Keith's Panamanian Travel Ramble

The wanderings of Andrea and Keith around Panama

Posts from the ‘Cerro Azul’ category

A New Career in Panama?

Hi All,
I couldn’t help myself today! I just had to post this!

Last January, while we were in Panama, we rented a home with a spectacular view from a Canadian friend. While we were there, I took lots of pictures and we arranged for some work to be done on the house, which meant that I had to take more pictures to show the work. We recently heard that the house was up for sale.

Today, while doing some research on the Internet in preparation for a Skype meeting with our builder, I found the Realtor’s ad for the house:

http://www.encuentra24.com/panama-en/real-estate-for-sale-houses-homes/vistas-de-la-ciudad-cerro-azul-4-recs/4069420

I was surprised to find most of the pictures in the ad, were mine, including an interior shot with Andrea looking out the window at the view.  I thought this was enough evidence to start a rumor that Andrea was in Panama selling Real Estate.

2014-Pan-D610-0033

What do you think?  Can we pull it off?

The Rincon Vallero Banditos’

Hi Travellers,

Today is our second full day here in El Valle de Anton, commonly known as just El Valle.  Just where is this place?  If you look at the small map below, you will see the route we took from Cerro Azul to El Valle (look for the red push pins at either end of the magenta route).

Here at Cabanas Potosi, the owners keep a few birds.  Today’s feature picture is of the one who actually runs the place.  He lives in a cage for the night but when he wants his breakfast, he just makes it so noisy that the owners bring him food.  He spends the day out of the cage, in a large tree and is somewhat temperamental.  He will visit the guests with the owners sometimes and will show a full range of behavior from being fun and chatty to being miserable and ornery.  He sometimes plays games with people with cameras and likes to hide from being photographed.  Andrea was patient enough to get these shots of him today.  When he deems it is dinner time, he calls for his dinner, which is promptly delivered to him and then retires to his cage for the night.  Quite a life!

El Valle is a place we have been before but we have never stayed here, just day tripped from other locations.  It is growing dramatically but still maintains it’s small town charm.  Weekdays are not very busy here but on the weekends it is a popular place for the Panama City folks to head to beat the heat.  You also get tour busses full of tourists stopping by on the weekends so the visitors can shop at the market.  On a holiday weekend it is common for all the hotel rooms in town to be full!  One of the popular draws here is the large public market where you can buy hand crafts from all over the country, plants, fresh fruit and vegetables.

The owner of our resort, is from an old Panamanian family that has been in El Valle for generations.  They are owners of large tracts of land here which has become very valuable over the last few years.   She tells us that people usually stay here for just three or four days because that is how long it takes to see everything here.

The town site is primarily on level land on the floor of the valley.  Mountains surround the town so it is really quite picturesque.  The weather is cooler than Panama City and this is one of the few places in Panama where you will find fire places in houses.  Both days we have been here it has rained for a short time late in the afternoon.  Today, I took some shots of the main drag here.  It really doesn’t do the town justice because there are some beautiful large “old money” homes here down some of the side streets.  I will see if I can get you some peeper shots tomorrow.

Today, I experienced some typical Panamanian bureaucracy.  I was looking for a WiFi connection, which is still not too common here.  We found a couple of restaurants that have it but the library advertises free WiFi service for everyone.  I went to the library, a nice airy one story building with wired computer workstations around the perimeter of the large single room.  Book stacks were neatly arranged into the center of the room and there were lots of tables and chairs for the use of the patrons.  I walked in, sat down, and started to fire up my computer.  I found the WiFi network and tried to connect to it but it failed.  After a few moments, one of the librarians came over with a scribbler, looking for the MAC address of my computer so they could authorize it’s use on their router.  I scratched my head and tried to figure out why they would bother with such a step as the service is free and available to everyone that wants it.  Why not just have an open public connection?  Oh well, I guess it must give someone a job!

