Eureka! Eureka! Eureka! Did I say we are excited? The surveyor has placed the stakes for the corner markers of our property! Now we can get on with our building project!
Our neighbor to the east hired the surveyor also, so his corners were marked at the same time. Although it took months for the surveyor to complete the job, I believe that he has done a yeoman’s job. I measured between stakes and found that all the corners are within a few centimeters of 40 meters (131 feet), just as they should be. He also staked two other lots to make sure that everything is agreed upon in our grid of properties. Part of the process for him was to place a map of these four properties in the Public Registry in Panama City. The Public Registry is where all documents, such as titles of property transfer and ownership, are stamped to within an inch of their lives and filed away for future official reference. If there is ever a property line dispute, this document will resolve the issue, period. Many of the documents are available through the Public Registry website. The surveyor said that he would return Monday morning to place the official concrete boundary markers, but I was free to proceed based on the temporary rebar markers.
So tomorrow, Monday, Armando and I, and hopefully Abdiel, will begin the fence project. First, we need to clear a bit more land with the machetes. One of the reasons that I hired a surveyor is that the fence on the back boundry line of our east neighbor didn’t line up by eye with our west corner marker. The alignment made my stomach churn, a sure sign that something was off; I estimated that something was mal-aligned by six to eight feet. Sure enough, our neighbor owns two meters (6′-6″) more land than his fence thought he did, and our back fence line will line up perfectly with this new adjustment. It was worth the $125 for the surveyor.
Next, we will string a line between our two back corner markers and dig a drainage ditch the length of the back boundary line, and connect it to the existing east ditch. This new ditch will keep our rear property line neighbor’s significant amount of rainwater from draining onto our lot, and in a week or two our property will dry out a lot, making the house construction process much more pleasant.
When the ditch is complete in a few days, we can start on the chainlink fence for the back and two sides of the property. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most of our fence parts are cut and welded and stacked in my shop, so the process should go without a hitch. In the next few days I need to go down the mountain and buy the fencing (called cyclone here). There are two grades; cheap crap that as far as I can tell is made from bread wrapper twist ties, and a thicker, more robust grade. The heavier gauge is more difficult to cut with wire cutters. This minor inconvenience during construction will be outweighed by making the fence last significantly more years, and also making it more difficult for a potential robber-with-wire-cutters to enter the property undetected. Miguel, our gardener at the last house we rented, told us a Panamanian saying in Spanish: “Un hombre bueno y un hombre bueno hace dos hombres malos.” Translated, “One good man and one good man makes two bad men.”
I think that I will start the fence at the southeast corner. The Styrofoam electric wall that we prefabricated will make up this corner. We can get this stuccoed first, then while the men are digging post holes, I can wire the wall, get it inspected, and get our new electric service connected. The wiring, inspection, and connection to the pole will have to happen quickly, or just as in the States, someone will come along and, thinking that the copper wire all neatly threaded through the conduit doesn’t belong to anyone, will rip it out and convert it to cash.
In other news, Armando came by yesterday to say that we wouldn’t be getting any more sand and gravel today. Seems that there was a routine traffic police roadblock at the edge of town, and they towed our man-with-truck’s truck away for non-registration. Armando said that three other trucks and several cars were taken away, too. Many people who live here think they can get away with not registering or insuring their vehicles as they only drive them around the immediate area.
That reminds me of the time that Cynthia and I drove my old Toyota panel van from our small town in Colorado to Seattle to close up my mother’s apartment when she went into a nursing home. My brother flew out from the east coast, too. When I was dropping my brother back at SeaTac airport for his return flight, I got his suitcase out of the van and we said our goodbyes. When I returned to the front of the van to drive away, one of Seattle’s Finest was standing at my door. I greeted him, and he said, “Can you tell me why your plates are three years out of date?” I stood there dumbfounded; he could see the look on my face. “Are you sure?” I asked? “Yes, go take a look for yourself.” he said. I did, then told him I had no explanation, that I lived in a small town, was friends with the Chief of Police there, no one had ever said anything, and I couldn’t recall getting a renewal notice from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. “Even though you live in a small town,” he said officially, “you still need to register your vehicle.” He said he should cite me right then and there, but given my dumbfounded look, he was going to write my registration in his notebook and re-run the plates in a week. If I wasn’t legal by then, he would send a citation in the mail. Back in Colorado, the clerk at the registry and I discovered a typo in my post office box number on file. It was corrected, and my new registration went forward from that day. I didn’t have to pay for the past three years, no doubt a benefit of small town living.
Last night about 6:00, just as the day’s light began to fade, Hernan and Abdiel came to the front gate and asked that I use my pickup truck to haul a load of grass that they had just cut for our neighbor’s horses. This is a common occurrence, but it was the first time at dusk. I drove the truck onto the field, and as they loaded the grass, I watched as dozens of swallows crisscrossed the field in search of mosquitoes. It was more of a dance than a flight. I kept moving the truck from pile to pile as the men loaded the grass, and as the swallows filled their bellies and left, it was the bats’ turn to occupy the fly zone. I drove the load to our neighbor’s house and the guys unloaded the grass.
As I drove back to our house, I decided to go out onto the main road and circle around to our street, making it easier to get into our driveway. As I was about to pull out onto the main road, I saw a lump, about the size of dislodged scrap of tire tread, in the road. But it was moving. I looked closer in the now almost dark and saw that it was a young sloth. It w a s m o v i n g a b o u t l i k e t h i s, and therewerecarszippingdowntheroadaboutthisfast, so I decided to get out of the car and direct traffic around the creature. A small-passenger-bus-driver-in-a-hurry (I should clarify that it was the bus that was small, not the driver) was a bit annoyed with me, but I stood my ground and made him wait until the sloth slowly sauntered into the other lane. Then I stopped another three cars, passengers lowering their windows to get a glance at the sloth. One person said, “Gracias,” and that more than made up for the irritated bus driver.
Back in the house, we did our nightly ten-point night time security check of locking doors and turning on outside lights, then I sat at the computer to do some bookkeeping. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something big moving on the security video camera monitor. I turned and looked, ready to sound a red alert, but it was only a large black spider, filling the monitor’s screen, moving her web back and forth at a frantic pace in an effort to catch a curious bug. I watched her for a long time, she catching a bug now and then and pulling it into her mouth. Yum.
And thus ends another day in Panama filled to the brim with wildlife and tales to tell. Did I say that we are excited?
That’s all for now.