The working name for the 30 acre property in Panama is Paradise Bay. I thought Frank’s resort was called Paradise Bay, which seemed like an apt name, but it’s actually Pacific Bay. So until we find the right name, Paradise Bay is what we’ll call it.
We travelled back and spent the day there on Wednesday. I took some GPS markers, so here’s the location Google maps (GPS coordinates 8.1741, -82.14224). Google have the best mapping data for the area. The point on the map is the likely site of the primary structure. The property includes the whole bay to the north and half of the bay to the south. I’m not sure how far back from the coast it extends, we didn’t reach the fence in our first day’s exploring.
The only practical access to the property is by boat. It is possible to walk in, but the nearest dirt road appears to be 2-3km away. The property to the north is used for cattle farming, so there must be some sort of access. Within this property, the only trail runs east to west near the south end of the property, so overland access from the north would be difficult.
The nearest road accessible port is Boca Chic, about 11km to the north east. The road to Boca Chica is paved all the way from the Panamerican Highway. It’s less than 1hr on the motorbike from David, the third largest city in Panama. David is described as the second best shopping location in Panama, behind Panama City. There’s an airport in David with flights to Panama City and San Jose.
Frank, the owner of Pacific Bay Resort, also owns this property. The general outline of his proposal is thus. There are some 250 – 300 year old trees on the property. The property is currently unoccupied and so every so often, people will come and steal one of the trees. Frank wants to protect the trees and so he wants somebody to use the land. Before I knew anything about the property, I spoke about my vision to build a lodge as a place to make food and shelter people. Frank liked the idea, and in principle offered me the use of his land, for free, with a legally valid contract, in whatever configuration we decide. He suggested a 5 year term, with the option of 10 renewals.
I’m assuming the contract will include details of how the land is to be cared for. Which trees are to be protected, how much space can be developed, maybe how many structures can be built, and so on. We’ll break down these details later if we proceed.
There is some bamboo on the property. It’s quite mature and I think some of it is thick enough to be used for construction, if properly cured. There’s a lot of fallen wood and some driftwood on the beach. These could be used for a mixture of fuel and construction.
The soil seems to be rich in clay, and there’s plenty of sand on the beach. They could be combined to make adobe structures or flooring. There are a lot of pebbles on the beach which could be used for all kinds of pathways and floor coverings.
Currently there is one cleared pathway on the property. The land is fenced around the perimeter and otherwise almost completely untouched. There is a year-round fresh water source on the property, along the southern border. I think the water is about 250m (750 feet) from the probable lodge location, and about 50m (150 feet) lower.
To live on the space we’d need some kind of sewage system, some source of electrical energy (most likely solar) and structures in which to live. I think the sewage will be fairly straightforward, we can start with simple pit toilets and drains. I think the most challenging, and likely the most costly, will be the solar system.
I really like the bamboo hooch idea. I think they could be great here. Some of the bamboo on the property looks like it would be big enough to build hooches. We could also build some adobe structures, but I think it might be overkill in a tropical climate.
I like the idea of using something like hennessy hammocks, especially to start with. They’re economical to purchase, fast to install, we have plenty of trees, and they don’t require flat or soft ground. Over time I can see the hammock berths becoming more luxurious with maybe pebble floors, improved roofing, expanded bug protection, etc.
The things that I’m most focused on right now are ways to build stairs, using what we have available, and flooring. I can see lots of options for walls and roofs, but I’m not as familiar with how to create clean, smooth, waterproof, durable floors. Given the slope we want to climb, I’m also thinking about different options to put in steps.
We didn’t take any new pictures on Wednesday, so I have no new photos to share. However, I’m very interested to hear about your ideas. I think I’ll write a series of posts on the different aspects of the project as I think about them. I’ll be grateful for any links, suggestions or other feedback you would like to share. Muchas gracias.