I recently reconnected with a very dear friend from my college years. He’s curious about my world down here in Panama so I figured rather than overload his mailbox, I’d just write a post.
I woke up to a beautiful, partly cloudy breezy morning, 80 degrees. The first photo is my “outside office” this morning, looking towards the back yard and the banana trees. The second is the front of the house which you can’t see very well because I’ve planted too many things.
Then, this is our kitchen, not big but definitely workable for two people. The stove is gas, and it is fed by a gas can outside that is similar to what feeds your BBQ. When we have an empty gas can we take it to the chino (convenience store) and exchange it for a full one for $5.12. One lasts us about a month. The counter and structure under it is cement covered with tile so we wouldn’t have the problem with soggy wood if the sink would leak. If you stand at the sink there are storage shelves behind you and an opening into the dining room. The fridge is around the corner in the dining room which works for us because the kitchen is small.
The other picture is the living room. Typical construction is a cement slab floor, cement block walls, and a metal roof. We are a bit fancier because we have tile on the cement floor, and a drop ceiling. Above the ceiling is a large opening that looks up to the underside of the roof. The walls do not go all the way up to the roof, which isn’t important except sound tends to travel within the house more than you would expect. The metal roof is very noisy during a hard rain, but after reroofing the Florida house and replacing lots of wood, tar paper, and shingles this metal roof is a lot simpler and more practical. We painted ours white to cut down on the heat in the house, which the neighbors thought was quite strange until we explained the concept to them. Roofs are typically brick red color.
Our living room is our music studio. Visitors are traditionally entertained in an outdoor space and it’s better use of the space for us. Our house is larger than many, probably 900 sq ft. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and we have a wall air conditioner in the living room for those hot summer afternoons. We also have a reserve water tank because the water here isn’t reliable. But, it is drinkable and clean.
So, moving on… today’s errand was to go to our mailing service and visit the friendly bilingual employee Luis. We have found this mailing service fast, efficient, and friendly and it’s affordable at $2.50/lb + $.50 handling per package. They will deliver for free but it’s on our bike route it’s a good excuse to get some exercise. And, now I have new bike shorts! Thank you eBay.
Next, I went a couple minutes farther down to the shopping center. In the first picture, El Rey is on the left, a very nice, upscale, large supermarket. Next to it is the DoIt Center, similar to Home Depot. The shopping center goes behind these stores and farther down to the right and contains multiple stores, – furniture, electronics, home appliances, light fixtures, a Subway, a couple pharmacies, a phone service, a couple banks… you might be able to live your entire life without going much farther afield than here. The second picture is from the same spot but looking south to the Panamerican highway. You can just barely see Super 99 on the other side of the street, another very large supermarket and there is also a third smaller one across the street down there. All this is just 3 km from our house!
Then, heading back north we passed this Delta gas station. The prices are per liter.
The guy standing by the street in the photo below is selling langostinos – they look like very large shrimp or maybe little lobsters. They are really good but twice the price of shrimp which I like just as much. Street vendors are very common all over town. You’ll see them selling fish, produce, bottles of drinks, sunglasses, cell phone cases, paintings… all kinds of things! I like buying from street vendors, the guys who are out there working hard to make a living. The Texaco station beyond him is very new. We see a lot of familiar names and brands here.
The other photo is one of the two produce markets at this intersection. I buy most of our produce from our guy who comes around every week with his truck, but anything else I’ll buy from these markets or a street vendor. I almost never buy produce from a supermarket.
Continuing up the street towards home… The mangoes on this tree looks like they are getting fairly large.
The blue building is our nearby chino, or convenience store. They are called chinos because they are almost always run by Chinese people. Here, that is not considered a rude, politicly incorrect thing, but only a description. The other photo is from the same spot but looking north.
The next photo is my favorite vantage points for seeing Volcan Baru. Volcan Baru is an active volcano and at 11,000+ feet, the highest point in Panama. It’s so high that the temperature up there gets to freezing, and on a clear day you can see both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. All the volcanoes throughout central America are monitored, and thankfully this one is sleeping. The last eruption was back in the 16th century. I must have seen Baru hundreds of times by now but I never get tired of it.
The last picture is an open field on the way home, and there’s a huge mango tree there. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 100+ years old. It’s only fruited once since we’ve been here but it makes small, yellow, and really good mangoes which I would be happy to peel, cut, and store in my freezer to enjoy all year.
Are your eyes glazing over by now? Don’t worry, we are almost home.
The first photo is the entrance to our neighborhood and the others are some of the streets in our little neighborhood. It’s trash day so sometimes the guys take all the trash from the little enclosures and lay it out in the street, which isn’t a problem unless the neighborhood dogs decide to make a mess. But, it makes it easier for the trash truck to zip through the neighborhood and sure enough, as you see in the last photos, there they were.
Trash pickup here is twice a week. They haven’t been as consistent since the pandemic but they always show up at least once a week. Trash men aren’t always given respect but here, earlier in the pandemic, the authorities put together a really nice video thanking them for doing this job during this dangerous time.
Now it’s 5pm, 86 degrees (though it was 90 earlier) and super windy! We get the trade winds in the summer and sometimes they really blow. We don’t expect to get rain in the summer (but for some odd reason, we’ve had quite a bit in the last few weeks). All those leaves I raked up and left in a pile a couple days ago… ha! Oh well, I enjoy working outdoors so it’s fine. And the wind creates a strong head wind coming home so we get a good workout on the bikes.
Well I think that’s it. I sure managed to talk a lot about a simple outing and an ordinary day! Thank you for hanging in there until the end. As always, take care of yourselves and each other.