Posted by: luisabaldwin | April 28, 2010

HILLSIDE HAVEN, JARAMILLO ABAJO, BOQUETE, PANAMA

Dawn on the Finca

April has been a month of delightful 72-degree weather, low humidity, and lots of blue sky.  Even the laundry is happy.  It flutters in the light breeze and dries on the line in one morning making the maid happy because she can make the bed before her day’s work is done. Evenings have been exquisite; filled with the gentle sounds of crickets (well, maybe they’re frogs, we don’t really know) and fireflies dancing around the landscape, lighting it up like a flickering Christmas tree and brightening up our moon-lit view with bouncy happiness.  When the moon is full, it highlights the silhouettes of these wonderful and mysterious volcanic mountains that surround us. And the evening sky is filled with the same twinkling stars you get to admire, connecting us to you.  In the morning the symphony of exotic birds awaken us, They sing, “Come, wake up!  There’s a brand new day to Live!” Max the rooster crows, “Come on girls, there are insects out there and chickadees to make.  Lets get going.”  Every morning greets us with the sounds of naturalness in all her magnificence.  Missing from the aria are the sounds of civilization; cars, traffic and the morning rush to work with car radios blaring the day’s catastrophic news.

April will be our last month here on Finca Dos Jefes.  It’s been a wonderful experience living here on this beautiful coffee plantation in our little casita on the slopes of Volcan Baru but, hopefully, even better things are in the making.

Our veranda at Finca dos Jefes

I’ve always believed in making a change emerge even better than the last one.  Here’s what we’re going to miss.

Our finca manager Lazaro & his lovely family,

Rich dropping in for a visit

Life’s many adventures have a way of taking some pretty dramatic dream busting turns and we’ve just had one. Finding a place called home is easier said than done here in Boquete if you don’t want to buy or build.  To build you really have to know what you’re doing.  We don’t.  Building is the less expensive way to go.  To buy, you tie up your principle and we don’t think the market bottom has come in yet.   Our preference is to stay fluid for the moment.  Most rentals are either houses that are for sale on the market or retirement homes, up for rent until the owner retires in the U.S. and moves down to Panama.  Long-term rental income property in Boquete is somewhat rare.

Vista from Casa Tedman

We thought we had found our “dream come true” home.  Once called the White House of Boquete, we were delighted to have been selected to move into a 100-year-old historical heritage home.  It could not be described as that now that Americans have built McDonald mansions everywhere.  But at one time, this rambling 100-year old plantation home was considered to be the most impressive house in Boquete.

The veranda of Casa Tedman

Located on a coffee plantation in a very lovely area of Boquete, the house sat on a hilltop and was surrounded by the wonderful volcanic mountain views that Boquete is famous for.

Nice big living room with fireplace

The house ended up being in need of more repairs than was reasonable to undertake and, sadly, we had to turn down the opportunity.  It was a hard decision though.  We could have had our things, dogs, chickens, vegetable garden, flower garden, fruit trees, and lots of space.  However, you never know where your blessings are in disguise and a 5,000 square foot 6 bedrooms/five baths home was a whole lot more space than we were looking for. We had a really hard time walking away from this lovely home.

We could have had some great dinner parties!

We probably would have spent the rest of our stash just furnishing the place!  No, just kidding.

But the history is kind of interesting if you like that sort of stuff.  About one hundred years ago, three families of European Canadian descent settled in Boquete.  They brought coffee beans with them as they recognized that the perfect altitude and weather conditions of the area would produce really good coffee.

One heck of a view of the slopes of Mt. Baru!

That was the beginning of the coffee plantations of Boquete.  One of those settlers was Frank Tedman Sr.  Mr. Tedman’s claim to fame in addition to owning the largest coffee plantation in the area was the introduction of the Gesha coffee bean.  If you can believe this one, the Boquete Gesha sells for $300.00 a pound!  Yes, you read that right.  $300.00 a pound!  By international judging standards, it is the only bean on the planet that scores at a perfect 100.  The coffee beans were then exported by the Tedman family to Germany.  Frank Tedman Sr. also was responsible for bringing the naval orange to the area.  His son, Frank Tedman Jr. continued in the family tradition of coffee and oranges.  He married Cecilia MacIntire and together they had six children – hence the “rambling” home of six bedrooms and five baths.  In that era, the gardens were so beautifully landscaped that people came from all over Panama to see them.  Cecilia started making orange jam from all of those Naval Oranges and baking professionally.  You’ll find the Tedman thumbprint all over Boquete.  Walk into the local grocery store or any grocery store across Panama and you’ll see Cecdilia MacIntire’s jams on the shelves.  When you walk into the Bistro Boquete Restaurant, you’ll see a whole wall mural painting depicting the Tedman family picking oranges from their orange groves. During the Easter Parade you’ll see the Tedman family driving a car filled with flowers and handing out free fresh fruit juice to the townspeople.  We would have been quite happy being a part of that rich local history and family tradition but alas, that’s not to happen.  I suspect we would have ended up being slaves to our home and greeting each morning with one thing after another going wrong.  Perhaps if we were younger…

Our new home!

Enter Hillside Haven and a whole one hundred and eighty-degree change of course.  After numerous trips to the Tedman house with our contractor and to David (one hour away) to get repair quotes we were, to say the least, just a little burned out and raking our brains for options.

The living room is tastefully furnished with lovely tile work

Then I remembered a little casita that I had looked at shortly after arriving in Boquete and called up the owners Al and Sila to see if it was available.  It was and that’s where we will call home for the next period of time.

Al and Sila retired to Boquete from Oregon a few years ago where Al was a cabinetmaker par excellent and the construction of this fully furnished casita is about as good as it gets.  That’s saying something in Panama.

The kitchen is loaded. Great appliances, including a dish washer & washer/dryer

Good construction is hard to find.  Al and Sila were fortunate in that they sold their Oregon home at the right time, thus enabling them to build a lovely home here in Boquete.  The little casita was what they lived in while they were building their dream home.  This newish casita is located on a hill overlooking Volcan Baru and comes equipped with all of the modern conveniences so we won’t be roughing it at all.  The three-acre parcel is already beautifully landscaped. Although we won’t be able to enjoy the wonderful pristine volcanic views that we have here on the finca, we will be able to enjoy a staggering Mt. Baru view from the property and it will provide us with a feeling of tranquility, stability, convenience, and inspiration.

The back yard only needs some color!

Photography by:
Luisa Baldwin
© All rights reserved

We’re looking forward to new beginnings and new friends.

Carport leads directly into kitchen - great for the tropics!

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