So here I am driving to the school in Los Destiladeros as I usually do every Tuesday and Thursday morning to teach English. I look down at the gauges and realize that the temperature gauge lever is all the way in the red to “H”. Knowing from past experiences in the states, I pull over at the next convenient area (a gated dirt road) off the street. Of course, unlike the states, I am in the country-fincas, jungle, cow pastures-no gas stations or stores nearby, no AAA-very few cars passing and only a man riding a horse down the dirt road after opening the gate. Ah, what to do?
Thank God my phone had cell service out here and I had plenty of minutes left, so I called Mikkel. Upon his suggestion, I kept the engine on, but the temp gauge moved beyond the “H” now. I opened up the hood and checked all the belts and fans; everything was good. There was no steam coming off from the radiator. So after turning off the engine to let it cool, I called a friend who lived in a nearby town of Limón. He was kind enough to come out and suggested that he would take me to the school to teach. Then he would go back to Pedasí, pick up Mikkel, and then see if they could get some coolant to hopefully fix the problem.
An hour later as I was teaching, Mikkel shows up with the car. He had put almost a whole gallon of coolant in the radiator, but had also checked to see if it was running out through a broken hose. No, but the car was still running a little warm when he dropped it off and had his friend take him home. After I was finished teaching, I drove home watching the temp gauge spike up to “H” then suddenly drop back to the middle between “C” and “H”. I put on the heater, which we have never used to take some heat off the engine, something I was taught by my dad who was a mechanic. When on finally was driving on the main highway, the gauge seem to remain at a normal temp. But when I slowed down in town, it started creeping back up. I did arrive home safely though.
We can only guess it might be the thermostat sticking, as well as the car initially needed more coolant, but we will need to get the car to a mechanic to fix whatever the problem is. There is only one in Pedasí that I know, and not sure how good he is. We have gone to a mechanic in Las Tablas, but that is 30 minutes away. I am leaving that up to Mikkel to decide what to do now.
Previously, I thought about what I would do if something like this happened now that we live in a remote area of a different country. But I wasn’t going to worry; just trusted that God would keep me safe and that it wouldn’t happen. It did, but everything worked out. My “tranquilo” remained intact. It could have been worse-no cell phone service; no friend to answer their phone or be available to help; it could have been raining as it had the last few days, but it was sunny today; the car could have caught on fire. All those things have happened to us in the past while we lived in the states and we survived each trial, although I am not sure I remained as calm as I did today. As I get older, I have begun to realize that getting upset and/or worrying when things go wrong or not as you planned is a waste of energy. There is always a solution. I have learned to just give it over to God. Worse-case scenario-I could have walked home, or at least to a neighbor and possibly get a ride home. Most people are very friendly and willing to help if they can. If you think about it, it is kind of like what we would do before cell phones. And if we don’t have a car, Panama has a great bus and taxi system throughout the whole country. Walking is always good exercise. Everything here is really within walking distance: grocery stores, banks, pharmacy, restaurants, church, hardware store, health center, vet, the beach. Hopefully the car will get fixed eventually. To live here, I have learned to go with the flow. I would rather choose to be content and look at things positively, than be full of stress and negativity. For now I am grateful for all that I do have: a wonderful caring husband, good friends, a lovely home with a tropical garden I call “my little piece of Heaven”, plenty of food and clothing. We are not rich in material things, but in our hearts which is more important. And we have a lot more than many of our neighbors here who seem happy with their lives. It is a simpler life, but I am surely blessed.
Update: After filling the radiator and overflow with coolant, the next morning we drove the car around town and then a few kilometers on the main highway, first with the heater on, then with the AC on, The temp gauge only went up to it’s normal level. Hopefully all that was needed was coolant at this point.