We’re just starting the rainy season here. A little rain each day after weeks of none at all. And yesterday we had our first real drenching downpour in a long time.
Wednesday morning started wet and dreary. Rain and then fog. I usually meet with a group of gringos who get together on Wednesday mornings to practice speaking Spanish with each other, but with the fog cutting visibility down to about a hundred yards at 8:30 I wasn’t about to risk the bus ride down the mountain. Bummed me out because I would be missing my third session in a row. However things cleared up around 10 and I went down to David to do some grocery shopping.
When I got back to the house around 3:30 it was raining pretty heavily and there was no power at the house. This isn’t too unusual around here when it’s raining so I gave it little thought. But as afternoon turned to dusk and still no lights I began to worry and then when I saw lights in the houses below and above me I was a little peeved. Fortunately I have a couple of lanterns and the stove uses gas so I was able to eat. Of course there was no internet connection and I get testy when I can’t get online at will. I like to read and there are some books here at the house I’ve never read so I wasn’t at a complete loss for something to do and I ripped through The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz. It’s about seven prisoners who escaped from a Siberian camp in the Soviet Gulag just at the beginning of the Second World War. They walked from the camp near the Arctic Circle to India. They walked across the Gobi Desert. Eventually four of them made it to India.
In the morning I went to the home of Feli and Alba, my nearest neighbors and asked if they’d had lights the night before. Alba said they had and then went into the house and returned with my light bill in her hand and an attitude of “oh, here.” The bill was 30 days past due and the power had been shut off. Now here in Panama the bill is hand delivered since there is no mail delivery. There are no real addresses, either. My electric bill in Boqueron had an address of “the two-story house near the health clinic.” (You’ve got to love that.) Here in Potrerillos the bill is given to Feli who then passes it on to me, but right now he’s working off in the mountains planting tomatoes and Alba…well, who knows.
Anyway, I hightailed it down to Dolega where I paid the $48.36 due and a reconnection fee of $10.99. The woman at the Union Fenosa branch office said the electricity should be on by the time I returned home. Well, it wasn’t. I called the company around 1:30 in the afternoon and they said it should be turned on by 3:30. It wasn’t. I called again at 4:00 and was assured I’d have power soon. Then came our downpour for the next couple of hours. I called again at a quarter to six and was told the man who reconnects the power doesn’t work after six.
So, another night without lights. I listened to Bryce Courtney’s Brother Fish on my iPod until the battery died and then ripped through The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby before turning in for the night.
Now, I’m getting a little worried because everything in the freezer is starting to thaw out. Not a good situation because there’s a lot of food there and I sure can’t eat it all before it goes bad.
This morning, at 9:30 the power got turned on again. Whew. Most of the stuff in the freezer is a bit soft but we’ll just see how things develop.