Monday, November 1, 2010

The Hot Box

 Hello dear internets. I have returned to your warm embrace care of a nice little loaner laptop given to me by the company I'll be consulting with here in Panama City for the next eight weeks. Yes, I am alive an well on the 22nd floor of my apartment overlooking the mouth of the Panama Canal. Life at the crossroads of the Americas is already in full swing. I suppose I should catch you up.

We escaped from INCAE-traz under the cover of darkness on a rainy Saturday night, slipping quietly out the front gate with few complications. I wish I could say that at that moment we were home free but another prison awaited us. In lieu of a 1 hour flight from Costa Rica to Panama someone in our group had decided that our budget was better spent on hardwood floors and ocean views than plane tickets. That night  we packed into The Costa Rican version of Greyhound at 11 p.m. and prepared to brave a 15-hour sojourn from San Jose into the heart of Panama City.

I think it might be better to let your imagination of this experience take over. I'll simply say this:It was long. It was cramped. It took nearly 2 and a half hours just to cross the border but somehow we made it in one piece.

We arrived in Panama City wearry, smelly and mostly lost. While the roads and general infrastructure of the city are a giant leap beyond Costa Rica, the sheer volume of traffic makes the good roads useless. Every intersection is a cluster fuck of honking, swerving, fender-bending traffic jams. For the first week I was the sole driver and after two small accidents we're pretty happy that we sprang for the extended coverage.

Our apartment is our escape from this craziness. It's our (not so) little oasis in the city. Situated on the 22nd floor in one of the nicer sections of town, the excessively-spacious apartment has a full wall of windows looking out to the sea.  It's also high enough that the smell of the river (where panamanians decided it would be a good idea to dump the majority of their sewage) is far below us. The apartment is a full 3/4's extravegant.

The catch is that last 1/4. While our place has one ridiculously luxurious master bedroom and two alternatively sizable bedrooms, there our four of us.  Where does the fourth sleep? In the maid's quarters of course. We decided straight away that the word "quarters" is a complete exxaggeration. The room's newly given name: t.e hot box.|

The moniker for the maid's quarters came to be for two simple reasons: First, the room barely fits a twin bed. Calling it a box is being far too kind. Second, as opposed to the rest of the house, it has no A.C. Down here no A.C. is a big deal. We decided as a group that no one man should be cursed with the hot box for eight straight weeks. Instead, we would rotate rooms every two weeks.  Two weeks in the master suite, two weeks int eh medium bedroom and one week in "the hot box."

On the second night we drew straw to see who would get first choice of the rooms. Of course it figures that I drew the short straw. Ironically, this meant that I am now set up in the master bedroom with a king bed, double vanity sink and a jacuzi bathtub. No one wanted the master first. Everyone wanted to get the hot box over with and head to the master bedroom last. So, next Sunday I will take the long walk from the master, across the dining room, through the kitchen, past the washer and dryer and into the hot box. Two-week in there is enough to melt any man's soul.

Until then, lets just say I'll be alright.

Adios from the desk next to the king bed in the ice box,

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