For dinner tonight, we headed to a restaurant that we have been to on other trips.  This is also a favorite, we found out, of Antonio, our friend from Cerro Azul.  The hotel is a little too Panamanian for our taste (yes it’s possible) but the restaurant is awesome!  This restaurant is at the Rincon Vallero Hotel.  Outside the main entrance is spectacularly landscaped with some beautiful local species and the entrance has a mature vine sporting lots of large blue flowers covering the entrance trellis.  Once through the front door you will see a multi level restaurant divided in half by carp pools.  There are plants everywhere and the sound of a small waterfall off in one corner.  The set tables are dressed with bright red and white table coverings, glasses and place settings that just invite you to sit and have a meal.  Soft Spanish music plays from the sound system.  This place creates an impressive atmosphere!  We were the only patrons in the restaurant.

While looking at the menu, a duck and a goose waddled in from the hotel courtyard entrance.  It looked like they knew exactly what they were doing… heading for a table of pastries wrapped in plastic wrap.  The goose looked like the instigator as he could almost reach the basket of goodies by stretching his neck through the wrought iron railing.  He was just about to snatch his snack when the server came back and shooed the two would be banditos back into the hotel courtyard.  We saw one other thwarted attempt later in the evening.

I didn’t order duck or goose for dinner but the corvina (sea bass) special along with a sumptuous papaya fruit shake.  Here is a picture for a certain person in the audience!  The service was excellent as was the food.  Dinner for two, including tip $33.  Once again, this place gets a double thumbs up for landscaping, atmosphere, service, food and pricing.  Don’t miss it if you come to El Valle.

One Very Special Property

Hi Travellers,

I have one more thing to cover before we close the book on Cerro Azul.  Last Sunday, in my post “The Expat Affair”, I mentioned a special property that is now for sale in Cerro Azul that I wanted to tell you about.  I have made it the topic of this whole post due to the extraordinary value and beauty of this property.  I want you to see that this area is not for Hillbillies.  This home is the quintessential entertaining center.  I now have the details so here we go.

“This air-conditioned 3-bedroom/3-bath house is situated on 2,580 square meters (0.60 acres) of pristine land.

The home is designed in stunning contemporary Spanish architecture with 390 sq. meters (4,100 sq. feet) of grand living in 3 levels with slate floors throughout, Berber carpet in all three bedrooms, and protected by electric gates and an exterior wall.

 

 

 

The main level consists of a large open concept Living/Kitchen/Dining area complete with fireplace and a bar with plenty storage for liquor and glasses. The new Italian Scavolini gourmet kitchen has gorgeous granite countertops, plenty of modern space-saving storage, a stunning amount of counter space and stainless steel appliances. Frosted glass upper cabinets allow filtered light to keep the kitchen bright and airy.  Conveniently next to the kitchen is a huge pantry complete with Washer/Dryer and storage for kitchen appliances. The dining area has built-in storage for china, linens and silver drawers.

Also on this floor are a guest bedroom, bathroom and garage with a tool room.  The balcony runs completely across the house with sitting, dining and barbecue areas. Each room on this level has its own access to the balcony. The sunset views from this balcony are breathtaking.

 

 

 

There is a grand staircase in the foyer that leads to two bedrooms with private baths in each. The master bedroom is over sized with a sitting area. The master bath is very unusual with a walk-around shower. Both bedrooms have balconies and amazing views.

Downstairs are an air-conditioned darkened home-theatre room and a game room with pool table, gym, and a Yoga area also with spectacular views from its balcony.
This level also has large storage room with a 7000 KW generator hooked up to the house and designed to keep the entire house with power.

In the backyard an unbelievably immaculate garden with flowers, orchids, orange and lemon trees and a seasonal swimming area with a deck. A concrete bridge leads you to the gazebo with patio furniture and hammocks…perfect for reading.  Also included is a caretaker’s cottage at the very end of the property completely removed from view.

Priced to sell this home is offered partially furnished at USD $315,000 firm.

The property has excellent drinking water, electricity, telephone, two separate Internet providers, (ADSL and Wireless provider for backup), and satellite TV.

“Los Altos de Cerro Azul” is a private residential development in the mountains of Chagres National Park: one-hour east of Panama City (40 minutes from Tocumen airport). This gated community is guarded with 24-hours security and has an impeccable record for safety.

A January 2012 property appraisal estimated the market value at USD $411,000.”

