I thought I was really out there in Alaska, being 1.5 hours away from the nearest store. Santa Fe, is very similar. Granted it wasn't a dirt road riddled with potholes every few inches, but this was on a paved road with very similar characteristics. In Alaska, it was limited maintenance and there was no coverage on your vehicle. At least here, you do have that. I also noticed that there is fairly stable internet and cell coverage. BTW, I still use a US number which I pay $100 a month for international coverage. That verses the $25 a month for unlimited service for a Panamanian phone. You could pay around $200 for a phone, but that requires you to have a contract which last around two years. I've noticed with some of my Panamanian friends, that doesn't mean you will HAVE coverage as there are many cellular phone companies here, just like anywhere else. So, it depends on if you have specific coverage in the areas you travel. On the plus side of paying $100 for unlimited international coverage, it picks up the carrier where you are located. So, for me it is a win. However, there is no 911 service here in Panama. Did you know their service is 911 too? I could try to dial 911, but it would probably place me in the US and trying to tell people where you are is impossible. I do wish there was a WhatsApp that was emergency services internationally were you could send your location and someone gets in touch with the emergency services in that area. You can also share your location which is nice. Being limited with my Spanish, and really being off grid right now, I just pray that it all works out. Meanwhile, my police brain has always helped me in preparation for the what if's.
My actual location is El Alto. It is just a tiny spot of a town, which isn't really a town. You take highway 33 North for about 1.5 hour drive. If the roads were better, it would probably take about 45 minutes. Right before you reach Santa Fe, you make a right down a little paved road. You follow this road for about 10 minutes until you reach a dirt road. This dirt road must be accessed by 4x4. So after entering this area, you switch to the 4x4 mode. The vehicle I'm driving is a manual transmission which is a bit of a test for the gears on this road. I accidentally missed the drive as workers supplying new electric poles were strewn about and I was trying to avoid eye contact with them as I'm traveling solo. So, I kept driving. The owner of the property warned me about driving up the mountain passed. her property. I listened to that and never had the intention of a test drive. But, in this situation, it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, and with good reasoning. Almost immediately, I noticed the change in the integrity of the road. I had seen large splices of boulders I had not seen before. Proceeding with caution, I tried to maneuver. I knew I had passed the drive at the point where I was looking straight up at the sky and fully pushed back into my drivers seat. A man on a horse was making this trek and people walk this route everyday as there are two communities farther up. It is about 1.5-2 hour walk for the school children and people who live there. I see people carrying a variety of items that are really heavy and not even pushing themselves to make it. It would probably take me two days to walk this road. I have a newfound respect for the people who do this for sure! It's beyond my physical ability to even think of tackling the trek on foot. So, I immediately decided, nope, not gonna happen. As I let the vehicle roll down the hill, I'm so glad the brakes held. Had they not, that would've been some kinda ride! Miraculously, I turned the vehicle around and slowly rolled back into the driveway. The guys were still there, and I was glad I was too. The embarrassment was minimal at this point. I got out, unlocked the gate, said a quick hola like nothing happened and entered, thanking God I was back at the house in one piece.
I'm located on a coffee farm for the next two months. It is a stunning location of pure beauty, peace and quiet. Just the way I like it! I really never get bored as a housesitter, especially off grid. I probably get more bored trying to entertain someone who travels with me. Usually my level of entertainment is vast, but not so much for someone who isn't used to the quiet life. I have plenty to do here. Working on my social media, blog and book, as well as what keeps me entertained normally when no one is around, painting, knitting, and fishing. It is my happy place, being one in nature. It helps me re-center myself and recover from the mental drain of traveling solo in a country where I'm not fluent in their language. But I do love the adventure of it. It makes my heart beat fast and steady, the unknown of a new area. I also love to fly my drone in the area. I found a very beautiful waterfall not too far from the house. I realize it is almost impossible for me to wake, fairly certain it is impossible, but I can get fairly close to it via my drone. The problem is, when I get close, it stops the video. I get a weak signal behind this huge rock. I've actually seen footage where I was so close to trees, but had no idea as I'm with a blank screen, but it shows up on my film. Yep, three times it pushed back off the trees. If I lose my drone, it is like losing a part of me. I've really become attached to it as it can travel places I cannot. I'm still so curious and will keep trying to get the footage. Maybe I can move locations to access it better. It is stunning though!
Santa Fe, Panama is a very small community. There are just a few restaurants and mini supers. You will find indigenous people mostly and a few people traveling through. It is definitely not a tourist town. There is also zero gas stations from Santiago to here, that is an hour and a half away. There are also no signs that warn you to fill up before you drive. That is one reason why it is a good idea to do your research online prior to visiting such places. I'm sure I would've just blown by the last gas station, not thinking and then be in a world of trouble! The nearest large grocery store if also 1.5 hours away, this goes for mail too if you have mail delivery. There are no post offices and not even addresses to most places in Panama. I join Pricesmart, which is similar to Costco. It was $35 and then I ended up spending a whopping $500 on groceries! I only purchased a few items, but there were about 30 of each item. I hope it will last the majority of the time here. However, I know since my camping and hungry days, I go into full out gorging myself. Why? Because I can. I literally miss certain foods so much on the down days, low supply, that I literally cannot stop myself from indulging. I try not to use the oven as it is a lot of gas and heat to just cook a pizza. So, I try to just cook by the gas stove. Right now, there is no electricity. I'm not sure why that is as there are solar panels here. I do not have internet as well. I'm hoping some of the workers could help me figure that out. As the sun is shining for a few hours now and the power bank should be restored. One of the workers left the light on in the storage room and that took a toll on the power a few days ago. Thankfully I saw the light on when I woke up at 5 am. It was still dark, so I turned it off before it drained the entire day. But for now, it is a little odd that there is no power. But, it is still early yet. To be continued.