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Buyers Remorse: Mountain Developments

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Written by Matt   
Friday, 02 March 2007 11:06
I recently bought one of the fancier models of electric toothbrushes, pharm the Sonicare e5000: one which the salesperson, a squat woman with suspiciously bad teeth, help told me was the top of the line. In line at the store, I was in front of a young man who only had enough money to buy a regular old-fashioned toothbrush. I pittied him. My first week with the brush was like heaven—my mouth never felt so clean. Soon thereafter though, my honeymoon ended when I found out that a newer model had been released, the e9000, with twice the scrubbing-power being sold at nearly half the price. I had been duped. Altos de Maria, in case you weren´t aware, is one of Panama´s trendiest mountain developments for middle to late aged expats, and for the purpose of this article, the proverbial Sonicare e5000. It began some twenty years ago and lies just about an hour and a half from Panama City offering the kind of cool temperatures and rolling hills that people with wrinkly skin call `paradise`. Personally, I think I could find more paradise in a bag of animal crackers, but as a whole, the project has done very well for itself and its residents.

I don´t know why, but Americans like this kind of thing: mountainous villages set in what appear to be their own little eco bubbles. You ask a member of one of these communities what he or she likes most about living there and the first thing they´ll tell you is the cool weather. They`ll talk about the evening frost and breezy afternoons as though they`re magical phenomenons worth travelling across vast gulfs to get to. I don`t know about you, but I didn´t move to the tropics to shiver at night like I do in Jersey.

Most of these people, albeit, are elder folks. You´ll rarely find anyone young, in their right mind, living here because these communities have all the entertainment value of a dry rinse cycle. There are of course long walks in the woods, expat socials, and flower beds to tend to, but those are the kinds of things I reserve for Viagra commercials. Not what I originally envisioned doing in my twenties. I know a handful of baby boomers who absolutely swear by such developments and for this I`m not in a position to whine.

Altos de Maria has been characterized by a lot of things, the most gloomy of which are high prices for land and small lots. Neither of these make sense to me: remote mountain retreat is supposed to be synonymous with cheaper land and larger, more spacious properties. If nature-oriented mountain communities are your kind of thing though, and Altos de Maria is something you have thought about, I have a newer and better alternative for you. The place is called La Pintada.

The idea for La Pintada Estates was thought up by an ex-Altos de Maria marketing wiz and an experienced jack of all trades from the USA. They set out, not unlike Dan Brown after the release of Angels and Deamons, to harp on certain strengths and subdue certain weaknesses of a previous work in order to make a better and more attractive product. What results is this Da Vinci Code-esque investment opportunity that will leave Altos residents, in my opinion, wishing they could start all over again.

The entire project is something like 415 acres. On the plans lie several rivers and one of the most photogenic swimming holes I´ve seen in a while. It´s the sort of place I could see myself laying out on a Sunday afternoon, eating fresh papayas off the trees and making pot holders. I would make the best pot holders in the region, known specifically for their good and tight weaves. I would be known as Matt "good and tight". The individual lots at La Pintada Estates are very large and conducive to creative minds. Unlike Altos de Maria who don´t care if residents paint their house smurf blue or road crew orange, La Pintada will only allow colors and styles conducive to the development, which in my opinion is the way to go. Unless of course, you´re that guy who likes smurf blue and road crew orange in which case you should not be let out of your cage. They have also installed a smart rule mandating that owners build a house within three years of purchase so that you aren´t left, like a lot of projects are, with a community full of speculators. Cough. Cough. Panama City. Cough.

Also on-site will be a kick-ass cascading pool adjacent to their boutique hotel where the developers`ll grant you a free night if you´re looking to buy real estate. This is a great perk to both interested investors and people who are cheap and are looking for free hotel nights. I find that when feigning interest in real estate, carrying a compass and calculator can come across convincing and if you´re ever caught in a bind, chew on the arm of your glasses and say something about ROI.

La Pintada is actually the name of the project as well as the town. If you drive out towards the beaches, you´ll come to Penenome, one of Panama´s largest rural towns. Here you´ll find grocery stores, hospitals, turtle equipment. The town is known for a special type of hat which is like a flipped-up sombrero. There´s also a very neat cigar factory where you can watch your stogie being hand-rolled by Panama´s equivalent of oompa loompas. La Pintada isn´t far from Penenome, and about two hours in total from Panama City. It's cheaper than Altos and in my opinion, more attractive.

Knowing the success of Altos de Maria, and the functionality of my Sonicare e5000, I am pretty sure La Pintada, just like the new e9000, is destined for éclat. Right now, you can pick up some fantastic deals because the project is just getting underway. If you´re interested in further info on this project, send an email with the phrase “la pintada estates” as the subject to and I´ll forward it to the developer.
Comments (1)Add Comment
written by chuck , July 22, 2007
I visited this property a few months back and it's by far our favorite one within earshot of the city. These guys really know what they're doing and my wife and I are pretty close to buying in. We just need to sell our house first! Great article. very entertaining and informative
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Last Updated on Monday, 22 September 2008 09:22