Eight Days in Panama
Installment Four

After departing the Casco Viejo area, we went to Mi Pueblito. A
brief stop to see the little village. A remake of a small typical interior village one might come across. Then we got our first "on the ground look" at the Amador, former USA military base that was in charge of the Panama Canal until 1999. From a vantage point near the TGI Fridays restaurant, we could see the Bridge of Americas. Difficult to imagine that if we got into the car we could drive on this highway all the way north to Alaska. The former base is more lush and less developed than the areas of Panama City we had seen. It was our first look at what is left of the former jungle that must have been in Panama before development. We drove along and through the
former officer housing and officer exclusive buildings. Mostly left as they were when the base was turned back to Panama in 1999. We went out along the Amador Causeway road. It looks as if the Causeway was formed by dredging fill when the canal was constructed. Along the sides are walkways, trees and great views back to Panama City and the water way, ships go into to cross through Panama. It is a peaceful and most relaxing area. A place to go when one gets tired of city life for a day. Bicycles, inline skaters and just strollers enjoyed the beautiful park like setting along the bay. At the end of the Causeway are 3 small lush green islands. They too were created by the fill from the canal. Isla Naos, Isla Perico, Isla Flamenco. Near Isla Naos is the Smithsonian research center. Near there is the new ferry dock to Taboga Island. I had read that on these islands were planned some resort condo/hotel projects. Perhaps this might be interesting in the event we did not live full time in Panama City. Perhaps we could offset our cost by renting out our unit when not using it.

Between Naos and Perico was a new shopping
strip mall. A open air restaurant. Looked like the beginnings of a world class destination. Views of the city across the bay. Ships coming and going through the canal. Most interesting. Even felt a little cooler with the breeze off the bay. Besides Nora and the hotel staff, we had not had any contact with any locals up to this point. Nora found the office promoting the units on Perico. We were introduced to Mr. Abraham Angel, the sales manager. A very nice man who could speak good English. He gave us his business card and offered us coffee, tea, cappuccino or soft
drinks. I really only had several questions. How much for a unit, what are the HOA fees, what do the HOA fees include and is it titled or Right to Use? Before I could ask my questions, Mr. Abraham Angel told us of the bold new project under way. They were going to fill in a part of the bay to make a large parking area and 400 boat slip marina. There was to be 10 low rise buildings 4 stories high with 20 condo units per building. Then we learned about Mr. Abraham Angel son's, his wife, his 5000sf penthouse in Paitilla, his condo in Florida, his religious affiliation, and his work in Colon. And still I did not have any answers for my questions. I was polite but was becoming very impatient. Finally he got to the price. In the beginning the basic unit was $120,000. But "right here right now" it was $150,000, and in short order it was going to be $170,000, the units were completely furnished including such things as pots and pans and one could not swim in the bay waters here. We heard how a big investor had just purchased 2 buildings and another had purchased 1 building. All the best view units were sold. He explained that he made a buyer just give him a deposit on one unit for $75,000 with $25,000 due when he got back home. Then Mr. Abraham Angel said that the HOA fee's were going to be $300 a month. He said that if we purchased a unit "right here right now", it would be only $50,000 down, balance due on completion. Still I ask what is the title? He says "do not worry", you could sell it or pass it on to your family. Ok what is the vesting of the title? Finally he says that all the land is "lease hold" for 40 years with a 40 year option for the HOA. We thanked Mr. Abraham Angel as we were departing when
he gave us his last offer. Give him $25,000 right here with now with the balance due on completion. We started to learn about the locals. Real estate salespeople are the same the world over. Secondly is that Panamanians are very courteous. They love to talk and talk and share personal information with complete strangers. I can see a big difference between our cultures. I am in a hurry to get to the point. Panamanians are more likely to take their time and enjoy the moment. Family is as important as the "deal". Perhaps if I can learn to slow down, I might live longer? For those in a hurry, we might become very frustrated with the pace things happen in Panama City.

The dark clouds were racing in on us. It was about 3:00pm as we started heading back along the causeway. There we stopped for a late lunch at Pencas. We were all hungry. It is a beautiful restaurant on the second floor. Covered thatched bohios ceiling with some sort of solid roof cover with open air sides. Outstanding views of the city, bay and canal. And then it happened. The rain started. It came down in buckets! The roar was deafening. The rain was so thick that all the views disappeared in the rain. Visibility could only have been 50 feet. As fast as it started it was over! The city, bay and canal
reappeared. Most amazing.

By the time we finished our delicious meal, it was time to head back to the hotel. About ½ way back we encountered a demonstration. Our guide explained that in the constitution, people have a guaranteed right to peaceful demonstrations. They must give the government 24 hour notice. Government is to provide police escort. Demonstrators are to use only one lane on the road without completely blocking cars. There were about 50 people with banners marching along. Democracy in action I thought, that is a wonderful thing. It was just about where we passed the demonstrators that our guide pointed out where once stood the police office during the Noriega years. It was one of the first buildings destroyed when USA invaded Panama. I asked what it was like during those years? It was a story of fear, oppression and corruption. I thought how much
better Panama is without Noriega. I wondered if the same thing will happen in Iraq?

We had been in Panama for less than 24 hours. We had seen the city regions around the bay that most interested us. It was too early to make any long term decision about Panama City. Nothing was shocking. We had nothing but positive feelings. We now had regional names to go with the areas we visited. We have a visual impression of a most interesting city.

Part 5, Shopping, price comparison

Installment One Installment Two Installment Three Installment Four Installment Five
Installment Six Installment Seven Installment Eight Installment Nine

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