Brian and Stacey Carroll are a young, energetic couple from California with two young boys and a penchant for adventure. They had visited Panama for years (Brian is half-Panamanian) before deciding to move their family to Pedasi in 2017. Their goals for moving were to educate and expose their children to Panamanian culture and to continue to work a US-based job remotely while launching their dream; a surf tourism business on the side.
Of course, they needed a great schooling option for the boys, reliable infrastructure, and beaches with great surf. They also needed a great home in a safe place to make all of this possible. With beautiful beaches, pristine waves, and quality international schools in the area, Pedasi was a perfect fit.
Home and Work
Brian and Stacey needed a home large enough to accommodate a family of four and a few house guests from time to time. The home also had to be near town, near great surf, and have plenty of room to expand for when they launch their surf & hospitality business.
Ultimately, Brian and Stacey selected a beautiful ocean-view home in Los Destiladeros, just 10 minutes southwest of Pedasi. The property checked every box on their list; it has sweeping ocean views, a pool, and close proximity to excellent surf breaks. With 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in the main house and a 2 bedroom / 1 bath guesthouse, Brian and Stacey had room to host family and friends. The 1/2 acre+ yard also afforded them plenty of space to grow.
Still working his full-time US job remotely, Brian also needed reliable internet access. Internet service in Pedasi in 2017 was for the most part slow and only available via one or two different internet providers. The frequent power outages in those days also created challenges for staying connected. The internet speeds back then were acceptable for Brian’s needs, so Brian and Stacey decided they would install a solar power system to ensure that they were connected when they needed to be.
Fast-forward to today and Brian, along with many other Pedasi residents, is zipping around online via a fiber optic connection. Fiber optic internet is widely available in Pedasi and in the surrounding areas and power outages are now relatively infrequent and short-lived. The new insulated transmission line running through the district and the system-wide upgrades are expected to eliminate outages almost entirely.
With home and work sorted, it was time to arrange schooling for the boys. Historically, parents had few schooling options to choose from in Pedasi. They could either send their kids to the local public school and/or homeschool them, or send them to one of the bilingual academies in Chitre or Las Tablas. This last option was not ideal, mainly because there was no school bus and the drive each day meant at least an hour or two commute. So, initially the oldest boy was sent off to the local public school in Pedasi while his little brother was privately homeschooled. Then, in March of 2019, a community-driven effort led to the Oxford International School opening a Pedasi branch. This was a BIG DEAL for Pedasi parents but, sadly, a newly appointed administration at Oxford School Panama opted to discontinue the Pedasi branch. And all of this just before COVID.
Currently, both boys are enrolled at an up-and-coming school called “Manglares Discovery School“?, located in Cañas about 40 mins from Pedasi (as an aside, “manglares”? translates to mangroves in English, and if you only know one thing about real-life mangroves it should be that they offer critical nursing environments for thousands of aquatic species, preparing them to one day venture out as adults into the deep blue ocean). Luckily for Pedasi-based families the Playa Venao Surf Dojo (a local Surf/Skate Academy) is providing a door to door transportation to and from Pedasi and then after school to the Academy. How’s it going? Well, as Brian puts it, “Manglares has been an awesome blend of classroom rigor and experiential learning. Asher, our oldest, has been at Manglares for over a year. Parker, our youngest, started kindergarten at Manglares this fall (he had been in pre-K at a local private learning center). We feel both boys are academically thriving, performing at levels at or above their grade level.”?
If You Build It…
With home, work and schooling now sorted, it was time for the dream.
Brian and Stacey’s dream was to combine their love of the beach and surfing with their local knowledge in order to offer families like their own a turnkey solution for surf trips. Knowing how complicated it is for families to organize all of the minute details of surf trips in unknown and remote destinations, they wanted to take the guesswork out of it for others. Their idea was to offer a private and full-service local experience for families; complete with lodging, dining and guided trips to the area’s best surf spots. Before launching, however, they needed to add more space for lodging and other private amenities.
At just over a 1/2 acre their property offered plenty of space for some pretty incredible add-ons. Brian and Stacey have already added an outdoor kitchen and courtyard, a detached garage and laundry room, an additional guesthouse, a third master suite in addition to the main house, a wood-fired pizza oven and even a playground and skate park for the kids! Their dream of starting a tourism business for surfing families is becoming a reality.
The Carrolls are truly living the life in Los Destiladeros, Panama. They have access to beautiful beaches, great waves, a great school, and a lifestyle of luxury and leisure that will allow them to live their dream for many years to come.