 days while on Isla Boca Brava) and were on our way driving to  Volcan and Boquete.The plan then was to bus to Bocas Del Toro, after dropping the vehicle off in Boquete. The beautiful vistas were put on hold , and we looked in every possible place taking our packs apart, with no luck. We were given one key with no spare in Pedasi. After a final search we found the key that Glenn had carefully put in the “special” place of my camera cover.

Sunset Boca Chica

 

We journeyed by boat back to the mainland Boca Chica, and stayed in a rustic hostel that was cleaned and well maintained. Here are some town photos that we took during our walk.

 

Our hostel was clean and friendly and close to the dock.The little fan in the room with little ventilation made it difficult to sleep.The owners were very courteous and helpful. Our next location that we booked was “Roxy’s Fishing Club”, a family run hotel close by. Glenn did  aerial photography for them as you can see in the video below.Their hotel’s staff will take very good care of you when touring the neighbouring white sand islands.

 

We took a small boat with one other couple who travelled from David. They were from Germany. The boat took us to three snorkelling spots away from the white sand beach. It was a bit daunting as while everyone was jumping into the depths of the ocean from the boat that was rocking full of waves, I was awkwardly putting my flippers on backwards and gingerly dipping my toes then flopping in limbs flailing.. I am not at this point at all embarrassed, just grateful ! Although I did did snorkel in Costa Rica and Belize in previous years,my expertise was still at beginner level.I did notice however  I swam faster once in the water and did not swallow sea water as often. It was a colourful beautiful sight once underwater, and flowing with the turquoise blue, incredible colourful fish.

The exquisite island  that we had the privilege of visiting is located inside Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park and part of the Paridas Archipielago, a scattering of over 25 nationally protected tropical islands, 19 coral reefs, and abundant wildlife that is 12 miles off the Pacific coast. A one hour boat ride from Boca Chica brought us to this beautiful uninhabited island with a white sand. It is either Isla Ladrones and Islas Secas or Isla Montuosa.

The dark blue tones which surround the mangroves near the shore blend to shades of turquoise and emerald wrapping white-sand beaches on islands lined with coconut palms.

 

We later took an evening walk and there were horses at the gas station, with one horse bucking out of control. There is no need for movies here, the entertainment is right out the front door!

Two HorsesGas station

Our next stops, we will be driving our rental car(now that we found the keys!) to David,Volcan, Cerro Punta,Boquete and surrounding area. We then drop the car off in Boquete at Thrifty’s and we will be taking a bus to Bocas Del Toro, both Colon and Isla Bastimentos. We have decided not to plan the rest of our journey after that.

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Aerial photography Boca Chica Driving in Panama Howler Monkeys Isla Boca Brava travel to panama

Boca Chica,Isla Boca Brava and Beyond

We left the small town of Las Lajas early the next morning. We gazed, pondered and smiled at the size of the turtle shown on the mural wall of the quiet family run motel room. There are certainly large turtles here in the Chiriqui !

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Rugged beautiful green mountains, banana plantations, sugar cane, cascading rivers, green pastureland, and many parrots darting is what I saw on the drive toward Boca Chica. The Chiriqui drive to Boca Chica for me was a sight to behold. Chiriqui is an ancient word meaning “Valley of the Moon”. There are many remote villages, many who live in a comarca or a reserve. The Highway from Las Lajas turn off to Boca Chica was a beautiful smooth wide piece of highway compared to what we drove the night before. There were no signs that said Boca Chica. I followed the small town turn off signs. The turn off to Boca Chica was actually was a left at Horconcitos which was a small town but the road looked like it was going to Boca Chica on the map.I followed the map and looked for clues, as the road was going down to the water. There did not seem to be any other road to go off the highway.Boca Chica is a fishing village 18 miles south of the highway. Hornconcitos,where you turn left.It is a small town known for its saddle makers.

Man on horse 2 The road used to very rough, but is now paved. It was a very scenic drive and we saw a cattle round up on the road,and many horses grazing in lush green fields

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We were awestruck at the beautiful scenic views.We arrived at a fork in the road without signs that said Boca Chica, however there were restaurant and accommodation signs and we decided that that must be the turn!

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We arrived at another small town.We knew that Boca Chica was on the water,so we kept going,following our nose from the map. We arrived at a boat dock where there were many small boats and a local man. There was one restaurant but it was inaccessible to get any information.I asked the Panamanian standing near the boat about how to get to Isla Boca Brava.He said he could take us there for 3 dollars each. I asked about where we could park the rental car.He told us for 3 dollars a day we could leave our rental car with a lady just up the road. Her son just happened to be riding his bike to the dock, and the boatman asked the boy in Spanish to lead Glenn to the house. I waited near the boat with our belongings. Glenn came back and he tucked away our vehicle key in a special spot, as we would be leaving the car on the mainland for three days.

 

 

We were on our way! We took a very scenic boat ride through islands. We arrived at a dock.Howler monkeys hollered their beautiful basal jungle sound as we pulled up to the island.

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We pulled our packs on to the dock and Glenn said”Wait here with our packs, I will go find out where our place is”. I thought that sounded reasonable. I waited on the dock with a fisherman shown here.

