Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ants and Pasta, Welcome Home

Laura and Salma flew to California this morning. Or their plane did, and they just rode.

After seeing them off at the airport I stopped by my friend Tracy's house in La Chorrera. There was a salamander on his kitchen floor and I helped it out into the yard. Two cats lounging about the house on the cool tile floors, and the smell of burning leaves in the air. No sign today of the parrot that calls, "Mama, mama." Tracy is having a running dispute with his Panamanian neighbors. He recently discovered that his property is larger than was previously believed, so he moved the fence accordingly. A large chunk of what was believed to be his neighbor's property is now his. They have responded by loosening the fence posts, breaking into his backyard casita, tossing dogs and chickens over the fence, and on one occasion striking him with a board. The case has gone to the local magistrate and one of the neighbors may face jail time.

I got home just in time to see Henry and Nora Smith pulling up to my gate. They were in town to scope some properties, so I quickly fed the cat and went with them. They brought their granddaughter Ana Sofia with them to meet Salma. Ana Sofia is a happy, friendly little girl, charming in the way that Panamanian children can be.

I guided them to the new place that Silen is building and selling. Silen, who sold me this house, asked me about all my fruit trees. "How's the papaya tree? How's the mango? How's the guanabana?" Etcetera. I told him the bananas, papaya and mangoes are great, but I didn't even know that I had guanabana.

I took Henry and Nora to see the two-story house past Dan & Cherry's that a developer built on spec and is trying to sell. Nora took lots of photos.

Returning home I found Listo watering the yard on his day off. I asked him about the guanabana and he showed me, and he also pointed out a chirimoya tree (another one I didn't know I had).

I opened some windows and the kitchen door and stepped out into the side yard, only to step into a new anthill next to the sidewalk. I didn't even notice it until I got the first bite, and by the time I got my slippers off I had a half dozen bites on my foot. Welcome back to El Valle. In fact the insect population seems to have burgeoned lately, perhaps because of the light rainfall we've had. Termites, spiders, and a mouse-sized cockroach are running rampant in the house. I took off my slipper and aimed it at the cockroach but he escaped beneath the bathroom sink. Such sensitive little monsters.

The sugar-ant super highway has disappeared from the kitchen counter but a few scouts remain.

On the other hand it was nice to look in the fridge and find the delicious macaroni and mushroom dish that Rosa left, along with an olive and feta salad, and the remains of the chocolate cake that Laura made before she left.

The house is large, empty and silent, with a cool night breeze blowing through now that I've opened the windows. Salma's room is dark. There's a scent of jasmine in the air. Li'l Fishy is very glad to have me home and follows me from room to room. I have turned my phone off because I'm not in a talking mood, so if you've tried to call I'm afraid I have not received your messages. I still read my email.


sunshine said...

Hope you;re not too lonely, with the house to yourself.

Those ants and cockroaches etc sound scary and annoying.

When I finally get to Panama, gardening is gonna be a whole new adventure to me. i.e. the massive new potential for growing new things in the tropics.

I wanna grow bananas, oranges, limes, grapefruits etc etc and have the best smoothie drinks ever, each day!

Wael in Panama said...

Oh, the bugs aren't that bad. You get used to it. It becomes a fact of life, like pollen allergies in California. Just follow a few simple rules. Always wear slippers or sandals around the house. If you go out in the yard, wear long pants, socks and shoes. Don't leave any food crumbs on the floor or counters. When ants get in the house, find the entry point and seal it. Let the geckos and frogs do their job. Keep all windows (or screens) and doors closed at night. During mosquito season, use a mosquito net on your bed, or at least on your children's beds. For gardeners, there are certain tactics to reduce the ant problem. For example, agricultural grade diatomaceous earth around trees and plants will keep the leafcutter ants away. Another tactic is to feed them poison to take back to their nests and kill the queen. See the Yahoo group "Gardening in Panama" for more of this kind of info.

CZgal01 said...

Hey about the cockroaches that fly at you - at least this one was not airborne. Panama sounds so different
Hi, Wael. I once sent an email to Laura but I am related to Adam Brunner. I used to live in Panama but now live in the great white north - Boston. I love your blog. Makes me homesick for the beach at Palmar. My father was an expat who worked for the Panama Canal and my mom is from Chiriqui.

Wael in Panama said...

CZgal, so are you a Panamanian citizen? What's your name, I'll mention to Adam that you read my blog. Adam was supposed to come by my house a few days ago to give me a quote on paving my driveway, but he got food poisoning. Ughh...

CZgal01 said...

I am both - got the Panamanian papers because that is what the US Consulate advised us Zonians born in the CZ to do. Which makes me wonder what John McCain would do if he visited? Would they tell him to get papers too? (Mac was born at Gorgas, can you believe that!) Yes, tell Adam that Leslie (nee Wallace) said hi - his mother is my half-sister.
Adam got food poisoning? Sounds like bad clams or bad ceviche.