Yesterday I took a trip out to Boquerón. I wanted to see what was going on with the collapsed bridge to see what damage had been done to the house I’ll be renting and the lot behind the house.
I was mistaken about the bridge location. It’s further to the west on the Interamerican Hwy. Between David and Boquerón there’s a similar set of bridges a short ways before where you have to turn off to go up to the pueblo. The price of the ride from the terminal in David has gone up from 50¢ to 60¢ since the last time I went there, but it’s still an outrageous bargain compared to riding on public transportation anywhere in the States.
The damage done to the lot behind the house was much greater than I’d expected. There used to be a chain link fence around the property and the lot was full of grass and weeds. A footpath ran down the side of the lot and around behind it. It was used daily by Indians who live on the other side of the river down in that direction. They’d wade across the river and then walk up to the main road to catch the buses. It was a much shorter route for them to get to transportation that way.
As a point of reference take a look at this video I shot last year. At about the 33 second mark you are looking back up the footpath back towards the house. You can see the chain link fence that marked the lot and you can see some trees growing at the side of the river.
Here’s what it looks like from roughly the same spot today.
This is looking in the other direction, down towards the back of the lot.
Here are some of those trees.
Take a close look at this picture. You can see where the water level was this morning and it’s usually like this. Now, note how high the bank is above the water level. During the storm the water must have come up at LEAST 12 feet or more.
While the torrent didn’t wash anything away on our lot, water apparently did get inside the house. It has been described to me as being quite a “mess inside.” I haven’t got a clue to that means. The gate was locked so I couldn’t even get on the lot to try and peer inside. I just got the phone number of the neighbor girl who is looking out for things and I’ll try and get in touch with her over the weekend. I’m sure there’s a lot of mud inside though I have no idea how high the water might have risen. I didn’t see any waterline left on the side of the house. I’m sure there’s a lot of mud in there. The river, which is usually clear enough to see the rocks on the bottom was the color of coffee this morning five days after the storm. I was also told that, as of a couple of days ago, there was no water service in the neighborhood. That happens all over the place because the sediment clogs up the filtration systems at the water plants and they usually don’t have spares on hand. Also, the water infrastructure is definitely “third world,” and mainly consists of PVC piping and most of it just runs along top of the ground.
Well, it’s all part of the adventure of living in a developing country, though they didn’t seem to fair much better in Vermont from that last hurricane than we did in this tempest.
2 responses to “Trip to Boqueron”
Once again I thank you for your personal but still objective of narration. I have said I prefer to read your blog than newspapers from Panama. To me your writing is a service I appreciate.
I echo with your comment Alex. Richard is much better than our local journalists. I also enjoy is narrations about life in Chiriquí. His story about the recent precipitation in the Province of Chiriquí was thorough and very professional.
Keep up your good work, Mr. Richard.