The Hills of Cerro Azul in the Chagres National Park
Today is move day and there are almost no pictures. I must apologize but it took much of the day to make the move and when I finally pulled out the camera, the light was gone. We moved from sea level up to an elevation of about 950M. Now that doesn’t sound like that much but it will lower the temperature by around 10 degrees during the day. We rented a little apartment from Panama Canada Realty and it is in an area called Cerro Azul. Panama City money used to build homes here to escape the heat of the city on weekends and during the summer. It is close to the city and is about a 40 minute drive from the airport. Property here is within the Chagres (pronounced Shaw-gress) National Park and is the only place in the country where you can actually buy property with full title in a National Park. Today’s featured image is shot from our big deck and is of the lights of the city.
We knew we would be somewhat isolated so we stopped at the Super 99 grocery store (the chain is owned by the President of Panama), to lay in some supplies before we left town. We dragged eight bags of groceries out of that store for a total of $55.35. Now I don’t know about you but when I go we go to a grocery store in Calgary, I don’t get anything like eight bags for 50 bucks. Some of the better buys were a dozen eggs for $1.05, Balboa beer for $0.49 each, and three bottles of imported wine for $6.15, $4.09, and $3.60. Now the wine is no two buck chuck! We would be paying $20 to $30 each at home for these Chilean imports. Panama has a very kind taxation structure on alcohol.
From the bottom of the hill, we travel about 25K to our destination. At first the paved two lane road has a steady gentle uphill grade but that eventually gives out to a paved two lane road that either is going straight up or straight down. It is not very windy but there is a lot of up and down. Nothing is level. The vegetation changes to forest with mostly pine trees. Every once and awhile, you come upon a place with an elaborate iron gate and fence enclosing a sprawling well manicured property with a large elaborate stone and brick home nestled among the trees. Most of the property has to be leveled before it can be built on. It is an interesting community as pretty much all the well kept structures are tucked into the forest.
Getting to our destination was not without some challenges. I had a street address, but my GPS could not find it. The owners sent us a hand drawn map that would take us to the security gate and then a two page narrative to get us to the house. I could use the GPS to get us to the intersection where we left the main road so we ended up using all the tools we had to actually get to our destination. The directions were pretty good and we finally got to where we were going.
We are in a house with the main floor occupied by the owner, who is away. There are two suites on the lower level, one of which is ours. It is pretty typically Panamanian but it is clean and has almost everything we need. There is a full length deck across the back of the house that is about 20 feet deep. It overlooks nothing but forest and hills. When we look one direction, off in the distance you can see the skyline of Panama City through the haze. The other direction has a view of the canal. Other than that, trees, hills, clouds, and blue sky. You cant even see any of your neighbors. You could run around naked here and you wouldn’t scare anything but the birds! There is a pleasant breeze and the temperature, I would estimate to be in the low 20sC.
Our directions said that the door would be unlocked and the key would be on the table. Just as we determined that there was only one towel, there was a knock at the door and a young woman handed us towels. There is supposed to be a complex containing a restaurant, tennis courts, and a pool so we thought we would check it out. When we arrived the security gate was down so we walked in. We found a sign directing us to a restaurant so followed it to a neatly pained building that was locked up. You could see all the tables properly set for a meal but there was nobody around. The front door contained no sign indicating the hours of operation. We headed back towards the car when we came upon a man walking toward us with a laptop under his arm. We spoke to him and found out he was married to a Panamanian woman and living there part of the year and in Colorado for the rest. Interesting character! He is a lawyer with a practice in Colorado but was one of the authors of the document that described the US turnover of the canal to Panama. He left Panama with the other Americans on 31 December 1999, when the canal became Panamanian.
He was headed to the restaurant to use their WiFi signal to check his email. We pumped him for local information and determined that the restaurant was closed today because of the holiday yesterday. Rather than driving back to town, we elected to get by on our recently purchased groceries and go back for breakfast.
Our house has no Internet, or TV so I will have to use the restaurant WiFi to update the blog. I can write the content offline and upload it once I have a connection.
2 Responses to “The Hills of Cerro Azul in the Chagres National Park”
Another interesting read. Your writing style paints the picture for us…however am looking forward to the future photos.
Ok,Ok,Ok already. Will step up the photos.