On A Peninsula Called Azuero

In south central Panama, the Azuero Peninsula is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. The main cities here are Las Tablas and Chitré. A small cape on the western tip of the peninsula, known as Punta Mariato, is the southernmost point on the mainland of North America.

If you like noisy street parties, Las Tablas is the place to be in Panama during the four days preceding Ash Wednesday. That’s when the annual Carnaval happens in this part of Latin America. We opted to pass on these festivities and timed our drive from Boquete to Pedasi accordingly.

 

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Damn owl photobombed our picture !

The little village of Pedasi, (population 2,500 and no traffic light) is where we are renting a small house and trying to live like locals. This area was recently described as one of the best places in the world to retire, so we thought we’d come and see what it was all about.

We’re not completely local though. We’d need a few chickens and a rooster or two to blend in with this neighbourhood. But, the rooster next door does a good job of getting us up early each morning so we kind of feel local. We are sweating like the locals with steady +33C daytime temperature.

 

DSC_0684Since coming here, we’ve met quite a few expats and some very friendly locals. Whenever we’ve passed people on the street its always with a wave and a … “Buenas” or “Hola”. This is indeed a very safe and friendly spot.

We’ve been in Pedasi a week now, exploring the local area and spending our time looking at the beaches, other communities and real estate opportunities. Se Vende (For Sale) signs are plentiful and so are the choices. Building lots can start at $25,000US and go up depending on size and location. Most building lots are ¼ to 1/2 acre in size. Newly built homes can start at $175,000US. Older resale homes can be had for less, again depending on size and location. If you want waterfront property there’s a premium for that, but again, lots of choice. Apparently Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein has a place on the beach near here.

We found two or three nice choices that are move in ready. One lists at $175,000US and is 2 kilometres from Pedasi in the village of Limón. It comes with close to an acre of land and a separate guesthouse that rents for $800 – $900US a month. The other house, situated on close to a half an acre, is in Pedasi and lists for $165,000US. It also has a separate guesthouse that created $20,000US in rental income during the last 12 months.  After allowing for the currency conversion, we certainly haven’t found any real bargains here.

 

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Our front porch

Next week we drive back to Boquete. We have tickets for the annual Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival. Until then, hasta la vista amigos y cuidate!

Now, that’s what a cantaloupe should taste like !

Buena tarda from Panama!! We had a late arrival in Panama City after our flight from Mexico via San Salvador. Up early the next morning for a tour of the city and the famous Panama Canal.

The early start enabled us to beat the crowds and get a great view from the Miraflores locks of 3 ships leaving the Pacific on a 77-kilometre journey over the isthmus to the Atlantic. Ships are northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon.

 

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Little trains or “mules” on each corner help this tanker through the lock

Panama City, with a population of more than 2 million people is a boisterous and congested place. The old part of the city, Casco Viejo, features quaint cobblestone streets, chic hotels and restaurants, and architecture reminiscent of what you might see in New Orleans. Unfortunately, government corruption and project mismanagement has left its mark on this city and its municipal infrastructure. It is well worth a visit, but don’t judge the country by its capital city.

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Mama sloth and baby… doing what sloths do best – sleep

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Since Panama City didn’t make our short list of possible retirement communities, we’ve gone further up the road to Boquete.

Boquete is to coffee what Quebec is to maple syrup. Here you will find some of the finest coffee grown in the world. The altitude, volcanic soil and climate are unique to this area of Panama. We booked a tour of a coffee plantation this morning and we were amazed at the work involved to bring us a good cup of Joe. The coffee grown in this region is among some of the most expensive in the world and known to be sipped by our Queen.

The plantation owners are very good to their workers by providing free housing, free produce that’s also grown on the farm, and of course the same coffee enjoyed by royalty. Many of the workers live in small apartments with their families right on the property. We saw four little girls playing leapfrog today all dressed in their colourful native dresses. They looked so cute. The plantation also provides basic schooling for the children.

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We’ve also found some of the tastiest cantaloupe ever! There is something to be said for perfect ripeness. What we get in Canada is no comparison to the amazing flavour here.

About 10 – 15 years ago, affluent Americans, Canadians and Europeans started looking here for affordable places to retire. I’m told there is now about 1,000 American expats living here in Boquete. This beautiful little town, nestled in a mountain valley, boasts a population of 20,000 and there’s nearly as much English spoken here as Spanish. Seems it all started with an article written in International Living magazine. The secret was out… this little paradise is now on the radar for snowbirds to discover and discover they did.

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Rake them beans !
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This is just one of many steps in processing coffee beans

Lots of real estate options here and we’ll be checking into that and more as we go further on up the road.