After hearing about the excitement and the growth down the Azuero Peninsula I wanted to see it with my own eyes, not those of the people selling or trying to sell sand castles. Mayra and I visited two years ago when I was writing for Live and Invest in Panama, this was a return to relax and see all the changes.
The new four lane highway from Divisa to Las Tablas is moving along and the ride down the peninsula is much faster than before. One massive credit to the current government is that the investment in infrastructure will at least in theory propel growth, it is certainly enticing private investment.
We passed through Chitre, Los Santos to Las Tablas on new and improved highways. There are an extraordinary number of new businesses and developments in the Chitre region. I always liked Chitre as a very traditional Panamanian town, like much of Panama it has a new flavor; the flavor of investment and growth.
Mayra and I arrived in Pedasi near sundown, about five and one half hours from David. We did run into one half hearted Indigenous road obstruction on the road between Tole and Santiago. There were fewer then ten people there and more than that number of riot police waiting down the road. We and all the traffic passed through unmolested.
We stayed with some good friends who have a small secluded B&B about 30 minutes west of Pedasi near Playa Venao. I do recommend staying there it if you wish to make the trip and want to be close to both the surf camps and the pueblo. Goeff and Caroline are former Boquete residents now living the beach life. This is a link to their website, LINK.
This the view from their back porch, it is not a golf course but could be a putting green.
On Saturday we spent the day following up on our prior trip two years ago. On that trip we met with some of the developers of beach front property who arrived from Israel to turn the sea coast into lot line to lot line developments. The number of houses in each development has doubled in two years. Then you could count them on one hand, now after two years you need two hands.
It seems every pasture near Pedasi is either for sale or has been sold to a developer. All that is missing are the buyers of the lots they created. Pedasi has a new hospital under construction and an airport completed in December 2011 that has just opened. We visited the airport and took a walk onto the runway because only us, some cows and a wind sock were there. There are currently no flights scheduled into Pedasi. My political corruption curiosity wondered who might have been the prior owner of the pasture which is now an airport with no staff, fuel facility or parking.
Like so many stories in Panama I think the pitch on Pedasi is a speculation on the future. The beaches near Pedasi are fantastic, some literally deserted, tourists do come, surfers love Playa Venano and fisherman love the waters off the coast. I asked who is buying in Pedasi and heard interesting things, the most sales in the area are coming as Panama’s middle class is investing in vacation houses in the beach area, houses selling for a bit over $100,000. It is really refreshing to see that the economy of Panama is allowing Panamanians to make the same mistakes that were made in North America a decade ago. I was told that the beach properties are selling slowly and are often back on the market rapidly as people discover there is nothing to do in Pedasi beyond surfing and fishing. The beaches have not flooded since the projects started but local memories go back further than the developments.
There is a demand for rentals, as in Boquete, that might make for some good long term investment. Despite frequent failures of urbanizations there is little doubt in my mind that this area will eventually develop into the French Rivera of Panama. The only question is will either I or my children live to see it; perhaps my grandchildren.
The local restaurants on the beaches like Playa Arena are still affordable and great fun. You can buy lunch for four with a few rounds of beer for under $35, I did.
Pedasi is a beautiful, remote place to visit and spend a few days on the beaches. Enjoy it while you can because like all things in Panama the times they are a changing and the things that made Panama attractive to many are evolving into the things some of us fled.