Monday, February 22, 2016

When Panama Gives You Lemons

Living overseas can be rough, but one learns to adapt.

We heard about a new stand up paddle board club not far from the city. It was a near a place called Playa Bonita, a beach distinguished by the immense amount of plastic wrappers and beer cans found on the shore. While the irony of a beach so named permanently resembling the aftermath of a frat party once struck me as profound, really it's a sad analog for much of Panama. A beautiful country drowning in trash.

Today was a fortuitous day though. There was nice breeze blowing, but the seas were calm. Only a few beer cans could be seen, and the ocean was nearly plastic of trash. My fiancé and I paddled happily around the bay, sometimes with our Panamanian puppy on the back of the board.

A few hours later, we loaded up to head home. Almost immediately I heard the thump thump thump. Flat tire. My car has been the bane of my existence here. I paid too much for it, it has no airbags, it breaks down constantly. It's an evil blue avatar of everything difficult in Panama, the embodiment of the tropical struggle.

The side of the road where I pulled off was slanted, the ground uneven and grassy. I jacked the car up as far as I could, while drivers roared by honking as they're oft wont to do. Then the jack slipped on the uneven surface and lodged itself like Excalibur between my car and the ground. As I threw my hands up in frustration, I saw my lovely finance had taken out a beach chair, and was sitting on the side of the road as if she were on the white sands of the Caribbean.

So I joined her. If you can't change the way things are, you might as well be comfortable.

A nice sunny day.
We sat, drivers honking, as the nice breeze blew over us and kept the mosquitos at bay. I called our road side assistance, and a nice lady assured me someone would be out in five minutes. An hour later a car rolled up, and two men eagerly helped me tighten the last lug nuts. Once I figured they won't coming any time soon I had freed the jack with a number of ferocious kicks.

When Panama gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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