Last year, we splurged on a generator for the house. The power here in Panama is not stable, and costs roughly the same per month that we were paying in the USA. The power generally goes out at least 5 times a week. Usually it is only for a few minutes, but if there is any heavy storms, it will go out for hours at a time. Then if there is a tree that takes out a power line or a car accident that hits a pole, it can be out for a day or two. (This happens more than one might imagine.) The generator we could afford and that was available to purchase here in Panama is a very basic diesel model with no brand name.
At the beginning of the pandemic and when we realized that we would be in lockdown in our houses for extended periods, we stocked up on 2 cans of diesel fuel. Knowing that the rainy season was coming soon we would probably need the generator. We only use the generator when we know the power will be out for an extended period. We do not run it all night and if we are doing things outside and do not need to be inside the house, we only use it every few hours to keep the food in the fridge and freezer cool. So, the generator only had 20 hours of use before the pandemic and was still fairly new.
However, the first time we really needed it during the lockdown, it did not want to work. It made large "pop" and "bang" noises along with some fire shooting out the muffler. My husband spent hours and hours cleaning, researching, breaking the fuel pump, replacing the fuel pump, researching high altitude and diesel generators...you name it, he tried it or researched it. After at least 50 hours of working on the thing over the last few months, we finally found a diesel generator mechanic. I arranged for him to make a house call next week. Rick, not wanting to not waste money having the mechanic do some of the routine, obvious things, went down to the gas station and got some new diesel and changed the fuel out. Now the generator works!!! It turns out the fuel we purchased right before the pandemic was not good and we went months without a generator because of crappy fuel.
Granted, all the cleaning and tuning that Rick did also has made it quieter, but now 5 months into the "Stay at Home" we finally can supplement our power with the generator when we need to. Yay!!!!!
One of the live feed cameras was having issues this week. Rick went to investigate the issues and found that the ants had taken over. There were ants (which by the way bite) everywhere and it looks like they started eating wires to the camera. Thankfully we had 1 spare camera to use as a replacement and now I pray the ants stay away from the others! I have never seen ants eat wires....I think it is a conspiracy and they are secretly or not so secretly trying to take over the farm.
The ants here are brutal. Not only do all of them bite, but they are ruthless. If you drop a piece of food or a bug comes along, they are right there ready to haul it away.
If you walk outside, it is best to stay on the graveled pathways. If you stay too long in one place anywhere that there is dirt, they start climbing your legs and biting you. I have heard that they do not like coffee grounds, so if I see a large ant hill forming too close to the house, I will dump some coffee grounds on it, but they just seem to move 5 feet away and start again. :)
It turns out when you are basically unemployed and unable to work with all the restrictions and closings of businesses right now, we seem to have extra time. For a few years, we have talked about putting up a bird feeder in hopes of having them eat in one spot and not sample a little from each piece of fruit on the trees. Here is the new platform feeder, I will let you know if it works or not later...haha.
We have also made quite a few hummingbird feeders out of different bottles. The hummingbirds are loving it, but so are the bees! The ants and the bees find the feeders as quickly as the birds. Right now, I think we have about 15-20 hummingbirds that jet around us. They sound like light sabers and will hover in front of faces now. The pictures below are of "Chirpy." He is such a chatterbox and chirps nonstop. Which alerts the other birds that he is there and they come swooping in to smash him. They chase each other all day long and make hip-checking in hockey seem tame.
We know they are territorial and as we first started watching them, were concerned about how mean and aggressive they were. However, they do share some of the feeders at the same time and seem to be friendly with each other at other times. So far we have identified a few of their games. King of Hill or King of all of the Feeders is one of their favorites and they have one feeder by some trees that seems to be home base. Then there is Tag and Destroy. This is one of the more violent games and they zip around and bump each other hard. There is the basic Chase game with so many of them around, they are just zooming through the air and around obstacles. So far Rick and I have not been hit by them, but I am sure it is just a matter of time.
Made in the USA
Rick needed a part and he had used products from BrassCraft before and figured it would be a good product. After he brought the part home he realized that Made in the USA also means not good enough for people in the USA. Frequently we wonder if Panama is one the destinations for goods that have been rejected from everywhere else.
Living near a Jungle
There are many great things about living near the jungle. All of the wildlife is both a blessing and a curse. Monkeys, toucans, fireflies, parrots....all great and fun to watch. However, the bugs and creepy crawly things are like things from a prehistoric movie. If Jurassic Park wants to make a sequel they should film here. The dragonfly I saw this week was as big as my face!
Last year in June, we had 10 inches of rain. This year in June, we had 17 inches of rain. As I have been writing this, it is again raining. It is our rainy season right now, so afternoon rains are expected, but not this all day rain. Right now there have been too many tropical storms (in my opinion) in the Caribbean and these grey rainy days are just depressing. At least the temperature is never too bad, 65-80 F (18-26 C) all year long.