Blog : biku Panama

2018! Big things are coming

2018! Big things are coming

Happy New Year! Here’s to wishing I get better at selfies in 2018. I hope you all found some time to relax, unwind and enjoy being with close friends and family over the festive season. January can be a bit of a funny one. A lot of people like to make resolutions and talk about all the stuff that they want to do but by the time March comes it’s all forgotten about! I’m not really a New Year resolutions kind of person – I just like to get on with what needs to get done. For me, you can have a resolution any month of the year, it doesn’t have to be January. So, January for us is another step closer to achieving our bíku dream. We did big things last year, we’re doing bigger things this year.

2017 – the run down

In 2017 we…launched our website and got going on social media (still learning every day), we worked with Baca Architects to create our bíku treehouse concept designs and last but not least I quit my job and headed to Panama in the pursuit of investment for our bíku project. A number of journalists have written about our project – amazing – including articles in The Architects’ Journal, Dezeen, The Lonely Planet, Forbes.

In store for the New Year

This all happened since the end of April last year – in about 8 months or so. Even bigger things are in the pipeline for 2018, including securing the investment for our project to turn this dream into a reality.

I came back to the UK for Christmas and the New Year – and will be heading back out to Panama in a couple of weeks to keep the ball rolling. Stay tuned for updates.

Here’s to 2018. Hope it’s a good one.

Have goals, stay hungry, be committed.

Until next time, #liveslow

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A cacao Christmas

A cacao Christmas

So, when Ariel and I first started thinking about what we wanted to do in Panama, I had no idea that Bocas del Toro was the cacao growing region of the country. I don’t even think I’d really heard the term cacao until a few years ago – I had no idea about chocolate, where it came from, how it grew or what cacao pods or seeds even looked like. How things have changed. I’ve now been to Bocas four times and have enjoyed numerous chocolate making tours – learning about the humble cacao pod and seed, and the harvesting, fermenting, drying and roasting processes. It’s truly fascinating.

We thought, what better time to write about chocolate than in the run up to Christmas, when all everyone will be doing for the next couple of weeks is indulging in this yummy yummy brown gold!

A few of our favourite things…

On our journey we have come across a few things we love – chocolate related things that is. We wanted to share a few of them with you.

  1. The Chocolate Show

Started in 1995, The Chocolate Show (UK show) is a true celebration of chocolate in all its form. We have attended the show for the past few years and each year it gets bigger and better. You can find cacao farmers, chocolate makers, the best chocolatiers in the world; you can attend workshops, tastings and talks; and can take in exquisite chocolate art – from portraits and sculptures to high-end fashion! We would recommend the show to anyone who either just wants to indulge in their favourite sweet treat for a day or who wants to learn more about chocolate.

Chocolate sculpture of Michelangelo’s David (Michelle Wibowo, Michelle Sugar Art Ltd UK (West Sussex)
  1. Rabot 1745

Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant in Borough Market – Rabot 1745 – is named after their Rabot Estate cacao plantation in St. Lucia. Most, if not all of the dishes on the menu incorporate cacao in some form. In some dishes it acts more as a subtle seasoning, but in others it plays a central role, giving an earthy, malty note to the dish. I took Ariel to the restaurant for his birthday a few years ago – it was great. An interesting concept and great location. There’s also a shop and bar on the ground floor so, if you don’t want a full meal, you can pop by to try chocolate craft beers or wines!

Tip – the molten chocolate lava dessert is to die for!

  1. Trash tea

So, on one of our trips to Bocas we ventured to La Loma jungle lodge & chocolate farm, run by a wonderful couple who we are glad to now call our friends. We went on their chocolate tour around the beautiful tropical rainforest and cacao plantation, and ended up making some of our own chocolate. Back at the main lodge had lunch and were offered their trash tea!!?? It doesn’t sound that appetising right? Well, trash tea is hot water infused with the shells of the cacao seeds. The shells give lovely earthy, malty notes – and you also benefit from those wonderful antioxidants. The tea gets its name from the fact that most people throw the shells away – in the trash. Love the concept.

  1. Repurposed cacao pods

It’s always great to see things being reused and repurposed – and we think this shot, taken at La Loma and posted on their Instagram – is the best example of this! Check these chicks out – taking over an old cacao pod! Beautiful.

Until next time #liveslow. Merry Christmas!!! Have a lovely one – hope you are surrounded by friends, family and loved ones.

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The boy is back in town

The boy is back in town

Contemplating my journey back to London tomorrow – I have been in Panama now for just over two months – I am not looking forward to the change in temperature! I do love the fact that I can live here (Panama) and just wear shorts and flip flops all year long come rain or shine (except on a bus journey from the City to Bocas (del Toro)).

A tourist in my home

I must say, even though I was born here and lived here until I was 18 years old, I do feel like a tourist at times. If I really think about it I have pretty much lived most of my adult life out of Panama, which to me sounds (and feels) a bit weird. A lot has changed since I last spent a significant amount of time in my home country.

The heat. The heat is something you have to adapt to. It can get crazy hot in the City. Once you get to Bocas you can feel the cool breeze coming from the sea. I love Panama but I love being in Bocas. I guess it’s where I find my peace and also being there with the people, the local community and family, reminds me of why we are doing this.

Cherish moments

It’s true what they say and it might sound cliché but you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. And it has taken me over 20 years to realize this, but it also made realize that you must cherish moments, life, family, friends, and make the most of any situation. Life is too damn short – you’re here today, gone tomorrow.

Being in Panama these past months, I’ve also seen how politics is involved in most things here, well, I guess that’s the same everywhere, but it feels very heavy here. It’s truly ‘who you know’ and not ‘what you know’. You have to combine the ‘know-who’ with the ‘know-how’. And because of this, a lot that should get done doesn’t get done – a tale that’s true in a number of places around the world. Sometimes it frustrates me as you can see what needs to be done, but that doesn’t always take priority on the political agenda. This makes me feel even more strongly that if we want change, a lot of that has to come from us, and the business community can play a big part in this – especially a social business.

But for all these things, there is no other place like Panama on the planet. The place, the people, the culture is unique. You have to truly immerse yourself in it and you will then fall in love with what I believe to be a little piece of paradise on Earth.

Until the next time, #liveslow! And I guess we all will, with Christmas and the holiday season coming up!

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