Two Nights – No Lights

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Living Abroad, panama, Retirement Abroad

One response to “Two Nights – No Lights

  1. Oh, gosh. I’m sure glad it came on – I imagine the freezer stuff should be ok, depending on how good the insulation is.

    That’s a pretty interesting bill delivery system. Do they have a central delivery point in neighborhoods, rather than coming by each house? And how do you get mail? There must be private mail companies in the towns – maybe?

    Actually, it was an electric bill that brought about my taking over mom’s bill paying. I came home one day and she said, “The power’s out.” As it turned out – only in her apartment. She’d forgotten to pay the bill.

    She can be a bit Scarlett-O’Hara-fiddle-dee-dee about things, and she had been about that. She was quite miffed about the reconnection fee. As she said, she hadn’t meant to not pay the bill! As I explained to her, good intentions, road and all that. The electric company didn’t much care that she’d just forgotten. 😉

    I LOVE your description of your mother’s attitude about bill paying.

    There is NO home mail delivery system in Panama. Don’t forget, this is a very small country with a population of only about 3.5 million people in all, over half of whom live in Panama City. Nearby David is the country’s third largest city (Colon at the Caribbean entrance to the Canal is the second largest). David has a population of about 85,000 and only recently got its third traffic light. Potrerillos Arriba and Boqueron are the homes to only about 1,200 or so residents so an address like “the two-story house near the health clinic” is quite adequate. If there were two two-story houses then the address probably would have said “the blue and white two story house near the health clinic.”

    You CAN rent a box at the Post Office, pick mail up from General Delivery or set up an account with one of the mail forwarding services like Mail Boxes, Etc., which has a U.S. mailing address and then your letters are delivered to Panama and you go pick the stuff up at their offices.

    Personally, in my life, if you don’t have an email address you don’t hear from me.