Casa de Tortugas - Stories

We started this adventure from Salem Oregon, USA and we will end it in our new home in Bocas del Toro Panama.

We will add to these articles over time and you are welcome to read them all and ask us any questions. We will do our best to answer.

At the bottom of each article you will find navigation links to move to the next or previous article. If you haven't been here before, you should start reading at the end of the list with the article "Where did this adventure start?". (also see other resources)

Newest story

Getting our roofing delivered

This was one of the most hectic processes we have encountered. Thank goodness we are all done.

We have two new water tanks

We just put two new water tanks in place.

The Exterior Bathroom

Having a bathroom makes life a bit easier before the main house is built.

Building the bodega

Under the main house we will have a storage area called the bodega.

The septic system has been installed

Living off-grid means we need to get rid of our "dirty" water.

The Solar / Picnic Area

We are mounting our solar panels off the ground but not on our house roof.


When Glenn retired, his co-workers gave a heartfelt gift.

Our Boat

We need a boat to get around.

The Foundation

The base of the house is made from concrete pillars and a large slab.

How we get internet

Being that we are on an island, we have few options for internet.

The House Build

The house build is going to happen in multiple phases.

Solar Power

There is no power on our island, so we will be using a solar power system.

Repairing our dock

We are rebuilding our dock because the old one is pretty tattered and has become unsafe.

We have a sidewalk and stairs!

In the summer of 2022, we added a sidewalk and stairs to our property on Isla Popa. 

Building on Isla Popa is hard work!

We are building on Isla Popa in Bocas Del Toro Panama and it is a lot of hard work! Good thing we had an amazing crew to get our work done.

Getting to and from Bocas in 2021

Keeping in mind, the world is still dealing with the COVID-19, we expected some issues. But this was crazy...

Is your money safe in a Panama bank?

Retiring and moving money to a foreign bank can be a scary thing. Here is what we have experienced so far.

Where to stay when visiting Bocas

There are plenty of options for lodging. You can go super cheap or spend a bundle. It depends on what you are after.

Fruit trees have been planted.

We already had pineapples and coconuts, but now we have more fruit on the island.

Our beach is in an episode of Sailing Project Atticus

Our beach is on Season 4 Episode 28 of Saling Project Atticus.

How to get to Bocas Del Toro

Getting to Bocas is not exactly the easiest thing. There are no direct flights.

How big is the property on Isla Popa?

We have had several people ask how big the property is and explaining it is a bit tricky because of the scale.

We had a video created for us!

Here is a video that shows our plot of land on Isla Popa. Hope you like it.

Information resources and contacts.

It is very important to do your research and build contacts.

Quarantine keeps us out of Panama

Sadly, due to the pandemic, we have not been able to visit Panama in 2020.

Rescued from Isla Popa...

We planned on staying one more night but we had to get rescued a bit early.

Into the jungle

On the second day of our island stay we ventured into the jungle. 

Our first day staying on the island

We will not have our house for a while but we still want to stay on the island when we visit. This first trip to the property was quite the adventure.

Getting a bank account

Getting a bank account in Panama is not very easy for Americans.

Having a shed built from 3,200 miles away.

Can you imagine having anything built without being on-site?

Designing our Caribbean home

Our home will be very simple, built using local materials and have that Caribbean feel that we love so much.

Preparing to live off the grid on our island.

Now that we have purchased property, it is time to get serious and really learn what it will take to live there.

The property is finally ours!

Yes, it took quite some time but the sale of the property if finally complete and we are the proud owners of Caribbean property on Isla Popa in Bocas del Toro Panama.

Inspecting the property on Isla Popa

We had already set foot on the property and really did not expect to be coming back so soon. An inspection really did not seem like it would be needed until we got a look at the property map.

Why Panama?

We get plenty of questions about our journey to becoming ex-pats. What made us choose Panama is one of the most common ones.

We took the plunge and now own property in Panama

After the trip back in August/Septemner of 2018, we came home and gave a lot of thought to what we experienced. The joy we felt in Bocas del Toro made it clear that we couldn't let this one property slip through our fingers.

Our visit to the Caribbean side of Panama, September 2018

Our second trip when searching for a place to call home was the Caribbean side of Panama in the province of Bocas Del Toro. Again, we stayed in two different locations trying to get a feel for life in the area.

Our visit to the Pacific side of Panama, February 2018

Our first trip when searching for a place to call home was the Pacific side of Panama. We stayed in two different locations trying to get a feel for life in the area. 

Where did we look before buying property?

We had planned on doing a lot more looking around than we actually did. But once we found our property, we knew it would be home some day.

Where did this adventure start?

Island life had been a dream for Tina and Glenn individually on and off for many years. But the ball really got rolling in 2017 on a trip to Fiji.