Contact information:
Bernardo Lopez
(507) 6766-5970
panalat69@gmail.com

Now imagine the price of this property at home, and remember it comes with many of the furnishings you see in the photos!  There is a caretaker living on the property who looks after the exterior of the property and landscaping as well as other tasks designated by the owner.  He  is paid $350 per month.  This could easily be equated to condo fees in many of todays modern complexes and would be at a bargain rate when you consider all he does.

Cerro Azul Final Impressions

Hi Fellow Travellers,

Today, we leave the beauty of Cerro Azul and the perfect climate we have experienced for the last couple of weeks.  We have decided to move a little further west to El Valle, a beautiful small mountain town that is a popular day trip destination for locals and tourists.  It tends to be cooler than the city, at 800M elevation, and there is always a pleasant breeze.  There is a popular farmers and craft market here that bustles with activity on the weekends.  During the week, this sleepy little mountain town is slow-moving and enjoyable.  There are lots of walkers on the street and bicycles are a popular method of transpiration.

We have one last stop to make so I can get a couple of shots of, what I think is a spectacular property here.  It’s an old property that l think was built in 1985 and is supposed to have won an architectural award.  It is beautifully sited on six almost totally level lots and provides an unobstructed 180 degree view from the wrap around deck that includes the City.  There are two apartments in a separate building and one other out building.  It has been well maintained and includes beautiful heavy wood furnishings.  Apparently it has been on the market for a long time and we think the price is at about $235K.  Amazing value if its true!

As we pack up our little Toyota and say good-bye to our now quite large group of friends, I would like to leave you with a few of our impressions of this area.

1.  It is an area that many, unjustly, consider to be quite remote, even though it is only about 45 minutes drive from Tocumen airport.  It will take you longer to driver across the city than to drive here;

2.  If you are going to visit here, you need to have a car and be comfortable driving mountain roads;

3.  Remember that you are in a National Park and conduct yourself accordingly;

4.  Accommodation here is difficult to find before coming to Panama.  There are no hotels except a hostel that we found in our Moon travel guide but it is outside the park and it looked closed when we drove by it.  Try the Canada Panama Realty website, as they have rentals available (See the Business we Support list at the bottom of the right column of this blog for a link).  You can also contact Antonio, who has a couple of suites available in his home with Internet (See the post called “Another Place to Stay in Cerro Azul” in this blog for information);

5.  Be ready to cook most of your meals while in Cerro Azul.  The only restaurant (of sorts) is at the Club, but it closes at four PM daily and is not open on Monday.  You can pick up lots of supplies at the Super 99 or Super Extra markets at the bottom of the hill before you come up.  Of course, you could drive the road into town for dinner but the road is not good to drive in the dark.  It is narrow, hilly and curvy and there are very few street lights.  Locals walk on the side of the road and they don’t seem to be aware of the need for light-colored clothes to be able to be seen at night.  Drivers here tend to drive in the center of the narrow road and are slow to move back into their own lane when they approach traffic going in the other direction.  Be careful;

6.  Don’t come here if you are looking for a partying infrastructure.  There are no clubs.  If you want to party, bring it with you.  This place will appeal mostly to people who love the outdoors and those that enjoy nature and hiking;

7.  Take a few moments and get to know some locals.  We found them to be extremely friendly and helpful in providing information about the area and suggestions of things to do.  There are lots of Expat Canadian and Americans here so English-speaking people are relatively easy to find;

8.  If you need an Internet connection, there is one available at the restaurant in the Club.  It works great when it is working but has been subject to a bit of down time;

9.  Do take advantage of the beautiful big pool in the Club area.  It is quite cool, as Panamanian pools go, due to the elevation here; and

10. We have seen many places in Panama and this one is our favorite!  Partly because it is a well-kept secret and is not busy and partly for the perfect climate.  Be sure not to miss it when you come to Panama.

Our trip to El Valle takes us down the mountain and across Panama City to the Pan American Highway. This is the highway that runs from here all the way to Canada! We met some people here that drove down from Quebec… 9,700K. We cross the canal on the newest and only other bridge, the beautiful Centennial Bridge and head west on the recently improved modern four lane divided highway. Be careful of semis hauling containers. We passed two along the way where the container tipped off the chassis on a curve. Its 175K to our destination but it takes us about three hours due to traffic and a lunch break in Coronado at one of our favorite restaurants. We left the Pan American Highway and headed up the newly paved two lane road for 25K to El Valle.

