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.