Rent the guest suite!

It’s really been interesting the last month or so at the Villa.  This is summer time in Pedasi and you know it’s summer when there are more tourists in town, the wind picks up, rain goes away, the kids are out of school and there’s a lot more frolicking from both children and adults.

Summer is also the dry season in Pedasi. We have not had any rain since mid December and will probably not see any until the start of the rainy season in April/May. During the rainy season it rains or pours most days but then the sun comes out soon after accompanied by the humidity.  During the dry season, the wind  shifts from the South to the North and it also gets stronger. This year, the wind has been particularly strong with winds in the 15-25 knot range.  It’s played havoc with the new plants and I’m hoping things will subside over the coming weeks.  Right now, the sun is shining and the dry season (secco) is underway.  The breeze off the ocean keeps the temperatures very comfortable.

Villa de la Torre guest suite rental in Pedasi, Panama

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I’ve also made the decision to rent the independent guest suite (by the week) when we are not living in the house. Yes, that means you get the entire pool and grounds to yourself.  Or if you happen to have a luxury vacation home yourself, I would also be interested in a home-swap arrangement the entire Villa for your vacation home.

Pedasi is fast becoming a popular place for visitors from all over the world.  It’s a quaint, Spanish Colonial town in the Azueros Peninsula about 4 hours drive by car or bus from Panama City heading towards Costa Rica.    Pedasi is safe, almost no crime and the townspeople are some of the friendliest on the planet with easy smiles and always a “buenas”  (hello) is customary even if you’re a stranger.  The proud inhabitants of Pedasi now boast more than twenty restaurants with local folklore and a Carnival that rivals others, not in size but in craziness.pedasi-map-marked

There’s plenty of ocean fishing, surfing and exploring along the Pacific beaches. Most of the beaches are remote and unless you are at one of the surfing beaches, you’ll most likely  find that you are the only one there.

You can see Isla Iguana from the Villa and it’s been designated a nature reserve with white sand beaches, fantastic snorkeling and Iguanas!   You can visit the island by arranging a short boat ride from one of the locals who ferry tourists to and from the island at the beach.  On the other side of Pedasi, down the road to Canas, you can see the hundreds of sea turtles who come each year to lay their eggs.

Villa de la Torre fronts the ocean about a kilometer from Pedasi or about 5 mins drive on a paved road from town.  There are no roosters, chickens or barking dogs.  Just the sound of the ocean and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

The guest suite was designed to be completely independent from the main part of the house and we offer it up to readers and friends should you choose to want to come visit.   It is situated on the right the side of the house on the ground floor with its own independent entrance.  The suite has views to the pool, coconut palms and ocean beyond.  It’s a wonderful view to wake up to in the morning. .Dec2012 018

The suite has 20 foot high exposed wood ceilings, air conditioning, a small closet, nice sized bathroom and rain-head shower.  It is a good-sized room but really designed for single or double occupancy.  The entry doors are french double doors that both open allowing you to have an indoor/outdoor space if you want to.   The bed is late 19th century queen size iron quatrefoil bed with a luxurious mattress, both imported from the US.  Bed sheets are 400 thread count cotton sheets and we supply high-end cotton towels for both the bath and pool.

As I previously mentioned, the entire grounds, terraces and pool are yours to use.  The guest suite is entirely self-service. There is no room service or meals provided. We do have a manager that lives off site, speaks English and Spanish and she is available for anything you may need or require.  We can supply you with a cell phone and internet for a small deposit.

There are no cooking facilities until I am able to finish our outdoor kitchen.  The suite does come with a bar fridge/freezer, desk, coffee maker, coffee cups, wine glasses, and bottle opener so you can have your morning coffee/tea, yogurt, cold cereal but you’ll have to make your way into town for a hot breakfast/lunch/dinner which is only 5 mins away via paved road.   In fact, I don’t know why anyone would bother cooking when you see how inexpensive prices can be (compared to N. American standards) in the local restaurants.  Breakfast or lunch between $3.50 and $8.00 per person, dinner depending on what and where you want to eat $5-$12.  You can buy beer at the local store for .50 cents each or wine anywhere from $4-$10 per bottle on average.

Outside, you have the large covered terrace to yourself with two comfortable cushioned rattan chairs, a burl wood coffee table.  You can watch the birds fly by or watch the pelicans dive bomb for fish directly in front of the house.  August and September in Pedasi is whale season and yes they breach right out in front of the house.

The pool of course is right there in front with two sun recliners. We have the pool cleaned three times a week and the landscaping is maintained regularly,. The grounds have been newly planted and still not completely grown out but there’s enough to keep you interested.

