Casa de Tortugas

On January 11th, 2019, we finalized the purchase of our little slice of tropical heaven in the province of Bocas del Toro in Panama.

This story started shortly after we became a couple when we took a trip to Fiji in early 2017. We explored the local culture, stepped off the normal tourist path and fell in love with island life and the slow pace they call Fiji time. We knew this was the life we wanted to have. But we also knew that Fiji was too far away from family for us to come visit after we retire. So our search started for that Fiji feeling in something closer to America.

It was clear from the start that we simply couldn't find what we were looking for in America. The tropical life hardly exists in America outside of Hawaii and possibly parts of Florida. To get the beach front property we wanted in these areas would cost far more than we could ever afford.

We looked at some of the islands in the Caribbean but after seeing how often and how hard hurricanes hit those islands, we knew those were not for us either. So we turned our eyes to South and Central America.

We looked on the map at places like Costa Rica, Belize, Panama and many others. We decided to start by visiting a few spots in Panama.

Our first visit to West coast of Panama was in February 2018 and we decided that area wasn't for us because it felt very much like Southern California and we wanted something more lush.

In August of 2018 we visited the East side of Panama and the tropical rain forest reagon of Bocas del Toro. We stayed in a cabin over the water as well as a tree house without any walls. We knew after this that we were in love with the area.

On this visit we connected with a realtor that took us to window shop for properties to see what our options were and how far our funds could take us. We didn't expect to actually buy anything.

After looking at a bunch of properties of all kinds and ranging from over the water to way up in the mountains, we came upon a plot of land that checked all the boxes. Some jungle, some beach, some elevation to offer a good view and not too close to town.

After going home we came to the conclusion that we simply couldn't let this slip by so we made an offer. The buying process is very different from anything either of us had ever experienced. We started in September of 2018 and finalized in January of 2019.

The property is a 40 minute boat ride from town. There are no roads or even walking paths except for those we decide to cut. There is no electricity, sewer or water on the island. There is a boat dock and some fruit trees. We will have a septic tank and capture rain water as well as using solar for our electricity. There is wireless internet within range so we can stay connected.

Over the next few years we will work hard to get our house built to fit our needs and then when it is time to retire, we will pick up and move leaving pretty much everything behind and start from scratch. It is both exciting and scary at the same time. Good thing we have time to get use to the idea.

Once we start building, we will add pictures and expand our story. We hope you have enjoyed this story and the pictures.

~ Tina and Glenn