Monthly Archives: March 2015

House Sharing in David #2

I have not been to this house, but I have met Cedo on a couple of occasions. She’s a sweet woman, and her house is quite typical of middle-class Panama.

The Panama Adventure

This home is in Villa del Carmen, a quiet middle class Panamanian neighborhood on the north side of David, just within the city limits. The neighborhood is surrounded by woods and a beautiful river runs along the east side. There is only one way in and out so it is quiet and safe, and the neighbors are friendly and welcoming.

My good friend Cedo has an extra room in her charming little house. There is also a recently arrived expat lady from the US staying there, so you would get a mix of Spanish immersion (Cedo speaks no English), and a gringa friend having a similar experience.

Cedo is easy going and not fussy about little things, and will do anything she can to take care of you and make you comfortable. There is internet in the house, and use of a washing machine.

There is a neighborhood bus that…

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March 26, 2015 · 4:11 pm

House Sharing in David #1

I’m sure there are people who read my blog who wonder what housing is like here in Chiriqui. My friend, and fellow blogger, Kris, has two stories on her blog about houses where short term room rental is available.

The Panama Adventure

Some people have popped up recently looking for short term rental possibilities in this area, so I am putting together a couple things that I know about. Here in David short term rentals are probably a bit difficult to find. Even long term furnished rentals are harder to find than unfurnished (and unfurnished means no stove or fridge or washing machine). But, I know of a couple house sharing possibilities and a couple casitas for rent in Cuesta de Piedra, so I’ll put together some photos and some information in case it is helpful to anyone.

This house is on Ave Tomas Herrera close to Colegio Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles. (A google map should bring it up – look for the school on the north side of David, north of the Pan-American highway) This is a very nice neighborhood with some beautiful homes. It is close to a bus…

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March 26, 2015 · 4:07 pm

A Trip To The Bocas (Chica and Brava)

My friends, Kris and Joel Cunningham, and a neighbor of theirs, Lauren, made a trip over to the Boca Chica/Boca Brava area today, with Joel driving.

Boca Chica Sat view

The Interamerican Highway is under construction the whole way from David to Santiago in the middle of the country though traveling over to where we turned off to Hoconcitos was pretty easy going. The road from Horconcitos to Boca Chica, which is on the mainland was a different story. We passed a lot of houses that gringos would definitely consider hovels, some made of split bamboo and others that looked as though they were made of discarded lumber picked up along the highway somewhere. But as we discussed, at least these people have places to live. They have homes and aren’t living under bridges which, to our group’s way of thinking is a huge step up from being homeless in America.

The road from Horconcitos ends at the waterfront in Boca Chica…

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One of the biggest lies found in travel guides, anywhere, is the phrase, “English is widely spoken.” Well, sort of…

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We caught a water taxi from Boca Chica…

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Over to the Hotel Boca Brava where I promptly fell in love wit the girl who works at the restaurant there. As usual I didn’t take nearly enough photos of the whole event. But to access the hotel you have to walk up about eighteen hundred gazillion stairs. I found it to be a challenge, but the views when we got up to the top were worth the pain…

Looking out towards the Pacific Ocean.

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Looking back towards the mainland.

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I don’t know how drunk the driver had to be to pile this truck up at the Boca Brava Hotel maybe 75 feet above the water and with no road…

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We had lunch at the hotel with huge, surprisingly tasty hamburgers and fries while Lauren opted for the “fish fingers.” I never realized fish had hands, let alone fingers…

Back on the mainland I asked one of the fishermen if he knew of anyone who had a boat they wanted to sell. He said he did, but it needed work and pointed down the shoreline and wanted to take me there, forthwith, as they say, and it was all I could do to get him to stop trying to get me to go along with him. He said the owner wanted about $2,500. I’d seen the boat, I’m sure, from the water taxi, and if this isn’t it, the color scheme is the same, then it’s pretty close. Yellow and red. On the way out of town we took a peek at where the boat was. These boats are very narrow, with a beam of about six feet which, if you go look back at my post about the narrow boats of England, can make quite tidy homes. This hull, rather roughly finished fiberglass, is about 30 feet long.

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Before heading for home, we swung off the road to Horconcitos onto a horrible road that took up to the Seagull Cove Lodge where Kris and Joel have stayed several times. They were very warmly greeted by the manager, Marcelo. Joel took this picture of Marcelo, Kris, Lauren in the background and myself, standing out at the edge of the dining room.

At Seagull Cove Lodge

The views from where we were standing were gorgeous. In fact, they all were.

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On the road back to the Interamerican Highway there are some spectacular vistas. It’s a shame a two-dimensional camera can’t capture the depth of the scenery.

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Traffic was much heavier on the way back into the city but Joel and Kris dropped me off at the bus terminal around 4 o’clock or so and I was home, dead tired but happy by 5.

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What Good Are Plans If You Can’t Change Them?

I’ve had problems sleeping, lately. I get up in the middle of the night to take a whiz and can’t get back to sleep because variations of the shanty boat build whirl around in my mind.

I thought about filling milk crates with empty 2-liter plastic bottles and then found out there’s only one dairy in the whole country that uses them and they won’t sell them. Using other kinds of containers to hold the bottles are no real answer to the problem, either. In any case, I would have built a plywood pontoon around them.

So I got to thinking about using foam flotation. I found a place that sells open-cell foam ceiling tiles and could buy enough of them to provide, literally, tons of buoyancy. The problem with them is each 2’X4′ panel is only 1/2″ thick. Also, open-cell foam, I discovered from rummaging around on line when I couldn’t get back to sleep, will absorb water over time. I’d also have to  find a way to keep the 35 sheets that came in a bundle together.

Closed-cell foam doesn’t absorb water. There’s only one place in all of Panama that sells closed-foam sheets. The sheets are 4’X8′ and 4″ thick. They cost $100 each. I’d need 24 sheets to get the size and amount of buoyancy required for what I have in mind. I’m NOT spending $2,400 for floatation.

So, I’m looking at a site that shows some people building pontoons and stuffing it with foam.

Foam filling

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As you can see in the bottom pic they’re using a combination of bottles, 5-gallon pails and foam. They also mentioned in their story that they weren’t making the pontoons water-tight because they were making a single river trip and the shanty wasn’t for long-term use.

The foam isn’t providing any buoyancy of its own. None at all. What it’s doing is providing potential buoyancy should the pontoons be breached.

Well, I intend on making my pontoons watertight using a combination of glues, epoxy filets, and glass over wood. I also plan on building the pontoons in separate 2’X2’X4′ sections. They’d be easy for an old geezer like me to build and move around than building two long 20′ or 24′ pontoons. These segments would, of course, each have closed ends so that a breach in one wouldn’t flood the whole pontoon. Then I would fill them, like seen above, with a collection of discarded bottles.

So, we’ll see if sorting this out in the daylight will help me sleep through the night.

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Harlan and Anna Hubbard Video

The artist, Harlan Hubbard, and his wife, Anna, could be considered the guru of modern shanty boating. He and Anna were married in 1943 and the next year they started to build their shanty boat in Brent, Kentucky eventually traveling down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, ending their journey in the Louisiana bayous in 1951. His book Shantyboat, and several others he wrote recounts the eight-year journey from Brent to New Orleans, are still available through Amazon.com. His book Shantyboat in the Bayous, which was published in 1990, completes the story.

Harlan produced many woodcuts and drawings like this one showing the inside of their boat and their voyage.

Wonder-Shantyboat-YouTube

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