Like I said before, I’m staying at Valle’ Escondido while in Boquete, andI must say it’s a beautifully designed place. The architecture is Spanish Colonial, and the common areas are immaculately maintained, with flowers blossoming everywhere. The center of town includes an outdoor amphitheater, a church, dining, and shops….and a river runs through it. Really! There’s a perfect little boulder-lined babbling brook flowing right through the center of this village, which boasts some 200 homes so far (and more coming).
Think Walt Disney meets the jungle and decides to build a mountain town there. That’s what this is. The whole development is the brainchild of Sam Taliafero, an American who began building this place with self-sufficiency in mind. They do have their own water supply and they tell me they’ve already purchased the turbines to provide their own hydroelectric power. But, though the idea of being freed from the government grid of power and water is appealing, I see no room for even so much as a large vegetable garden.
Still, it’s a delightful place, and I actually love it. It’s like a little Shangri-La. They say that Boquete is famous for variety of its bird species (over 100), and I believe it. I’m no expert, but you can hear the singing as soon as the sun comes up, and there are 21 species of hummingbird alone to keep you amused.
Interesting details abound. Here a stone bridge, there an arched trellis. There’s a 9-hole golf course, putt-putt, running trails, gym, riding stables, game room, spa, Olympic- sized pool: you name it, and it can be found here.
So what’s the price? I ask Joe Denham, who works the Valle Escondido properties from his on-site office (email@example.com). Starting at $225,000, you can get a 2/2 1500 square foot condo with a view of a man made lake with a fountain. For $250,000, you can get a small view of the valley. Yes, they’re brand new, they are nicely appointed, and come with granite and custom woodwork, but can you say rip off?
So let’s take a look at a nice river view resale unit on the top floor and with IMO a better floor plan. $325,000. No thanks.
Up the ante to $425,000, and you get a 3200 square foot townhome with 3 bedrooms, three baths and a study that has fantastic valley and golf course views. Even the garage has beautifully stained woodwork for shelving. There are luxury touches everywhere. Gorgeous built in desk and entertainment center. Granite countertops. Stainless appliances. Think very upscale US luxury and you get the idea. Plus, you can eat a banana just by grabbing one off of the tree growing on your property! Very nice.
But the best deal to be had is a partially furnished 2/3 single family home on one level with jaw dropping views over the entire valley floor. It sits right out over the edge of the cliff, so much so that it is almost cantilevered. It features 2200 square feet plus a huge back patio, a maid’s quarters, and sits on ¼ acre of land. The price? $365,000, and it’s been on the market a long time.
Go into town and look up Jazmin Caballero at Casa Solutions (firstname.lastname@example.org). She started out showing me another gated community called The Springs. It’s on the other side of the Rio Caldera and featured an older 1-bedroom home with a completely unusable floor plan for $198,500. Yeah, it’s being renovated. Call me when it’s done. Are you kidding me?
Then on to a ranch house on the south side of town with long range Volcan Baru view for $239,000. It’s a 3/3 with a good floor plan, but the views are unspectacular.
Next I see a 3/3 in downtown Boquete that is within walking distance of the town square and thus has excellent rental potential (estimate of $12-1500/month). Awesome floorplan. Completely walled in. Security system and camera. Lush tropical garden. Fireplace. Mega gourmet kitchen. Storage outside. In short, it has everything, even a decent long range mountain view, and gives you very good privacy for a city location. $300,000 including some very good furniture.
Last, I see a 3600 square foot 3/3 ranch with unparalleled 180-degree views over the city, valley, mountains, and beyond. Features include a rare 2-car garage, 2 fireplaces, and a massive covered back porch with stone colonnades. It’s nearly new and just oozes quality. For $285,000, it’s a steal.
So that’s a wrap. This is a great place to be, and while the real estate here isn’t a bargain, it would cost you far more in the States for something similar, and that’s if you can find it.
I eat at Sugar and Spice today for lunch and have the veggie quiche. It’s fresh and delicious. $2.50. Then on to Las Palomas for a pizza dinner. $14.00 for the pie and 3 drinks. Good pizza, better price.
Tomorrow is a long day. I drive back to Panama City to return my rental and then head on to Bocas Del Toro by plane. If you are not an idiot like me, don’t do this. Far better to return the rental car to the Thrifty office in Boquete, which will make you hurt (to the tune of $180!!!) for not returning it to the airport. But do that, and you can just take about a 4 hour trip by bus and water taxi to get to Bocas, instead of spending all day and approximately $300 in airfare and gas to do the same thing. Or take a bus to do it all, but I don’t have enough lifetimes left to go from P.C. to Pedasi to Boquete on public transportation. ‘Nuff said. Call me an elitist. I don’t care.
Next report is from the beach at Bocas. Adios!