As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I enjoy most about traveling and living overseas is all the little (and not so little) surprises that I experience along the way. It keeps things interesting. Not to mention, I like being thrown out of my comfort zone occasionally.
Last week we returned from our trip to Ecuador to discover that there’s an energy crisis in Panama. A serious-enough-to-close-the-schools crisis. That’s pretty bad.
The crisis stems from the fact that the country relies on its abundant water supply for a lot of its electricity and the rainy season, which usually starts in March or April, still hasn’t kicked in, and here it is, mid-May already.
OK, there is an upside to this crisis: Panama has no nuclear power plants. But there is a really major downside: The government is trying to avoid scheduled power cuts that could cause losses of up to 3.7 million dollars per hour. The authorities are taking drastic measures like turning off bright signs, allowing the crossing of two ships at the same time through the canal, or closing businesses at 10 pm.
This is affecting everyone. Panamanians are late-night people; they usually don’t even start to think about going out until about 8:00, and now bars and restaurants have to close at 10 pm? Last night, we met a (European) friend for dinner at 7:30 and the restaurant was packed.