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Los Islotes Breaks Ground On Its Founder’s Lodge

24 Feb
Unplugging In Los Islotes - Los Islotes Breaks Ground On Its Founder’s Lodge

Azuero Escape

Now I just can’t go anywhere without that sacred cell
I think that I might die if I miss anything at all
Text me, send me an e-mail, link me up, give me a call
I’m ADD on AOL tryin’ to read the writing on the wall

–Jimmy Buffet, “Everybody’s On The Phone”

This weekend I met two men who don’t own computers and who don’t have internet.

“I had an e-mail address,” the one guy told me, “but I just stopped checking it. Now I figure if someone wants to speak with me, they’ll find another way.”

“My computer was fried by an electrical surge,” the other one explained later that day. “I just decided not to replace it. Now I don’t know anything about anything. And what I’ve realized is, I don’t really care. I care about the tides and where the fish are running. The other fishermen here in the area, they keep me posted on that. Otherwise, I’m really out of touch…and I’ve never been happier…”

We were standing among a group of more than 60 people who had made the trip out Saturday morning to join Lief and me on-site at our Los Islotes property for the official ground-breaking of our first structure, our Founder’s Lodge. The local mayor, Alcalde Batista, helped Lief and me throw a few shovels full of dirt, and Project Manager Gary directed a bulldozer where to take the first swipes. We all shared a champagne toast and then retreated to the shade of our Rancho for a bar-b-que lunch of chicken and ribs cooked over open fires.

The bunch of us lingered for the next few hours around the Rancho bar, chatting and laughing and soaking up the views. To our right the deep blue, crashing Pacific…to our left the rolling hills of Cerro Hoya national park. It’d be hard to imagine a more picturesque spot.

Beautiful…and private. That’s one of the things Lief and I appreciate most about this part of Panama—it’s well away from everybody and everything. Even if you have a computer and an internet connection (yes, as remote as we are in this region of Panama, we can be connected when we want to be), the rest of the world feels very far away.

Unplugging In Azuero

Midday Friday, Lief and I shut down our laptops, picked up our son and two of his friends early from school, then turned our SUV in the direction of the Azuero coast. We fought our way through Friday afternoon Panama City traffic…waited for an accident to clear so we could cross the Bridge of the Americas…then, finally, hit the PanAmerican Highway headed west. My neck and shoulders ached and my eyes burned from another week in front of computer screens, but, soon enough, I told myself, all that would be behind me. Ahead lay the fresh air, wide-open spaces, and glorious coastline of Panama’s western Azuero Peninsula.

After Saturday morning’s ground-breaking ceremony, some of our party headed down to the beach with boogie boards, snorkel gear, and kayaks.

“This beach would be great for surfing,” our son’s friend Valerian told us. “Next time maybe I could bring my surf board?”

Sunday Lief and I returned to the property with our children and their friends for a test of skills. Gary had created a target for us from bales of hay, and the kids took turns shooting the compound bows they’d gotten as Christmas gifts. Ordinarily, they spend Sunday mornings with electronic devices in hand. Smart phones, i-Pads, X-Boxes, Wii’s…we’ve got them all, and our children spend more time than I like to admit as their mom thusly engaged. Watching them trying to improve their skills with bows and arrows was far more rewarding for me.

After the archery competition, we made our way down to the beach again for more watersports and hanging out. Lief, Gary, and I settled in the shade of a big mango tree, while the kids shed shoes and T-shirts and ran straight into the surf.

“What time do you think we should head back?” I asked Lief a couple of hours later when I noticed the sun had begun its descent.

“Unfortunately,” he replied, “about now. We should start packing up.”

Kayaks, boogie boards, Frisbees, bows, arrows, coolers, wet towels…it all went in the back of the SUVs. I put Bob Marley on the CD player, and soon everyone was singing along.

Later, when the kids had fallen asleep in the back seat, Lief, driving, looked over at me and smiled.

“It’s taken six years,” he said, “but we’re here. To be able to come out here and enjoy this place like we have this weekend…this has been the idea all along…”

We’re still just getting started. It will take a year to complete the four-suite Founder’s Lodge we’re undertaking. When it’s built and we’re able to come out for extended family stays, I’ll think back on this weekend with mixed emotions. The simplicity of this place is an important part of its appeal.

On the other hand, I like a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and (ok, I admit it) a high-speed internet connection as much as the next girl. Soon, we’ll have all those things here at Los Islotes.

With the deep blue, crashing Pacific and the rolling hills of Cerro Hoya as backdrop.

Kathleen Peddicord

Mailbag

“Lief, unfortunately I too had that experience with my FOREX trader. I live in Baku, Azerbaijan, and getting anything done from here is almost impossible let alone legal documents.

“I had such a hassle with my ID papers with them. They wanted everything notarized by a public notary, then translated, bound, and stamped by a government official co-signed by another government official. It cost me a bomb to get all these originals together flying them from Australia via DHL, etc. Local account verification, proof of address, rental agreements, you name it—it all had to be translated and notarized.

“In the end I persisted, but it highlighted to me the same thing you experienced with the ‘two men and a kettle’ organization you talked about. They were completely ill-equipped to deal serious customers. I use this service every month and always have hassles with allocating the money to the deals. Everything is done a different way each and every month.

“So, thanks. I will look into the UK-based FOREX trader you suggested and see how that works out.”

N.H.