Monthly Archives: November 2015

Trapped

One of the problems with living in a rural are like Boquerón, well, any rural area for that matter, is that if something goes wrong on the main road you travel on there are very few alternative routes open to you.

They’ve been working for several months, now, to resurface the main Boquerón road from El Cruce to the town center. And believe me, it needed to be done. They started tearing out the old surface back at the end of August leaving a rutted dirt road in its stead. Then, at the end of September they started laying down the macadam. I was still living at the other house then and they came on down to a couple of blocks below the caseta (bus shelter) where I’d pick up the bus. As you can see from this Google Earth pic, from the town center there are several alternative route that the buses and taxis can take that parallel the main road. Up to a point, that is.

Detours

From that last yellow push pin down to El Cruce is a little more than 2 kilometers. A mile. The entrance to the barriada lies in the middle. Last Wednesday I needed to go over to Bugaba, the next town west of here, to buy some spices I needed for a recipe I wanted to try. I got a cab at the entrance to the barriada which took me down to the crossroads and immediately picked up one of the many buses that pass by all day long. I was at the Romero supermarket about 15 minutes later.

It only took me a couple of minutes to get what I needed with no impulse shopping since I’d done my weekly grocery shopping a couple of days earlier. I was back at the crossroads in less than an hour from when I started. One of the Boquerón buses was there, but I couldn’t get on. The road had been closed for grading. They weren’t letting anything but official traffic through, so the only way to get back home was to WALK! And it was HOT! Took me over a half hour because of my emphysema and stopping every couple of hundred yards to rest in a bit of shade.

Today I needed to make a trip to the grocery store again and stock up for the week. Saturday was the big Independence Day here, and as in the States when a holiday falls on the weekend Monday is usually a day off from work except for places like supermarkets and restaurants. I figured they wouldn’t be working on the road until Tuesday. I was wrong. They were grading and a steam roller was following the grader. It wasn’t looking good though traffic didn’t seem to be affected. Cars, trucks and taxis were passing in both directions past the caseta where I was lolling in the shade.

A young indigenous lad came up and sat down in the caseta with me and he struck up a conversation which was quite unusual. It was the first time in over five years that this has happened to me. He was curious about Florida when I told him that’s where I was from and he actually knew that Miami has a huge Spanish-speaking population. He said he has a friend who lives in Toronto and hardly anyone speaks Spanish there, of course. The first Cruce-bound taxi came around the bend and I was able to flag it down. I needed to get over to Bugaba as fast as possible on the chance that they might close the road to traffic again.

Well, I made it over there, did my shopping and got back in a little more than an hour this time. The road was still open and a north-bound Boquerón showed up less than five minutes after I arrived. I now have groceries enough to take me into next week, but I know that in a couple of days they’re going to start laying the black top and then we’ll all be trapped here since there are no alternative vehicular routes down to El Cruce, or most of the way up toe the center, either. The folks in above us here in the barriada will be able to get a bus which will take an alternative route from the town center down to a place called La Guinea on the Interamericana and from there into David.

Alternative Route

But I don’t care. I’ll just hunker down here.

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Pitter Patter

I have always liked the rain. That’s probably a good thing living here in Panama where there is a distinct “rainy” season.

As a kid from the first grade until the seventh, we used to evacuate the suburbs around Boston and head to Nickerson State Park from the day school let out until the day after Labor Day.

DSCN0020 copy

My mom and dad slept in a small travel trailer…

Trailer @ Nickerson copy

My brothers, David and Gary, and I slept in an Army Surplus wall tent like this one…

tent

I loved it when it rained. The sound of the rain drops on the canvas roof of the tent was like music to me. It lulled me to sleep many a night or put me back to sleep on a morning with the pitter patter of the rain.

When I was a teenager we had two sailboats that we kept at Quonset Pond in South Orleans. One was a Sunfish-type sailboard that I used to take and creep into tiny out of the way spots along the shores of Pleasant Bay. I learned where a lot of the sea birds nested which came in handy years later when I owned Nauset Tours, a beach taxi business. The other boat was an O’Day Daysailer that was kept on a mooring ball. It was fitted out with a canvas boom tent. This is a piece of canvas fastened to the mast at the forward end and draped over the boom all the way to the stern to keep rainwater out of what was, essentially an open boat with a small cuddy cabin. There were times when it was raining and I’d been let off work at the restaurant at the beach when I’d drive down to Quonset Pond, row out to the Daysailer and take a nap falling asleep to the sound of the rain on the canvas of the boom tent and the slap lapping of the pond’s wavelets against the hull.

I loved it when it rained when I was living on my beloved Kaiser26, Nancy Dawson. Sleeping in the port section of the vee berth forward the deck was only a couple of feet over my head so naturally the sound of the rain was close. It would be hot, even at night, in Fort Lauderdale in August and September. Before going to bed I’d set up a box fan in the main hatch blowing OUT and open the forward hatch which was over the vee berths. The box fan would pull the air into the boat through the forward hatch and expel it out into the cockpit. By morning it would be so cool (relatively) that I’d have pulled a blanket over myself to stay comfortable. And when showers passed overhead at night I’d feel the raindrops that made it through the open hatch to pelt me on my shoulders. It was just enough to let me know what was happening and I’d without getting up I’d reach up with one arm and let the hatch fall into the down position and the sound of the rain would have me back in dreamland in seconds.

It’s been years since I’ve been lulled by the sound of rain overhead. Oh, there were some times when I was house-sitting in Potrerillos Arriba when I’d slip outside and lay down in a hammock on the broad patio out back (patio, by the way is what the Panamanians call your entire yard around the house, and free-range chickens are referred to as pollo al patio.) but as nice as that was, it wasn’t the same thing.

The next to last time I heard that wonderful roof music was my last visit a year ago over to Bocas del Toro to look at a boat that might be for sale. On each of my trips over to the other side of the Continental Divide I’ve stayed at a small hotel just outside of the craziness of “downtown” Bocas Town, Dos Palmas. It’s built out over the water and the place has a tin roof. I remember being pleasantly awoken a couple of times in the middle of the night to the sound of rain on the roof. Contentment.

Almost all the houses here in Panama have tin roofs, and I’m talking NEARLY ALL, not just cheap, shoddily constructed places like that which I just moved into. The ceiling is a standard 2’X2’ drop ceiling and there’s nothing between it and the tin roofing. So, like right now as I sit here typing this and the tantalizing aromas of chicken curry waft around it’s pouring down rain and I’m loving every drop that hits the roof.

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