We take our first official adventure…

Heading out for adventure

…as if we haven’t had any adventures yet. Thursday we climbed in the car and took off for Peninsula de Azuero. This is the first adventure we planned in our adventure planning post of 10/24/2017 let-the-excursion-planning-begin. If you were not following back in October of 2017, feel free to click the link and go back to the planning stage with us. We reviewed our previous post before we left on Thursday. This excursion would take 2-3 hours of travel each way and appeared to be our shortest distance to travel. If we traveled to Pedasi the travel would be longer. We are in search of a place where we may one day consider living permanently. Our first stop was for fuel. We encountered nobody who spoke a bit of English. In fact, we didn’t find anyone who spoke English the entire day. In spite, we had a great time and used our new Spanish skills to communicate to the best of our ability. The natives love that we try to speak Spanish and help if possible.  While on the road we encountered a few surprises. This wind farm had hundreds of windmills. We also saw a solar farm of which we could not get a photo.

We passed through Penonome’, Santa Maria, and Chitre’ before arriving at Las Tablas. The feature picture today is Jen at the Las Tablas sign. It was about time for an early lunch and we chose to dine at none other than McDonalds. I do not think you can out travel McDonalds. We had a Big Mac and Crispy McPollo (chicken), both value meals, and our total bill was $11.20. We may have made mention of it before, but for those of you who may not know Panama uses US Currency. Only the coins are different.

Following lunch we made our way to the downtown area where there were some cool shops and sidewalk vendors. After wandering about for a short while we decided that we should look for the beach. We had visions of a possible condo project or some cute little housing project on the water. Our GPS app (Waze) was telling us that we could be to the water in 9 minutes. Off we went carefully following the suggested route. It wasn’t long before we ran out of pavement. Thank God for 4 wheel drive. The 2 track we followed for at least 4 Km and 30 minutes did eventually get us to a deserted beach. You could not see anybody or any sign of buildings down the beach in either direction. We were running without a plan and the SUV had a full tank of gas. We thought we may find civilization at Playa El Uverito, so off we went.

The road to the beach
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo
The road to the beach
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo

 

 

 

 

 

Playa El Uverito was another 30 minutes or so away. Signs along the way led us to believe there were a couple of Hostels and Bed and Breakfasts on the beach there. We found the beach there with about 20 very depressed and run down homes. Many appeared to be deserted. This area was just too far off the beaten path to attract visitors, and to us it was heartbreaking. Sorry, we didn’t take pictures.

By now it was too late in the day to journey another hour to Pedasi, so we made the decision to turn back toward home. We wanted to make a couple of stops an the way back. Our first stop was a local grocery store in one of the small towns. We found many grocery items priced much better than near the tourist area where we are staying. It was the same when we stopped along the highway for fresh fruit. $1 bought a watermelon, less than a $1 for bananas, and $5. for a big bottle of fresh honey. We made a quick stop for el helado (ice cream). It was wonderful and also only a dollar. Our last stop was for Mexican food. It was dark by the time we left the restaurant and I was happy that we were not far from home.

Yesterday we toured a couple of more local condo projects. RioMar was above our budget, but moved to the top of Jen’s list. After, we had lunch here locally, I got a haircut and Jen had some copies made that we will need at the American Embassy this Wednesday. While all that was going on we had the car detailed. It was necessary after our journey off road on Thursday.

RioMar
Car Detailed $9, Haircut $5. Life is good.

Our day ended with pizza at Picasso. Picasso is a local hangout. We have been there a couple of times because it is walking distance from our condo. The pizza was good, and not a bad price (special 5-7pm on Fridays), however, they have a long way to go to earn our praise.

Stay tuned in…we have great plans for adventure tomorrow in El Valle de Anton. Thanks, for once again reading and sharing.

Buenos,

Greg and Jen

 

 

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We survived Carnival

As I write it is early morning, and I am enjoying the sound of the ocean surf and the cool breeze coming through the windows. We are in an area that it is really hard not to love. This time of year we have a lot of wind which keeps the humidity down. They call it Summer. Since arriving we have not seen a bit of rain, and we have enjoyed the pool or the beach every day. Our windows are always open and there are no screens. At first we couldn’t believe it, but there are no bugs here at ocean front. We absolutely love the balcony in the early morning and late evening, but it gets unbearably hot for a couple of hours in the afternoon when the sun is high, and to the West (our unit has a western exposure). People on the East side of the building say that theirs is hot in the morning. Both have advantages and disadvantages. This is all information valuable when looking for a beach front condo.

We did survive Carnival and hope none of you are expecting to see pictures of parades, floats, and scantly dressed people partying in the street. We did not venture to the activities. It is a party that happens across the entire country. The government closes down and many private business chose to close as well. Traffic is everything we have been told and just moving about during Carnival is near impossible. There were fireworks here in the complex and all our neighbors who own vacation homes were here. That meant that there were several predominant languages being spoken and a few families. The Internationale Highway is a 4 lane divided highway with limited places to cross from 1 side to the other. It is not limited access. When traffic gets heavy they close the places to cross. Just about anywhere you would go involves using this road, so mostly we stayed nearby.  Monday we ventured out to take a look at one of the places that may be nice to live. It was to our West and travel there and back was tolerable. I can’t say the same for yesterday when the Panamanians started heading home. We ventured out to see another place early yesterday morning and returning the traffic was gridlocked on the highway. The only way back for us was to get on the Highway heading east toward Panama City, with the traffic, and drive about 30 Km to the first place we were allowed to turn around. When we got back to our road we were not allowed to turn (cross traffic) which caused us to travel back several Km West before being allowed to turn around. When we got way West of Coronado we decided to take a look at another place before heading home. Every trip during heavy traffic has to be carefully planned. We were home by 1:30, had a late lunch and spent the rest of the day by the pool on the roof.

