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 prepare to round the corner from 2022 to the New Year, the answer to that question has a great deal to do with a piece of beachfront property that we bought a decade ago on Panama’s Veraguas coast.
Finally, our vision for this stretch of Pacific paradise is coming together.
Lief and I like to wander…
At this stage, though, while we still prize change and contrast, we’re preoccupied with thoughts of legacy… and keen to establish a permanent base.
To our surprise, when we ask ourselves today where to make that commitment… we realize that we’ve already made it.
Without our intending or realizing it, what began as a business venture has become the most personal investment of our lives.
Los Islotes has become the place we think of as home.
We celebrated our first Thanksgiving at Los Islotes last month. Watching our 2-year-old granddaughter build castles in the sand on our beach cinched it. Los Islotes is our future.
We arrived on this Veraguas coast frontiersmen. We’re through the mountain man stage now… transitioning to realizing our long-held vision.
What was just a year ago a battered, coastal road now boasts some of the smoothest asphalt in the country… meaning our commute from Panama City has been reduced by an hour or more…
We now have fiber optic internet, and a commercial center, complete with a gas station, a restaurant, a hotel, and a grocery store, is thriving just down the road.
Lief and I value beauty, history, and tradition…
We prioritize privacy, security, freedom, independence, and elbow room…
And, yes, we like to be comfortable.
Early explorers to this Veraguas coast brought with them their Spanish culture and heritage…
Centuries later we, too, were attracted by the rich land, fertile soil, and abundant sunshine. Panama’s Azuero coast today is a melting pot of the indigenous and the colonial, the Old World and the New… a land of promise and opportunity where the past is respected and the future bright.
Here at Los Islotes we’re embracing layering amenities and conveniences of 21st-century living over the best Mother Nature serves up anywhere on our Earth.
We’re creating a place where we and like-minded others 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.
Our efforts are building momentum. We’re investing in top-tier infrastructure, beach amenities, a clubhouse, stables, gardens…
Over the past decade 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 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 tried to support these little schools over the 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 2023 goals is to step things up on this front. I’m in touch with a woman with decades of experience starting schools in developing countries and looking for a retirement project… as well as with the creator of the International Baccalaureate program. With their help, I’m putting together a plan for a Los Islotes Learning Center.
We’ve identified a piece of land at our entrance and have worked with our architect to design a structure.
As we’ve done with all our overseas operations over the past three decades, we’ll begin small and let things evolve organically. To start, our Learning Center will offer English-language classes, computer literacy classes, after-school tutoring, and a lending library.
I’ve been collecting books for years. I can’t wait until the day I’m able to stack them on our new library’s shelves.
Of all the plans I’m making for this New Year, this is the one I’m most excited about.
Lief and I spent the better part of 2022 in residence at Los Islotes… and next year this is where you’ll continue to find us.
Panama’s Veraguas coast, which Los Islotes calls home, is a secret treasure. Few places in the world remain this unspoiled.
I’m privileged to consider it home.
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter