Friday, January 27, 2017

The historic, Casco Viejo - Our Panama Visit Day 2

One of the biggest perks for me when traveling, is meeting people. Meeting native people is a joy and also very helpful because it gives us an opportunity to see the location through the eyes of someone who lives there and you have the opportunity to discover places off the beaten (tourist) path. As we travel through Latin America that will not always be the case due to the language barrier, but in that situation, meeting a couple of US expats is the perfect solution! You can now get the perspective of what it's like to be a US American living abroad. 

For us, that is exactly what happened on our recent trip to Panama. We met up with Ife & Ken Grady. They have been in the Panama City area for about 6 yrs (I
think that's how long) They are happily living life there and loving it! 

Ken and Ife have a website called Black Expats Exploring Panama and also do tours. If you are in the area please give them a call. 

The couple was nice enough to meet us in Casco Viejo and take us around and give us a mini tour of the area. We sat down over lunch to chat about life in Panama. One of the things we discussed was the cost of living. And, yes it's true, It is much cheaper to live there. Their rent is $200 a month less than ours (for a comparable property), their electricity bill runs $16 while ours is $140 - $160. Also the government subsidizes the (propane) gas for its residents. They pay $6 for a can that lasts 2-3 months. We pay $14 for a can that lasts 3 wks. The list goes on. I will post a more in depth comparison in my Panama wrap up.

For now, back to Casco Viejo

The Casco, the southwestern tip of Panama City, overlooks the Pacific entrance to the canal, where huge container ships hover. It’s just three avenues wide and nobody uses addresses. Architecturally encyclopedic, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

Along with stylish hotels and apartments they’re building affordable housing, a travel agency, a bakery, restaurants, artists’ residences, a hostel, and a community center. Their hotels employ mostly neighborhood people trained by a local foundation. There are several US expats who own property and businesses in Casco. 

Reminds me a lot of La Antigua, Guatemala except Casco Viejo is only in the beginning stages although real estate prices have been going up steadily - Cha Ching!

Ken Grady

Ken & Ife also introduced us to (US expat) Alyce Sherman, she and her husband Rich are the owners of a cute boutique hotel called Casa Sucre. They bought the property when on vacation in Panama. We got a personal tour of the inside and an explanation of their intricate and detailed remodel project due to the building's Unesco classification.  Alyce was very kind to give me an original floor tile. The building was renovated in 1873 but the hand painted tile is much older (see video below) 

"Located in the historic Casco Viejo neighborhood of San Felipe, Panama, Casa Sucre Boutique Hotel and Coffeehouse is a renovated 1873 Spanish Colonial home with five bedrooms and three apartments for those visiting our historic city.  Incorporated into the historic building is a 1,000 square foot coffeehouse featuring the coffees of the Boquete region of Panama.    At Casa Sucre Coffeehouse we feature fresh roasted coffees from the major fincas (farms) in Panama such as Finca Lerida, Pomona Estate, Cafe de la Luna, Hartmann Farms, Hacienda Fennarrio, and Bajareque Coffee to name a few of the many specialty coffees of Panama.The building which houses the boutique hotel and coffeehouse was built in 1873 and goes by the historic name of Casa Sucre. "Sucre" is the French word for sugar or candy (sucrerie)"
Calle 8 y Ave. B Casco Viejo​ 698-22504 or (507)393-6130
It is a lovely hotel. You just might want to see if you can reserve a room there, if you get to Panama City! I had no luck when I tried, but will try again in the future. It will be worth it!

Ife Grady, Alyce Sherman (owner) and me @ Casa Sucre

Casco Viejo - Panama Day 2
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