6/19 & 20 Spinning Wheels
Monday, June 21st, 2010
Saturday was another day of spinning wheels. We drove to the border where there may have been a better chance of finding Sidekick parts.
The border town of Paso Canoa, like many border towns, is a junky looking little town. But the road to get there is great. In fact all the roads I’ve seen in Panama have been above average. This one is four lane with a medial strip, just like many in the States. The roads near where I live are terrible, full of pot holes. Both countries have extreme weather to deal with but I’ve seen how they pave the roads in the Caribbean of Costa Rica. They just grate them and then steam roll the blacktop. That’s it. Soon comes a big storm or two and the blacktop begins to wash away. In Panama they do a better job. I’m told it is one of the things they learned from their association with the USA, due to the Canal. And in Panama, they use U.S. dollars, too. This country seems to have a strong connection with the United States.
I like Panama. What I’ve seen of it’s topography is much like Costa Rica. The people are friendly. When you drive out in the countryside, people wave and smile at you as you go by. The country appears to be productive and thriving.
We had no luck in Paso Canoa nor at the number of junkyards we visited. They don’t have junkyard hot lines, like in the States. You just have to traipse all over creation, looking and asking. I settled on an idea I didn’t like but there seemed to be no other choice. I would have to go back to the border on Monday to order and pay for the part for my car and they would retrieve it from San Jose, in Costa Rica. Then I would have to return to the border again (an hour drive each way) to pick up the part, hoping that it had actually arrived. And it would be a used part with no guarantee.
Back at the Cano’s house, I went out for a while and returned to find my engine pulled apart with a mechanic underneath. Cesar had been hard at work on more ideas to get this problem solved. He called the father mechanic, who’s son had been helping us. He was the expert. He located my needed car part on the other side of the country, in Panama City. It should be installed and the repair complete on Monday.
In the mean time, I got to join the family for their Father’s Day fiesta, Sunday afternoon. Aunts, uncles and cousins, including the 89 year old abuela (grandmother) arrived around noon. We ate carne asada (steak cooked on the grill) with yucca in a traditional garlic sauce and potato salad. I made cookies for dessert.
I’d been needlessly concerned about being with a crowd of people whose language I don’t speak so well. Every one of them was just as nice as pie, very gracious and patient with my speaking Spanish. And they’re lots of fun, always joking and laughing. This particular Father’s Day was extra special because the World Cup Soccer Games were on and Brazil was playing. Panama has never qualified for the World Cup but they still pick their favorites and they all seem to be obsessed – even the abuela. For one month there are three games a day. Since the games are in South Africa, due to the time difference, they are shown from morning until mid afternoon. I’m told that it’s good the Brazil game was on Sunday, because many people are such avid fans that they call in sick for work. Often, during the World Cup the employers bring in a TV and show the games, to keep their employees present.
I’ll continue to enjoy the chance to be immersed in a culture different than my own and wait patiently for the repair of my car.