After weeks of waiting and putting our new place in Panama together piece by
piece, we are finally connected to the internet. Prior to this week we have been
sneaking around town stealing access from unprotected networks. So many
folks in Chitre were doing the same thing that MacDonald’s rendered their
network secure and will only share the password with customers who opt for
the full meal deal rather than single cups of coffee drinkers who occupy tables
forever while they catch up on email. No more of that clandestine signal-
stealing for us – we have joined the world of the legit.
The dry season has commenced in Panama, and is accompanied by a warm
and forceful wind that serves as a natural air conditioner. It also serves as a
dust distributer, especially in a suburb where new home sites are being
prepared through the removal of topsoil. There have been times when the
laundry comes off the clothesline looking grimier than before it was washed.
We like that clotheslines still predominate the landscape down here and
purchase of a dryer is widely regarded as a foolish waste of money and
energy. In many North American neighbourhoods – some of which regard
themselves as leaders in environmental sensitivity, bylaws forbid the stringing
of clotheslines because they are considered unsightly. Better we should look
more prosperous by using dryers that consume electricity by the megawatt!
No such nouveau riche attitude in Panama, and despite our temporary
setback with true grit, we quite approve.
Today we abandoned the seacoast for a trip up a local river for a swim. Our
swimming hole was popular with locals and featured rapids and pools that
made for refreshing fresh-water swimming. Our adventure was led by
aPanamanian friend playing pied-piper to 15 Canadians who frolicked in the
waters. It was only after jumping in and flailing about that Gus remembered
to think about alligators, caymans and piranhas. Scampering to the shore, he
rediscovered the joys of sunbathing. It was only later that he learned those
flesh-eating creatures did not frequent this swift flowing rio.
The river trip took place after a round of golf which was spiritual on this
Sunday morning. One of the real delights of getting older is participating in
recognizable cycles of life. In the mid 1950,s, along with hoards of other kids
from his hometown of Greenfield Park, Quebec, Gus earned a few dollars by
caddying at the Country Club of Montreal. It was there that a life-long love
affair with golf and all of its trappings commenced, despite what many would
describe as a paucity of talent for the game. In those days the basic fee for a
caddy was $1.75 for 18 holes, but most golfers paid us $2.50 or $3.00 for our
efforts, and on many days we would caddy for 36 holes and go home tired but
That significant generosity did not extend to a senior citizen who, if my
memory serves me right, we referred to as Old Man Corey. He was frugal and
never paid his caddy any more than the $1.75. We would show up in the
morning and, save for the caddies who had regular golfers and bookings, be
put out in order as golfers requested the services of a caddy. We wily
youngsters would dance and jockey position vigorously to avoid having to pick
up Pop Corey’s bag. History is now repeating itself in Panama.
We have joined the local golf club. It’s a rough track that makes the Royal
Rockpile in St Lambert look like Augusta, but the price is right and the
enthusiasm is there. Several youngsters who live close to the course have taken
up caddying and an older American man has trained them in the art. They
charge $2.00 for 9 holes (in this heat we frequently only play 9), and they
wander over to our houses to pick up the clubs. They know how to spot the
balls, tend the pins, keep your equipment clean and avoid stepping in your
line on the green. They brim-over with enthusiasm for the game.
Gus thinks it is wonderful to have come full cycle. His only worry is that he
will be regarded as an Old Man Corey rather than an Eddie Bergeron. At the
same time he doesn’t want to over pay the lads so that their expectations grow
beyond what most people will pay them. Life isn’t always easy for a liberal
living in a developing country. Nevertheless between the golf, the beaches and
the sunshine, we are having a hell of a first winter as snowbirds! We can
highly recommend a southern sojourn to all who experience seasonal affective disorder!
Mavis & Gus
Thanks Mavis & Gus