This is the time of year to remember, recalibrate, regroup, and reset your sights.
Where have you been… and, more important, where are you going from here?
For Lief and me, as we stand on the threshold of 2021, the answer to that question has a great deal to do with a piece of beachfront property that we bought, nearly a decade ago now, on Panama’s Azuero Sunset Coast.
Finally, our vision for this stretch of Pacific paradise is becoming clearer.
Lief and I like to wander. At this stage, though, while we still prize change and contrast, we’re increasingly preoccupied with an urge to establish roots… to build a home for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and beyond in a place where our neighbors share our ideas about what’s important and interesting… and where we’re all able to embrace the best of Mother Nature while also enjoying the comfort and convenience of top-end 21st-century living.
A place where we and our families can live independently, even self-sufficiently… while enjoying each other’s company and also contributing and helping to improve the greater local community all around us.
This is our plan for Los Islotes, as our Azuero Sunset Coast undertaking is called.
Our Plans For Los Islotes
On this stretch of the crashing Pacific we are working to create a society for people who appreciate the beautiful natural setting, the privacy, safety, and elbow room this part of Panama offers, and the prospect of settling down long term, full- or maybe only part-time, among like-minded folks with similar perspectives and priorities.
Our efforts were building momentum. We’d become one of the biggest employers in the region.
Then, in March, we—like businesses across Panama—had to shut and lock our gate. Our crew laid down their tools and went home to ride out the storm that was to follow.
Finally, last month, we were able to re-open and to begin the work of getting back to work.
We’re back to planting trees, creating gardens, designing stables, and fencing off corrals for our horse population (whose number increased by two this year all on its own… during the pandemic lockdown two unexpected foals were delivered… reminding us that Nature wins and life carries on).
With high season for this part of the world upon us, they’re also sprucing up our Panama Jack’s beach bar and generally pruning, clearing, cleaning, and applying a fresh coat of paint.
Over the past years that Lief and I have been spending time on this coast, we’ve gotten to know some of our neighbors.
One of them told us something not long ago that got my attention. She explained that the schools in the region have trouble finding good teachers.
“As you know, there are three little schools in the area around Los Islotes,” she told me. “All of the kids who attend walk to reach the schools each day.
“Some of these kids,” she continued, “walk up to two or three hours each way. The trouble is, many days they arrive at school to find no teacher.
“Some of the teachers are more committed than others, but it’s not unusual for a teacher not to show up…”
If a kid so wants to learn that he’ll walk three hours to get to the nearest schoolhouse, someone ought to be there when he shows up to teach him something.
We’ve been trying to support these little schools over the past few years. We’ve donated books, computers, and other materials and supplies. It’s been a well-intentioned but ad-hoc, irregular, and, I realize, far from comprehensive effort.
A Main Priority For This Year
One of my primary 2021 goals is to step things up on this front. With the help of our Los Islotes Project Manager Carlos Correa, we intend finally to open this year a Student Center for kids in the area interested in learning. It’s a first step toward starting a school.
A landowner in the area has donated a piece of land in a central location. Live and Invest Overseas and Los Islotes will provide the money to build and outfit a four-room schoolhouse. We’ll hire an administrator and recruit additional volunteers to help her with teaching and tutoring.
As we’ve done with all our overseas operations over the past decades, we’ll begin small and let things evolve organically. To start, the Student Center will offer English-language classes, computer literacy classes, after-school tutoring, and a lending library.
Over the summer, I shipped a dozen boxes of books to Panama, which Carlos collected for me and delivered to our Los Islotes office where they now await the day we’ll be able to stack them on our library shelves.
Of all the plans I’ve made for this New Year, this is the one I’m most excited about.
If I could, I’d move out to Los Islotes full time and volunteer my own services. Pitching in to build this little schoolhouse and then spending time there each day with the kids from the area who make their way to it is one of the most worthwhile pursuits I can imagine.
And, indeed, starting later this month and for the next few months at least, Los Islotes is where you’ll find me.
I share this plan with you in case you intend to be in this part of Panama and might be interested in becoming involved. Starting sometime later this year, we’ll be in the market for someone to help manage our Student Center, as well as a couple of good teachers.
Primary qualification is that you promise to show up.
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter