I never would have guessed that Panama City would be Condo-Land

Is a very very very fine casa. As of yesterday afternoon, Christine and I are moved into our new condo tower, in the neighborhood of El Cangrejo. Our realtor, Rosalind of Panama Signature Realty has been amazing; I toured it solo about a week ago, while Christine was at the USA Embassy for her introductory meetings, and Rosalind was right – it fit all the criteria we asked for. Only a 5 minute walk to the metro, fully furnished, a small but neat balcony overlooking the city, an incredibly large rooftop pool, and two nice bedrooms. Three bathrooms if you can believe it. Apparently it’s very common, even in “medium price” housing like this (that’s in comparison to the sort of thing most expats usually live in; I haven’t been around the area enough to know what Panamanians live in!) to have a “maid’s area” with a tiny area for a cot, and a little but full bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. Only cold water, though, goes to it! Sadistic. It was the same at the condo of Christine’s coordinator, Rick, which is a 3 bedroom and 4.5 bathroom unit overlooking the ocean – only cold water for the maid’s area!

We camped here last night; the electricity only got connected this afternoon while I was out getting some food and ice to keep it on. Suddenly my phone goes off and when I hold it to my ear, it’s the security guard from our building. My spanish is still terrible but I manage to understand that the electricity guy has arrived, and he wants Christine’s phone number. Haha, I don’t know why he called me first, though – he has both our numbers and he knows I can barely speak any spanish. Needless to say, though, I grabbed a celebratory sixpack of the local beer, Balboa Roja, now that I knew we’d have a working fridge to keep it in.

Last night though, we stumbled around in the dark with Rick’s solar-charged camping lamp, trying to unpack our 4 massive, airplane-checked-luggage-limit bags just enough to get situated. The condo was a bit musty, but that’s par for the course here. We’ve heard that even food in sealed bags will get moldy here unless you keep your kitchen air conditioned 24/7. The bed’s sheets definitely need a washing, but of course that had to wait until we had electrical power to start the in-unit washer/dryer combo unit.

There was some mild growing pains that come from two midwesterners who have zero condo experience suddenly being the renters of a multi hundred thousand dollar valued condo. When the power came on, we discovered that three of the light switches were totally dead, as well as one light fixture. Two maintenance guys in the building, wearing official polo shirts of the building, spent a couple hours in here replacing them, but then they needed to be paid. Christine thought that would be covered by our rental (and I’m sure Rosalind will reimburse us) but we all had to explain that condos operate totally differently from apartment rentals; every wire and pipe that crosses the wall into “our condo” becomes “our problem” and not that of the building folks.

The internet gets set up tomorrow (hopefully) by Cable Onda. Christine really wanted some local cable channels, and there’s no over-the-air broadcasts here, but we got a pretty good package deal of 30Mb/s + 200 channels (more than I’ll ever need to watch!) for $58 a month, which even includes the $4 modem rental. Thankfully though, Claro mobile doesn’t block me from tethering, which is how I’m delivering this blog entry to you.

More pictures soon, once our internet gets installed! Super tired at the moment; just cooked Christine her first nice dinner while she’s hard at working building a presentation to take to Santiago, Panama next week for a three hour long seminar. I’m so proud of her!

It’s an even better view at night!