Acclimating is Easy, Mostly

Chunks of ice from our freezer

There are things that one takes for granted, living in North America — Like a self defrosting freezer.  This lovely photo is of the ice we scraped out of our (NOT self defrosting) freezer .  The sink that the ice is sitting in is  about 12″ by 18″ — that’s a lot of ice

This is our very small freezer

And here is the size of the freezer, just to put in perspective how much room the ice  was taking up pre-defrost! It’s about 6″ by 12″x12″. Yeah, were definitely running out of room there. Next time we won’t wait so long.

There are other things we don’t have here that we’re used to, like a car.  Walking 5 or 10 or even 20 minutes to get to where ever we want to go isn’t that big of a deal — unless it’s raining. In which case, we wear rain suits. Pants and jackets both, and if you’re wondering, yes, we look dorky in them, and chances are if you saw us walking down the street, you’d pretend you didn’t know us.  But that’s ok.  We would be dry. (I tried to get a photo of Mark in his, but he wouldn’t pose properly. And of course, I don’t do pictures. )

We can’t pay our bills by mail here — and no, online is not an option either. Instead, we walk across the street for the internet bill, and down to the Western Union to pay the electric bill.  Both paid in cash too.

Of course, who minds walking into town to pay your electric bill when it’s only $14??  Nope, I didn’t forget a “0” there — $10 + $4 , that’s the whole bill.  Pretty nice, right?

It’s easy to see why the bill is so low — gas stove, no hot water heater, no washer, no clothes dryer, and best of all — never a need for heat or A/C!!  When you are 9 degrees above the equator (compared to 27 ish in Lake Worth, Florida and 40ish in Philly) the sun beating down on your head is intense, but the temperature here in the mountains still pretty much stays in the 70’s all the time.  I moved around a lot growing up, and have done a lot of traveling as an adult, and I’ve never been anywhere else with the fabulous climate that we have here — definitely not something I’m taking for granted.

(BTW, here’s a link to a very detailed weather station someone put up not too far from here, but at 4200 feet elevation instead of our 3500, it’s slightly cooler and rainier there. One of the bloggers I read before getting here said he looked at this and realized that weather wise, he’s living in San Francisco. )

Mark says:

Another crucial component of daily life that we take for granted in North America is electricity.  With the exception of damaging storms, a car hitting a pole, or some other anomaly, electric power is always available.

Here in Panama the power is a little more inconsistent.  In actuality, based on some reading we did prior to coming here, I expected more frequent outages than we have experienced.  Nonetheless, a couple of times per week the power does go out.  Usually, it is down for a half hour or less which is certainly manageable.

Except when it happens at a key moment, as it did earlier today!  After a hard shift of volunteer work on a special project at the library this morning, I was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon.  Just like thousands of previous Sunday afternoons in the U.S., I was going to kick back and watch the sporting event of my choosing.  And, as it so happened, The Philadelphia 76ers, er Sixers, playoff game against the Chicago Bulls was on a network that we can get on line at home.

I realize that the Bulls are pretty much decimated by injuries but being the Philadelphia Homer that I am , and always will be, I was pretty excited when I tuned in during the third quarter of what appeared to be an extremely competitive, tightly contested game.  Over the next couple of minutes it became clear that while close, the game was pretty much an exercise in offensive futility.  Regardless, over the next half hour I was pleased to watch as the Sixers maintained a small advantage.

Until, with about five minutes left in the game, the screen froze just as Lou Williams launched another ill advised three pointer.  Even now, I am not sure if that shot went in or not?  (I am guessing not!).  Did the wireless router go down?  Was the cable company’s service on the blink?  Was our laptop taking a snooze?

No. Clicking on a light switch quickly ascertained that we were experiencing what appeared to be a typical rolling blackout in Panama.  Nothing to do but wait it out.

My afternoon of leisurely watching sports events somehow turned into an opportunity for Valerie and I to address some more mundane realities of daily life, which have to be dealt with no matter where you are.  But, all was not lost!  After about a half hour or so the lights flickered. The refrigerator kicked on and I quickly started pounding the computer keys in order to restore access to the game.

And, I did it!  Just in time to see the Sixers walking off the court and congratulating themselves on their victory and on taking a 3-1 series lead.  Oh well, inconveniences like this are a small price that you sometimes pay in order to appreciate an otherwise delightful experience in Panama.

Undoubtedly, if a similar outage were to occur during a Phillies World Series Game, an Eagles Superbowl appearance (IF ONLY!) or even the seventh game of the Flyers in the Stanley Cup, I would not be so understanding.  Until then, I will be grateful for the access that we do have here and root for my home teams from over 4,000 miles away.

One final note:  From now on, maybe  we should take advantage of these power outages to defrost the freezer?