First two and half weeks

Hola a Todas!

It’s been two and a half weeks since Mark and I left NJ, thought I would officially let you know that we’re settled in, sort of.  We have a house for a month on the outskirts of town, then will be moving to a small apartment in town for the rest of our stay here.

The house is classified as “ Panamanian style” and reminds me of the first house I ever owned, in Florida. It’s ranch style, tile floors, no a/c or heat (unlike Florida, it’s not needed here), fruit trees in the yard, really, a lovely setting.  The windows all have screens, which isn’t always the case in this area, since the flying bug population seems to be minimal. (But I did spot an iguana at least a foot long crossing the street ) It’s a very nice set up for working from home – nice office type area in the dining room, breeze flowing, perfect 70 degrees through the day.

BUT – there are some significant differences between this and my house in Florida.  For instance, there’s no hot water heater.  Yep, I’m serious.  It’s a standard Panamanian thing absolutely no hot water in the kitchen and washing machine (another difference – the washer is outside on the patio). In the bathroom, in lieu of hot water running through pipes, there’s something called a “suicide shower”. As far as I can tell, the electricity comes on when the water hits a certain pressure and heats up as it goes through the shower head. High voltage electricity and running water, same combo that an assassin in one of my international intrigue books used to do away with a would-be competitor. Don’t worry too much about it though. In real life I’ve only heard of one person who was ever shocked – my brother, when he was in Peru – no permanent damage.

We’ve also learned that here, most people have chickens. It’s so common that there are laws about chickens crossing the street. Basically, they have the right of way and if you accidentally (or otherwise) kill one, you are expected to track down the owner and reimburse them. Not a problem on this street though, because our neighbors have the good sense to keep their chickens fenced in. Too bad their chickens include ROOSTERS. And yes, they crow.  Take the “Twilight Bark” from 101 Dalmatians, make it the “Daybreak Crow” (Daybreak being about 4:30 or 5) and you will have an accurate picture of what goes on here every morning, for 3 hours or so. (For those who haven’t seen the movie –the “Twilight Bark” is the method dogs use to communicate across London when they are confined to their yards.) Let me repeat – they do this EVERY morning. I’ve done some research on ways to stop roosters from crowing…it’s possible, but the side effects are always fatal. Not very neighborly at all.  J My menu planning rolls through my mind early in the morning these days – lemon chicken, rosemary chicken, roast chicken, chicken soup….all running themes.

TV access is better than the last place we stayed, but still quite limited.  It’s not the problem you’d expect though. We brought lots of DVDs and I found a site that streams live TV shows for a few of the networks.  “Morning Joe” streams just fine, the day after airing, as does at least one of the Philly sports radio stations. Oh goody. I’ve perfected the art of getting library books online, which makes reading a cheap hobby. Mark is running most every day and found a gym to join. He’s looking thinner and thinner each time he returns! I’m trying to run a few times a week, but holy smokes,  it’s hard – windy and hilly, and we’re at 3500 feet – not sure if that’s supposed to impact aerobic activity but it sure feels harder to me.

That’s all for now from this end.

Best to all.  Valerie.