A little of a year ago, I hurt my lower back at work picking up a case of water bottles for a parenting class I was teaching, which caused pressure on my sciatic nerve and extreme pain. After 6 weeks of physical therapy, the pain seemed to go away. But every now and then, it acts up again as it has now for a couple of days. Taking the information and advice from my physical therapist back in the states, I have been trying to tolerate the pain with exercise and ibuprofen, hoping that it will soon go away.
In spite the “dolor de espalda”, Mikkel and I took another day trip today while Nelly cleaned our house. Leaving the dog and kitten behind this time, we ventured out toward Las Tablas after my Spanish class. We needed a few grocery items to stock up on before “Carnival” which begins Feb. 28th. There were a few towns on the way that we had not visited, so we headed off the main highway with help from my “WAZE” app on my iPhone to navigate the way. This time we first visited the town of Paraiso, a small pueblo out in the country. Then La Palma, a larger town to our surprise, with homes spread out over the hills and a small valley. Later we explored the town of San Jose, an agricultural town with a couple of very tall grain silos, possibly storing corn for cattle feed. It is harvest time and we observed many combines and other large harvesting equipment out in the fields and along the roads. Lastly, we drove through Santa Domingo, taking off from the main highway that we usually drive through on our way to Las Tablas and driving through the side streets past the townsquare. In every town, there was a townsquare, church, salud (health center), and school. None of these towns are near the ocean like Pedasí, but still typical Panamanian communities and neighborhoods with many homes and small businesses.
After finishing our shopping in Las Tablas, we returned to Santa Domingo and joined our friend Tim for lunch at a small “fonda” restaurant. Titi, the owner, makes great tacos, according to Tim, but only at night. So we had the “almuerza de dia” which was a good size piece of roasted chicken, a good portion of rice, salad, and a bowl of homemade beans, all for $2 and more than enough to eat. We will have to go back some evening for tacos.
So back home, we find Nellie still working hard as usual, amazing us each week with how diligent she is in making our home like a palace. I trust her implicitly to clean our home each week, so much that we can leave for the day and know all will be well. I never have to tell her what to do. She cleans both inside and out, sweeping and mopping all the tile floors (and there’s plenty), moving the furniture to clean all thoroughly; she sweeps, rakes, and waters the gardens-front, side, and back; she sweeps and washes down the garage and driveway; she washes all the windows throughout, cleans the sinks and showers-top to bottom, even cleans the BBQ. Nelly is a mother who supports 2 teenage daughters and a 2-year old granddaughter, all living together is a simple Panamanian house in the barrio. She is a God-send for me, especially since I have this back ache, and I enjoy talking to her in Spanish, usually when she finishes at the end of the day, although I listen more to her more than speak since I can’t remember all the words to say in Spanish yet. I am understanding a lot more now, thanks to my wonderful Spanish teacher, Dania. I have found that many older Panamanians work very hard for very little, and take pride in their work.
Well I am outside writing this in the garden patio, enjoying God’s perfect creation and just noticed that the sun has gone down. the bats are flying around, and I am here in the dark. Time for cena (dinner) and to take care of my back pain, which is just a dull ache right now.
Update: Back in the garden patio this morning for desayuno (breakfast) and to post this blog. (I’ve included pictures of the town-squares of each town we visited.) We basically live outdoors now. Another beautiful day with the sound of an ocean breeze blowing through the palm trees. I still am amazed that this is our normal life now. Tranquilo!