Yes, I confess…it was I that broke the coffee carafe. Well actually me and the bread machine. It was doing its thing, mixing dough, kneading away and it must have bumped around the counter top and the electrical cord got caught. The whole stinkin’ mess came down on the floor, taking the coffee machine down with it and breaking the carafe. Luckily the bread machine remained intact, contents safely inside and the timer continued on from where it left off when I plugged it in again. Alas the coffee carafe was the victim in this case, irreparable.
For two mornings I used the permanent filter that was in the machine and poured hot water from the kettle through it and into a bowl. The result then goes into a thermal carafe. Ta Da! Yes, lovely, hot coffee; tasty but tedious to make when one is used to waking up to the scheduled drip of the coffee pot every morning. I should qualify that by saying if the power hasn’t gone out at any time during the night we awake to tasty, hot coffee. In the interest of marital bliss, we decided that we would look for either A) a new carafe or B) failing that a new machine. A quick rip around the burg Tuesday by SU yielded no results and it was determined that a wandering we would go. Initially we decided we would just go into Las Tablas but since most of the lanes are now open on the highway to Chitré we decided to go the extra distance and make a day of it.
Naturally when we sat down to make the list of what was required while we were in the “Big City” is just kept getting mas largo; which means (cue the moths flying out of the wallet), more dinero. I’ll spare the boring details but we always end up getting a bunch of things at El Rey’s grocery store that we can do without and we walk out much poorer for it. Remember what I’ve said about imports…mas caro. We discussed it over dinner last night we were both astounded at how much we managed to spend. Now the larder is well stocked and we won’t need too much for a while. We hope.
As we wandered down the highway to the “Big City”* I took note of the scenery and other such things that we passed. We’ve driven this route many, many times in the year that we’ve lived here and on our visits before that but yesterday I made a conscious decision to really see instead of just looking.
As we were leaving the burg we stopped at the bank. In and out to the bank machine, we buy most of our items with cash so that was a necessity. Down the road we took note of the progress taking place on the new shopping plaza on the outskirts of town. The outside concrete block envelope looks complete and the dirt is being smoothed out in preparation for the parking lot. I also saw one of our local campesino’s dogs wandering on the side of the highway headed back towards town. He was a ways from home and I mentioned this to SU. Perhaps he’d gone to work with his master but decided home was a better place to be. Another kilometer down the road we ran into a Panameño traffic jam.** Unfortunately we were behind the PTJ but fortunately the vaqueros were well-organized and SU maneuvered around the big brown butts.
The countryside is slowly starting to green up. We’ve had a small amount of isolated showers and the humidity is slowly going up which is helping. The pastures still need more rain and the cattle really need the pastures to have more rain. The farmers use no feed here, the cattle are all grazed and when there is no green grass the cattle eat brown dry stuff. This is the reason that they stand outside our yard almost every night sniffing the air and the green plants on the other side.
As we reached Santo Domingo I saw the beautiful flowers around many of the houses. Santo Domingo is a pretty little town and some of the houses are close to the highway and so are the flower bushes and trees. Bougainvillea and Plumeria seem to thrive in the dry weather and there seemed to be a bit in Santo Domingo. Some of the Plumerias were dark pink and others were light pink, these colors are more difficult to find around here, most of the trees are white. I also noticed a hammock on one of the front porches. It was a brilliant lime green, one of my favorite colors, it’s so fresh looking and stood out in contrast to the neutral clay color of the house.
Speaking of houses there are still several mud houses in our area. Some of these houses are still in the burg but they have been covered with concrete repello to hide what is underneath. Many of the houses further into the countryside have not been disguised and in the dryness the hay mixed in with the clay or mud is more noticeable as the structure dries out in the sun. Once the rains come again it won’t be as noticeable and the houses have stood for many years and I’m sure will be there for many years to come.
We rode into Las Tablas and stopped for gas at the Accel/Terpel station. Fourty six dollars later our trusty steed was full and ready to continue. There was a Policía Nacional fellow there paying to gas up his police car that recognized SU as being from the burg. I guess SU is a recognizable fella. The gas stations are converting to litres from gallons, easier for we Canadians to understand, but probably not so much for the people from the USA or the Panameños to understand.
Down the highway we went, it’s so nice not to have to weave back and forth through closed lanes and from one side of the highway to the other. It seems that further up the peninsula there’s been more rain, the rivers look like they are just a little higher and the lower fields look like there is just a little more green among the dry grasses.
As we pulled into Chitré traffic got heavier. We quickly saw that the entrance to the ring road was blocked off. There is some repair work being done on the road. SU quickly maneuvered his way around and over to the other side of town to the Mall Paseo Central. Shop, shop, shop spend a lot of money. New flippies for SU, he even got some fancy ones…and off we go again, coffee maker, food and flippies in hand.
I had the first KFC I’ve eaten since I left Norte America yesterday. I have to say, I’m not really missing it and my little two piece meal with mashed potatoes will likely do me another year plus some. And quality control is alive and well in KFC land, it tasted the same as it does in Canada. Scary… I really enjoyed my cold Diet Pepsi after a morning spent shopping.
Next stop Do It Centre our favouritist hardware store. Score! I found two new king size pillow for our bed for only $9.99 each, cheaper than our Ikea ones from home and just as nice. Our old ones will be retired to the basura pile sometime today. We brought them with us new but after a year and a few tumbles in the dryer during wet season they are ready to go.
The drive home was pretty uneventful except for the plethora of old beat up cars on the road. When the lane goes down to only two on the unopened sections it does get to be a pain. Good news though it looks like the ring road around Guararé has been cut through and it looks like they might be starting to pave soon. At least there will be work for the road crew for a while longer.
I did note that the thermometer in the truck said 31° and the sun was shining brilliantly. There is a new advertisement for Roca Block along the highway. The billboard is huge and sits high on a hill. The old one was of a woman in a hard-hat sitting on a pile of the concrete blocks. Her head rose above the squareness of the billboard and it was faded and worn. The new one has a black background and is just a pile of blocks.
After arriving back in the burg and waving at various people we saw as we were driving through town we arrived home. Unpacking what we bring home is always a challenge with Dos Gatos. When they’ve been locked up all day they are more mischievous than ever. Boomer insisted on crawling into every bag and inspecting the contents. Bandit was trying to sit patiently waiting to see if there were any treats forthcoming.
Wandering yesterday gave us fresh coffee when we awoke this morning to the Dos Gatos meows to get up and greet the day. Harmony created by such a simple pleasure too often taken for granted. It was a productive day but it’s always good to return to life in the campo.
* Actually there is only a little over 50,000 people in the district, which is like a county in North America.
** Definition Panemeño Traffic Jam (PTJ): A herd of cattle being moved from one field to another, usually down the middle of the highway. It’s better to be driving toward the PTJ than to get behind one. Behind is just…well, not pretty.