Meet the other half of b í k u – Zabrina. She tells you why a girl from Buckinghamshire – England – wants to move to Bocas and why you’ll want to join her.
Why do you want to build treehouses in Panama, why are you doing this project?
It’s difficult to give one reason – there are multiple reasons really. It might sound like a cliché, but I don’t want to look back over my life in 20 years and wish that I had done more, wish that I’d been brave enough to take risks. As they say, you only live once. For me, two of the most satisfying things that you can do in life are be creative and help others. With b í k u, we get to do both. I’m excited about doing something where we’re creating things – rather than consuming. Consuming isn’t good for the soul.
What were your early influences?
That’s an interesting question – but an easy one to answer! I went home to my parents’ over the Easter weekend and spent some time looking through the photo albums my dad had put together for my 21st (some years ago now!) – it was fun. Looking through the photos it’s clear to see what – or who – my early influences were … my parents.
My childhood, the way that my parents have raised me has made me into the person I am today – with all my ‘wacky’ ideas – as my mum would say. They have instilled in me a love of people, a love of different cultures, a love of nature, of freedom and of being true to myself. Both my parents are medics – my mum a nurse and my dad a doctor – so I guess wanting to do something to help others comes from them and from what they pursued in their careers.
I could go on and on … I have so many memories from my childhood of being outdoors, being with nature, and I think that’s when I have been at my happiest.
Hard work is also something my parents instilled in me from a young age. This is demonstrated by the picture below! That was the way it usually went – me putting in the hard graft and my brother supervising. I’m lucky he’s not here to disagree!!
What we want to achieve with b í k u will be hard work. I’m under no impression to the contrary. But I think I’ve been conditioned quite well on that front!
Apart from the obvious – in that my partner, Ariel, is Panamanian? Well, I have – ever since learning Spanish at school – developed a love for Spanish and Latin America. I had never been to Panama until my first trip with Ariel in 2014 – and I completely fell in love with the country. Where Ariel is from – Bocas del Toro – is in the North West of the country, on the Caribbean coast, and very close to the Costa Rican border. Strangely – or perhaps it’s fate – I spent a month in Costa Rica when I was about 19. I was just over that border, living in an indigenous community in Yorkín, helping to develop their eco tourism. This was part of a three month ‘expedition’ to Costa Rica I did with Raleigh International – a non profit, sustainable development organisation.
The wildlife and surroundings are very similar to what I had experienced in Costa Rica, so I actually felt very comfortable, almost at home! From an eco tourism point of view Panama makes complete sense; it’s overflowing with nature!
What is the single most important thing you want to achieve with your Panama treehouse project, b í k u?
From what I’ve seen, I think there are a number of businesses in Bocas that have played the short-term game. You know, they’ve wanted to get in their quick, maximise their profits, maybe get out again and then move on to the next project. With b í k u, we want to have a longer term investment. There’s definitely a gap in the market for a unique customer experience to be given not only through the nature of Bocas but also through design and highly personalised customer service.
We want to reinvest in the community, for the longer term – and be a spring board for other social businesses led by the community. We hope to inspire and to create a lasting change.
Can you do this by yourself?
No! We need your support, the support of people reading this – to make b í k u a reality. We have the passion, the drive, the vision – but need the support of a ‘crowd’ to raise the funds for the treehouse build. For those of you who have already been following our story, you’ll know that we’re going live with our crowdfund in September. For those of you who are less familiar with crowdfunding, there will be future blogs dedicated to this topic. But, in short – our crowdfund will be pre-sales. You will be able to book your b í k u treehouse holiday at a discounted price.
Tell us an unexpected fact about you.
I was held hostage in Tikal, Guatemala!
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A few more piccies from the photo albums Dad put together!