Andrea booked our accommodation over the Internet.  It’s a place called Cabanas Potosi and the rate was $44.50 per night.  Oh, and you also get the seventh night free when you book a week.  Now I don’t know about you but that rate made me nervous until we read the client reviews and found that almost all of them raved about the place.  After finally locating it and turning through the main gate, you could tell the place would be fine.  The gardens are elaborately planted and manicured perfectly.  There are four units arranged in two buildings.  The grounds are massive and there are little round concrete tables and benches scattered around the property, each set in a perfect place such as sheltered in the shade under a tree, nestled in the center of ring of tropical plantings, out in the open or secluded.  There is a covered patio with a ping-pong table and hammocks are stretched between trees in groups or singly.  The place is neatly painted and the rooms, although not elaborate, are neat and clean and contain a fridge.  The place is casual and everything you see suggests relaxation!  I love it all ready.  What do you think?

Romeo and Juliette – Not the Play!

Howdy Travellers,

Today we were up early to fully enjoy our last whole day here in Cerro Azul.  We started the day with a visit to our next door neighbor, Jim, to investigate his Big Green Egg.  Now I have never seen anything like this but apparently, they are the latest craze in outdoor cookers.  We sampled the results of this thing yesterday at the expat party because Jim brought a 25 lb turkey cooked in this thing.  It runs on charcoal and I mean wooden charcoal, not briquettes.  He showed us that this cooker runs so tight that there was still a good supply of charcoal left in the cooker after cooking the turkey.    He said he ran this thing for 6 hours at about 325 degrees to do the most juicy, sumptuous, perfect turkey you have ever eaten.  The juicy white meat melted in your mouth.  Now for those that know me they know that turkey is the only thing that rates above bacon and this one rated very highly against bacon!  The thing is called a Komato Cooker and it is a ceramic egg that does an amazing job on cooking meat.  Apparently it has  a cult following so if you want the latest and greatest, just Google Komato Cooker and dig out your wallet!  If you want consistent perfect results from your grill, you have to get one of these suckers!

After investigating the best thing in outdoor grills, we headed down the road to pick up our friends Connie and Dave, who are from Vancouver Island.  Our goal was a hike in the jungle to the Romeo and Juliette falls, a pair of waterfalls in the area.  We drove a short distance to the trail head and started out for the falls.  Now I have told you that we are in pretty hilly terrain but this was a 1.5K hike all down hill.  After 45 minutes or so, we reached the falls which are spectacular and very restful to sit and watch and refreshing to stick your feet in.  Don’t do it the way I did by missing the rock on my journey across the river.  It’s better to take your shoes and socks off first.   My experiences with rivers that look like this is that they are fed by mountain streams and the water will numb any limb that is placed in it for even a few minutes.  Here the water is not cold but warm enough to be very pleasant.  We sat on a huge boulder in the center of the river for a while simply enjoying the sounds of the water rushing past and the birds in the forest around us.  There are some bugs here that rub their back legs together, like a cricket, to attract a mate.  It makes quite a noise and the forest was alive with the sounds of these guys all looking for dates. There were some spectacular gigantic fluorescent blue butterflies in the area that moved too quickly for me to get you a picture, so you will just have to take my word for it that they were something extra special to see.  After a rest and visit with our friends, we started back up the hill to where we had left the car.  Now this hill is steep!  There are no flat parts!  It took around two hours of steady climbing to get back to the car.

Because birds are in such abundance here, I thought a few more shots from around Connie and Dave’s feeder might be of interest.  These birds are spectacular and a constant reminder of the beauty of the nature that surrounds us.   Sadly, tomorrow, we leave Cerro Azul.  We are headed for an eight-day visit to El Valle de Anton (pronounced L Val-yay).  This is a place 175 Km west of where we are and it is also in the hills although a bit less elevation at only around 800M above sea level.

The Expat Affair

Hi Everyone,

Today is Sunday, here in Hillbilly Heaven and the weather is again perfect for this busy day in Cerro Azul.  There are lots of families and groups of people up from the city to spend the day in the cooler weather here, escaping the sweltering Panama City heat.

