The Founders Lodge at Los Islotes

  • Founders Lodge 2018

We got a later than expected start last Sunday and so didn’t arrive until after dark. When we came around the bend in the road and saw the lights at the entrance gate, Lief and I both relaxed. When I looked over, he was smiling.

The Los Islotes Effect had begun to do its thing.

One of the crew ran out to swing open the gate as we approached. Then he came to the car window to shake our hands and wish us welcome.

A few minutes later we were parking our SUV in our garage, unloading the groceries we’d brought with us, and allowing ourselves to settle into the experience that is Los Islotes.

We opened the French doors to the balcony off the living room, and the fresh night air filled the room. We heard the crash of the Pacific Ocean a little off in the distance… and, nearer, the cries of our resident troop of howler monkeys. They like the black walnut trees that grow alongside the swimming pool.

Otherwise, silence.

We have four televisions in the house here but have yet to turn one of them on. We haven’t discussed it or made a conscious choice… but this has become our media-free zone. No cable news, no network television… and no Netflix either. We have the high-speed internet to support it… but just aren’t tempted.

Instead, after dinner each evening, we sit drinking wine on the balcony, enjoying the night view of the ocean in front and the rain-forest-covered mountains all around. Sometimes friends join us.

This week the nighttime scene has been lit by a brilliant moon.

We’re asleep by 10 p.m.

And up each morning with the sun. We’ve been lucky this visit… because there has been some sun.

This is the height of the rainy season, but we’ve enjoyed clear skies at least part of each day. And all the rain this time of year has an upside. The view from every window and in every direction is decadently green.

First order of business is our regular reports to you, dear reader. Lief and I sit at opposite ends of our dining room table tapping away at our laptops. Daily deadlines met and emails answered, we turn the running of the Live and Invest Overseas operation over to our cracker-jack team back in the office in Panama City  And turn our attention to Los Islotes.

Lief and I like to move around, from country to country and from city to city, and we prefer to come and go with a purpose. So rather than going kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, diving, swimming, or fishing—all activities enjoyed by most folks who make their way out to this Azuero Sunset Coast—we spend our afternoons in the company of our cracker-jack Los Islotes team reviewing progress since our last visit and making new project to-do lists.

Priority focus remains the installation of infrastructure.

Next time you see me, if you’re interested, I’ll tell you stories about our experiences with Unión Fenosa, the company that provides electricity in Panama.

For reasons we can’t figure out—hard as we continue to try—Unión Fenosa hasn’t seemed overly concerned about providing electricity to our little corner of this country. It’s been one delay, excuse, additional review, further required approval, and request for more information after another.

Out here at Los Islotes, we started from nothing.

Well, not from nothing. Here at Los Islotes we identified a virgin paradise on the Pacific. The sea, the coast, the forest, the mountains, the beach, the views… it’s all the best that Mother Nature serves up anywhere.

When we made the decision to focus our attention here, however, this region was one more thing, as well—it was beyond the reach of the 21st century. This is less true all the time… in no small part because of our efforts over the past several years. That high-speed internet I mentioned? We had to find a system that would work out here at the edge of nowhere and a provider who’d install and support it… and then we had to invest personally in the hardware.

We’ve cut roads, dug wells, and imported both the labor and the materials required to build what qualify as fully equipped, finely finished, and 21st-century comfortable houses and office space.

We’ve persevered through the blah, blah, blah of it all, including and especially with Unión Fenosa. We do, for the record, finally have electricity (thus my ability to write to you today). We just don’t yet have the permits for the underground electricity we intend. Our vision for Los Islotes does not include concrete poles and power lines… though right now a few of them dot the landscape. As soon as Unión Fenosa finally signs off on our plan for taking our power cables underground, though, those poles are history.

What is our Los Islotes vision?

Here on these verdant virgin hillsides with killer ocean views we’re building a community of like-minded souls who appreciate the natural beauty, the utter tranquility, and the ever-harder-to-come-by-in-our-era privacy of this special place… the Spanish-colonial architectural style and approach to town planning (our town, for example, which we’ve begun planning this week, like all Spanish-colonial towns, will center around a church square)… and the opportunity this still largely untouched coast provides to disconnect completely from the rest of the world.

Here at Los Islotes we are well insulated from the worries and troubles of our age. Here at Los Islotes, the instant we pass through the front gate, we are in a cocoon of our own choosing.

Here at Los Islotes we make our own reality. It isn’t distracted by daily West Wing scandal or clouded by endless debate over what is and what is not fake news. Who did what to whom when?

Greater minds than ours will have to dig in and dig down to answer that question.

Our minds this week are working to find answers to questions relevant to the future of the community we’re evolving at Los Islotes.

Where should we establish the apothecary garden…

When can we begin planting our common kitchen garden…

Where will the stables be located… and how much corral space do we need for the three horses being delivered next week…

And should we make room in our farm area for a water buffalo…

No kidding. Carlos, our Los Islotes project manager, told us last night over dinner that the local lady who has sold us our first three horses also has water buffalo for sale.

Luxury-standard Spanish-colonial houses and amenities… and a couple of water buffalo off to the side?

We’re thinking… why not?

Kathleen Peddicord