Gringos, you see, are different…
an installment on a book to come, The Streetwalkers of Panama, by Eric Jackson
They’re all rich. They have this weird soft touch for dogs and cats, which they seem to confuse with members of their families. Got an unwanted puppy or kitten? Leave it with gringos when they aren’t looking.
And so this reporter woke up to be greeted by this adorable pup and a sibling on the front porch. On a morning when he was going to have to get some credit at the local mini-super to make it through the next few days feeding himself, three dogs and two cats. Bus fare until the next payday was carefully rationed with little to spare. Just a bit of connectivity in both the cell phone and the dongle stick.
VERY possible to eat healthy and live off the land for a few days at the particular moment. Tubers, greens, peppers, green beans, loofas and lemons will get a guy by — but not a dog or a cat.
What to do?
Well, this weird old hippie is not entirely a hermit. In fact he’s a reader-supported journalist, an active Democrat when wearing his American hat, a supporter of and sometimes participant in various causes as a Panamanian. A networking solution was in order.
Rather quickly, photos of the puppies that had been thrust upon me were uploaded onto the Facebook page that’s an extension of The Panama News website. Contacts were made with protagonists in various animal friend groups.
As it turned out, in two days’ time Spay Panama would be having a clinic even in Rio Hato, two bus rides and depending on waits at bus stops perhaps only half an hour away. Maybe even less. There was a too long on loan cat cage handy, one big enough for these two puppies. A deal was struck. Usually they want $20 per animal for neutering, worming and the other services at one of their spay clinics, but for these dogs they would exchange care for photography and publicity. The bus fare would have to be juggled, but some Facebook friends sent money through the slow PayPal pipeline to cover the cost of that and then some.
I got back to work on the computer. A key objective in life, then and for as long as it can be kept up, was to maintan the media project that’s the true love of my life. I had responsibilities to Democrats Abroad, locked at the time in mortal battle with the minions of the vile Donald Trump for control of Congress. Then Grasshopper, the vicious orange kung fu attack cat who had come into my life years before when in his turn abandoned on another gringo porch in the Interior, reminded me of The Universal Prime Directive: FEED THE CAT.
That done, working into the night. Until just before the witching hour. The Internet connection went dead. I had paid Carlos Slim’s Claro.com for a month’s service and received less than a week. This would not be the first time. Consumer complaints are useless with this business culture. I have even had the minions of the Mexican billionaire and main shareholder in The New York Times threaten me with arrest for complaining. Perhaps it was just an innocent data entry mistake at the Claro office in Penonome, but they win, l lose and in Panama that’s the way they work it because they can.
Do I send a text message for help the next morning? Telefonica, which runs the Movistar cell phone service that I use, helpfully let me know that my dumb phone chip was so far down that I couldn’t send text messages, either.
So, Plan B? Or is this C, or D, or so on? More cage time for the puppies. I will set out early and use the WiFi where the local buses come and go in Anton, so as to upload this partial tale, to be updated with scenes and events at the Rio Hato spay clinic.
I will be early to the clinic, at a local school, lugging computer and paraphernalia, camera with extra chip and battery charger, puppies and the history book I am reading at the moment for times to be killed in electronic silence.
To be continued…
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