As we made our way over to the club for breakfast, you cross a bridge over the river and when you look down river you see little covered picnic areas with barbecues.  One was occupied by a larger Panamanian family group with mom and dad in the small shelter with the barbecue smoking, and the rest of the group were sitting below in the river, chatting and playing as the cool clear mountain water rushed by.  They were a friendly bunch and waved while I took their picture.

In the late afternoon around three, we made our way to Jim’s house, where we and 50 or so other expats from the area were invited for a little pot luck dinner and get together.  There really was no particular reason for the gathering, according to Jim other than to say goodbye to a couple who were returning home after several years in Panama.  Now this is one of the things that I really like about this place.  There are lots of Canadians and Americans living here and all that we have met are friendly and seem willing to be helpful to new people.  We met lots of new people today and found it a really interesting bunch.  Some are permanent residents while others just part-time.  Some own homes in the area while others rent.  All seem to have interesting stories and they all love the Cerro Azul weather.  Here are a few shots from the party.

At the party, we met Greg, who has a very unique house for sale.  Several people had suggested we have a look at his house because of the landscaping, architecture and decoration.  It’s one of a kind, we were told.  I’m going to save the pictures for a day or so until I get some more information from Greg and then I will dedicate one whole post to this incredible home.  The house and property are appraised at much more than the selling price.  You will be amazed at the value for the money here as many of the furnishings are included with the house.

A Day With No Plans

Hello again from beautiful Panama,

We awoke today to the nicest day so far on our trip.  Now that’s not to say that the weather as been bad but today was just a little better.  The low flying billowing white cumulus clouds that have chased each other in a never-ending race to the Pacific were gone and they stayed gone for the day.  The temperature is up a bit, probably to the high 20sC and the constant breezes were more gentle than normal.

Our neighbor, Brent, has asked me to take a few pictures of his still in progress but almost finished Panamanian rehab, to be used on the Panama Canada Realty website (check out the link at the bottom of the right column of this page under Businesses we Support) as a rental so we headed over to the neat little white house, about five minutes from where we are staying.  The inside is not quite finished and Brent will be back here in March to actually use the house for the first time.  Here are a couple of shots of the outside.  If you are looking for a place to stay…

On the way home, we drove down a side road and found a magnificent example of what looks to me to be an“old money” estate.  The property was large and the house massive.  I would characterize the style of the house as a kind of Mediterranean Tudor.  The expansive gardens were manicured to a tee and nothing seemed out-of-place.  Now this is my idea of a nice little summer cabin!  What do you think?

When we got home this afternoon, there was a scrap going on at our humming-bird feeder.  There was an empty feeder here outside our dining room window and we have trying varying combinations of sweet stuff and water to attract the humming-birds.  They don’t like pancake syrup and water!  Now they know it is here as you see them coming to check it out but after a quick taste they leave.  It’s like they think that if there are people around the house, the feeder should be full.  Each visit is accompanied by a chirp, as they leave as if to thank us for filling the feeder.  Finally, we found out that the magic combination is one part sugar to four parts water and you have to warm the water to make sure all the sugar dissolves.  Picky, picky!  So once we had the right formulation, more hummingbirds came and they would stay longer.  But back to the scrap.  There is one bird, the smallest one, who seems to think the feeder is his own private domain.  He will allow only one other bird to feed with him, maybe he is trying to impress his girlfriend.  He keeps a close eye on the feeder and when another bird comes too close, he puts the run on them.  It’s funny to see the caution the other birds exercise when they approach the feeder to be sure the feisty little one is not around to give them trouble.

The Hacienda Country Club

Howdy Traveller,

Today, another sunny day in paradise, brought with it a somewhat clearer view of the city in the distance.  The giant skyscrapers are like eerie ghosts showing partly through the mist in the distance.  We are told that the clearest days come after a rainy day in the wet season.

I thought you might enjoy some bird pictures from this area so after some futile attempts to attract birds to our big stone deck I packed the camera and headed down the road to talk to the expert, Antonio.  He has a small feeding station set up off his upper deck and the birds are used to being fed there.  A ripe banana, in the skin, is all it takes.  There is a large pine tree close to his deck so the birds can gather in the safety of the tree and make the short hop over to the feeding station when it is their turn.  There is a definite pecking order!  Here of some of the characters that came to breakfast with us.  I love the vivid colors and wide variety, although I was told that this is a small sampling.

