Working The List & New Plants Arriving Daily

With the exception of the carport floor, the last significant outside job is done. This is a good thing because the rainy season has begun. That last job was to finish the west end of container two:


Notice that the sky is no longer blue. Rain is on its way soon.

Here is this end all painted, window washed, soffit panel installed, and the scaffolding disassembled and returned to its owner after two-years:

P1020561-001Trim was still lacking in the two bedrooms at the top of the clerestory wall. It looked unfinished with the uneven ends of the zinc ceiling panels. So I installed a metal angle which provides a more crisp look. The next photo is looking up at the ceiling:

P1020560-001While I had the hang of being on ladders, Armando and I finished the kitchen ceiling by installing the last piece of zinc panel. In the seating bump-out, we hung a piece of tilebacker (no drywall in this damp climate…) on the ceiling and painted it gray. I still need to hang one of Cynthia’s red lamps:


Cat painting by our friend, Alexia.

Since I had the gray paint out, I decided to continue in the hallway to the master bedroom. Long ago primed with red and white paint, the area was very dirty. I washed the walls and ceiling, sanded and primed rusty areas, and ran beads of caulk around the door frames. I painted everything two coats of the middle gray. Now this hallway doesn’t stand out as an eyesore:

P1020558-001Finally, using some extra PVC pipe parts, I took a few minutes and upgraded the video surveillance cameras:


I cut a two-inch PVC elbow on an angle and glued it to another elbow. The camera fit snugly and the pipe makes a conduit to run the wire up the wall. I’ll paint the pipe the house color to make it disappear.

In the meantime, we now have about sixty-four new plants in the ground!

To the left of the driveway turnaround, we planted sixteen purple Mexican Primrose. These grow and spread well, so this area will be much fuller a few months from now. At the left side of the next photo is a new bush — I’ll build a trellis for it to vine up and over the carport entrance. It will have flowers for the butterflies and hummingbirds:


The new birdbaths are in place in the yard. Armando and I still need to apply mortar to the outside of the birdbath supports — I’d like them to look like tree trunks.

We put a row of the same Mexican Primrose along the yellow “Shrimp Tails” by the front gate. Again, these will fill in nicely:

P1020542We planted sixteen new grass plants along the west fence line. These will grow and hide the concertina security wire on the fence:

P1020544And five red-flowered trees that the butterflies and humming birds will like:P1020564-001The back yard is filling out nicely and is a good spot for one of the bird baths:P1020548The fern garden was doing well but looks better with the addition of a bunch of large-leaf purple plants. And we like the little flowers that Armando surprised us with:P1020551-001The hibiscus struggled through the dry season, and they were attacked numerous times by leaf-cutter ants. But they are doing well now that they have had a couple deep drinks of water:P1020547P1020546That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

8 thoughts on “Working The List & New Plants Arriving Daily

  1. Wow you have done so much and it is beautiful, inside and out!
    Is there a reason for the concertina wire and security cameras?
    Be careful with the primroses, they can (make that will) become quite aggressive and spread everywhere you look 🙁
    I look forward to each one of your progress updates! You will have to begin another shipping crate project when this one is complete!

  2. Hi Patty,

    Yes, we have good reason for the security measures. We’ve had numerous uninvited guests in our yard. Cynthia, Jabo, and I have chased them off, day and night. Thieves in not just Panama, but all of Latin America, have an attitude that, “If you don’t think enough of your stuff to protect it, then it must be okay for me to take it!”

    Maybe the attitude is world-wide, I don’t know. There isn’t a lot of violent crime here where we are, but there are lots of Sneaky Pedros who will sneak onto your property and see what they can take and then try to sell, such as a garden hose, or reach in a window and take a cell phone, or use a bamboo pole to remove a pocket book from a chair across the room. If they can quietly get into your house, day or night, even if you are home and watching TV, they will sneak around and empty your wallet (cash is preferred, they will leave credit cards and checkbooks) and take your phone, camera, laptop, whatever of value is in plain sight.

    So we have a comprehensive security system, and the first line is to keep Pedro out of our property to begin with. I’m sure that we have spent more protecting our stuff than if Pedro was to prevail, but there is something really wrong with having an uninvited guest in the house. It is far too easy for things to turn violent as I am sure that I wouldn’t just ask him politely if he would like a beer and sit and watch reruns of CSI Miami. I’d rather not go there.

    Intruders were routine here until the wire went up on the fence. Now they may be able to get in, but in a hurry to get out they would be sliced and diced by the wire so they think twice.

    Holidays are the most active time as they need cash, and the Panamanian holiday season begins in early November (we put the wire up last October) and goes through Easter. Now past Easter, we don’t know of anyone who has attempted to climb the fence since I installed the wire. Cameras, outside lights, dog(s), motion sensor lights, bars on windows, good locks on doors, alarms, walking the perimeter to check the wire (I’m a Vietnam vet so going out on patrol isn’t hard for me to do…), and other security measures reduce the likelihood that an ugly situation would happen.

    Some might say that having all this security is like living in a prison, but we have the keys and can come and go as we please. Knowing that no one can get into our house while we are sleeping is priceless.

    (Early in living here, we rented a house that had no bars on the windows. One night, a man climbed in the window over our bed and landed on Cynthia. Awakened, she screamed bloody murder, he apologized profusely, climbed out the window and closed it behind him. I’ll bet not all thieves are as thoughtful.)

    Thanks very much for your kind comments and following along with our saga. And no, been there, done that, no more container houses (although I’ve had a great time building this and in theory, would do it again!).

  3. Thanks for the informative, honest and frank comments regarding your security measures.
    It’s really not that much different here in the USA. If you’re casual about securing your property, someone else will eventually possess it.

  4. Wow… looking good! Congratulations Fred and Cynthia!

    Just a thought, I also have concertina (razor wire) on my back fence, which happens to be my only perimeter fence line, but it is along the top edge… and I’ve not had a single problem in the 4 years that we’ve lived in our parcela north of Santiago.

    So my question is… it seems that having it so low would make it easy to jump or climb over… do you not think that having it higher up on the fence would be a good idea?

    Saludos desde Chile!
    John, Ximena, Sarah, and Emma!

    • Hi John,

      It is common practice for a ladron to carry a pair of wire cutters. They’ve found that it is pretty easy to cut through the chain link fencing, making for an easy in and out. So I hung it mid-fence with the thought that it was too high to get over it and too low to get under it, plus negating their ability to make a good hole in the fence. Plus, when the plants grow a bit taller, they will cover the razor wire so we don’t have to look at it. Ideally I would like to run a double row, but — $$$. So far so good!

      Thanks as always for your comment and compliments. Saludos, Fred

  5. everything coming along nicely Fred , I`ve been faithfully reading every entry and admiring the photos , guess you will be looking forward to being able to say finished , till the next project calls out to be done . By the way , hows that little greenhouse next to your workshop coming along , or did I actually miss a segment . regards , Mike in West Australia

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the compliment. I think that the next project will be to take a day or three off!

      About the greenhouse — we had to take it off my plate for now. The list of things that I have to do to complete this house is way, way too long and we had to make a cut or two for me to maintain my weak grasp on sanity. Ask me again in a year because we would really like some fresh, hydroponic-grown veges.

      As always, thanks for the comment Mike. Fred

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