My Own Machete


Day 3 of my 10 day juice feast caught me grumpy and understocked with produce.  My solution: to treat myself to fresh coconut goodness — first water and then homemade milk — by buying coconuts at the farmer’s market.  A half hour after leaving the house, I arrive at the market even grumpier than I left.  I stopped at the gas station since my tank was nearly empty but could not buy gas; I only had coconut money with me and the station could not process credit cards.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  The last time I stopped at this Puma station, they only had diesel and no gas.  Pretty standard.

I head to the area where the coconut man usually plants himself but don’t find the dry coconuts I prefer, just the green “pipa” that doesn’t have nearly as much meat for making the delicious milk I crave.  So I make a huge loop around the market in my SUV, a vehicle type that is both necessary and tricky to manage along the small, unpaved streets of the market filled other cars, trucks and people coming and going in every direction.  I finally find a dry coconut stand in the corner.  I ask the vendor if he’s willing to open the coconuts for me once I buy them.  Without negotiation he says no.  His answer is so definitive and dismissive that I don’t even bother asking again.  What he doesn’t realize is that I would easily pay double, even $1.00 a piece, for him to provide me with the service I seek.  I’m bummed but also desperate for what he’s got so I buy 3 coconuts for $.40 each.  Maybe the pipa vendor will open the green cocos of I buy them from him?  So I maneuver through the market maze to find him.  Again, my request is denied.  I buy three pipas for $.40 each and listen to incomplete directions of where to find a man who opens coconuts by the platanos.  He points and I head off “over there” still committed to getting what I want.  I once again cross the dirty market, at one point on foot, but never find him.  In total, I spend about an hour and a half trying, and partly failing, to get what I want.  Today chivalry and good business sense are dead.  I come home and Naya helps me open one of the pipas.  We ruin a kitchen knife in the process.  Tomorrow I head to Do-It-Center to buy my own machete.

2 responses »

  1. Hi Laura. I just found your blog from the link on the expat’s blogs site. Your blog is very well written and interesting. Coincidently I’m a lawyer in California, but I know Panama very well. I have friends there and find Panama facinating. I’ve been to PTY twice this year. Maybe some day I’ll decide to be an expat there too. I hope you keep posting to your blog. I’ll be checking it out often. Richard

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