After living in Panama for nearly 10 years, my lovely wife decided that our apartment needed to be “refreshed.” Well, it didn’t take long for the effort to turn into a major renovation, complete with new floors, fans and a total paint job. While being a guy, ol’Jack naturally thought the apartment was just fine the way it was, but my construction superintendent, with the help of a very talented architect and interior designer, dove right in and gutted the place.
Here’s the weird part—everything is going fine, on time and within budget. Every time my supervisor checks, there’s real progress with the workers showing up and taking care to do the job right. This is not the way it usually is. It’s eerie.
Over the past decade, my lovely wife and I have recognized an ongoing refrain when ever we attend an expat gathering or dinner party, consisting of construction horror stories. Usually, an expat couple, who are building their dream house at the beach, comment that “the contractor said it would be done in August.” The reply by the others at the table would almost always be “What year?”
Ja,ja ja! Okay it’s not always seen as that funny. For example, on one “first day,” when the job was to prep the property for construction, one nice couple we know were very excited to be getting started on their future retirement home. That is, until the backhoe knocked some boulders down a hill into a parked car. The operator barely escaped major injury. Not a particularly good start.
The tales of woe are almost endless. There’s the one where the tile runs out in the bathroom on the most prominent wall and there doesn’t seem to be any matching tiles on the Isthmus to complete the job. Or how about the door that opens into the closet for some bizarre reason. Or the floor in the kitchen of your high-rise condo that one day buckles in waves, like the sea viewed out the newly cracked window. And on and on…
So I have to tell you, we don’t know why the work on our pied-à-terre is going so smoothly, but it is and that’s strange and kind of scary –just me telling you all about it might jinx it.