It was an emotional weekend – Friday through Monday. Things were not going my way.

The VPN internet service wouldn’t work, the new love seat turned out to have a not completely attached arm, the family room air conditioning unit started dripping, and I discovered mold on the patio furniture. Add all that to the shower head that just randomly starts running and the rust that seems to be developing in places … My coping skills weren’t coping.

Sometimes I’m better equipped at dealing with it all. Other times, the emotional gas tank is a little low. Really low.

And sometimes the tank is empty – just like the gas tank at the house.

In California to have utilities, you called the electric company, you called the gas company, put everything in your name and then you had gas and electricity.

It is not the same in Panama. There are two tanks on the side of the house with flexible hoses running to the house. Are they propane? Are they natural gas? No idea. I just know I need them for hot water.

And I know no one had hot water Friday morning.

Friends who have lived or stayed in Mexico, Ecuador and other places have told me stories of “el gaso” trucks that drive through the neighborhood at random times during the day or night and someone on the truck yells “el gaso.” If you want gas, this is when you get it. If you are a heavy sleeper and don’t hear them, you can’t use your gas stove and you shower in cold water until next time.

I’m feeling lucky in Panama. Not Southern California lucky, but lucky enough. We have tanks attached to the house. They have a number to call to order more gas!

I’d like to tell you that I’ve gotten so good at speaking Spanish that I called up TropiGas and order two tanks for delivery the next day ($120 if you are keeping track). Honestly, I texted the landlord who called for me. Carlos is a good guy.

And we were lucky that the gas company delivers on Saturday.

Of course about a half hour after Carlos kindly ordered the gas tanks for me, a U.S. friend asked if I just had to switch the tanks.

Switch the tanks?

Panama has a way of reminding me that I’m a first-world princess. I’m not pleased with that, but it is frequently true.

I trudged out to the gas tanks, eyed them up, tried to lift them (yep, one was heavier than the other), tried to twist the top (didn’t move much, but maybe I could force it), debated if I was going to wait for Dean to get home to switch them and then remembered that Jack was home. Time for a life lesson my oldest son…

I went back inside, found my coffee and sent Jack out there.

He is smarter than me and found this:



Hmmm… so we switched the leaver and went to check if the gas stove worked. It did.

And our landlord Carlos? He really is a good guy. He called the gas company back and reduced our order to one tank, which showed up Saturday morning.

We have a system! One tank goes out, we switch the lever and order the next one. I’m feeling like there might be hot water forever!

Now to tackle the rest of that list.

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