Woke up to a quiet calm rain this morning, realizing there are a lot of changes and oddities in my life here in Pedasi. I have only lived here for a little over a week, so it is going to to take some time to feel as this is my normal way of life. No matter how much you research & prepare, moving to a different country, environment, with a different language can be a real challenge. Knowing and accepting that makes things a little easier. Seeking God’s face in all this makes it even easier.
Anyway, I started thinking about some of these changes I am facing right now, and thought I would list a few. It helps me to organize my thoughts and feelings as I give each one over to God.
Retirement: I have always worked since just out of high school, except a few periods when I was raising babies or temporarily unemployed by being laid off. But raising my 4 children (although I usually went back to work within a year each time) is work within itself; and when unemployed, you are looking for work or possibly going to school to get work. Now I have raised my children, and don’t have a job. I can sleep in as late as I want. I can go to the beach, when it’s not raining. I can read all those books I have downloaded. Why do I feel I should be doing something? I do want to volunteer, perhaps teaching English to the school children or helping with some non-profit organization, but for right now I have to get used to this retirement thing and enjoy the quiet freedom it brings.
Slow Internet connection: As I have mentioned before, our Internet connection here has been slow-to-none at times. It is my way to connect with others and the world; to find out about things and good bargains to buy. Coming from a world where everything is instant to slower than dial-up (you may remember), it is trying my patience. Yesterday though, while walking back from town, we came across our friend Christine, who shared with us about a modem/router we could purchase and than pay $40/mo. for mobile Internet service. Being more than willing to pay this, we drove over to the Claro dealer in Las Tablas. After purchasing & signing up for the monthly service with no one who knew English & my limited Spanish, we were happy how fast it connected to Mikkel’s laptop he had brought. We came home, got on the computer and it connected to our computers, but not the Internet. Finally, by moving this small flat egg-shaped wireless device around, when I moved outside beyond the covered patio, it worked. Our tin roof is blocking the connection. So we put it on the dashboard of our car which is parked in front of the patio, to keep it out of the rain. But if the device gets hot, it shuts off automatically until it cools down. It only gives 4 continuous hours of wifi, then it the battery has to be recharged. The speed is only 2mg., but overall, it is better than what we had. Again, just have to get used to the short term limits.
Hot water: Only in the shower, and compared to what I’m used to, warm-to-cool at the most. But at least there is a nice flow. Also, there is only one shower knob to,turn on the water at the wall. the water heater is located at the shower-head with electrical wires running along to water pipe to the wall ( hence the name-suicide shower). The bathroom & kitchen sinks only have cold water. For dishwashing, there is no dishwasher, only me, and I have to heat up water. This is not to say that there are no dishwashers or hot water available in other homes in Panama, especially in the more modern ones, but not where I am living. And I may or may not ever have it again. Actually, I have lived without a dishwasher before, and have been a camper since childhood, heating up water for washing dishes and showering, so I am not complaining. It’s just another change to get used to.
Cooking with propane: This actually affects Mikkel more than I; he’s the cook. But our stove is connected to a 20-gal. propane tank sitting next to it. The heat is not as high and not as adjustable as our stoves in the US, so he has to adjust his cooking and preparation times. Right now, we have no microwave or toaster oven, although we will have those in the other home we move in. We bought a small charcoal BBQ, but again not the same as out gas grill at home, and Mikkel loves to BBQ. We will buy one once we move to a more permanent situation. But we are not starving. Eating lots of delicious fruits and vegetable. We discovered the Panamanian beef is very tough, no matter how you marinate it, but the chicken, pork, and seafood is fresh. Some foods we have not been able to find yet, such as fresh mushrooms, but but the pineapple, papaya, and coffee is to die for. So we just change our cooking and eating.
Bugs and insects and other creepy-crawly & flying things: The first week we came to Pedasi, we were getting bit by what they call “no-see-ums” (tiny invisible sand fleas). We haven’t been to Pedasi in the wet season before, so we had not experience these biting little devils. They like me most, not sure why. But I found out through the Internet that Avon Skin-So-Soft repels them, and luckily I had brought some (although I had gotten rid of a big bottle when lightening my suitcase). So I have been applying daily, and the biting has pretty much discontinued, I have Skin-So-Soft Anti-itch spray for the bites as well, In Panama City and David, they have Avon stores. We are planning to go to Boquette, near David, at the end of August, so I will visit the store there and stock up. Also, I learned that in Boquette, there is a business that makes a salve for these bites as well. might check them out. Other than that, I am getting used to the teeny ants and large centipedes that crawl around the house. Four to six inch moths fly around at night outside, and one flew into our apartment the other night; I walked outside until Mikkel caught it and send it back on it’s way outside. And I just discovered a 6-inch round nest of flying insects hanging just outside our patio roof, but they haven’t been bothering us. Other than some little green things, a few small spiders and a gecko crawling on the walls occasionally, that’s been it. It is really not much different than living in California or other places I have been. I do love watching the many butterflies and hummingbirds who visit the flowers around our patio.
The weather: Right now, it’s the wet season. There are only 2 seasons: wet & dry. During the wet season, it rains a lot almost daily. And when I say a lot, I mean in buckets sometimes, so hard we can’t hear ourselves talk. It is also humid due to all the moisture. But it also gets sunny with a light breeze and dries up pretty fast so we go to the beach. The temperature averages 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit every day, all day and night, 365 days a year. So I mostly wear lightweight sundresses. During the dry season, not so much humidity and very little rain with more ocean breezes. The humidity is great for the skin. I personally like warmer weather more than cold, but I will probably miss the 4 seasons, especially the Fall leaves and watching snow falling occasionally.
The language: Although I know some Spanish and have taken some courses in the past, I am not confident in my knowledge and skills. So it is going to take awhile. We are going to try our best to learn the language and culture, to become part of the lifestyle hear in Pedasi. Not knowing the language isolates us. Some people know some English, but I want to be able to understand and communicate easily in their language. There is a Spanish language school in town. We have contacted the owner (who we met on our first trip here) and we plan to take some classes starting in October (they close during September for teacher vacations). In the meantime, I do have a Spanish language-learning program downloaded on iTunes which I can listen to. And we will continue to speak and listen to the people as much as possible. Just have to be patient.
I am sure there will be plenty more changes and challenges to come. Writing them out has helped me see them in a more positive outlook. Thank God for His promises of strength and never leaving us. This may be challenging, but I see it as an adventure as well.
Today’s oddity: There are two Pedasi air strips on the way. The first one is on the road to Playa Arenal, the beach a mile down the road from our apartment. I have heard it is for private planes, although I have never seen one there. The other one on the other side of town was built for commercial flights, but it’s all locked up. Mikkel read somewhere recently that Air Panama has agreed to start scheduling regular flights from/to Panama City 3 times a week starting in October costing $100 each way. We will believe it when we see it. Anyway, while driving past the air strip to the beach, I looked over and saw a dozen or so cows and ducks just standing and walking around on the air strip. I don’t think you would see this on the air strips in California.
Well, it has warmed up and the sun is out, so off to the beach again. I think I am liking this change.