After Valle de Anton, we went back to the city for two days, not much really happened while there – however we did have a warm shower which was heaven.
On the first full day there was a huge bang just outside our room and all electricity and everything went off in most of the city it seemed, and it was hot. No amount of ice cream could cool us down. We ended up lying on the floor, and hope that the stone would cool us. We did have a look round the old town, all we did there was melt and get some very expensive drinks.
We managed to get to Playa Corona the next day very easily. We were working at an American expats home, doing gardening and landscaping, four hours a day four days a week, perfect; or so we thought.
We met Irene, our host, and we were put in what is one of the houses she has on her property, usually spare for rent or air B&B. It was big and clean, with a king-size bed, kitchenette, porch, hammock, beautiful bathroom and a whole shower room, I felt like a princess after the filth of El valley. It seemed perfect, even if we did find a scorpion hiding in our curtains.
Jake was given a machete and was to cut down this huge bamboo bush – which he spent most of the days we were there working on. I was cleaning concrete steps that were stained from the cashews and mangoes, we then went into town to get some food shopping, we tried to go out for dinner but we couldn’t catch the bus so end up having super noodles, drinking rum and watching crap on Netflix, personally I thought it was an awesome anniversary.
The next day is when the trouble started. I was mowing the garden; now this garden was the size of Central Park, and I was using this huge heavy petrol mower that look like it was the made in the 1920s, and I did it wrong. Absolutely and unequivocally everything I could possibly do wrong, I did wrong. I don’t know how, I have full capabilities of mowing a lawn, but nothing I did was right, and she seemed to take pleasure in telling me how useless I was, not in such certain terms, but were unmistakably implied.
I move it around wrong, I mowed the wrong place, I move the mower over grass more than once, I missed bits on my way, I got rid of the grass wrong and apparently I can go over trees and concrete, it was continuous, and hot, and stressful. In the end I actually started crying, I didn’t let her see though, apparently she was also having a go at Jake to about not being able to start the strimmer that she left unused for the past few months and about me. Complaining to him about how bad I was.
The whole garden took the whole four hours. Apparently we do it every Wednesday, can’t wait for that.
Over the next few days, I did more and more things terribly wrong and she seemed to relish telling me so. I didn’t move fast enough, I didn’t rake the leaves correctly, put them in the wrong compost heap (there were six by the way) I spray-painted her barbecue wrong.
We were told to tresspass on to the next door neighbours land and cut down their plants, I did that wrong, made burms – of said cut down plants – wrong, weeded wrong, got rid of scorpions and snakes wrong e.g. I didn’t hack them to death with a blunt machete. Picked up fruit, cut grass with scissors, cleaned drains, moved logs and anything asked of us, we did wrong, me especially.
The constant criticism, and attacks towards me personally really cut me down. Most days I ended up crying in the bathroom or so stressed about working with her I ended pulling out most of my eyebrows.
Having Autism meant I didn’t fit in all that much, I was weird and an outsider, so I never really developed all that much self-confidence or worth and working with Irene shattered it all over again. It was terrible. My mental health suffered and jake suffered with me as there was not much he could do.
He did talk back to her, one time when she was complaining to jake that she didn’t care how it’s done in Europe, this is how it’s done in America and that works better he said that’s what they thought about McCarthyism and segregation. This stunned her so much she stoped bullying him as much after that, and focused her anger and attention on me. I still don’t have the confidence to walk into a new place first, so talking back was not an option, I felt more stupid and downhearted every day. I drowned in her cruel words and disgusted looks.
I counted down the days till we left for Costa Rica. The hours I had to spend being near her.
In the end I was told it was not even allowed to fuss the dog as I was showing her too much kindness and attention. And that being ill was no excuse not to work in the 38 degree heat.
Being here show me how different people can really be, while emailing her to organise this work, she could not have been kinder and when we arrived she was so welcoming, and a soon as we started working for her, everything changed, I find it difficult to read people and understand personalities, being here and try to understand her just made everything more difficult, I was unhappy.
Panama overall had not been kind to us.
We did have some good days, as we only had to work four hours in the morning 7 to 11, only four days a week we did get some time off to spend looking around. The problem was that there was nothing to do.
Went for a bike ride, and down to the beach a few days, the beach and sea were quite clean but very rough and not very clear being the Pacific side. The sand was volcanic and black so burning to the touch.
One night we went down to watch the sunset and saw the whole beach come alive with tiny little crabs which was really cool to see.
We went back in to Panama City few days, I was allowed to go down to the river with Maggie (the dog) and give her a bath. We also went up to El Valle to see Art. Later on he came down to stay near us for a few days.
We were looking for a place for him to camp and while walking along the beach he and Jake got soaked from head to toe by huge wave that nearly suck them out to sea. They were so wet it broke jakes phone, I was glad I didn’t run and stayed dry.
We managed to organise our diaries so we got six days off in a row and went up to Boquete, which I’ll tell you about next week. It was a godsend us to have a few days away from her.
Our last day with her was day 100 of our trip. We spent most of the day cleaning the apartment which was spotless. Cleaner then when we came – especially under the bed. She still I managed to criticise how we moped, but it was our last day so who cares.
We went out for tea, and came back and finished off half a bottle of wine and a lot of rum…
… well It would’ve been rude to have left them.