The first question you might ask when wondering about Pedasi real estate is, where in the hell is Pedasi? Glad you asked!
My directions from the Panama City airport were to follow the Pan American highway into the City, where I will switch to Balboa Avenue if I have successfully avoided an accident in the lane-free traffic snarl that defines the downtown area. Then, take the Avenue of the Martyrs (named after the Panamanians we shot off of a flagpole when they tried to take down the Stars and Stripes back when we ran the place) and stay left at the Y, which will put you over the ONLY bridge across the Canal… Then drive 2.5 hours.
It’s during this stretch that traffic on this 4 lane highway comes to a complete stop for an hour. I wait patiently while I am routed around what I assume must be a terrible accident. What I find instead when I enter back on the highway is a gaggle of striking workers who have pitched umbrellas and lawn chairs in the middle of the road like it was just a Sunday BBQ. There are cops everywhere, all armed with menacing weapons, whose only jobs appear to be to route cars around the protesters and man the counters at fast food restaurants, not disperse these people. So the country’s main artery comes to a halt over low wages.
Now you continue on until you get to Chitre’, where you must look for the second trellis after the town and take that exit, which of course is not marked. Continue until you get to Las Tablas, where you should see Jesus hatching out of an Easter Egg suspended from a crane. I miss Him, but I see a tiny sign under a tree that has been hammered unmercifully by vandals: Pedasi. Then walk into the gas station and ask where you are, because I have no idea!!!!
And so it is that only an hour later, after driving all day (albeit on mostly excellent, if unmarked, Panamanian roads), I find my way to the lovely Casa de Campo, a B & B recommended by trip Advisor. Four stars from me. Clean rooms, great omelet and fresh juice for breakfast, Internet service, and friendly staff (easy on the eyes). What more could you want?
The next day, I meet my realtor, Tedd Tennis. Tedd’s a big, strapping Michigander with a story to tell for every occasion and has moved here three years ago from Hawaii.
I tell him I want to see something that is beachfront or with a great beach view for under $300,000. He shows me two nice developments where I can buy a lot for $250,000 to $285,000 and build a house for around $100 a square foot so we’re in the ballpark, kind of.
Both lots offer spectacular views and at least ¼ acre of land. Both have their own water treatment, underground utilities, sidewalks, streetlights, a guard house, and septic. They do not, however, have completed houses.
I am impressed. I ask to see more.
We head to see a B & B called Villa Romano. The owner, a mysterious Italian of German extraction named Hans, has developed a very nice piece of bluff front property right on the edge of the ocean. He’s selling completed homes of around 1500 square feet for around $425,000.
For that price, you get the house with private pool and the same security staff and property management as the B & B. You get a spectacular ocean view on two sides if you act now, which I might, because this is just too amazing to believe.
This is right out on the edge of the world property, with cliff faces on two sides and a nice stone path down to the beach from the back of your house. The beach has hermit crabs, driftwood, and lots of trash washed down from local towns. Not as much as Ecuador, but still, is it asking too much that Latinos actually use a trash can for once? Really, how hard is it to NOT be a pig?
Anyway, I digress. It IS beautiful, and you can see from here all the way to your neighbor’s house a quarter mile away. That is the Prince of Lichtenstein, who I’ve heard is a really nice guy.
So I’m standing out here wondering why I haven’t already bought a place here when the answers come to me:
>Trash on the beach
>Lots of eroded beach hillsides that might one day threaten the foundation
>No completed homes
>Some “no-see-‘em” bugs
>Price is a little high
Other than that, it looks perfect, and I don’t mean this as being sarcastic. It just looks fantastic!!! I’d take any ONE of these!
Last, I see a lot on Playa Venau. This is owned by Israelis and is being developed as a hotel/single family home development right now. It’s about 30 minutes away from town but has a bar/restaurant of its own. It’s the best swimming beach I’ve seen, in an arched cove that is internationally renowned for its great surfing, though it’s pretty glassy today. The price? $250,000 for a resale lot.
There are home sites going up the side of the mountain behind Playa Venau with spectacular views as well, going for about the same price as beachfront, if you buy the one acre hilltop lot with a 360 degree panorama. The road getting up to these is a little hairy, though Tedd says they’ll have some improvements in place soon.
All of these developments offer some infrastructure improvements already in place. The roads vary from dirt to asphalt, but they all have power and either septic or sewer treatment ready to go. All offer jaw-dropping scenery. I just have to get my mind around the price. Hmmm…
I eat at Smiley’s, just as I did the night before. They serve up seared tuna done to perfection along with assorted vegetables for $12. I drink wine all night for another $15. Great place, great deal.
The owner is an expat American from Michigan who moved down here and married a local girl a lifetime ago. He’s also the bandleader, and his lead guitarist is my realtor. Like a lot of tourist areas, you do what you can here to earn a little extra money and have a good time. Lots of very talented and interesting folks.
Tomorrow, I go spearfishing. Wish me luck!