We live to take photos and we love to travel. If we can learn about the local real estate market while we enjoy ourselves, all the better. When the time finally came to select the next destination for our passion, we tried for a change of view and selected the Republic of Panama. Panama offers so many unexplored adventures and great beauty to capture with the lens. From cloud forests that hold wonders of nature down to the blue green seas that surround this country, to the historic Casco Viejo in the heart of the city and the vibrant people that make it the happiest country on earth, The Republic of Panama is exploding with color and life.
At nearly the size of South Carolina, the Republic of Panama is an economic powerhouse best known for the panama canal. Since it has recently been named happiest country on earth 2 years in a row, we really had to find out what the fuss was about. Thankfully we were not stuck simply taking pictures of the canal, fascinating as it is. We had the good fortune to have an expert on the country of Panama in one Mike Vuytowecz (sounds like vi toe vich). Mike spent several years traveling the country meeting people and taking photographs before he decided to set up shop to sell Panama real estate. So we got the skinny on where to go to get an eye full and mouth full and set off on our journey. We will share our findings over several posts about the country.
First the facts, From the CIA FACT BOOK
“Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela – named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006, Panamanians approved an ambitious plan (estimated to cost $5.3 billion) to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal’s capacity, is expected to be completed in 2016.”
Now for the fun. We began driving out of the city to enjoy a little beach time along the Pacific beach coastal area. The Carrertera Interamericana or the Pan American Highway as it is known in English, spans the length of most of the country providing access to all of the major areas of the country and parts beyond. It is surprisingly well maintained and modern. We stopped first in highly developed and thoroughly modern Coronado Panama. At first glance you ask yourself why in the heck would anyone want to live here? There isn’t any beach that is visible. Not really a great place to take photos when you arrive. Looks a lot like a suburb in the US with the new shopping plazas all around. That is the deceptive thing about Panama, one minute you are staring at a concrete block building and then BAM! there is the ocean. Virtually all along the highway you have to exit to find the gold. A short drive away from the center of town and we are at the beach with its amazing blue green water. It doesn’t look real but more like what your fantasy version of the ocean should look like. In the morning you can catch the local fisherman pushing their boats out to harvest the fruit of the sea.
After spending the morning in Coronado we drove further up the coast in search of more beaches where we landed at Playa Serena. We found a really nice tidal pool area in front of the Ibiza hotel. Tidal pools are always a great place to discover how much life is teaming under the water line. We saw starfish, lots of crabs and some small fish along with lots of sea birds including pelicans. Walking along the beach near dusk after the tide came back in, the beach was teeming with hermit crabs making their journey to the waters edge. After a packed first day we headed back to a beachfront house that is divided into floors for rent. Kind of a mini hotel. It was perfectly timed so we got to watch the last bits of the sunset from our front porch. Mike told us there were amazing discoveries to find here in Panama and not just in real estate.