Monthly Archives: April 2008

Just another bad day in Boquete

Ever have one of those days you wished you had just not gotten out of bed?

My “not so great” day started mid day yesterday when the power went out. In Boquete, where we are used to intermittent power outages, it is no big deal. Usually it is back on in a few minutes, so I kept working away on my computer’s battery power, which, with my Dell, is usually several hours.

Well, I lost track of time, or my trusty Dell picked today to let me down, regardless, I was at the point where I would normally upload all of my several hours work to my server in Arizona, right when my computer decided to “hibernate” and shut down, as it was out of juice. A moment of panic as I thought I had just lost all of my hard work.

Accepting that, well, this is Boquete, so you are never quite sure when the power will come back on, I decided to jump in the shower while I still had some daylight left. With no power and no computer I figured I might as well head to Amigos for my Friday night pool, albeit a little earlier than normal. I wondered if the power was off all over town, like it was with the water outage last week, and maybe Amigos might be in the dark as well. Then I remembered that they keep some of the beer in a large cooler with ice, and they cook with gas, like everybody, so at least I could eat and have a cold beer.

When I got to Amigos I started asking everyone and anyone if they had lost their power. Not a soul! This should have been my first clue, but with the “interesting” way the power grid is setup here, there are often very specific local outages. All I could do was pray that it would be back on when I got home. I began to think about all the food in my fridge, and, of course, my very expensive insulin, which must stay chilled or it’s useless.

To my considerable dismay, when I got home just after midnight I was greeted with total darkness. Naturally none of my neighbors were without power. That’s when I dawned on me about the “discussion” I had with my landlord about the hydro bill. When I first made arrangements to rent the place, when I was still back in Canada, we had clearly agreed on $300 total, excluding cable and phone. I was also told that the place was “fully furnished”, and my contact person was going to make a “list” of all the household stuff that was there, like dishes and pots and pans. I never got any list.

When I arrived at the house, not only did I not have a single spoon, but I also had no hot water or a fridge, both of which came as a real shock. I explained that there was just no way that I could live without hot water and a fridge was critical, especially because of my insulin.

This was my first sign of trouble, because I quickly learned that the last tenant had installed her instant hot water heater, which she had promptly removed and sold when she left. So the very first things I had to do was spend $300 on a hot water heater and $380 on a fridge, plus several hundred dollars more on all the household necessities, like dishes and pots and pans and cleaning stuff – all money I did not have and did not plan to spend.

There’s been a host of problems with the place, from bugs to broken pipes, which flooded the place. Now to have them shut the power off on me was just too much.

About three months after I moved in to the much less than billed casa they present me with the hydro bill to pay. First, my neighbor had already told me the previous tenant was paying $225, and about the water heater fiasco. He had also shared with me that after she had only been there a short while the power got shut off on her. She soon discovered that, not only was she to pay hydro on top of her rent, but she was expected to pay for the last few months that had not been paid either. This was most of the reason she finally moved out again. So, not only was I not going to pay for something I had not agreed to, but I also knew the same thing would happen to me and they would expect me to pay for the time since the previo9us tenant left. Not a chance!

I somehow managed to fumble around in the darkness and get myself to bed. It was not one of my better nights of sleep, with all the stress and the thought of losing everything in my fridge, including my insulin.

In the morning at the ungodly hour of 6:00 when I woke up, of course I had no coffee, which I have become all to accustom to with the great tasting Panamanian coffee. I figured I would wait to call Karinthya at 8:00 or so, but when I went to call my phone was dead, naturally.

Oaky, be calm. Take your phone charger to dance class and charge up the phone and call Karinthya.

After the lesson my phone is now charged and I go to call Karinthya, and get a message that my phone is out of minutes. Off I go to the Mandarin to buy more minutes. When I get home I scratch the card to get the PIN and somehow manage to obliterate the numbers in the process. It takes me several tries with different guesses on the PIN to get it finally working. When I did call her, all I got a message in Spanish that I could not understand. I tried calling all the numbers I had for my landlord and got nowhere. Finally I called Karinthya’s father, Roberto, who has helped me out before. He informs that Karinthya’s cell phone had been stolen and that was what the message was about. He said he would do his best to contact them to get the power back on. That was the last I heard from anyone.

Just when I was at my wit’s end, Lizanne called to say that Jim Thompson, the guy from Kelowna that had bought the Volcancito house was in town and wanted to meet with me. Off I went to Volcancito and spent a few hours with Jim talking about his plans for the house and how we might work together. Over the course of many hours over the next two days we hammered out a deal for me to move in. He hasn’t yet closed on the deal, so he was trying to get a hold of the current owner just to check that it was okay with him for me to move in now. Jim was leaving Boquete Sunday night so all we could do was wait for an answer.

He called me early Monday morning to tell me he had spoken to the previous owner and he was fine with everything, so I spent the next few hours packing everything up getting ready to move. I managed to move everything in one taxi truck and I am now ensconced in the “penthouse” suite. The plan is for me to renovate the two suites downstairs, then move into one of them and rent the other out. Jim is giving me subsidized rent, plus a commission on the rentals, plus he’s interested in some of the other things I have on the go. After spending about nine hours with me on Sunday he has handed me a land development to market and sell. Might turn out to be very interesting.

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