Building in Panama – The Addition 6


Building Slowly, Slowly… Notice Bat Freeway Above Barely Begun Ceiling

At the three month mark, the new room my landlady is building onto my little rented casita is at or around 80% done. But it’s been that way for a month. “This is Panama,” all my expat friends who have built anything here smirk, “and you should expect that.”

These voices of experience are right, and I am doing my impatient best to relax into the flow. But it’s hard for my mildly driven self to do. I am suffering.

Why? After all, this is an upgrade. I’m going from one room to two and more than double the porch.

Well, first of all, right this moment I might as well be sleeping outside. It is true that all the windows, including the two in the new room, have screens on them, but the wall that faces the “portal”, the porch that now stretches across nearly the full length of the building, is still open at the top. It provides an autopista (freeway) for people-chewing bugs and pursuing bats to visit me.

By my count I have had a minimum of five bat visitations of which I am aware. There may have been others. The small black swoopers come in from the night through that giant hole, circle the new room once or twice and flap on through the un-doored opening into my living space. So we have had a few “intimate moments,” these bats and I.

I killed my first visitor, totally by accident. He flew headfirst into the (open!) front door and knocked his little brown self out. I saw an opportunity to put him outside with no harm and grabbed my broom. Unfortunately, just as I was trying to gently push him out the door he woke up and scuttled off. I couldn’t see where he went and pulled the door toward me to see if he was behind it. Alas, he had crawled into the area that turns into no-space when the door is closed, below the hinges. I squashed him.

And felt very badly about it, too.

The following night I was again visited. That little guy decided to land on the side of my mosquito net, caught his toe and dangled there blinking at me. I rushed to get my camera – what a shot that would have been – but didn’t make it before he freed himself. He, too, knocked himself out flying into the (again, open!) front door in his rush to escape me. But this time the bat-scoop was successful and I released him back to the wild unharmed.

Bat Resting

Bat Resting

The third night I had two at the same time, and my camera was ready. Here is the best shot of one taking a breather on top of the mosquito net.

And the following night there was yet another visitor.

My landlady took pity on me and loaned me a curtain long enough to cover the opening between the new room and the old and there have been no bats in my belfry since. Just in the new room.

But that hasn’t done much to alleviate the cramped quarters syndrome. The furniture that was in the area next to the wall where the new doorway was opened is stacked on itself and covered with a tarp. Well, most of it is stacked there. The rest is tucked into what nooks and crannies were available (under the table, blocking the hallway to the bathroom, etc.). Keep in mind that this casita started as a one-room wonder organized as tightly as a yacht, and where I found a void, I had filled it. So I am now, in essence, living in half the space I had before this project-to-give-me-more-space started. And the whole shebang is covered with construction dust.

The construction workers (all cousins of my landlady) promise to show up and don’t, or promise not to show up and do. There is no schedule to my life since Francisco and his helper Carlos finished the concrete work. Francisco and Carlos may have arrived to start banging around at dawn each day, but at least they came.  I should have known a good thing when I had it.  That was over two weeks ago now.

What remained to be done at that time was painting, putting up the ceiling tiles, and tiling the floors.  Those items list that last 20% of ill-repute, about three days of work comprising that part of the 80/20 rule that takes 80% of the time.  One of the Señora’s cousins spent a late afternoon applying a paint base coat, and then disappeared. I guess my spanish is still pretty awful, because I asked repeatedly that somebody first put up the false ceilings (please, God) on the portal to block the bats and bugs, and then do the inside.  Somebody started the ceilings, but of course, they started… INSIDE.  And then failed to return for the past two days. So the room and portal still need ceilings, the floors still need tiling, and the whole shebang still needs painting.  About three days work.  But it’s the last 20%…

I have great hopes that all this, too, shall pass. Then I will take a deep breath, expand into my new space, and luxuriate in it.

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