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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.
Bocas del Toro is an archipelago in the Caribbean sea with lush rain forests and amazing waters and beaches.
For the first part of this trip, we stayed in casitas over the water on Isla Carenero. It was quite the experience to step out on to the back porch and have the water right there. The water really wasn't deep enough to safely jump in. But it was amazing to watch the sea birds dive for fish. Unfortunately, this area had a lot of little bugs that bit us up pretty good. The experience over all was still amazing. The place we stayed at was called EI Faro del Calibri.
During this part of the stay we took time to go into town several times. To get there and back we took a water taxi which was only one dollar per person each direction. Bocas Town on Isla Colón is where most people do their shopping without going over to the mainland. At the time of writing this article, Isla Colón had a population just over 7,000 people.
The town is small enough that it is quite easy to walk from one side to the other several times without becoming too tired. There are a lot of little shops and restaurants to enjoy as well as a large park in the middle of town. The airport can only handle mid sized prop planes or smaller and the runway consumes most of the town. It is quite a site to see when a plane comes in for a landing or takes off. All along the two main streets of town, you can find many small businesses offering tours to the numerous natural attractions.
To look at properties, we enlisted the help of the good folks at United Country Real Estate Office. Our realtor Lonnie was kind enough to arrange a boat driver for us to visit several properties. We only wanted to see what was available in our price range and how we would get to and from the property. We weren't totally sure what we were looking for when we set out the first day.
Beach front was high on the list but so was jungle. We knew we didn't want to be right in town and we had a good idea of what we could afford to spend but we didn't know how much that budget would get us. It turns out, the further you move away from town, the more property you can get for your money. It is interesting that two properties rught next to each other can have drastically different prices based on what you might be able to do with the land.
We looked at homes over the water, right on the beach, up the side of a mountain and everything in between. The first day we really didn't see anything that fit all our needs so we asked Lonnie to take us out again later in the week. Because we were able to scratch a few things off our list, he was able to come up with some more specific properties that we might be interested in. We spent a little over one hundred and fifty dollars each trip out to pay for the boat and lunch for everyone.
The second part of our stay was at the Jungle Treehouse By the Sea. It was the most amazing experience and we recommend it to everyone. There were railings but no walls and we were about 30 feet off the ground. Leave your modesty behind because even the bathroom was less than private. Not that there was anyone around to see, but there could have been if the timing was just right. We experienced a storm one morning for about an hour. The lightning was breath taking. We were not scared, cold or wet during the storm. We just curled up on the bed and enjoyed the experience.
Here we relaxed, walked on the beach which was just a couple minutes walk from the treehouse. We even walked part way into town before hailing a taxi to take us the rest of the way. The walk all the way to town would have been too much. We caught a taxi back and when we unloaded our groceries we forgot my camera in the taxi. I was devastated and never expected to see that camera again. But to my surprise, after talking to Lonnie, he was able to call around and tracked the camera down. We gave a decent reward to the taxi driver for returning it to us.
After our stay in the treehouse, we went back out with Lonnie to look at a few more properties including several empty plots of land. The idea of building has always been in our mind but after seeing what was already out there and staying in the tree house, building became more of a desire for us. Although we saw several possibilities, one property did stand out but we had no intention on buying anything this early in the process. We actually didn't think it was even possible.
At the end of the day, we went back to the office and talked with Lonnie and Anne Michelle about our options. We were under the impression that to purchase we actually had to live in the country. They took the time to educate us on the differences between different kinds of properties and how we could purchase without living there. This realization changed everything for us. Now the only problem was what could we actually pull off. We left well educated but without any set plans.
This was an amazing trip in every way. We did so much and saw so many things. We really enjoyed our visit and felt totally relaxed the entire time.
You can learn more about the islands that make up the Bocas del Toro area on Google.
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