Saturday, May 30, 2009

For Sale: My Beloved Condo

Where else in the world could you own a titled oceanfront condo on 16 miles of Pacific Ocean beach? As you know from reading my previous blogs, I fell in love with this breezy part of Panama's coastline several years ago. I feel privileged to live here and love sharing Playa La Barqueta with friends (known and yet to be known). Since I plan on spending the rest of my life here, I took the "plunge" last week and bought a beach house one mile west of the condo. By owning a bit of property around the house, I'll be able to landscape, plant a small garden, start a compost pile (to feed the garden) and gaze at stars from an enclosed porch. It sure seems like a good time to invest before Playa La Barqueta properties sky-rocket in price. I am offering the following two properties for sale:
1. Las Brisas Del Mar #101: It's a downstairs corner unit that is right next to the Las Olas Resort. Because it's so close to the Resort, it feels like I'm on vacation every day. It's totally furnished, monthly condo fees are $215 (includes high speed Internet, water, garbage, pool maintenance, maintaining condo grounds, etc.). The porch/side windows face the Resort gardens rather than another condo. My electric bill is around $60 (I don't use much AC). If someone bought this unit, they could literally rent it out or move in the next day. Two websites: and will give you an idea of what the Las Brisas Del Mar condos are selling for.

2. La Estrella Del Mar #3-7A with a pre-construction price of $250,000. I bought unit number 3-7A. It's in the middle building on the 7th floor (the middle building is 9 stories, side buildings are 8 and 7 stories). I have included a conceptual drawing above. Pre-construction prices on the 7th floor were $374,000 last year. With the drop in the economy, a 7th floor condo was offered to me for $250,000 in November, 2008. If you wanted to buy that same pre-construction condo 7th floor condo today, the price would be $300,000. I need to sell my interest ($37,500 down payment) ASAP in order to buy the beach house. Once they "break ground" in a few months, another payment of $37,500 would be due. After the building is complete (roughly 2 years), a third payment of $37,500 would be due along with securing a mortgage or paying it off with cash. My plan was to "flip" it at that point (for $350,000), and make around $237,500 (to pay off my Las Brisas Del Mar condo).
So my plans have changed.... perhaps to your advantage!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sherri Ann Feeds the Happy Monkeys

I just had to include this joyful video of Sherri Ann Bennett (of Juice Plus fame) feeding the red-backed squirrel monkeys at Mono Feliz. Tomorrow we head for Volcan, Cerro Punta and Sitio Barriles.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Punta Burica Adventure or Where is that Happy Monkey?

What I love about my “retired” life in Panama is that I can have wild and joyful adventures every day. That is exactly what happened the last two days on my second trip to Mono Feliz. If you want to follow along on Google Earth, go to Puerto Armuelles, Panama and follow the Burica Peninsula (go south) to Punta Burica. Fasten your seatbelts!
We (my guests Sherri Ann & Ken Bennett & I) left Playa La Barqueta at 8:00 a.m. in order to catch low tide at noon. To reach Punta Burica where Mono Feliz is located, you need three things: a high clearance 4WD vehicle with good suspension and a powerful engine, a lead vehicle (in this case provided by my great neighbor Ken Sample), and lots of adrenaline. Mono Feliz (happy monkey) is roughly 3 hours from my front door. This was my second trip to Punta Burica (my first trip was in January with friends Pauline & Bridget – see the January 3, 2009 Blog).
Timing and driving was perfect (only getting lost once in Puerto Armuelles), and we made it to Mono Feliz by 11:30 a.m. We didn’t see any monkeys right away, so we went for a beach walk. The Samples (lead truck) and their friends (in the third vehicle) had to return on the same low tide, so they stayed close to Mono Feliz and left by 1:30 p.m. Our beach walk was lovely. It was overcast and windy so we stayed nice and cool. We found many treasures (including one rare piece of blue sea glass). After two miles of walking toward Costa Rica, we reached Dave’s eco-hotel ( This was my second visit with Dave. Had we walked 20 more minutes, we would have reached Costa Rica. By-the-way, Dave is getting frustrated with the Panamanian Government and is willing sell the hotel, all buildings and 5 hectares of untitled land to an interested buyer for $1,000,000 negotiable. I’m sure he would take $500,000 or less if you have that kind of change lying around. Dave showed us his boarders: a very cute baby white-nosed coati, the older and more cantankerous margay (Sherri Ann was somewhat freaked out when she entered its cage to get pictures), and incubating black sea turtle eggs (a subspecies of the green sea turtle with the scientific name Chelonia mydas agassizii). On the return walk, we almost ran into the jaws of a baby Alston’s mouse opossum (don’t ask me how he ended up on the beach hissing at us). We returned to Juancho’s Mono Feliz by late afternoon and discovered that both the red-backed squirrel monkeys and white-faced capuchins had visited in our absence. They put on quite a performance for the Samples and their friends before they had to leave. Within the hour, thirtyish squirrel monkeys returned and put on a delightful show (see the video below). In the course of the afternoon, we met another group of adventurers: Costa Rican Mr. Rafael, surfers Amy and Emma (on vacation from Florida and California), and the Limones Police Chief Mr. Lopez. Amy and Emma finished up surfing after high tide rolled back in so it was too late for them to return to Limones. We got to know them as they waited for the tide to recede. Unbelievably, they made it back to Limones in the dark after a few cocktails!
We stayed in the same cabanas used by my group the last time I was here (perched above the crashing surf) and enjoyed a peaceful night. My 6:00 a.m. walk gave me several treasures including land crab pictures (above) and three species of feeding monkeys on the hillside trail. After breakfast, we did one last beach walk. As we were saying our good-byes, Rafael reappeared (minus the surfer-girls who had moved on or Chief Lopez who was back to his police work). He was there to take Juancho and his wife on a road-trip to his house located in Costa Rica (west over the Burica Peninsula from Limones). Lucky for us, we were invited to follow along… hence another adventure! First we drove along the ocean to Limones where we stopped at Rafael’s house (he has several). He loaded his truck with supplies for the Costa Rica house and we were off. Within 30 minutes, we were in a new country (at least for Sherri Ann and Ken, pictured above on Rafael's porch). We were treated to several views of playful chestnut-mandibled toucans before we had to leave ahead of the climbing tide. Once we left, heavy rains followed us home. We stopped briefly at the Frontera for some duty-free shopping and were home by 5:00 p.m. Sherri Ann and Ken summed up the adventure as a combination of Robinson Crusoe, Gilligan’s Island, Survivor and Lost!