Every community has at least one fire station. Coronado, Panama is no exception. It has all the necessities you would need for a short term visitor or an extended stay. Coronado is one of Panama’s first attempts at having a resort styled beachside community. Since its development, it has become a popular destination for tourist, winter or second homes and/or newly settled expats. The economic fallout that crippled most all of the developed countries, was an advantage to others. Retirees and self-motivated entrepreneurs started looking for places that either offered ground-level business opportunities or a lower cost of living, or both.
We are looking for a destination that can provide a lower cost of living and on the same token, return us to a more simpler lifestyle. We want to shop at the corner markets or more commonly known in Latin countries as a ‘Mercado’. Mercados are very common in smaller communities as 7-11’s are in the US. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from open-air stands that are found on street corners and periodically in front yards, gives us a sense of helping to support the local economy. Follow along with us as we tour one of Coronado’s residential areas. See what we see while walking around a randomly selected neighborhood.
The streets are like any other urban community. They are lined with trees, buffered greenbelts, fences and flowering foliage. Lets start with pictures showing the colorful flowers that seem to spread their beauty throughout the neighborhood. I think the red flowering bush shown above left is a Bougainvillea. I was never that good at memorizing plants, even after working in several nurseries. Shame on me.
As we ventured further into the neighborhood, we found more flowering plants. The floral archway leading up to a gorgeous Spanish styled home was one of our favorites. I am not one hundred percent sure, but I think the photo shown right is Panama’s version of a ‘Bird of Paradise’. Again, I am not a Botanist, but love looking at and smelling the sweet fragrances of flowers. The two tone flower pictured left reminds me of fireworks that explode high above the ground and flare out to create colorful extensions from its center pod. There are so many beautiful flowers sprouting from the trees and shrubs that I could have spent all day photographing them.
Most of the homes have well manicured landscapes that show off their coordinating patterns that blends colorful floral, vibrant shrubs and elongated tree trunks into works of art. Some homeowners have accented their outer walls with abstract designs like the one shown above using a variety of rolling pots.
We walked down one street and made a wide U-turn and came up another. We eventually made our way back to the road that borders the west end of the community. On one corner is a local favorite called Picasso Bar & Grill (pictured, right). It has somewhat limited hours of operation. However, when Claire, one of the interactive co/owners opens for business, it gets very busy with mostly expats sharing their week’s adventures and local gossip. Just across the street sets another local establishment called Gourmet Pizza (pictured, left). Don’t let the name fool you. Besides having a good pizza, they also serve great salads and sandwiches. I had a gyro there the other day and it was pretty darn good.
In Panama, they have what are called Fondas (pictured, right). They are small roadside restaurants that most likely are on the porch of a residence and have very limited menus. Sometimes your only choice is what they cooked up that day. They offer original Panamanian cuisine at a very inexpensive price – usually starting around three dollars. They say you should always know where your local Fonda is located. Its a simple home cooked meal for a very affordable price.
Taking a day to stroll around our neighborhood kind of reminds me of the one I grew up in. The streets have no curbs or sidewalks. The homes are not cookie-cutter or painted with the latest trendy colors. There are a few local restaurants, cantinas and stores that serve the community’s immediate needs. It mimics what American neighborhoods use to be all about. Not brick and mortar walls, security gates with access-codes needed to gain entry to houses with occupants who try to one-up each other by having the biggest and best of everything. What happen to the good ol days?