Cows in the Neighborhood | Water and Electricity Problems

Cows are everywhere! Our neighbor Roberto even had a couple calves in his yard for a while. They have gone to his farm now, but there are plenty of others in the area. When I see cows I think of my blogging friend Karen and her stories of the vacas (cows) in her neighborhood looking longingly at her green garden while they eat brown grass (pray for rain in her neighborhood!)

We came across this playful calf near our house a couple weeks ago.

Panama Cows Playing in the Field  Panama calf kicking up his heels in the field

Today, we spotted Roberto feeding a bit of corn to the cows in the field next to his house.

Roberto and Joel with the cows Panamanian cows  A beautiful Panamanian cow

Roberto told me that he was giving the cows a treat because they are having a hard time getting by on grass after such a hot, dry summer. Here, cows fend for themselves with minimal human intervention.  Things are looking much more green now but we need a lot more rain to catch up after months of hot, dry, windy weather.

School has been canceled for the rest of the week too. There is not enough water in the mountains and the rivers are dry. The dry rivers can’t run the hydroelectric generators so the government is trying to decrease electricity usage, saying the problem has reached critical levels. All schools and universities are closed.  Businesses and government offices are allowed only very limited hours of air conditioning.  Nightclubs, bars, casinos and supermarkets are to close at 10PM. (we have 24 hr supermarkets)

Roberto explained that some of the problem is the harvesting of trees in the mountains. Without the trees, the earth is bare and water just runs off it. Trees help the water soak into the ground. This water runs into the streams slowly over a longer time, and the rivers are much less likely to run dry in dry weather. The rivers are dry now though, and this is also a huge problem for the Indians who rely on the rivers for fish, and the water for farming and drinking.

A while back I read something about a big meeting with government officials, the people who want to protect the environment, and people who want to harvest lumber.  The officials became convinced that harvesting lumber is a bad idea because of these water concerns, and will not allow the harvesting of trees to continue.  I hope this is true. This area is growing rapidly and adequate water is going to be more and more important. Many also say that part of the problem is climate change, and this has caused this last summer to be usually hot, dry, and windy.

Roberto explained his thoughts about the loss of trees in his normal speaking pace, in Spanish, and I am really happy to say that I understood pretty much everything he told me! Lately I have been feeling like my Spanish is getting better. I’m sure there will be another day when I can’t seem to understand a thing and that will knock me down a peg or two, but today I think I’ve got it going on 😀

I am also thankful that our water seems to be doing well here, and it’s been quite a while since we have had a water shutdown in the neighborhood. Hopefully the electricity will hang in there too. For me, no electricity means no internet and no communication with the US. For the country, no electricity means a multitude of problems.

Ahh, I see Zemanta has found a news article on this subject

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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12 Responses to Cows in the Neighborhood | Water and Electricity Problems

  1. wow, that’s very serious; i had not heard about the water problems, but i am glad that people are waking up and realizing the role that established trees play in the health of the environment. the rainy season is almost there for all of you, and hopefully the life-giving rains will soon end that problem for another year.

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    • Kris says:

      I didn’t realize that anything was going on either until the schools closed today. We are getting some rain but I don’t think it’s enough, and not enough of it in the mountains where it really needs to be. Hopefully the rains will continue to increase.

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  2. yiyime says:

    I have family living in Panama and this problem has been ongoing for a while now. There are many days especially in the summer months that water is not available. Aparently the problem is going from bad to worse and nothinh has been done to deal with the problem..

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    • Kris says:

      Through the summer we were without water part of the day on most days, and I think this was common in most places. Conservation doesn’t seem to be something that is stressed here, but it seems like it would be a step in the right direction.

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  3. oldsalt1942 says:

    Deforestation in Panama is a serious problem, not just here in Chiriqui but really huge in the Darien. Did you know you have to have a LICENSE to own a chain saw in this country and it’s easier to get a license for a gun than it is for a chain saw.

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    • indacampo says:

      I had heard that. Tree smuggling is also a big thing in our area, I don’t know about the rest of the country but I imagine it’s the same. Sad to say but there is a big market for hardwood in China.

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      • Kris says:

        Wow, who would have thought but now that you mention it, I don’t think I’ve heard a chain saw since I’ve been here. Tree smuggling? really? If it’s in your area I imagine it’s everywhere. There are good hardwood trees here too.

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  4. indacampo says:

    Reblogged this on In Da Campo and commented:
    A perspective on the drought from Chiriquí Province.

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  5. Gary says:

    Kris,

    I sent a suggestion to several officials of the Panama Canal Authority for supplementing the hydropower. Since the new Canal locks will use water from the 3 large holding ponds, if construction is not too far along, turbines could installed in the water tunnels between the ponds and the locks. Every time the locks are used, the turbines would produce electricity.

    I don’t care about publicity or credit. i visited Panama in 2010 and I enjoyed it so much, I am pretty sure I will relocate. This suggestion is made in the hope that Panama will be even better prepared for droughts when I move.

    Gary Norton

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