Fisherman

I waited, listening to the howler monkeys happily, and watched big fish jumping up out of the water. Then I started to sweat profusely in the hot sun with no shade as it was about an hour and Glenn had not returned. I had water with me, and entertained my self by having a conversation with the gentleman shown who did not know English and found me to be an amusing crazy Gringo. Finally Glenn returned. “I am sorry you had to wait so long,but I had to climb the stairs from hell and then at the top of the stairs is a guys house. I thought it was our place, instead it was a very agitated angry Panamanian. He pointed to our Howler monkey place down the trail, which goes right through his place. I found our place and met the manager,but be prepared for these stairs.”

Glenn on stairs

We did the gigantic feat of carrying our packs up the stairs,sweating bullets, tiptoed around the angry Panamanian, had to go down his porch, and found our cabin which was the most beautiful spot imaginable on Isla Boca Brava.

Better hammock photo

 

There was a gorgeous open air cabin with a hammock and a deck open to a spectacular view! Inside was a bed with a private bathroom.It is called Howlers Bay Hotel with 2 gorgeous private open cabins to a view and tents are available.There was a shared kitchen and common area where we met two women from Sweden who were scientists working on a project for climate change.

We could hear parrots and howler monkeys close by. You could see for miles with many jungle filled islands in the background.

Isla Boca Brava view

We went for many hikes around the island on the island’s jungle trail, and heard an incredible chorus of tropical birds.

Hike through Brava

We saw many, many beautiful colourful butterflies, all different shapes and brilliant colours.

Butterfly clip

Earthy, isolated, beautiful rustic beaches, dot this exquisite island,and there are several on the island to hike to. It was quiet even though it was Christmas season. Glenn did beautiful ariel photography  of the island and surrounding area. I will post clips of this when we have a good internet connection.

Glenn on Isla Boca Brava

We saw a family of howler monkeys while on one of our many hikes.It is always a beautiful experience to see and hear them in their natural environment!

Monkey clip 2

Monkey Boca Chica

There is a restaurant on the island called Isla Boca Brava Restaurant which makes a great big green salad. Most of our meals which we made ourselves have been vegetarian with rice, chick peas and black beans with curry and hot spices.

My next post will be about our accommodation on the mainland of Boca Brava and the beaches there, as well as the spectacular snorkelling and island adventure, a one hour small speed boat ride off the coast of Boca Brava. This was the highlight of our trip to Panama!

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Aerial photography Boca Chica Bocas Del Toro Boquete David Expats in Panama Isla Bastásemos Las Lajas Pedasi Playa Venao travel to panama

Playa Venao or Never!

This post finds us in Volcan,Panama. I am back tracking as internet connections have been challenging. We did an entertaining jaunt with Pedro from Coronado to Playa Venao. We went through Chitre and Las Tablas as well as other small towns. We should have been taking notes on Pedro’s expertise with the one ways in Chitra as we rented a car later and ended up in a chaotic one way(more later!) The land opened up into beautiful vast range land and farms,trees and jungle along the way. I am very excited at how different the land is here toward Playa Venao.It is isolated beauty, and can feel the beach approaching. We got lost and asked where Venao Cove Hostel was at a local beachside hotel. We needed to travel further. We pulled up to the location, and I could hear howler monkeys close by. We made sure we had our room, and then said our goodbyes to Pedro. One of the staff showed us to our room. It was two shared rooms and bathroom with a big kitchen and an outdoor shared area.We met the people that we shared the kitchen and bathroom with. She looked like Halle Berry, and worked in the fashion industry in Germany, and he was a surfer. We quickly changed to go to the beach.As you can see in the pictures the beach was astounding, with not a soul on the beach, and I ran down to the water dramatically tossing my hat and sandals.

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The drive from Pedasi was at least 5 hours with one quick grocery stop, and it felt fantastic to be on the beach. The water was warm, and the waves very gentle and easy for swimming.

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We hiked along the beautiful isolated beach.As you can see I found a beautiful set of lime green glasses at a local store.

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Glenn found a spot to do an aerial video. See below the pictures for his video.

We spent 2 nights at Venao Cove waking up to the sound of ocean waves,howler monkeys and tropical beach. I woke up early and decided to do yoga on the bed listening to the tropical sounds outside the window. I stretched up doing a sun salutation and put my left hand right into the low ceiling fan in the dim light.I screeched loudly looking at my bloodied and contused hand.Glenn had a fully equipped first aid kit with him, and cleaned and bandaged my hand.That was quite a lot of pain for a moment of not thinking. I was grateful that nothing was broken, and it gave me an opportunity to have a caring conversation with a Hungarian woman who offered us assistence. A lifetime of learning!

Wisdom comes from life experience; life experience is the result of repeatedly taking corrective action while courageously learning from mistakes.”
― Ken Poirot

I love quotes that are just honest and state the obvious!

The next morning at 9 am we took the local bus to Pedasi for 35 cents each,for another incredible adventure.

Next blogs will be about Pedasi,renting a car ,driving through Las Tablas, Chitre,Santiago, driving the Pan American Highway, Las LaJas Chiqiri,Isla Boca Brava,Boca Chica, David,Volcan,Bambito,Cerro Punta, Boquete, Bocas Del Toro(Colon) and Isla Bastisimos. I have a feeling that internet will improve once we leave Volcan and go to Boquete.