Los Islotes Beach

An Apothecary Garden And Other News From Los Islotes

This carnaval weekend in Panama, folks are sunning, swimming, and snorkeling in the ever-present sea… singing, drinking, and dancing in the streets… and generally having a rousing good time.

We are, too. Though our idea of fun may seem a little different.

This carnaval season, Lief and I have decamped to our favorite escape—the Los Islotes community we’re evolving on the western coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula.

Plenty of sun and sea, and, at the end of each day, Lief likes his rum and I enjoy a glass or two of chilled prosecco. And, between you and me, I have occasionally been known to break out into song and dance on our terrace. I like the old school classics—Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell…

Out here at the edge of nowhere, you make your own entertainment.

Daylight hours, though, we’re otherwise occupied.

This week, for example, we’re making raised garden beds so we can plant the seeds we brought back with us from Paris. Not much seed variety available in Panama, but in Paris you can find most any seed you can imagine and you can buy it any time of year.

At Los Islotes, we’re creating a series of gardens in the area that will be our town square—some formal, based on the design of gardens Lief and I toured at the castle where we stayed in Galway, Ireland, last November…

Some to grow vegetables and herbs for cooking…

Plus an apothecary garden.

We got the idea for this when passing through the small town of Troyes in northeastern France last year. The apothecary garden here dates to the Middle Ages and is a rare example of the efforts of monks of the time to test and develop plants and herbs with medicinal value.

The apothecary garden at Troyes is divided into four sections. One grows plants helpful for digestive disorders… one grows plants useful for circulatory problems… a third area is for plants that help alleviate pain… and the fourth section is for everything else.

We’re following the same model with our Los Islotes apothecary garden.

We’re also building corrals and stables for our three horses. A couple of months ago, Los Islotes Project Manager Carlos told us about three horses for sale locally. Now, after some weeks of training, all three are ridable, and, turns out, one is also pregnant! Our soon-to-be four horses need housing. Carlos has designed stables in keeping with the Spanish-colonial style of the community overall.

The stables are going up across the road from the town square, which will be anchored by a church with a bell tower… again, Spanish-colonial style.

Our house finally finished (after four years of effort… nothing comes easy in paradise), we’re able to settle in and hunker down. Focus is helping our Los Islotes vision to evolve in real time.

I’d better get going. Carlos and Lief are waiting. We’re heading down to the beach to see where we might position the open-air amphitheater I’d like to build alongside our Panama Jack’s Beach Bar.

Don’t worry. I don’t plan to take to the stage myself. But I am thinking it would be nice to have a venue where our growing community could gather to be entertained ensemble beneath the stars…

Kathleen Peddicord