Plague days diary 3


Another entry, with Claro
coming on and off for me…

by Eric Jackson

April 10, Good Friday

Offline on a very dead Good Friday morning.

No Catholics doing the Way of the Cross to express their disapproval of various sinful things we do in the community, for which it is said that Jesus died. If rotten doctor’s kids who went to Protestant Sunday schools are telling awful jokes about how Jesus couldn’t get a license to practice healing in Jerusalem because he got nailed on the boards, it’s done quietly in front of a keyboard.

~ ~

Even the dogs and cats are quietly hunkered down this morning. The dogs, they have a noisy job to do – gotta give that warning bark whenever some outsider comes around. When it’s a member of the clan, they must more quietly come out and greet.

El Campeón appears from next door, to wolf that part of last night’s yellow rice – the balogna chunks from which she picked out – that The Mama Dog left behind last night.

The guy seems to be responding well to the medication. I worry about my ignorance of how long to continue the flagyl and even if that’s at all the appropriate stuff.

~ ~

Is it the herbal cure, or just the untested but reputedly good for you dietary supplement? I picked it up yesterday, as it was in a package of coffee sent by friends and readers in Boquete. Took a dose and it doesn’t taste particularly gross. But how can something that doesn’t taste awful be truly medicinal?

~ ~

Came home yesterday afternoon and loaded $20 worth of Claro cards onto my Internet stick chip – the number is (507) 6311-7201 if you care to put money into it from afar – and worked through the afternoon and early evening. Got up this morning and managed to load a performance of Beethoven’s Appasionatta onto The Panama News Facebook page, take a peek at email and Twitter, and then the chip ran out.

The usual deal is a month of slow service for $15 plus tax, and I got less than a day for $20. All told, about 10 and a half hours. Wonderfully high speed, with hardly anyone else in my neck of the boonies logging on, but there is no way that such a price structure for publishing The Panama News can be sustained.

So, dash to the store and get me some more Claro cards? Not on a Friday, not with the gender separation curfew in force. Guys can’t go anywhere. Women and girls get two-hour windows of shopping time today.

I MIGHT do a bit of shopping if and when someone in a truck comes by selling, but they probably are not going to have prepaid telecom cards.

On Good Fridays past, the fish man usually gets down this street. Let us see. Unless with some special permit that I don’t know about, men are not supposed to be driving on these days either.

The way I’m feeling at the moment is that the true luck would be the bread truck, the jackpot being if they also had butter or cheese. The super grand prize would be the fish truck bringing fresh tuna this time, followed by the bread truck with pan de queso.

Fresh tuna, roasted to perfection, its flesh shared with the animals but part of my share getting flaked and stirred together with mayonnaise and relish and the goo slathered between halves of a Panamanian cheese bread loaf – that’s a slice of Panagringo Heaven.

~ ~

Rastabrunch? Anyway, an adaptation of something I saw about a fruit boat liked by a lot of Jamaicans. I have experimented over the years. But alas, the blight has wiped out the bananas I used to grow. Finger banana slices would be a perfect addition but this is not to be. So this course of what I eat today is:

• three cashew fruits, seeds removed and the fruit quartered

• the segments of one late season tangerine, a bit large and dry owing to the date

• the flesh of a medium-sized mango, without the peels or seed, sliced

• the juice of a soda lime

• a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar

• half a teaspoon of ground allspice

… and simmer that all up in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and reducing the liquid. Well before it caramelizes I will take it off the heat, then when at ambient temperature put it in the fridge to chill.

~ ~


Pan de moña. Sticky buns.

I know a bit about Panamanian culture, but the rules of the plague days market are, if likely ephemeral, new to all of us. My expectation, though, would be that the bread truck will be back on or before Easter Sunday with pan de rosca, in the fruity or nutty varieties or both.

For all I know this is a huge supermarket chain that has a bakery section, wearing guerrilla capitalist garb. It has the appearance, however, of the toiling and understanding masses of Panama’s informal sector. That’s nearly half of Panama’s work force, myself included.

(In New Zealand, their charming young democratic socialist prime minister has told the little kids that the Easter Bunny is an essential worker, so they shouldn’t take it hard or personal if he’s so busy that he doesn’t get around to their homes this year. Panama imports all manner of foreign cultures, from the wretched to the wonderful, such that you can encounter Easter Bunny images here. It’s something marginal.

Will other native English speaker in the neighborhood, the retired West Indian lady at the end of the street who was born in Colon and lived in the USA for many years like me, manage to get Jamaican sticky bun delivered? That’s also a niche of Panamanian culture – one of the better ones — but not so much in Cocle province where we live.

Mess with our pan de rosca supply, however, and THAT would be an infamous Easter attack on our national culture. Most of my neighbors would notice the loss.)

~ ~

The plan was Saturday shopping. But on the phone with my brother Nick, he told me that the restrictions are tightened so that nobody goes anywhere on Saturday as well as Sunday. I’ll have to wait and see exactly what the new rules are when I get back online.

If the new deal is that men just lose our Saturday shopping but women still have their three days, should I be a weenie and complain about sex discrimination?

Memories come back of legitimate complaints that spawned Fathers for Equal Rights, and of what creeps so many of the men who put on those buttons really were. Or the old National Lampoon protest poster of a woman in a fur coat using and ax handle to bash a naked hippie guy who was laying helplessly on the ice.

Systematic discrimination against women, often enforced with appalling violence, is a huge problem in the world and nothing to be dismissed as a joke. Let’s see if Nito avoided the wise guys by taking away one of the women’s shopping days too.

~ ~

Fulita came for dinner, and she brought her inseparable friend but not said friend’s puppy. Friendly, loving dogs. Both getting pretty skinny. A bit of dog food, a bit of the bread I got from the bread truck, a little bit of sausage. They ate, licked my hand, got their ears scritched, and went back to their usual abode. I try to be a good neighbor.

~ ~

Neighbors – from El Campeón’s other home, down the water line from me without much of a tank – came to fill water bottles from my tank. It’s getting toward the bottom of my tank. What has come lately is clouded with sedimentation. I drink it and have not become sick, but yuck.

It’s Friday and it looks like I can’t do my ¿Wappin? playlist on time, but an old Motown standard bangs through my mind. I surely DO wish that it would rain.

~ ~

Someone came to the rescue and The Panama News is back up! Mil gracias. Now back to work for me.

~ ~

Alas, Internet on, and off and ON AGAIN! For how long I know not.


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