A Message from the Heart of
Brad P. Scobey

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Greetings and thank you for taking the time to share with us the wonderful things happening at the TropicRiverWoods Arboretum.

When Paul first told me his vision of a sustainable rainforest botanical garden/preserve, I was not surprised.  (If you have not read Paul's Vision, please do so now and then come back to me!)  What did surprise me was where.

Paul has always been enraptured by all things tropical and has even taken our yard, in an average subdivision smack in the middle of the Everglades of Florida, and turned it into an amazing array of tropical plantings.  It is only by his sheer dedication to his beliefs that he was able to transform such barren impacted lime rock into an oasis of lush tropical beauty.

Even though I had traveled extensively during my years in the Navy, Panama had never entered my mind as a place to visit, let alone to move to.  You hear so much about Costa Rica, and yes we checked out Costa Rica at first via the world wide web, but there were just too many Coldwell Banker and Re/Max real estate offices for our pleasure.  All that meant to us was endless miles of gated communities of Ex-Patriated Americans sheltering themselves from the indigenous masses to create mini Americas.  That is the farthest thing from what either one of us envisioned!

Paul planned his first trip to Panama (read his entry).  He just wanted to see what it was all about and look around an area called Bocas del Toro.  When he came back, he was a man who became a boy again having found a land filled with endless possibilities.  His enthusiasm and awe of a land so verdant was contagious.  Paul had definitely found his "Bali Ha'i".

We then made plans to go to Panama together during Thanksgiving weekend, 2002, which was a four day break for us both (we ended up adding two additional days).  I had no trepidation about going to Panama, although many friends thought that we would be held hostage by banditos (not there) or worse!  Having traveled throughout Europe and North Africa in the Navy, I have never hesitated at the chance to learn about people and cultures different from my own.  I learned a long time ago that being provincial only makes one narrow-minded.

panamaskyline.gif (692944 bytes)When we flew into Panama City, I could not have envisioned the sheer mass of the city.  It made sense, though, being the transverse point of the Atlantic/Pacific Oceans.  But upon flying out of Panama City on our way to our first stop in David on the Pacific Coast, it was then that I truly appreciated the beauty of this Country.  Once we flew beyond the outskirts of Panama City, mountains, robed in soft layers of clouds, rose to greet the blue sky.  The flight, nearly an hour in length,Boquete in Chiriqui Province, Panama covered lush farmland and huge mountain tops all the way including the highest point, Volcan Barú.  We stayed two days in the David area going to Las Quetzeles at the base of Volcan Barú for lunch and then traveling to Boquete in coffee country for a two day stay.  We then left on Sunday having already planned to extend our visit so as not to rush our stay in Changuinola.  We were to meet a man who wanted to sell some of his farm land and that, friends, was not to be hurried.

We then did the "unthinkable".  We took a five hour bus trip from David, over the continental divide, to our final destination, Changuinola.   At first, Paul was not sure how I would take to Changuinola, a sleepy town of about 40,000 people with no traffic lights or sidewalks.  No building is over 3 stories high and there isn't a shopping mall with it's Downtown Changuinolabright and star-hiding lights within a fifty miles (in David on the other side of the continental divide).  Much to Paul's pleasure, I was immediately taken to how comfortable the town felt in it's heart.  Just about anything you would need on a daily basis is there, you just need to know where to find it.   As for restaurants, Changuinola's dining is comparable to anywhere.  It truly is a treasure hiding behind it's shabby-chic exterior.

The next day we met with Mr. Filiberto Reid Carcama, a kindly gentleman who speaks English with a lilting Jamaican-Spanish accent.  I could tell that he was looking us over as much as we were looking over his land.  On one occasion during our tour of his property, I mentioned that Paul's favorite tree was the Breadfruit.  Upon that, Filiberto opened up to both of us and inquired as much information on tropical fruits, trees and plants as he could ask.  Yet, Filiberto was not asking us these questions for his own knowledge as he has a farm nearby and already knew everything he asked us.  He was "testing" our honesty and hearts, seeing just how much we really meant for this property to be used for good and honorable purposes, not for a commercial tree farm or, heaven forbid, housing!  He must have been convinced enough of our sincerity of using the land for the benefit of the future, because by the end of our walk, and talk, the three of us had come to an agreement to purchase the land.

So now I, too, have seen "Bali Ha'i" and its' name is TropicRiverWoods Arboretum!


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