Saturday, May 20, 2006
We're here -- Rovira Arriba and Boquete
Well, here I am in Boquete. In Panama City, my partner Phil and his wife Susan and I rented a Toyota Land Cruiser, and we drove to Boquete on Thursday. It is a nice trip of seven hours or so, even allowing for a leisurely lunch along the way. I drove, and took it nice and easy, not wanting to have to deal with a Transito policeman again, as I had on my last trip here in November.
I drove at a very moderate speed of 100k/h (about 60 mph,) and was one of the slower vehicles on the road. The official speed limit is 80 k/h. My good intentions didn’t help much. As we passed the half-way mark or so of our journey, a Transito parked on the other side of the highway flagged me down. He told me that I had been travelling at 115 k/h and asked to see my drivers licence. He motioned for me to walk to his car (no witnesses that way) and made as if to start writing me a ticket. This would cost me $100.00, he said, if I paid the fine in Panama City. I told him I wanted to pay right now, and asked him how much it would take to make the situation go away. $20.00, he said, the same as the Transito had charged me on my last trip. I told him that there was no way on earth I was going to give him $20.00, but I would settle for $10.00. He agreed, admonished me to stop speeding (wink, wink) and waved me on. I laughed and drove on. It was still a better deal than what I would have had to pay, had I been stopped by the uniformed bandits in Ontario, Canada.
We all got a good nights sleep at the lovely Boquete Garden Inn, and on Friday morning we headed off to Rovira Arriba to inspect the property we want to buy, to meet with the owner, talk some business, and make some decisions.
It is impossible to describe the property and do it any justice. There are stone walls everywhere. In one direction, Volcan Baru looms in the distance, much of its bulk obscured by clouds. The Rio David’s rushing waters can be heard where it delineates one border of the property. Elsewhere on the land, a stream bubbles away. In one area, a spring gurgles its welcome. Everything is green and fresh. Birds sing. The whole situation is somehow almost silly. It is hard to imagine that something so pretty exists in the first place, and that over many decades owners of the land have worked to preserve its natural beauty. The stone walls don’t seem at all out of place. There is an organic feel to everything. The walls meander everywhere. Few run in a straight line. They weren’t built to hold anything in, building them was simply an expedient way to use up some of the rocks on the land. Where did all the rocks come from in the first place? Volcan Baru. Up until 800 years ago or so, it was an active volcano and every now and again it would spew lava everywhere. The result? Rocks. Lots of rocks.
We walked and walked and walked. 108 acres. As I walked, I schemed. Could we actually pull this off? Could we attract retirees and others who want to live in a mountain paradise here, to Rovira Arriba in Panama, and compete against all of the other developers who are chasing their money?
Why not? Over the course of the day, I think we have come up with a workable plan. A surveyor accompanied us on our tour of the property and the first step will be to get him to lay out a proposed site plan for us, based on our ideas of what we think the place should look like.
Then, we'll see what to do next.