Always Shake!

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 hilarious.  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!

A while back we were sitting in a restaurant and 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.

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.

So back to these guys and their rum … I can tell you it is fantastic stuff, and it is now available in Panama, parts of Canada and soon in the US.  It’s called Panama Red.  Now I know that many of us “of a certain age” have certain non-rum associations with the name “Panama red,” but this rum is named after a red-headed gal who ran a very popular bar in Panama City way back when …

To ensure the highest quality rum, the creators of Panama Red blend aged rums in bourbon oak casks for ultimate character and flavor. Each small batch is distilled using locally harvested sugar cane grown in the Las Cabras de Pese region of Panama. This exceptionally smooth overproof rum offers endless versatility, making it the perfect choice for sipping straight, diluted with water and over the rocks or as a mixed beverage. With alcohol strength of 54%, Panama Red stands alone as the sole premium overproof rum on the market today.

And let me tell you this stuff is good! Smooth, mellow, buttery, carmel-like with a spicy tang, not the stuff of mixed drinks, but rum to be savored with or without ice, by the fire (yes, even in the mountains of Panama) on a rainy night.

According to Jim Wasson, “It was a passion for great taste and smoothness that gave birth to this one-of-a kind rum. That same passion was evident in a popular Panamanian 1940′s entertainer. She was a breathtaking redheaded woman – both a singer and nightclub owner – “Zonians” called “Panama Red.” Besides her beauty, Red was well-known for the fine rum she served, which drew international celebrities such as Hemingway and John Wayne to her establishment.”

Talking with Jim I learned some stuff about rum, things that I would never have guests.  For example, one would think that a rum labeled 7 year-old or 25 year-old was just that, 7 years old or 25 years old.  But ironically the way the system works in the US is just the opposite of what you would think.  If a blend of rum has a few drops of 25 year-old rum it can be labeled ” 25 year-old” even although the bulk of the rum hasn’t aged at all.  Jim’s Panamonte label states that every drop of Panamonte rum is 25 years-old.  Big difference!

No scorpions today.  The wind is calm.  The Internet is on, as are the lights, and we have water.  Life is good, sometimes different that it was back in California, but good.  And after all wanting “different” is why we came to Panama in the first place.

 

 

 

 

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