Posted by: Panamá Jeff | July 21, 2009

Raging Downtown Rivers

Ok it seems these months are flying by, which is good, it means I am gaining that much more experience of living life in Latin America. So often I try to remember certain situations or little stories to share but it never happens, my memory isn’t that good anymore. I need a digital voice recorder but then I would just leave it at home on my desk. Which brings me to my first story that I had forgotten but luckily have just been reminded.  As I sit here writing this email I can hear constant whistles outside my window. They are building a high rise condo my apartment and they are now about 8 floors high so there are countless workers on every floor working, and yes there is noise all the time. I cannot begin to count how many times I hear the workers whistling their heart out trying to get a woman’s attention, and keep in mind sometimes she is 5 floors down. I am almost positive this has never worked but they continue to try!  It’s not just the whistling either, what you would consider sexual harassment is basically a given here.  The funny thing is most of them cant whistle that loud. Moral of the story? Persistence. Next topic!

construction

Politics and more corruption, I mean construction! I am not even going to begin to act like I know much of anything about the politics that go on here so I will just hit the high points that are known facts.  There is a new president and political party taking office at the end of this month, you should have been here for craziness that goes on during the race, I think almost everyone is glad that is over: parades; construction projects; closed streets and traffic; signs and posters plastered everywhere; loud music and lots of it; fireworks, which I love; politicians on tv, so much drama it’s more intense than telenovelas! On election day, a national holiday so everyone can vote, you can find coverage on a few different channels so I had no choice but to catch a few minutes of it here and there. It reminded me of the ‘dot race’ they used to have at the ballpark on the jumbo-tron. Every time I crossed paths with the election race, someone was ahead by a large margin, and it would change every time…back and forth, back and forth, yeah he’s got it, no, no he doesn’t, yes, almost yup, nope he lost. Sorry you lose.  Speaking of  corruption, Pedro Miguel González,  the deputy to Panama’s National Assembly and has been for over 10 years is wanted in the USA for the murder of  army sergeant Zak Hernandez in 1992 and has been protected by Panamanian law, well at the end of this month his party is out the door, he will not be protected and the new government stepping in probably doesn’t care much for Pedro. It should be interesting to see what, when and where.  Construction?  18,000 new construction project permits approved in Panama this year, which may or may not sound like a lot and may or may not be built, they just have a permit to do so. Regardless I notice new buildings going up all the time, I walked through downtown yesterday for a few kilometers and noticed 4 or 5 new buildings getting high enough to take notice as you go by, so they have been working for a while. We try to count the cranes from a friend’s balcony just one 1 side of downtown, there could easily be 15 or more.  Moral? Persistence. Keep building!

All In… a nights work. As my luck would have me cradled softly and secure on this dark rainy night. I called a few veneto signfriends and no one answered so I went into the Veneto casino and decided to play poker and drink some free rum, you know how it is, typical Friday night. I sat down with $100, played for hours and was in the positive at times but ultimately lost all but $20, so I could buy myself something to eat at 3am. Well,  while I was playing the drunk American sat down and was acting like a fool but he was funny at times so I laughed at him and we talked. At the end of the night I was cashing out and he was actually being escorted out, but he lives here and goes in there all the time…married to a Panamanian woman, it was all pretty civilized. In fact the guards were talking to me most of the time. After talking and smoking a few cigarettes on the front porch of the Veneto we decide to go down the street to a different casino. I explained to him that I only had $20 left  from playing cards all night but he liked to act like he had a lot of money so he was buying more beers than we could drink, hell I was already drunk! Then he wanted to play cards, but he wanted me to play so he gave me $100 and sat next to me. I was up to maybe $700 but when I would bet $40 he would drop another $60 on top of it, then of course if you want to play the hand you have to double that bet($120 more). He kept telling what to do, how to play, I felt like his trained monkey! Trained drunk monkey.  Well again, we ultimately lost it all except I was secretly putting chips into my pocket when we were winning, I wanted to bank $125 because that was what we started with, so I had $125 in my pocket. Well after we lose and chat for about 3 seconds, he says, “Ok you’re not interesting anymore I’m going to play cards downstairs” which is where the cash game is I guess, I had never been in this casino. So I cashed out the $125 in chips and went home, but not before hitting McDonalds across the street. All that booze and no dinner, oh well I made $125. Moral? Persistence. Keep drinking rum and beers and partying all night, you will make your money back.

flooded street Pathfinder Limitations and Charity Fund. Well it’s the rainy season again which comparatively is not bad at all, plus I enjoy cool rainy days, it’s all about a good balance. When it does rain, it drops a lot of water fast, and sometimes for hours, even a good rain can cover the roads completely in 10 minutes. It has a lot to do with water drainage but catch a good rain or lightening storm down here and you will enjoy it. So there are certain roads, 1 in particular between where I work and live that turns into a raging river in more than one spot. Usually there are police blocking the entrance to this street but I just go around and drive through high water anyway. On this afternoon the water came above my hood and up to my windshield, I slammed into this river going pretty fast, in fact I soaked Curundu up to the 6th floor!  We made it about ¾ of the way through before the car stalled. Of course similar events happen like this weekly so all the neighborhood kids come running offering to push us out, they even go so far as to open the back door because they can’t see through the newly tinted windows. I waited about 3 minutes and the pathfinder started up and we were free. The next day or perhaps 2, same scenario, except there was a dump truck already sitting in the middle stalled out,  and I crossed without problems. The water wasn’t over my hood but it was close, I was nervous. This time the neighborhood kids were giving me thumbs up and laughing. Eventually I will get a snorkel for the air intake on the car, we can go submarine style.  Please make all tax deductible charitable donations to make this dream a reality to…well me. Thank you. Moral of the story? Persistence! Keep trying! You can cross that raging river rushing through downtown streets.

Disclaimer and General Request. Just because these messages are generic and goes out to a group of you that is no excuse not to message me back…I take the time to let you know what is going on in my world, how about you return the favor sometimes? Especially if you actually enjoy  reading this garbage!

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