Always Shake First

This was a battle in our house between a scorpion and a spider the size of a passport - guess who won!
This was a battle in our house between a scorpion and a spider the size of a passport – guess who won!

After a friend had the unfortunate experience of pulling on his pants and being stung by a scorpion hiding in the crotch of his pants (Ouch!), I have always shaken my pants before putting them on . . . and this morning, out fell a scorpion primed to do his dirty work.  Dodged another bullet!

My wife always shakes out her clothes as well, except a few weeks ago when she shook out a blouse a scorpion popped out and landed on her chest and then fell into her cleavage. While she tried to get her bra off she got stung.   Not pleasant!  However, since she will still go into gales of laughter when she recalls the time I got into the hot tub and sat on a drowned scorpion.  Unfortunately, drowned or not the stinger is still primed with no safety.  This was when we had first come to Panama and not knowing if a Panamanian scorpion was deadly or not, I did the most logical thing, went online.  Nikki came home to find her naked husband sitting in front of the computer on bag of ice.  She still finds the memory of that sight hillarious.  Not sure why, but . . . now she knows how it feels.

Scorpions are a fact of life.  We do have an exterminator come in and spray with a spray that isn’t harmful to our pets.  Sometimes I think there are more scorpions that come out after he sprays.  I have another friend who enjoys “scorpion hunting.”  He has a black light flashlight.  Apparently in the ultra violet light the scorpions show up as bright white, like a tee-shirt washed in Tide.  Of course if he used that black light in a hotel room . . . well, he’d never want to stay in another hotel room again!

Well, not quite!

sehr gutes Essen 

We decided to try the new little German restaurant that opened down the hill from Palmira in the San Francisco plaza the other night.  The rather eclectic Germanesque restaurant featured a limited menu – unfortunately no red cabbage – but we had a delicious Wiener Schnitzel, German potato salad, and tasty sauerkraut, washed down with Beck’s beer.  A tasty meal . . . with tax and tip $20 for two.  I thought it was fairly priced so I didn’t bother asking for the Pensionado discount.  Give it a while and when expats start asking for the Pensionado discount the price for the Wiener Schnitzel, now $8, will go up to $10 and then I will ask for the discount.  This is one of the dumb games you have to play with the Pensionado discount.

We casually got talking with three guys at the next table.  One asked, “Are you Richard?”  [This rarely happens, but I secretly get a thrill when it does!]

I said, tentatively, “Yes.”

He said, “I read your ESCAPE book on the plane on the way down.”  [As always I’m delighted to do anything I can to help the flight go more quickly although I suspect this guy was not flying in the back of the plane.]  Actually he and his friends were in town for the 7th Annual Boquete Jazz Festival which, this year, was more successful than every before with all venues sold out in advance.  Turns out these guys were co-sponsors of the Jazz Festival as a way  of introducing their special new rum.  Quote: “We needed something to do in retirement, so it was either drink or make rum, and now we can do both.”  This is not just any rum, but rum designed to be the equal of the finest Cuban rums.  They promised to send me a bottle so if they do I will sip and duly report.

And in case you didn’t know here is . . .

The Reason Why We Have Rum in Chiriqui . . .

It’s a simple fact of life of which newbies are sometimes unaware. [It’s not always covered in the 3-day wonder retiring in Panama seminars at the big hotels in Panama City.]  In Panama, and particularly in Boquete and surrounds:

a) The power sometimes goes out . . . and sometimes with high winds and construction on the road to David it goes out frequently.

b) The Internet is not always reliable, particularly when we have heavy rains or winds.

c) In the windy season trees often blow down over roads and until some enterprising fellow comes along with a machete or licensed chain saw (and it’s easier to get a gun permit than to get a permit for a chain saw), the tree blocks your way.

d) And a cow sometimes steps on the cheap plastic water pipe that serves the entire community, or an earth tremor up on Volcan Baru [the source for much of our water which is what you pay a premium for in a plastic bottle in the US and Europe, especially if it has a French-sounding name or some Polynesian-style hype] shifts some rocks and cracks the pipe.  When this happens guess what?  The entire community has no water until someone finds and fixes the leak, or climbs up the volcano to find the leak.  And when that happens sometimes the water is muddy.  But what do you expect for $5 a month?  Sure, in Southern California I paid $90-150 a month for water and maybe I’d gladly pay more than $5 a month, but my neighbors, whose country this is, don’t make California wages.

e) And in the windy season when the winds blow incessantly . . .

So that’s why we have rum!  If the lights are our out, or there’s no Internet, or the road is blocked, the wind is howling, or there’s no water . . . drink rum!

It even is a sure cure for the pain of being stung by a scorpion.

If all this sounds crazy and strange to you, and you’re even thinking of moving to Panama, you need to get my book THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE immediately and read Chapter 4 “Visit A Leather Bar.”  Not that the lights necessarily go out in a leather bar, or there’s nothing to drink but booze, or the wi-fi doesn’t work, or your path to the restroom is blocked, but the intent is for you to size up . . . wrong image, sorry! . . . experience your comfort level in a different culture.  And if “leather bars” are your thing, then try an anti-gay fundamentalist church.  Panama IS paradise, at least for me, but IT IS DIFFERENT than the US, Canada or Europe.  If you find different appealing then Panama may be for you.  If you want all the comforts of the life you know, wherever that may be, then stay put: Panama is not for you.

No, I have not been stung by a scorpion, the lights are on, the water is on, the road is clear, the Internet is fast, and the winds are calm . . . so I will just sip some of the great Cuban rum – from Cuba!  but don’t tell the CIA! – my friends Werner and Heidi gave me.

2 thoughts on “Always Shake First

  1. On our island we have hardly any scorpions. Worse, we have plenty large suntapees.
    You can spray half a can of pesticide on them and they are still alive and running fast.
    We found out the best way to paralize them instantly is to spray them with strong hair holding spray.

  2. My wife just killed (by stepping upon) a small, black one that was “shuffling” along the floor, by the wall, in the bathroom of the house that we are renting in Volcan…

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