A week and a half ago the hot water heater stopped heating the water. Unlike the big 40-gallon water heater tank we have had to heat water in our homes in the states, this heater is an on-demand water heater bolted on the wall outside the kitchen where the water is pumped from the filtered water tank and heated when we turn on the hot water for the kitchen sink, shower, or washer. At first I thought that the pump was not building up the pressure necessary for the pilot light to come on to heat the water. We have had to replace and adjust the pressure gauge twice since we moved hear last December. But the gauge was keeping the pressure up as needed. And yet the heater was not firing up. So we called the electrician, one who our landlord has hired in the past and lives around the corner from us. He came over the next day and told us he will have to go to Las Tablas for parts and will be back the next day.
Well, the “next day” turned into about a week later. We waited and waited for the electrician to return, but “mañana” can sometimes mean “just not now”. I called him early Tuesday afternoon and he told me he would come “en la tarde”. And even when I tried to clarify that it would be today, there was no show. Now, we are okay without hot water. I have an electric tea kettle to heat water for greasy dishes; the cold water is at room temperature and actually refreshing in this climate in the shower; and cold water for the washer is no problem (all we had in our previous home). So hot water is somewhat of a luxury here. But since we have the heater and have hired the electrician to do the job, it would be nice to rely on his word. Mikkel says I shouldn’t be surprised that he hasn’t returned when he says he will. We have learned that some Panamanians cannot say no or at least tell you they are busy. Nevertheless I called him again the next afternoon since he still hadn’t shown up. This time he again said “en la tarde”. I clarified with him that he meant today, and then said he was waiting for someone else and would be right over soon. Sure enough in about a half hour, he and another electrician showed up. The other man looked at the heater and pump, and within 5 minutes, fixed the problem. “Voila!” We have hot water and it is better than before when the hot water didn’t always come on without playing with the faucet, turning it on and off to get the pressure up enough to fire up the heater.
In the meantime, last weekend we had arranged with another electrician who was introduced to us by a neighbor expat, to come Tuesday morning and install 220 voltage in our bedroom, necessary for the split air conditioner we had previously purchased a couple of months ago, but never installed. This electrician showed up at 9:00am Tuesday morning as promised and two hours later, he had bought the necessary parts at the local hardware store and finished the job. Then I called the air conditioner installers in Las Tablas, the ones who we must use for the warranty to be good on the unit. They also said they would be here the next day, Wednesday, at 9:00am, and sure enough, they arrived on time. A few hours later, the air conditioner was completely installed. So not all electricians and other service technicians and laborers are as unreliable as some. Actually most we have hired have been very reliable and have done excellent work for us. Now we have AC, very cold AC, for our bedroom. We have been used to no air conditioning, even in this warm climate, but thought it would be nice to have in the bedroom for those warm humid nights.
Things that we have taken for granted before, or think are necessary to have, have changed to things we now consider luxuries or blessings. We have learned to adjust or do without at times. It is all part of living in this country town of Pedasí. We have no regrets and we accept the differences whether they are cultural, traditional, work ethics, lifestyle, or all-together unavailable. We thank God for the opportunity to live here in our “third life”.