When choosing where to move in Panama, after traveling around to various areas, cities and towns, we fell in love with the rural town of Pedasí for its friendliness, small town atmosphere, and location near some very beautiful beaches. Pedasí has become our home and in the past 3 years we have seen it grown little by little. It still has that small town atmosphere, but since we moved here there are more markets that are offering more and more items we once only could find in Las Tablas or Chitré; an auto parts store that services the auto service shop so we don’t have to travel around to find parts; a clothing store and some new restaurants (although some have closed down or moved to different locations within Pedasí or other towns). Two-to-three story high apartment buildings are being built, something almost unheard of 3 years ago; and I have met or have noticed new names of people who have recently moved into the area recently.
The biggest change recently has been in beautifying and cleanup of the town. Not only is the trash that has been a major issue throughout Panama is being consistently picked up off the sides of the highway, culverts, and streets in and around Pedasí, but the homes and buildings in the center of town are being spruced up. Groups of local townspeople have come together to make Pedasí even more colorful. It started several months ago with a run-down playground on the edge of town. A little paint, new or repaired playground equipment, a few new plants, and a some labor were all donated to revive a park that now invites many families to bring their young children to play.
Then with the inspiration of a woman who was working with children at the biblioteca (library), a group donated their time and energy to painting and repairing the building that seemed to have been neglected for a number of years. Children and adults alike now can enjoy the beautiful garden in front and a more welcoming reading & studying environment inside.
It seems like that suddenly community pride spreaded like wildfire. Possibly with the recognition that sprucing up a town would be inviting to tourists which in turn would bring more money to the local businesses and government, a local group of people started painting many of the homes and buildings around the center of town and along the main highway. Panamanian and Expats have volunteered their time, whether it be just a couple of hours or several days, giving homes a fresh coat of bright color and design. Paint and supplies have been donated by local businesses and individuals. Groups of school children and individual adults are found painting murals on the sides of buildings and neglected concrete brick walls. It may be rainy season which is bringing more rain than I have ever seen since moving here, but the intermittent times and days when it is not raining are quickly taken advantage of to continue the projects throughout the town.
Another big event was the inauguration of the installation of the welcoming sign to Pedasí. I am not sure of all the details, but apparently the alcalde (mayor) and municipal government or committee was able to acquire a large sculptured colorful sign similar to one in Panama City. (My understanding that these will be popping up all throughout Panama.) Anyway, the site for this was chosen next to the municipal office on the main highway, welcoming all who pass through, visit, and live in Pedasí. For a few weeks the street corner was under construction to prepare for the installation. Then the sign was delivered and set in place, but covered until the official unveiling on September 8th, inviting local dignitaries as well as all local citizens to participate in the celebration. It is something that no one can miss as they come to Pedasí especially at night when it lights up in an array of colors.
Pedasí has become a very colorful town full of colorful people. Those visitors who I have met in the past have always enjoyed its people and its quaintness. Now I believe visitors will enjoy it even more. The community pride of this village continues to grow as more color continues to be splashed around. And this Saturday there will be a “feria” in the town square similar to a farmer’s market and local vendor sale. I hope it’s successful and the beginning of many “ferias” and other good things to come. The people of Pedasí have always loved to celebrate. The many colorful annual holidays will be approaching soon. But now one can enjoy the colors of the homes and murals all year round.
(Besides my personal personal photos, many are from postings of Facebook friends-thanks.)