Living Off The Grid

Retirement – Day 4
We have been here in Bocas for 2 1/2 weeks now and have settled in. Sue is sitting at the window with her camera ready, waiting for the howler monkeys to come closer. It seems they did not receive the memo about which tree she wanted them to be in. There has been lots of rain, mostly at night but also during the day and so has curtailed our plans to visit other islands nearby. Soon though!!

Waiting out the rain while at our new favorite watering hole... The Riptide!

In the meantime, we spent some time yesterday with a real estate guy who showed us some houses and lots so we could get an idea of the costs were we to move down here. You are probably not surprised at this revelation, but it is definitely on the list of possibilities! But looking at lots and thinking of building brought my attention to being off the grid, as it were. Bocas del Toro is the only town of any size on these many islands and their infrastructure is mostly in place. There is City Water and electric; but only out so far. After that, you are on your own. One of the places we liked yesterday is out near Bluff Beach with a view back towards Bocas Town and Isla Caranero; but the electric stops about a mile back.

Most places have propane tanks set up for their power. As you can see from the pics, individual tanks are set up to run the water heater, the washing machine, and the stove/oven. There’s also a pump to get the water up to the 2nd floor. It’s funny to me that the clothes dryer is electric. We frequently see the propane delivery guys around town in their truck.

Although we are on city water, in fact the reservoir is 2 houses away, we also have rain catchment tanks. We heard last night that the reservoir has gone dry a couple of times and has also overflowed as well. City water is also piped over to Isla Caranero but we hear from the expats who live there that the line is so leaky that there is never any pressure by the time it gets to them at the end of the run. Therefore, they love the rain as it refills their tanks. I sat next to a man at the poker game who mentioned he had not had a shower for a week since he had run out of water. Unfortunately, I was able to confirm that!

When I asked about septic tanks and leach fields, there were a few smiles, a wink and a nod that yep, that’s what everyone uses. I may have to get to the “bottom” of this subject at a later date.

Sue and I expected there to be lots of solar systems here but have not seen that to be the case. It would seem a natural installation to me but perhaps the propane is cheap enough to not warrant the cost of installation.

Another requirement for living off the grid will be a 4 wheel drive vehicle if we decided to stay on Isla Colon where Bocas Town is. There are not many streets and most are now paved; but as you may recall from previous pictures, the road is sometimes just a beach! Throw in a huge number of potholes and the need becomes clear!

To borrow from my high school days…
Keep on Keepin’ on!!

One thought on “Living Off The Grid

  1. Very interesting post Marty – I never actually pondered life off the Grid and how you might have to do so if you move there. The photos tell an interesting story about what it takes to have a day to day life on the island. You guys are definitely more ‘MacGyver’ than most so I think you’ll master it in no time. Let’s see, you’ll need a supply of paperclips, ballpoint pens, a mirror, compass, a leatherman and nine-volt battery and some steel wool. You’ll also need learn how to make fire with a potato, a coke and chocolate. You can do it, I have no doubt!

    It’s a good thing it rains a lot to fill the reservoir and catchment tank. You don’t want folks noticing your lack of bathing at the next poker game! They will have plenty of other stuff to talk about – haha.

    Be safe, enjoy the dream and remember all of us at home who love you both.


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