I really wanted to rent in Las Tablas itself, not at a nearby beach or in Las Tablas Abajo. (See previous posts.) At this point, I was desperate to escape the chitras and the tick horde. I lay awake nights listening to the chickens across the road herald the arrival of the zorra and the end of the world, worrying as the zorra and God-alone-knew-what-else ran across the ceiling while I plotted escape routes for when the termite-chewed beams would collapse around my head. Days I picked little green ticks off my chihuahua and hallucinated that the toilet was backing up. And daily I measured the progress of the lumpy black excrescence of termite tunnel climbing the wall behind the refrigerator.
Find a Casa Nueva to Rent in Las Tablas
So I initiated my usual procedure: ask everyone you know if they know of anyone who might know anyone who might know of a house for rent in Las Tablas. Follow up each one four times.
So that you appreciate the exquisite karma involved here, permit me to remind you that many of my local acquaintance took up to two frustrating years to find a place to rent. I found the place in Tablas Abajo in two weeks. This time, I was looking in a notoriously more difficult rental market – I wanted to rent in Las Tablas. And this time, I found a place in…two weeks!
Casa Nueva for Rent – Almost Perfect
How’s THAT for manifesting? I admit I only turned up one serious candidate for my Casa Nueva (new house), and it wasn’t totally perfect. However, it was HUGE. It was airy. AND the floors were fully tiled. AND the plumbing was in excellent condition. And so was the wiring. Casa Nueva was in a well-kept subdivision and was not actually a casa at all. It was one half of a duplex, which was possibly the only duplex in all of Las Tablas.
The original house to which my half was bonded actually had less square footage than my side. But the original did have a porch, and access to the yard. My neighbors there were a lovely family with several grown sons and a small daughter. The lady of the house was a tremendous help to me when I moved in, and continued to be a wonderful resource as I settled in.
My side of the building was built as an afterthought, so while it had no covered porch for escaping the day’s heat, the inside compensated. I had a terrific cross-draft throughout the entire house – both the bedrooms and the living and kitchen areas were cool most of the time.
My “yard” was a three foot scrap of grass, but after my experience in Las Tablas Abajo with the chitras and the ticks, that was fine with me. Especially because all the plumbing WORKED! And it was very inexpensive.
Of course, I had no furniture to speak of. If you are used to being able to hit Goodwill or Craigs List to score a houseful for $500, you will find furniture here in Panama jaw-droppingly over-priced. I already had a gas two-burner and a refrigerator, a bed and a ropero (clothing armoire). I had also accumulated a guest cot, a plastic outdoor table and six plastic outdoor chairs. My primary need was for tables and shelving, so I bought some plywood, which the store was kind enough to cut according to my specifications (BY HAND, might I mention). I stained the boards, strategically added some concrete blocks and voila! I had shelving, four tables and a big writing desk. One plastic chair went to the computer, one to the “dining table” and the remaining four and the cot (with pillows against a wall) comprised my “living room suite.” I made curtains and a tablecloth and I was a happy camper. It looked fairly good, even if the setup did reek of college-make-do. After all, I am a writer and this kind of stuff is in my job description. (Coff.)
When I found an incredible deal on a set of patio furniture that was nice enough to use indoors, I liberated some of my savings and began up-scaling my situation. It was tremendous fun.
Casa Nueva Nueva – Perfect
Right about then the half of my duplex that had the porch became available, and I switched sides. All the rooms were smaller – both bedrooms, the kitchen, the bath and the living area. But it had porches! Front and back! And I was past my horror of chitras, not to mention that everyone in the subdivision sprayed their yards to keep them free of ticks and other nasties.
This was a wonderful move, a gift from heaven. The space is just the right size for me and it has a civilized, finished look about it. The porch is a wonderful thing to have, and I enjoy eating out there, sewing out there, reading out there, etc. I have planted papayas and cocoanut palms, agaves and aloes and crotons, and put a small herb and veggie garden in the back and on the side. I’m happy here. There are only two things that could lure me to move again, and one would be access to a pool. But then I would have to leave all my wonderful neighbors behind, and it probably wouldn’t be worth it.
The Bat in the Ointment
The other? There is always a fly in the ointment, right? This time it’s bats, not flies. There is a colony above my suspended ceiling.
Now I am basically a bat-lover. A single bat eats about 1000 bugs per day, so as previously advertised in our Bats in Your Azuero Belfry post, bats are very welcome in my vicinity. I didn’t want them to leave the area completely, so I didn’t want to use one of those electronic devices that interferes with their sonar.
So what is my problem with bats? Bat pupu.
Now it’s not exactly Dracula’s Castle At Dusk here. My bat colony is pretty small – two or three at most. But for a while dried bat pupu was drifting down through the cracks between ceiling tiles. And yes, I did make a lot of suggestions about controlling bats in my article. Unfortunately, most of them assume you are (1) able-bodied and agile, or (2) have access to tools and stuff, and (3) are probably the owner of the property.
What I have access to is the husband of one of my friends who is the best “honey-do” guy I’ve ever met. I help my friend with her website and she let’s me “borrow” her husband (on a limited basis of course). I also have access to a wild streak of creativity. As my true objective was not to be bat-less, but to be bat pupu-less, I considered ways this might be accomplished. So Honey-Do took his tall self up my tiny ladder and applied clear silicone caulk to all the ceiling tile joints. I’m sure he had a crick in his neck when he was finished. Bottom line: there is now NO bat poo in my living quarters.
When/if the ceiling begins to sag, I will revisit the issue. 🙂 Or maybe my landlord will attend to the situation before that. Viva caulk!
Next week in Post #4 in our Adventures in Renting series, we will talk about HOW TO find a rental here. (Editorial “we.” I do not have a bat in my pocket.) If you missed our previous Adventures in Renting, they can be found here: