I’ll be moving into a new place in February! I know, I just moved in here in October, but there are a lot of reasons to leave.
If you remember, I had 30 days to move out of the house I’d been living in for four years. They really did me wrong. Actually, I don’t think it was HIM. It was HER. The time I was with them at the old house she sat on one of the chairs like Jaba the Hutt, a pale, colorless reincarnation of Madame Defarge but texting away on her iPhone instead of knitting.
When I was given the eviction notice I went to my neighbors and people I knew in the area asking if they knew of any places I might rent at a reasonable price. I looked at two within days. The first one I wouldn’t let my dog vomit in. It was, to me, THAT BAD. So I moved in here to La Barriada.
It was a move made of necessity. The houses are very close together. My neighbor’s house is no more than 12 feet away. They have a colicky infant that cries constantly. They also have a boy who is in the “terrible twos” and his fat, ugly, vapid, bovine mother screams at him constantly and his crying adds to the infant.
There are times when they’ve played their music at full blast, and when I complained she said it was “in my house.” I screamed above the thumping base that when it was being played that loud it was in MY HOUSE, TOO, and I didn’t appreciate it. There have been a few times when the only response I could come up with was infantile, I admit, and to combat them I turned MY radio up full blast and blared Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Marley at them until the toned it down.
Other times people a couple of blocks away are playing THEIR music so loud that the bass just rattles my gourd. Like last night. A Wednesday. And yet there will be times on Friday and Saturday nights when it’s as silent as a crypt. I can’t understand it.
Some people are about to move in across the street. They were bringing some stuff in the other day and had the back of their SUV open and you could see the 18″ speakers. That doesn’t bode well.
But the worst thing has been NO FUCKING WATER. We go, sometimes DAYS without any water here. We’re not hooked up to IDAAN the regular water company. There is a single large tank that is supposed to serve over 100 houses. IT DOESN’T. There hasn’t been a drop of water here at this house in TWO DAYS now. In the past week there has been a weak dribble for as much as an hour but it comes on at around 5 a.m. I leave the tap on and can hear it when it starts. Of course then I have to get up and do the dishes as fast as I can. A couple of weeks ago it took me TWO FUCKING DAYS to do a small load of laundry. The water started trickling. I threw my dirty underwear and a couple of shirts in the machine and set the water level to LOW. Well, it washed the load, but by the time it drained the water wasn’t running any more and I had to wait for the next day for the rinse cycle to go. I have two 5 gallon buckets in the bathroom so I can flush the toilet and I fill them from the shower. IF the pressure is enough to come through the shower head. Half of the time it’s not.
AND, it’s the DRY season now. We haven’t had rain here in a week. When it rains I usually put those buckets outside and let the rain run off from the roof fill them. Getting low now, though it is clouding up right now and we may get some rain and I can top off.
I can’t live like this any longer.
One of my friends, an old journalist, Jorge Rios, the man who put together the magazine here with the story about me….
Oh, here’s another thing I didn’t mention. DOGS. The next door neighbors have a pair that they kept chained. They used to bark and moan and cry sometimes all night long. Once I recorded them for an hour and then played it for my landlord. They’ve since unchained the dog who roam around the neighborhood. But they’re nice dogs. One’s a pitty mix and the sweetest thing. The other has a lot of doberman. They’re both really just puppies. They spend a lot of time lying on my front doorstep which is cool. I feed them since the vapid bitch next door hardly ever does. I’m cool with them being around my house. BUT, when it gets dark, anyone walking around sets them off into a barking frenzy. It’s probably good at keeping baddies away, but it’s FUCKING ANNOYING AT 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. There are also several houses nearby, three of which I can see, that have dogs on short chains and one of them, three houses away yips and moans at LEAST five or six hours a day.
I can’t live like this any longer.
So, back to Señor Rios. He’s told me about a couple of places to look at when we’ve seen each other on the bus heading down the hill. I didn’t care for either one. But today we happened to be on the same bus and he told me about another place, and he’d arrange for me to see it around 3 in the afternoon. The place is actually a duplex that used to be used as government offices and I knew where they were. They are right up in what passes as the “center of town” such as it is. One house away from the town park, and a block away from el Palacio Municipal and the Info Plaza. It’s right on the main road so all I have to do to catch the bus is walk outside my front door. It’s a block away from the big “Chino” which is Panama’s answer to 7-11 and Circle K. The ONLY disadvantage to the location is that several times a year they hold events there at the covered basketball court by el Palacio and I used to be able to hear the music all at the old house a kilometer away.
The fucking dog three houses away hasn’t stopped yipping for the last hour since I started writing this.
I met Señor Rios at the duplex. His brother lives in the next house. I don’t know the man, but I’ve said hello to him many times over the last four years whenever I was walking past his house and he happened to be sitting on the porch. Well, Jorge and I went to meet the landlord who lives about 100 yards away and I got a look inside. IT’S HUGE!! As you enter what will be the living room it’s at LEAST 15’X15′. The kitchen actually has a counter. Not real big, but the biggest I’ll have had since living in the gringo-style house in Potrerillos Arriba. TWICE as large as at the old house and there’s NO COUNTER here. In fact, I had to put the stove and refrigerator in one of the bedrooms and turn it into the kitchen. The sink (that has no water) is in what is supposed to be the kitchen here.
Then there is a long corridor leading to two large bedrooms which have CLOSETS, another thing I haven’t had since Potrerillos, and that was over FOUR YEARS AGO. Between the two bedrooms is the bathroom. There is RUNNING WATER in both the kitchen and the bathroom. I know because I turned the tap and water came. The bedrooms are probably 12’X12′. There’s also water out back so I can put the washing machine there and do laundry.
Rent is $150/month. Thirty more than here in La Barriada but twenty five less than the old house, and there’s NO YARD to be mowed. The person renting the other side of the building is retired but has been up in the States for the last couple of months. The neighbors beside me are a couple of ladies at least in their 60s. I’ve walked around there for years and so I know, by sight at least, everyone. It will be nicer there than here.
I have to go see Sr. Moreno Monday to pay for February though I won’t be moving in right away. I’ll give him a couple of weeks for painting. He says it will all be done over the weekend. Next I’ll have to write a letter to my current landlord and give him the required 30-day notice that I’m leaving. He’s a real nice guy and I hate to bug out on him (there’s no lease), but I can’t live like this any longer.