In 2008, Kathleen Peddicord and her husband Lief Simon set out in search of a legacy-level investment play in Panama. They targeted the frontier western coast of the Azuero Peninsula, in the country’s Veraguas Province. The finca known as Los Islotes was its jewel. Pulling the trigger on its purchase was a bolder move than the couple realized. The decision set them on a course that brought them face to face with the real Panama—the good, the bad, and the sometimes very ugly—while connecting them with a lost world where the way of life was little changed from its centuries-old indigenous roots. Kathleen and Lief’s plan to reinvent that reality would lead to both the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of their lives.
At Home At Los Islotes Finding Our Way On This Veraguas Coast
“It was my third machete.
“My first was in Santiago where I watched a man use one to shave his chest.
“He sat in a wooden rocking chair on his front porch at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning, his red checkered shirt unbuttoned and open as he scraped the blade across his belly.
“My second machete was at Panama Jack’s, the tiki bar on our property at Los Islotes. My husband, Lief, used one to cut the head off a snake.
“It was late and most of the staff of our publishing business we’d invited to enjoy themselves at our beach were good and drunk. We were sunburned and tired and the evening was winding down when Valentine, our marketing director, pulled a cooler over to a table to sit on. Underneath was a long black snake coiled around itself. Exposed, it stretched out and darted across the floor.
“We were all in swimsuits and barefoot. We jumped up on chairs, onto the bar. Lief ran to the Prado and returned with the machete he keeps in the back. In a stroke, he decapitated the intruder.
“He picked up the severed head with his blade and flung it as far as he could into the darkness. He knew better than to leave it where it lay. Even separated from its body, the head can still bite.
“Now our neighbor Roberta was swinging machete number three above her head while shouting in Spanish I couldn’t follow.
“From the cab of our project manager Dalys’ pick-up truck, Lief, Dalys, and I watched as five guys from our construction crew huddled together a meter away.
“They stood rigid and straight, whispering to each other but never taking their eyes off Roberta. Every one of them had a good three inches and fifty pounds on the woman losing her mind in the middle of our dirt road, but they were clearly afraid.
“‘What is she saying?’ I asked Dalys.
“I’ve been spending time in Latin America for four decades and have lived in Panama for fifteen years. I should speak better Spanish than I do. Dalys is a local. I’ve let her become a crutch.
“‘She’s yelling at them to get off her land, Señora Kathleen. She’s saying that if they don’t stop work on this fence, they will regret it.’
“We’ve been feuding with Roberta over this fence for two years. We believe it’s our right to build it on land we own. She disagrees. I knew the situation was coming to a head, but I never imagined it would escalate to physical violence.
“What could the woman be thinking?”
So begins my latest book, “At Home At Los Islotes,” the behind-the-scenes story of Lief and my experiences in Panama these past two-and-a-half decades.
It’s the ultimate insider’s guide to the real Panama—the good, the bad, and the maddening.”
At Home In Ireland follows Kathleen’s first-hand experience moving her entire family overseas from the U.S. to Ireland, adapting to and embracing a new culture and a new way of life. It is filled with heartwarming stories, adventure, and humorous anecdotes. At 357 pages, the book is segmented into 34 short chapters, each focused on a significant turning point in Kathleen’s life.
“I wanted to share my experience moving, raising a family, and starting a business abroad as a thank-you to the people of this enigmatic country. Life among the Irish forces you to focus, as they do, on what really matters. Seven years in Waterford gave me the foundation upon which I’ve built my life.”
A coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever dreamed of fairy-tale adventures in the Old World
“I was an inadvertent immigrant to the Emerald Isle in the age of the Celtic Tiger, a time when great amounts of wealth were being generated, more money than this island had ever known. Since I’d arrived with my new husband, my 8-year-old daughter, and my business plan, the Irish had been busy covering their ancient green land with suburban track homes, shopping malls, and fast-food franchises. Local pubs were being replaced by multi-story dance clubs, and discount mortgage brokers were opening offices in every town and village across the land.
“Ireland, like me, had a deep yearning for acknowledgement. She, like me, ached to compete in the global business arena. Over the seven years I lived in this country, I watched it race enthusiastically in the direction of its own demise, speeding toward an economic cliff.
“But I’m getting ahead of my story.
“How did I end up in Ireland in the first place? As is too often the case, the answer to that question had to do with a man…”
A new division of Live And Invest Overseas, Lahardan Books publishes titles on living and investing around the world, prescriptive guides, memoirs, history, and travel. Our aim is to show the wonders of our world from new angles.
The company currently has four new titles in the works and expects to publish four to six books per year.