I was almost asleep around 10:45 that night when I thought I heard a voice outside. There were other houses around us so that wasn't too unusual. What was unusual was what I heard the voice say.
Not hola. Hello.
I laid there a minute, then poked my head up to peek out the window.
There was an SUV parked in the road outside our driveway gate, half obscured behind a tree. I didn't see anyone, just the car. From what I could see, the gate appeared to be closed and locked.
Then I remembered my email to the Owner. It's Jaime, the contractor, I thought. He must be coming to fix the water pump.
Then I thought again. It was almost 11:00 at night. Jaime was supposed to have left town already. We had been coping with the water for four days, so my email to the owner hadn't been urgent enough to warrant stealth plumbing in the middle of the night. I doubted you could even get that kind of service in Panama.
I picked up my phone. There was a response from the Owner that I hadn't seen. It said Jaime was going to send a plumber in the morning.
In the morning. That wasn't Jaime at the end of our driveway.
I heard it again. English words in a Spanish accent. They knew there were English speakers in this house.
My mind started racing. Was someone trying to break into our house, targeting American tourists? Lynn had reported her airport robbery in our town that day. Was a crooked cop coming to shake them down? Most horrifying of all, was someone coming to steal water out of our tank?
I peeked out the window again. A flashlight was coming up our driveway towards the back of the house, where the stair up to our apartment was.
"Erin, wake up, there's someone on our property."
"What?" she said, dazed.
"Someone's on the property. There's a car in the road and a flashlight in the driveway."
Vera's room was closest to the door. I had to get her first. Erin could get Oliver. We could get onto the front porch and lock the outside door. If we unhooked one side of the hammock it might be long enough to climb down to the ground and -
"It's Jaime," Erin said, still half asleep, "He's coming to fix the water pump."
"I don't think so, we got an email saying-"
"It's Jaime," she said, looking out the window. "That's his car."
"Are you sure? Go talk to him."
"It's him. I don't speak Spanish. You go talk to him," she said, laying back down and putting her eye mask on.
I wasn't convinced. I threw on clothes and went to the back door, looking around the apartment for blunt objects to weaponize. I listened for a minute, then opened it and peeked out.
A light flashed up at me from the water tank behind the house, blinding me for a second. They were stealing the water -
"Hello!" said Jaime. The light was a head lamp. He was using it to see the pump he was fixing.
"Hola, Jaime," I said, relieved. He kept the light on me, waiting for me to say something else. I didn't actually have anything to say, and I don't actually speak much Spanish anyway.
"Buscas la photo?" I said.
"Si! Si!" He replied. He had gotten my photo. He took the light off me to look back at his work. Our conversation had ended.
"Buenas noches," I said, and went back inside. Twenty minutes later I heard our toilet tank filling, and shortly after the car pulled away. I flushed the toilet triumphantly and went back to bed, finally able to rest.
I imagined Lynn and Robert must have thought they were getting robbed again.
¡PANAMÁ! Sábado y Domingo
¡PANAMÁ! ...y cada día después