Bocas News

It all began for a birthday

It all began for a birthday

October 4, 2016

How do people, and in particular, Americans, end up in Bocas? Our journey began with a birthday request from my spouse Jessica to stay in an “over the water” hut. Jess travels about 2 weeks of every month with her job doing security for large cargo for DHL– so she wanted it to be closer to home than Tahiti or Bora Bora. I had never even thought about Panama as a resort location until I started doing research on “over the water” resorts close to the USA. Life interfered and our 2014 plans got postponed – but Erin and Marty at Azul Paradise saved our deposit and a year later, Jess and I finally arrived and had the best vacation of our lives.


One morning, as we sat on the “over the water” hammock attached to our casita watching the sun come up – we both looked at each other and said “I could live here.” The weather, the snorkeling, the people, the US currency, the relaxed resort lifestyle – we loved all of it. Although we both were a few years away from retirement, we decided to talk to a local realtor and see if anything was available in our price range. This is where our story starts to write itself.


There was an island originally called Enchanted Island at the north entrance to Dolphin Bay. Jess and I didn’t really know the area that well, but with input from all our new friends, decided to buy this property based on only a video made by Erin and Marty. The selling points were the price and the location. We bought it and then came down in February and even though there was a rainstorm, got in a boat and went out there to see our property. Our friend Anne Michelle said to her husband “I think they will be hardy enough to live here.”  We moved to Bocas in August and stayed in an apartment until we were ready to move to the island. It was great being near the center of town because we got to meet everyone very quickly before we moved further away.


We call our island Colibri Verde and eventually we want to open up the Drunken Monkey Brew & BBQ so that tours headed into Dolphin Bay have another place to stop. There are some beautiful coral areas near the island and I will be volunteering with Coral Restoration Project to help preserve them and grow others in our Boca area.


But the story doesn’t end there. I was looking extensively for container home plans because Jess works for DHL and we can get a container relatively cheap. But getting it from Panama City and onto the island was a whole other story. Which lead me to the Panama Floating Homes website on Facebook. Immediately we both fell in love with the graceful curves of the design. We met Hilton de la Hunt, the designer and builder in August and bought the prototype the next day. Hilton builds custom designs and is already working on his second engagement. Since we have already lived on a boat, downsizing to a one bedroom has been easy for us, as has adjusting to a limited fresh water supply.


But of course having a floating home means that we needed a dock. So instead of building on the property right away, we used our funds to buy “Rosa Blanca” (the floating home) and build a dock that should outlast both of us. Again, Anne Michelle introduced us to the right builder –  Natalio Atencio – who is actually from Dolphin Bay – and we started the design and construction of the 120 foot concrete dock and 20 x 30 cabana. Natalio has become a friend, as well as an amazing foreman who sends us photos and videos as the construction proceeds.


Our story continues to write itself and who know where we will be in another few years?  Right now, I work for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (you know the cable cars, trains and buses) – so you will probably find me behind a computer here in Bocas working remotely and typing away in order to set up a computer system for them to track data for the city. If I am not doing that, Jess and I will be snorkeling, drinking at the bar, or driving around in our little panga in Dolphin Bay exploring.


We love Bocas because everyone here is an individual and you can be your most creative self. We are social people, so welcome our neighbors to stop in and take a tour of the boat if we are home. Just bring along some wine or beer!

Azul Paradise