There is a small group of gringos here around David who meet weekly to practice speaking our Spanish. I enjoy going because we’re all a bit hesitant in our use of the language so we aren’t overwhelmed with the rapidity with which the Panamanians speak. There are times when I hear them on their cell phones and I think to myself “there’s no way the person on the other end can understand what’s being said it’s going so fast.” Then I think, too, that it has something to do with the cost of making a cell phone call. It’s well known that people here will often call a number and hang up as soon as it starts to ring on the other end. That way their phone number shows up on the other person’s phone and they aren’t charged for a call and they expect the other person to call back on their dime. Therefore, when they are actually talking on on the phone they do it as fast as they can so they can hang up without spending too much on the call.
Anyway, the group starts at 10:30. I can’t really take the ten o’clock bus. It takes about 45 minutes to get down to the “lavamatico” (laundromat) where I need to get off and then there’s a bit of a walk to the meeting place. Taking the ten o’clock would mean showing up at least a half hour late. So, I have to catch the nine o’clock bus which means I’ve got to hang out somewhere for about three quarters of an hour before the meeting starts.
Yesterday I went to the little “fonda” across from where the bus stops. A “fonda” is a kind of restaurant. I figured I’d have a cup of coffee and read my Kindle for a while.
I’ve written about how good the coffee is here in Panama. Much of it is grown within arms reach of where I live. I enjoy Finca Ruiz Italian roast and every now and then I go to their store in Boquete to get some of the other beans they offer but which aren’t available in the super markets. They’re also about double in price to what you can buy at El Rey or Super Barú but every once in a while I like to treat myself to a special cup. I buy the whole bean coffee and grind each batch fresh though I do have about four pots- worth pre-ground and sitting in the fridge in case I wake up and the electricity is off and I can’t use the grinder. The stove is gas.
So, I order my coffee, knowing it’s not going to be freshly ground beans or Italian, French or Espresso roast, but can you imagine my horror, here in the heart of coffee-land, when the lady behind the counter tossed a heaping tablespoon full of INSTANT coffee into a Styrofoam cup and added hot water? What a sacrilege! Why didn’t the coffee police swoop down on this little fonda and instantly haul this woman away to some dank, dark dungeon and punish her severely? Surely this had to be some serious breach of the penal code, no?
Obviously I won’t be going there again. There is, however, a few blocks away, another little fonda that I’m going to get to some day and I want to get a picture of the place. The name of it is ¿Dónde está José? Where’s Joe? Gotta love it.