When is the school closed for a vacation?
When does the new hospital open?
These seem like fairly straightforward questions. They should have factual answers, right? Uh, no. Not in Panama. Or at least not for this gringa.
Panamanian public school is on the trimester system. It starts in March, the first trimester ends in June followed by a week break. The second trimester ends in September followed by another week off, then the last trimester ends in December and the “summer” vacation begins. But we are having a hard time understanding when that week is in September. I found a memo from the Ministry of Education that outlined the schedule and so far the schools seem to be following it. But Haley’s friends continue to give us conflicting information about when the week break starts this month. Some people say next week is another testing week. Others say it’s the week off. How is this so complicated? Honestly we just don’t know. I guess we’ll find out Monday when Haley shows up at school. The Spanish language is indicative of the loose sense of time. “Ahora mismo” means “right this minute”. Or “today”. Or “soon”. So timing is really uncertain here and even if you know the words in Spanish it doesn’t really help.
Since we’ve lived here there has been a new hospital just on the outside of town that seems 95% ready to open. This is a great thing because there are a fair number of towns past Pedasi that could really use closer medical care. But rumors abound about why it wasn’t open. No staffing, no water, politics. All of the above.
The day before yesterday around 9 p.m. the mayor of Pedasi posted on Facebook that the new hospital would be opening the next morning at 9 a.m. and the president of Panama would be coming for the inauguration. What? Really? I know Panamanians do not plan ahead but this was crazy!
Evidently the president did come to town, as evidenced by the line of black SUV’s, and some ceremony at the hospital was held. But no one here knows if they are now seeing patients, and what will happen to the local health clinic now that the new hospital is less than a mile away.
I guess sometimes there are no answers, we just have to wait and see. That is not my style. I want answers ahora mismo.