If you are interested please send me an email at ez7331@gmail.com with the dates you are thinking of coming to visit and we can discuss the area, the town of Pedasi, activities and logistics in more detail.  Book online here: http://www.vrbo.com/456958

Photos of the guest suite, Villa de la Torre, Pedasi, Panama:

guest house is right there behind those small palms, under big round window

guest house is right there behind those small palms, under big round window

 

double doors open to the inside of guest suite

double doors open to the inside of guest suite

 

 

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bathroom and stand-up shower

bathroom and stand-up shower

covered outdoor terrace

covered outdoor terrace

 

Walls continue to go higher and you can finally see the livingroom

One of the things I learned recently, was why the bricklayers did not entirely fill in the grout joint when laying the bricks for the walls;  it’s to leave a space or crevice so the repello will find its way into the wall for stronger adhesion.  Repello is the coating of cement (stucco) that is applied to finish the walls.  This is usually done in two stages, the “scratch” stage and the “finish” stage.  You can see in one of the photos the hallway leading to the kitchen downstairs has one of the workers spreading the repello on to the walls.  In order to insure the correct depth and plumb for the application of the repello, they have a piece of 1×4 attached to the wall and a string that’s used to keep everything straight.

Pouring the livingroom ceiling and work speeds up

 

We used the same lumber and support set-up as the previous slab pour.  Our forest of small tree trunks were re-used from the last pour.  They look like they are growing from the  floor to the ceiling holding up the forms that would eventually become the living room ceiling and floor for the second and third bedrooms.  You can get a better look from the photos below how the steel, styrofoam and wood structure is put together.  Once the cement was poured and hard enough to step on they began raising the walls, installing the rough-in electrical and plumbing for the second and third bedrooms.  The support below the slab will stay in place until the cement cures which will probably take about a month.

The big reveal

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The PVC pipe that will hold our electrical wiring is first installed and then the electrical wires are pulled through using a fishing mechanism..  No rust here. You can see the new forms being built that will hold the steel and cement in the adjacent … Continue reading

Second floor slab completed

You can see the first part of the second floor concrete slab is down and starting to cure.  The concrete is hard enough to walk on and to continue to build upon but it will take at least three to four weeks for the slab to cure.

The next step will begin the construction of the supports that will allow us to pour the concrete slab over the livingroom.  This slab will also support the two upper bedrooms which are located directly over the livingroom.  You can see the livingroom in the sixth photo where I took the photo from standing on the upper floor slab at the top of the circular staircase.  That space will be completely covered in a few weeks after the same support structure goes underneath.  The height of the livingrooom overall is higher than the rest of the first floor ceilings so this is why this has become a separate construction process than the first slab we have just poured. The living room is 32 feet by 22 feet wide and 14 feet high.  Pedro, who is also an engineer has designed all the structural elements of the house, has some serious re-bar planned for this part of the building, including much bigger beams.   Basically he’s building the house like a highrise concrete building.  Except it’s only two stories.

Second floor concrete pour

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In this photo, you can see the Styrofoam that I mentioned in an earlier post.  The Styrofoam is permanent in the slab and provides insulation and sound proofing as well.  The entire second floor slab is tied to the structural columns which support the overall … Continue reading

The terrace arches get formed

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You can see the work involved in building the forms that will make the curved Spanish Colonial arches that will face the pool.   The work was long and laborious.  You can see the amount of steel we are using and how it’s being … Continue reading

Pouring the Foundations and Footings

One of the things that I find myself doing is adding more things to this house.   Anyone that’s built a house knows this will add significant costs to the total.   At first it was going to be a 2800 square foot enclosed house and then all of a sudden it became 4000 square feet.  No one to blame but me on this.

One of the things they do in Panama when calculating construction costs is to include, in addition to the entire foot print of the house, any covered terraces and paved or finished ground like the area around the pool, which amounts to about 3000 square feet.  So, it’s not so surprising to hear that the final size of the house that I have chosen to build comes in at about 800 square meters or just over 8000 square feet in total.   This might not be so alarming until you find out that builders in Panama bid on jobs based on a per square meter price and this almost always includes every square meter that has something on it.  Building a house in Panama I’ve discovered is costing me as much or more than what it would cost me to build in my own home town.

One of the reasons is the geographic area I have chosen to build in Panama is relatively remote, about 40 mins from the largest real town of Chitre.  The pool of available workers and craftsmen is not great.  True craftsmen are a rarity and in high demand in Panama.  Timelines are completely blurred by inconsistent and unreliable trades who make promises they cannot keep.  I’m beginning to learn that things get done at their own speed here.  God forbid there’s a holiday, you’ll have to spend the next few days rounding up your workers at some outdoor bar.  It’s a fair comment to make and it’s universally understood in Panama and most of Central America including parts of Mexico and S. America that finding talented, committed tradesmen that take pride in their work is a rare animal.  I think one could surmise that there are probably both good and bad workers but in my case I can honestly say that labor is cheap if it’s done right the first time.  After the second and third time labor is very expensive in Panama.   More on this later, much later as in Maniana!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 After the foundation has been poured and cured, three courses of 8 inch concrete block are laid and filled with cement and rebar.  This is another example of the issues that I encountered when it came to pricing.  The concrete is much cheaper if you hire a bunch of laborers to mix the concrete using a mixer and then pour via a wheelbarrow into the foundation.   Of course it takes forever, but they are used to working this way.  It was decided by the contractor to use a concrete mixing truck and a pumper.  This upped the cost by almost double.  The argument is that you get a better quality concrete and a  better pour.  Its also a lot faster but the price is prohibitive and another example of if you want to go with something different from what’s normally done by laborers in Panama it’s probably going to be more expensive than what you would pay back home.   It’s a tough choice to make but the quality of this house is important to me.  I don’t want to skimp here.