Friday, May 17, 2013


PANAMA HOUSING is based on affordability and preference.  Since the Spaniards arrived in the 1500’s, housing in Panama has taken various forms.


This is Fort San Lorenzo back in the mid 1950’s.  Photo by my father, Wayne Hatting.


This is my place in David.


This home is on the back edge of a farm not far from David.
While commercial fishing  in Alaska, I often sought the warmth of Mexico during the winter months.  Then I got hooked into skiing and didn’t visit very often.  I bought a place midway between Smithers and Fort Saint James in British Columbia and spent my winters on the slopes.  However, once I exited the Alaska fishery scene, I sold my place in Canada and ventured south.   I bought a place near Williams, AZ with my fishbucks.  It was 40 acres in the wilderness.  I started building a self sufficient place off the grid.  I was about half way through the project when I met this guy in Flagstaff that was headed south in his Motor home.  At one time he had fished Alaska, too.  He was a mechanic in Flagstaff and we seemed to hit it off.  He had the nicest girlfriend.  She was sweet & petite – but uglier than homemade soap. She was extremely mercenary. My friend loved her dearly but she had one of those “for rent to the highest bidder”, mind sets.  She saw me as a guy with deep pockets and made her play before we reached our destination of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I declined her offer and decided for the sake of my friendship, it was time to strike out on my own.  I paid Roy my share of the expenses, grabbed my gear, and stayed a couple of nights in a roadside cantina.  It was ‘bedbug city’ but the food and drink and were good and the waitress was friendly.  I entered a couple of late evening card games and was able to break even for my entertainment.  My waitress friend decided to be my personal tour guide. We made a couple of side trips into parts of the interior not often visited by tourists; I learned firsthand how Tequila was made and my ‘tour guide’ and I lazed around the various hotels on our week-long excursion.  Later, I found a saddle shop of some merit.  I spent hours watching the guys plait rawhide reins and riatas. My guide needed to get back to her village and I needed to start my journey back to Arizona we parted on friendly terms.  I took a series of buses and finally arrived in Puerto Vallarta. Their airport was under repair so most international flights had been cancelled.  I began looking for alternate transportation. Once I had the bus scheduled in my fist I decided to explore the tourist city,
For me -- As usual, the docks of any community are a magnet.  Puerto Vallarta was no different.  From my cowboy background; lariats, reins and spurs being fabricated to the lure of the sirens of the deep.  I walked the docks and finally ran into several statesider couples; four different boats all from the west coast of the USA.  All but one was for sale.  The fourth told me they’d sell if the price was right. So, I decided it was the right place to hear some stories of the sea.  However, most of the tales were about why they were in Mexico. I suspect one of the couples…the one that wasn’t for sale, was on the run from the IRS, an ex-partner or both. Later in the day, a single guy that had his boat on the hook in the harbor joined me for a late lunch and a few beers.  He hailed from Newport, Oregon and we began discovering all the people we knew in common.
Glenn steered his sailboat toward the transient dock at Puerto Vallarta’s downtown marina.  Being hailed by the local yacht broker and told that someone wanted to inspect his boat, Glenn fired the engines immediately and ordered his deckhand, Jimmy, to haul anchor.  This was do or die for Glenn.  He was broke and had to sell the boat soon, or it would be confiscated.  It was all he had left.  Six years of scrimping and saving, putting his life at risk as a deckhand on a leaky, ill equipped drag boat out of Newport Oregon, and two years chasing tuna all over the Pacific coast, had netted him only the boat.  A year earlier he had single-handedly sailed the Northern Yankee from Newport to Cabo San Lucas to keep it from the hands of his creditors. A rough, dangerous, but exciting, passage. 
Two men and a woman were standing on the dock awaiting his arrival.  The taller man, without instruction, took the line tossed by Jimmy and gave him a spring line.  The smaller man caught the stern line and had his boat tied hard and fast with two half-hitches on the dock cleat.  The taller man did the same amidships, and stood ready for another bow-line.  It was apparent to Glenn these guys were seamen.  The beautiful woman was just a spectator; standing back as the men did the work.
I paid him for bed and board and stayed with him on his boat for almost a week. He was headed south.  I was tempted to take him up on his offer to sail to Costa Rica but instead took a series of 3rd rate buses to Mexico City and flew back to Arizona, via Vegas.
My novel, EXPat, was spawned while making the arduous journey from PV to Mexico City. Too much windshield time and too much imagination. Most of the time I was the only one who spoke English and my Spanish was so poor all I had were the thoughts rattling around in my head to entertain myself.  
The plot of ExPat was adjusted when I arrived in the states and read a news story about some poker player getting stabbed and robbed in Las Vegas; he’d taken his winnings in cash to impress some woman.
I set the novel aside and did some exciting things with my life; NOT -- I went back into business.
In 2003 I took a trip to Puerto Vallarta on Southwest Airlines and stayed a week as a tourist.  I flew from there to San Jose, Costa Rica via Mexico City and then on to Golfito, CR to visit friends.  I was able to finalize the ExPat story during this 5 week vacation. What was intended to be a short story ended up with five plot layers -- 80,000 words. 

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