We headed into town to get some gas for our Toyota and on the way back, we decided to explore what was behind a large statue of three concrete horses by the side of the road.  We have passed it many times and always wondered what was down the road through the large archway, so today we headed down the road.  Shortly, we came to a gate house with a security guard.  Now our normal approach to these kind of things is to press on like we owned the place, which is what Andrea tried with the non-English speaking security guy.  There was lots of motioning and finally, he stuck a clipboard through the window indicating we should put our names on the list.  I noticed something that seems to becoming a trend on this trip.  Any time a name is required by security people, it’s always my name that gets given.  Hmmm.  We handed back the clipboard and the gate was opened to us.  We drove for several minutes on a well paved divided roadway before we could see a structure in the distance.  It was a massive sprawling one story structure that looked very opulent from the distance.  We continued to drive for several minutes more before coming up to a large covered driveway and entrance to the building.  We parked the Toyota and walked in trying to look like we belonged not tourists.  It was a massive open structure with fountains, archways, an open air restaurant and some offices.  Andrea went into the office and came back with Josy, the English-speaking Events Coordinator for the Hacienda Country Club, that we had just crashed!

This beautiful place was empty, except for a goodly number of staff tidying up tables, fussing with the landscape and preparing food in the kitchen.  Off in the distance, under a huge tropical shade tree, stood two brown horses, seemingly enjoying the cool of he afternoon breeze.  With them was a large white crane.   Josy gave us a tour of the facility, pointing out the only polo field in Panama, a show jumping ring that gets used for rodeo from time to time, a beautiful outdoor pool area that will accommodate functions of up to 2,000, stables to house the horses, numerous banquet rooms that can be rented for special functions and a golf driving range.  Josy told us that there are now around 70 members but they hope for more in the future as they complete the 18 hole golf course and the kids pool area.  In the future, you will be able to buy lots to build a house, or mansion, inside this gated complex.  Want to join?  It will cost you $8,000 for a 20 year membership and $100 per month dues or you can go month to month for $300 per month.  Josy explained that the Guatemalan owner of the property had a vision for this place 18 years ago and that it has just come to reality over the last year or so.  If you like polo, there is a match on Saturday at 5PM.

There was nobody around except us and the staff so we had a late lunch before saying goodbye to this fascinating place and heading back home for a dip in the pool.

The Great Balboa Beer Truck Incident

Hi Folks,

Just half way through the cooking of breakfast, the propane tank quit!  It was empty!  Now we know that both our tank for the kitchen stove and the barbecue tanks were taken away to fill yesterday but on checking today, they are both empty.  Turns out that the supply of propane is somewhat sporadic here.  There are two suppliers, one at the main gate and the second another 20 minutes down the road.  There are green tanks and blue tanks, which signify which supplier you must deal with as the tanks are not filled up here, just swapped out.  Apparently it is not uncommon for one or both suppliers to be out following a weekend.

After paying some bills on the Internet this morning and trying to find accommodation for our last eight days before we go up to Santa Fé in the interior, I wanted to head downtown to get a couple of bus pictures for a piece that I want to write about the modernization of the city transit system here in Panama City.

We headed down the hill but about the half way point there was an accident.  It didn’t look particularly serious, I mean there were no bodies lying around or such.  A Balboa beer truck on the way down the hill had managed to take out one of the telephone poles on the right hand side which carries power up the hill and to our little community.   Part of the fiberglass truck fender is broken and on the road.  The truck was right across the road and very close to another telephone pole, which remained in tact.  Maybe the popularity of this accident had something to do with it being a Balboa beer truck.  I bet there was lots of speculation about how the accident happened.  Maybe the driver was consuming some of his cargo.  Maybe the driver was traveling in the middle of the road, as they tend to do here, and an oncoming car caused him to swerve and lose control.  Maybe he lost his brakes.  The never-ending possibilities seemed to be fuel for all the dialog amongst the growing crowd.  Judging from how the truck was across the road, it wouldn’t have taken much for it to roll over and then everyone in the quickly growing crowd would be salvaging all those beers rolling down the hill on the pavement.  Now that would draw a crowd!  Traffic started to back up in both directions as everyone came out of their houses to see what was going on.  The police were there but nobody seemed to be doing anything but standing around, pointing, and talking among themselves.  After waiting some time, we decided nothing was going to happen very quickly so we turned around and started back home.  It seemed to start something because a number of other vehicles did the same.

