Testimonial from the First (Unofficial) Site Expedition on Isla Palenque
Gale Carson is just the sort of intrepid adventurer that our wild, jungle-covered island loves welcoming to her shores. It seems fitting that he was among the very first to explore Isla Palenque in all her raw, unaccented glory.
Early in the spring of 2010, several months before we began offering regular Site Expeditions to Isla Palenque for individuals interested in owning a vacation home on the island, Gale visited Isla Palenque, along with his wife Sandy and her sister Carol.
While Gale’s island jaunt was absent the luxurious amenities that the first guests of the resort will be enjoying later this year, you’ll see that it did not lack for pleasure and comfort – the island takes care of that on its own via the warm tide-washed beaches, cooling sea breezes, and shaded jungle walks. Gale’s adventurous attitude enabled him to tap into the essence of Isla Palenque, encountering some of the exotic native species and taking in arresting views of the surrounding Pacific waters.
Fortunately, the entire eco-development on Isla Palenque, from the tented suites at our boutique resort to the expansive villa residences, has been meticulously planned to allow for unhindered immersion in nature so that all who visit the island will be able to get as up-close-and-personal as Gale did.
Inspired by his island visit, Gale penned the following guest blog to share the experience with other hopeful Isla Palenque explorers. Thanks, Gale for turning your impressions of Isla Palenque into such a great read! We’re excited for your return next year when you’ll be able to luxuriate at our new resort while enjoying the same wilderness you encountered on your very first visit.
I don’t remember exactly how I ran across the Isla Palenque website — maybe it was while surfing for info about Panama after my wife and I had a great first trip there in the spring of 2009 — but it hooked me. I knew we would be returning to western Panama again, and would be bringing some family and friends along to see if we could generate interest in buying someplace to stay warm during future winters. So, I began corresponding with the Panama City office about the project. They suggested we consider actually taking a trip to the island to see it firsthand. That’s how we became the first prospective property owners to actually visit the island and experience it live and in person.
We started our trip when Michelle and Jerrod met us at our hotel and drove us down to the Pedregal Marina a few miles south of the city of David. We were met there by staff from a local resort with a high speed launch boat to take us to the island. We also met a great guy named Aris Almengor who is working as Isla Palenque’s Project Coordinator. He’s from the David area originally, and knows the area really well.
From the Marina it took about 40 minutes to get to the island where Michelle, Jerrod and I hopped off the boat into knee-deep water and began walking the island. My wife and sister-in-law chose to stay on board and view the island and its beaches from the boat with Aris as their guide. I don’t know what he did, but they are both still talking about him so he must have been a good tour guide.
As we walked along the welcoming beach, actually, it is the beach where the “welcoming dock” to the hotel will be located, Jerrod began explaining the proposed layout of the dock and walkways up to the hotel and Michelle got her camera out and began documenting our adventure. As we left the beach and began climbing up to the hotel location, the sunlight that had been strong on the beach became diffuse and very mild because we had entered a beautiful jungle forest. The smell of the sea changed into the smell of flowers and lush jungle greenery.
The trees became taller as we climbed to where the walkway from the dock will bring people up to the hotel entry pathway. Here Jerrod began to explain how the plans for development of the island will require all old-growth trees to be protected, and how all the roads (actually not much more than narrow lanes) and paths will be sited to protect the environment. Topographic changes will be kept to a minimum, allowing access to all the properties without infringing on them.
Because we were the first visitors to the island, we got to see it with only a small amount of the development work done. Survey work for the roads and the model villa site had begun. General locations for the hotel, casitas, canopy homes and villas had been chosen, but in order to preserve as much of the natural beauty of the environment and to maximize views and breezes, each of these parts of the development will be laid out individually as development progresses. This will be a carefully-planned community that won’t look carefully-planned.
We had to negotiate rough ground with small shrub and tree stubs sticking up from when the local workers had cleared some undergrowth with their ever-present and trusty machetes. During our trek we came across some fascinating trees with ferocious-looking thorns on the lower trunks. Michelle captured some great pictures of them.
Probably the most impressive structural element that had been developed when we were there was the layout of the model villa site. I can’t call this a house on a site, as it is a house and a site combined. Some rooms will be separated from others by open walkways; trees will be left to grow through decks; private and shared spaces will be on different levels of a gently sloping landscaped hillside; and all of it will face out to a beautiful private beach. Although this site may well become the most expensive property on the whole island, I know viewing/experiencing this site is what made me sign up for an opportunity to buy one of the first twelve residences built on the island.
From the villa area we backtracked to a path with jungle overhead and a marsh to one side. It looked wild. I can easily imagine eyes shining back at me from a flashlight’s beam at night on this path. That path led us to the BIG beach, about three quarters of a mile long with a perfect spot for a little beach bar set back among some coconut palms. In fact, a beach bar is planned right at that spot. Nice planning.
We didn’t see any monkeys on this trip, but the habitat looked like monkey heaven. There are wild fruit trees to keep them happy, the trees are very large and the canopy is very thick. I’ve seen howler monkeys in Guatemala and Belize and Isla Palenque looks every bit as good as those places for monkey shines.
The launch picked us up at the BIG beach and brought us to a small eco-resort where we had a great lunch and Jerrod, Michelle, and Aris kept answering my incessant questions. They were great hosts as they were extremely knowledgeable and seriously committed to the success of Isla Palenque as way more than the typical tropical resort.
I will end this with a story, a true one. Returning from Panama in 2009 we met a woman in the airport who had (with her husband) just spent their first year in Panama in a home in one of the beach communities about one hour west of Panama City. She went on about how their home had only been actually broken into and robbed once, although things kept disappearing from around the outside, and how much fun she has playing Mahjong every day with her neighbors. I can’t imagine any of that happening on Isla Palenque.
P.S. As we got back to the dock in Pedregal, it poured. Hey, it’s the tropics. If you’re afraid of water, move to Arizona and play Mahjong.