Everyone Heading Home
Everyone Heading Home

We are sure all of you are interested in what we have found as far as homes go. One thing everyone needs to know is that if you’re planning to move to Panama one should rent for at least a year. This will give time to make sure the place is right for you. It is a buyers market here currently and real estate prices are a little lower than they have been. The buyers market may continue for several years so if you buy now you may lose money if you decide to sell too soon. Many places can be rented out weekly or monthly to tourists, should you decide to move back home. Remember it isn’t easy to be a long distance landlord. All that being said, we are interested in finding out basically what our dollar will buy and learning what is important and not important to us. As we travel and explore the country over the next few weeks we will be taking a look at homes and condo’s to get familiar with the market in each area. If we settle on an area and decide to move we will rent in that area until we find the perfect place to buy. We are feeling like our own episode of House Hunters International right now. I embedded a YouTube video below, which is an episode of that show filmed right here near where we are staying. We met a delightful lady from Canada, who has lived here now for several years. She is a sales agent for the developer who built 2 of the condo projects where we have looked. One of the projects is Bahia and she was the actual selling agent for the guys in this video.  We will be touring the condo directly next to them in the next few weeks (it is occupied by tourists now). This video will give you a good feel for the Coronado area. Time will tell, but it may be too busy for us here. CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

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We hope you took the 20 or so minutes to watch the video. It really does paint an accurate picture of what we are finding on the ground here. We are continuing with our Spanish tutor today and heading out to the Azuero Peninsula tomorrow. It may a great time to look back at our post of October 24, 2017 when our excursion planning began.  On Friday we are planning another visit to a nearby condo project with a local agent. Our friends here are interested in buying there and the agent has come highly recommended. We will keep you all informed as we work through the process of looking for a place where we may one day live.

Thank-you for once again checking out our awesome adventure. We are still in awe of this whole thing. We hope you are all entertained and enjoying as much as we are. Please like, share and post questions. We love hearing from all of you. We just surpassed 2000 visits to our blog and we have new visitors signing on daily. Without all of you, it certainly wouldn’t be as much fun to write.

Buenos Dias,

Greg and Jen

 

 

We Visit Our First Roadside Fonda

Our day yesterday started out as we planned with a walk East on the beach. The tide was low and we walked past some lovely homes. We probably did not walk as far as it seemed, Upon our return we went to the pool on the roof and enjoyed a nice swim. Every day we learn a little more about the area. The people here are really nice and forthcoming with information. We met a couple who has lived in this building for 3 years and they suggested that we may find better shopping West on the Pan-American highway about 45 Km. That was just the opportunity we wanted to get on the road again.

We ventured out around lunch time with the intention of stopping along the way at a fonda for lunch. We also thought we would, perhaps, check out some possible housing options on the beach along the way. We are trying to familiarize ourselves with the housing market here should this be where we would live. I am not sold on the area, but we are both in love with the beach. Our windows are open at night with the waves crashing and it is very peaceful just sitting on the balcony looking at the ocean. The highway is divided with limited places to turn around. Heading West, all the beach homes are on the other side of the highway so we located a few nice places but did not stop. Just prior to finding our shopping destination we stopped at a fonda for lunch. The menu was nicely written on a piece of paper and the proprietor welcomed us.

He spoke just enough English to make us comfortable and we understood enough Spanish to know we were going to get a decent meal.  Jen ordered a Chuleto BBQ (BBQ Pork Chop) and I ordered Bistek y Cebollas (steak with onions). Both meals came with all the accompaniments, arroz (rice), lenteja (beans seasoned with peppers), ensalada (salad), and tejadas (fried plantains). He offered up a limon con resperado to drink. We agreed and he brought the most incredible fruit drink that looked like iced tea but tasted very sweet and fruty. Our food was awesome and our bill was $12. $5 for each lunch and $1 for each drink.

After a wonderful lunch we took off toward the store. We wanted to shop ahead a little because this weekend is Carnival. They tell us that the whole country turns into 1 giant party and everything will be closed from late Friday until next Wednesday. We have also been warned that it would not be wise to be on the road and prior to the holiday all the stores will be out of everything (sounds almost like a winter storm warning).  We will report on Carnival as it happens, however we will be staying home and suffering through it in our own resort like accommodations. We are hoping to see fireworks from the balcony.

We picked up a few things at the dollar store, got a few groceries and headed back. We did not stop to check out any of the home projects, but we saw a few that we will check out on future excursions. We did make a couple of stops for fruit along the road. We hear that this can be the best way to get a Cantelope, Watermelon, Bananas, or Pineapple, but they don’t all have everything. You also cannot buy vegetables along the road very often, and I’m sad to say that the vegetables in the store are terrible.

I am planning to go to the gym on the roof and Jen says she will be going to aqua-arobics this morning. We are planning to relax by the pool for most of the day.  It is hard to keep track of time. It seems like every day ends much too quickly.

We have the name of a lady here locally who teaches Spanish. We are making arrangements today to get into a class. This adventure would be much better if we could better communicate. Please continue to follow along . We will try to keep it real and interesting.

Welcome to the roof at Coronado Bay
Roof Top Pool at Coronado Bay
Our view from the roof East

 

We thought you may enjoy some pictures from the rooftop. Dondequiera que erstes, esperamos que estes caliente. translated Wherever you are, we hope you are warm.

con un cordial saludo,

Greg and Jen