The law of averages says that every once in a while a trip has to go perfectly, just as planned. And that was the case the other day when I made a sudden trip to the States My Air Panama flight to Panama City was fine. I’m amazed at how quickly Air Panama is growing and there was a major improvement in service. The flight attendants now look like they have actually been trained. I had a nice visit with friends in Panama City. Although most food venues at Tocumen were closed, not opening until 8 am (which makes perfect sense in an airport where lots of flights are leaving early), I did discover that the prices eatery in the terminal before security where most of the airport workers eat were just raised almost 8% due to the shrinking value of the US currency used in Panama. The Delta flight left on time, was cramped (where’s this new “comfort” Delta is promoting?), and the turkey and cheese sandwich on stale, stale bread was . . . as expected. But the flight got in Atlanta on time. We must have arrived at exactly the right time because there was virtually no line at immigration and the immigration officer was friendly and professional. “You live in Panama?” Yep. “Neat!” “Purpose of visit?” Family. “Have a good trip!” Time to change Delta terminals, have a sandwich of ham and cheese – actually quite good – for $9!! Then onto Seattle. Full airplane. Back of the plane. It was interesting to note that most of the flight attendants Atlanta to Seattle were senior citizens just like me. I saw this one old lady standing in the aisle as the plane was taxiing out for takeoff and I wondered what this old lady – central casting great grandmother – could possibly be doing . . . and then I noticed her Delta wings! She actually had my section of the plane, way in the back, and did an excellent job! A friendly, helpful flight attendant who wasn’t auditioning for the role of Godzilla! Good news is that by the time I got off the plane my luggage was already on the carousel and my daughter was right outside.
So I get to be grandpa D in Seattle.
Everyone thinks Panama get so much rain, and we do, but this year the rainy season has been late getting started so Panama is running low on water which means hydroelectric plants aren’t producing as usual and the government has ordered lights on giant display signs in Panama City, lights on casinos, restaurants, night clubs, etc., all turned off and closed by 10 pm. Air conditioners in offices, public buildings and malls must be turned off from 10 am to 3 pm. Four provinces have been declared as emergency areas because there is not enough water for livestock. Is this just a cyclical phenomena, or the result of global warming, and is the global warming a natural phenomena or a result of abuse of the environment? Cuna, Kuna, or Guna [Guna is now preferred] on the San Blas Islands are facing rising oceans that threaten small villages and summer fishing camps on low-lying islands. Where we live in Palmira the night time temperatures have risen about 5 degrees over the past few years which has implications for coffee growing.
Typically my Indigenous Ngobe Bugle neighbors and workers say that when we have earthquakes it means it is going to rain. We’ve had 53 [no that’s not a typo, 53!] earthquakes so far this year . . . so much for the earthquake-rain connection. But not to worry, most of the earthquakes are small ones which is a good thing. Far better that the plates make frequent small adjustments rather than wait for a “big one”. And it is also a good reminder that God is not finished with his creation yet, which means he’s/she’s [and God, being God is really not appropriately called either “he” or “she”] is not finished working with me either.
[Friday morning update: Due to lack of rain, largely in Chiriqui where rainwater feeds giant dams for electrical generation, schools have been closed, and if there is no major rain today there will be rolling 2-4 hour blackouts across Panama. Of course in Boquete we’re used to occasional blackouts. Get those candles ready! Yesterday at Bed, Bath & Beyond we picked up 2 bags of “fairy candles”, those little round candles, $6 for a bag of 100.]
It’s interesting being back in the US. There is a certain “comfort level” with familiar things, walking through Bed, Bath & Beyond and Border’s. Traffic lights in Seattle are a lot different than traffic lights in David! The medical doctors all speak fluent English, and the hospitals have hot water. Driving is predictable. No daily electrical outage nor water outage. At least in the Pacific Northwest mostly polite people and lots of diversity, particularly in an area like Seattle. But am I ready to come back to the US to live? Hardly. I like the cultural differences in Panama even when at times they drive me nuts. And I like the adventure! I haven’t had chance to compare the cost of living, but I’m going to make some comparisons when I go shopping. I’m anxiously awaiting Home Depot, Costco, and the Trader Joe’s.