So we never got to town but plan B, going to the pool, was a great option.

When we got home, the power was still off so we went to the restaurant for a late lunch and a visit to the pool.  I asked at the restaurant about the broken Internet connection and was cheerfully told that it was fixed but the power was out so you couldn’t use it!  They did manage to produce a couple of good sandwiches for us so we ate and went to the pool.

This pool here is large, well-kept, and full of cool water.  We have been in pools down here that are too warm to be refreshing but this is not one of them.  It is a great place to spend some time, particularly during the week when the population up here is low.  There were four other people there today!

We will try for another trip down the hill tomorrow but you never know what will happen here!

Another Place to Stay in Cerro Azul

Hi Travellers,

We awoke during the night to the sounds of rain beating down on our big stone deck.  It didn’t last long and when the morning came, the deck was dry.  After breakfast, we discovered that we have new neighbors in the next house.  More Canadians!  This guy and his son were down for a couple of weeks.  He has owned the house for about five years and comes down two or three times per year.  Take a look at the view he gets from his living room.  It’s the top-level with wall to wall glass.  Spectacular!

I visited with Antonio while updating the blog this morning.  He is a warm, hospitable, interesting character who is helpful by nature.  He has two suites in his house that he rents out.  Accommodation here in Cerro Azul is pretty hard to come by.  I mean, there seems to be lots of for rent signs around but I would bet that you would never find them on the Internet.  I know the effort it took me to find the place we are staying.  There is supposed to be a Hostel in the area but that is outside the main gate and part way down the hill.  If you want to stay here and experience this place, you need to rent a house or a suite in a house.  You will also need to rent a car to get here and around.

There is a one bedroom suite on the lowest level that has a full kitchen, a bathroom and a nice living room.  It comes with a WiFi connection and a flat screen TV.  It is nicely finished and immaculately clean. The view from the deck is to die for!  Nothing but trees and birds and hills for as far as you can see.  This little gem rents for $US75 per night with a minimum of two nights or $US450 per week or $US900 per month!  Along with this you get an onsite owner that speaks fluent English and Spanish and has lived there for 15 plus years.  There won’t be many questions about Panama or the area that he won’t be able to answer for you.

On the level above there is another unit that can be rented as a one or two bedroom suite and has a private bathroom.  Each bedroom has its own access to the large deck with a spectacular view.  There is no TV (which is not uncommon here) but there is a WiFi connection so you can stream to your heart’s content.  Rates are $US50 per night for the one bedroom or $US75 per night for the two bedrooms.  Weekly for the two bedroom you pay $US450 and for the one bedroom, $US300.  No monthly rates for this accommodation.  For some pictures of the accomodation check out www.cerroazulsuite.blogspot.com/

If you are interested in renting either of these suites, just email Antonio at smaharba7@hotmail.com.

As the weather wasn’t all that great, we decided to head down the hill and do some comparison shopping.  Today’s feature image is of the local Do It Center.  These modern big box chain stores are kind of 75% Canadian Tire and 25% Home Depot.  We prowled the store and found prices are much the same as at home for things like appliances, ceramic tile, lighting fixtures, and plumbing stuff like faucets etc.  You will find both unfamiliar brands and those that we know.  We went next door and checked out a furniture store with similar results.  This store really didn’t have anything much different from what we have at home.  We need to find a furniture store that has furniture more Panamanian!

We next headed to a mall!  We stopped at the Metromall, a modern gigantic super mall with three or four levels and all the stores we have at home plus a few.  If you didn’t know better, you would think you were in a shopping center in Canada or the US.  We ate at one of the many restaurants before returning up the hill at the end of the day.

We will be getting company in our little house tomorrow.  Some friends of the owner will be moving in to the upper part of the house so we will have to tone our noisy partying down a bit.  If the weather is good tomorrow we will be off for another hike in the jungle.  See you later.

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