from the Heart of
Brad P. Scobey
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
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
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,
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 bright
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!