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We had the pleasure of working alongside a very talented construction crew this summer. We built a concrete walkway and stairs leading from the dock up to where we will build our house. A job that might take one or two days in the US or even on the main island took a full week out on our property.
On the main island of Colon in Bocas Del Toro Panama, you can easily move heavy equipment around, get deliveries by truck and run the hardware store if you need more supplies. This is much harder on the outer islands in the area. A job that might take one or two days in the US or even on the main island took a full week because we are so remote out on Isla Popa.
The close islands of Carenero, Solarte and Bastimentos, you are a relatively short boat ride from BocasTown so getting deliveries is not too bad. For us on Popa, it takes about 90 minutes with a loaded supply boat.
Getting the supplies to the dock isn't the end of the difficulties. Our property is quite soft from the water's edge to about 100 feet inland making it impossible to put any heavy equipment on the property. Even a small bobcat can weigh 6,000 pounds and it would just sink into the ground. So all of our deliveries come by boat and moving anything on the property is done by hand. We had a cement mixer but even that had to be moved by hand to and from the boat.
There is no running to Home Depot for supplies out here, you make use of what you have at hand. The guys are masters with a machete and were able to use small branches cut from jungle trees to support our tarps and as stakes for the concrete forms too.
Over all, it was an amazing experience to see how construction happens out on the outer islands. Even though this was only a sidewalk and some stairs, the crew had to adapt to the land and unexpected issues on the fly. This gave us a better understanding of what it will take to build the house. We will show you more pictures and tell you about the progression of this build in the next article.
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