New website - www.boquetetravelguide.com  Information about traveling to Boquete, Panama.  Go!
 
 
Tipping
This is definitely something everyone should know before you arrive in Panama.  Some people expect tipping to the be same as it is at home.  It's not.

It is usual and customary to tip 10 percent in restaurants.  Before you do, check your bill first to make sure the "propina" has not already been added to your check.  Taxi drivers do not expect a tip.  Special services such as porters at the airport expect a dollar a bag, as well as bellhops at hotels.

Others who perform services should be tipped at your discretion.  Anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar will do, for something small.
 
Taxes

Panama's sales tax is called ITBMS (Impuesto a las Transferencias de Bienes Corporales Muebles y la Prestacion de Servicios) and is 7%.  This tax applies to all goods and services except food, health services and medicine.

10% tax rate applies to hotel or other hospitality services and alcohol.

15% tax rate applies for tobacco products. 




 
 
Honestly, I've never been more impressed with customer service in my life as I have been in Boquete.

When we first moved here, we went some time without a vehicle.  There is a bus stop a block from the house. Buses and taxis ride by here often.  If we needed to be someplace at a specific time, we would call a taxi for pick up....otherwise, we would wait until one drove by.  The cost of a bus ride into town is 1.25.  A taxi "collectivo" ride or shared ride is 1.50.  It's not expensive to use public transporation and it's pretty efficient here.  

After about a year, we decided to go ahead and purchase a vehicle.  We didn't want a new car (as it would only get banged up), so we opted for a 1995 Toyota 4-Runner.  Parts and labor here are plentiful for it.

As with any older vehicle, it needed some work.  First, the radiator was leaking.  Don took the car to Franklin who has an auto repair shop in town, on the side road, next to Los Establos.  They discussed the problem and Don left being told that it would be fixed by the next day.  Not knowing the cost of the fix, Don shook hands and left.

Most if not all places in the US, if you have a radiator leak, you buy a new radiator.  Weren't we surprised when Franklin had the radiator pulled and sent it off to someone in David to weld it, sent it back and Franklin re-installed a non-leaking radiator back into the vehicle within 24 hours.  Cost - $90.00.

Don also needed a doohicky of some sort for the car.  He went into the auto parts store in town (main street, on the corner next to Mandarin) and asked about the part.  The man there had the part, but neither one of them could be sure just which one would fit the car.  In normal cases of the US as this, you would buy both of them and return the next day to get a refund for one them.  Not in Boquete.  The man asked Don to pay for one of the parts, take them both and bring back the one that didn't fit when he got a chance.  :) 

Giovanna at Cable & Wireless.  Whenever we have a problem or need help with an issue, I don't know how she does it, but she is a miracle worker.  One of the nicest, hardest working people and  goes above and beyond.  She makes ours (and many others) lives easier.

Ben and Joan were in Panama City late at night and rented a car from the airport to drive home to Boquete.  They got turned around and couldn't seem to find their way out of a paper bag...I say that with love as I know PC can be difficult at best if you really don't know your way around.  They ended up asking a police officer for directions.  The officer nodded to them to follow him.  They followed and the officer stopped after a few miles to speak to another officer.  They were asked to follow this new officer now. This happened again 2 more times.  They had a total of 4 officers helping them to get out of the city.  When they got to the 4th officer, he finally got them to the "Bridge of Americas" and waved them on.  They were never so thankful for help they received that night. 

Being a foreigner in this country has never been so pleasant.  I could keep going on and yes, you always have to look out for "Juego Vivo" here (as you do everywhere) but when you do find the good ones, you don't forget.  Everyone always complains when something negative happens.  Rarely do you see people post about the positives.  It's not done enough.  Time to think about who has helped you lately.. 
 
 
Picture
Who says you can't grow Bromeliads in the landscape!? They are normally seen in trees. 

This one was planted a year and a half ago and this is the 2nd time it has flowered. 

If I can find the name of the Bromeliad farm in El Salto that I received them from, I'll give him a huge shout out.  I've planted several of these (and other varieties of Bromeliads) and all of them are thriving and sending out new babies all the time.

 
 
Panama offers tourists free emergency medical care.   The medical emergency will be covered by the Tourism Authority of Panama, if it occurs within your first 30 days of stay.

When you arrive at Tocumen International Airport (PTY), go directly to the Tourist Information Center.  It's located on the lower level in the Immigration area of the airport.
 
There you will be given a brochure with information and a user card.  If at any point, during your first 30 days in Panama you need medical attention, give this card along with your passport at the hospital.  All information related to coverage will be in that brochure.

What a wonderful service to ease your mind while travelling. 

The insurance policy covers the following:
Accidental Death - up to $20,000
Hospitalization/Medical expenses due to accidents - up to $7,000
Dental Emergency expenses - up to $2,000
Admin Legal Services (due to accident or lost and stolen documents) - up to $3,500

Limitations and Exclusions:  Pre-existing medical conditions (including pregnancy); nature's phenomenon, extreme sports, suicide; attempt of suicide, insured's participation in crime or other offenses; beneficiaries falling to fulfill the Republic of Panama's migratory laws; accidents, under illegal drugs effects or proven drunkenness, or if accident is caused on account of the insured's fault or serious negligence; situations provoked, caused or  produced  because  of  hostilities, actions or was 
operations or foreign enemy invasion (being the war declared or not) or of civil war, revolution, rebellion, insurrection or other incidents or offenses against the country's internal security or terrorism, insured's participation in crimes or other offenses; death caused by accident on commercial (covered according to the Dirección de Aeronáutica Civil) or private aircraft; loss, material or moral damage and/or loss or profits.

Both Hospitals in David - Hospital Chiriqui and Mae Lewis honor the insurance. 
 
If you meet this criteria and the hospital refuses free coverage, there is an  exclusive hotline for questions and concerns: 204.9300 or 204.2312