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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting Wet and Wild in Panama

 My twin sons playing at Jungle Falls

One thing Panama is seriously lacking in, is fun things to do with the kids. Aside from the rivers and beaches, there’s very little to do with your kids. Gamebox, in the Multicentro Mall, is probably my favorite place to let the kids unwind indoors. There you’ll find a full arcade (you have to purchase a refillable card in order to pay for the games), bumper cars, a Vikingo ship ride, a couple other carnival style rides, and a jungle gym play area for the younger kids. 

In addition to Gamebox you’ve got Kids Planet located inside of Bennigan’s Extreme Planet on Avenida Balboa. There aren’t as many activities for the kids at Kids Planet as there are at Gamebox, but Extreme Planet does have a nice (although somewhat expensive) bowling alley. Albrook Mall has a Space Play or something like that, with arcade games and things like that, but no one has really done in right. We need a good, clean, well-maintained Chuck E Cheese or something like that.

Something else that’s lacking, and really surprises me since it’s a hot, tropical climate so close to the ocean, is the lack of water parks. When I lived in Chicago (one of the coldest places on Earth during the winter) they had several great indoor water parks. My kids had a blast living in the Chicagoland area. Even Anchorage, Alaska, has an indoor water park.

My four kids (Victoria, Estefania, Matteo, and Nicolas

I finally found an outdoor water park here in Panama, but it’s in bad shape. I took my kids last weekend to the Jungle Falls water park, which is owned by the Avalon Grand hotel chain, and is actually connected to the Avalon hotel here in Las Cumbres. One of the pools, and several slides were closed during our visit, so we only had to pay $5 each. Kids under 4 are free. The usual price is $7 per person.

The park looked dirty, old, and kind of rundown. Rust covered many of the overhangs. However, although not the prettiest water park in the world, my kids had a blast. The toddler pool has a couple of small slides, like in the picture below.

Estefania on the big kid slide

The lunch counter serves items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, each about $4-$5 with fries and a soda. The lazy river is short, but nice for the whole family, and the guys running that part of the pool are very friendly. They helped us get our kids into the innertubes, and immediately searched for a larger tube for me. One large pool is available for the whole family to swim together, and up the hill a ways is a set of 5 slides, for the bigger kids. Only my daughters used these slides, but they had a blast. 

I wish someone would invest some money in this park because it actually has potential, and it’s the only one around that I know of. Some fresh paint, a little more cleaning of the pools, and just a general spark of some sort; some activities, or something to make the place more lively would really turn the place around. At the moment, the place is only animated by a DJ playing reggaeton music from gigantic speakers. Well…until someone creates something better, I don’t mind taking the kids for some fun in the sun for only $7 each. 

Thanks for reading,


Monday, September 24, 2012

Conveniency in Panama

The other night, while shopping for gifts for my sons’ birthday party, we went to Farmacia Arrocha, which is similar to a Walgreens or CVS in the States, but in my opinion, much better. Where CVS or Walgreens has a small toy aisle, usually with generic toys that were never sold during the late night infomercials, Arrocha has several aisles of real toys (Barbies, Max Steele, Transformers, skateboards, coloring books) plus, of course, dishes, pots & pans, DVD’s, magazines (sometimes books and magazines in English, depending on which branch you visit), soaps, tons of Christmas ornaments (during that time of the year), and of course medicines and vitamins. 

We happen to have an Arrocha right down the street from my house, and I have to fight tooth & nail with my wife to keep her out of that place. She’ll go in to pick up deodorant, and two hours later come out with a new perfume, a wallet, a purse, body sprays, jewelry, you name it. 

Anyway, I've mentioned before that Los Pueblos outdoor shopping center is one of the cheapest places to find pretty much anything you might possibly want or need. The Farmacia Arrocha in Los Pueblos is one of the best in the city. It definitely has one of the largest toy sections. So we stopped by Arrocha while we were out picking up party supplies, just to find a few toys.

It wasn’t until after we paid that I remembered how great it is to shop in Panama. In the States, if I were to buy a few toys for my kid’s birthday, I’d also have to pay at the minimum $5 for a roll of wrapping paper, then buy the tape, and the bow that would go on top of it. Then…you have to hope that you don’t run out of wrapping paper or tape. In Panama, at least at Arrocha (and a few other stores), when you purchase something, you can take it over to the gift wrap counter and have it wrapped for free. Usually you have to take a ticket and wait in the sitting area until your number is called, but still, it’s well worth the wait. 

We had all of our presents wrapped, with a bow, for free. This is any time of the year. I know in the States you see that kind of thing in the malls and in some stores during the Christmas holiday, but at Arrocha, it could be the middle of June and you can have all of your gifts wrapped. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a birthday, or a barmitsfa, or a wedding…they’ll wrap it, no questions asked…as long as you show them your receipt. I usually tip the person who wraps my gift $1, and they seem very surprised to receive it. I’ve never seen anyone else tip them, but I figure, even if I’m broke, she’s working a lot harder than I am at the moment, probably for very little pay, so an extra buck for a break-time soda is probably appreciated.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, September 22, 2012

No bending the rules in Panama

Hey everybody,

I had a post ready to go today, but at the last second I decided to hold off on that one because I just got back from the El Rey supermarket in Villa Lucre and my head is about to explode. I try to put a comical twist on the everyday frustrations here in this great country, so I don't come across as negative, but man...sometimes that's hard to do. I love my wife (she's Panamanaian) and I love this country. Panama has a lot going for it, but there's something that drives me nuts here.

Panamanians don't bend the rules. They don't even try to understand the situation. In some ways, Panamanian workers are like robots, with little emotion or sympathy for their fellow Panamanians or for anyone else. Let me explain.

Today, I went to pick up money from Western Union. On a piece of paper I had the name of the person sending it, the control number, and the amount written down. That way I could just hand the paper to the attendant instead of trying to explain in my broken Spanish. I went to Farmacia Metro first. Their Western Union wouldn't be open until 4 p.m. for some reason, so I went next door to the El Rey supermarket. At the counter I explained that I needed to use their Western Union service, and I handed the lady the sheet of paper with all the information. She asked for ID. I gave her my immigration ID (which should be enough considering it's supposed to take the place of the passport).

She said, "No, passaporte."

I was prepared, having gone through a ton of issues with not having my passport handy, so I pulled my passport out of my pocket and handed it over. Then she starts examining my passport, checking it to the computer system, and then starts explaining something in Spanish that I couldn't really understand. Finally, I figured out that she was not going to give me the money. My passport reads "Christopher Michael Powers." The sender put my name as Christopher M. Powers. I explained to her that it's the same thing. In the U.S. we don't even really use our middle names. The letter M. stands for Michael. She refused, handing the paper and the passport back to me. I asked for the manager, and the manager was as rude as the attendant, rolling her eyes and saying that it has to match.

Ok, so some may say that it's my fault for not making sure the sender put my middle name instead of only the initial. This isn't the only time I've dealt with this though. Even the simplest things here, if they're beyond the usual, completely confuse Panamanian workers.

This is the El Rey where I nearly lost it

I was in KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) here one day. I don't usually order a chicken sandwich, but when I do eat one, I like to have a slice of cheese on it. The chicken sandwich doesn't come with cheese though. In the States, if you ask for cheese, they'll charge you a little extra for a slice of cheese. I'm very willing to pay the 50 cents or whatever it costs for a slice of cheese. Here, they just told me that it doesn't come with cheese. I asked if they can put cheese on it, and it was like I was asking for something out of this world. They refused to put cheese on my sandwich.

At my bank, Banco General, I went into one of the branches after having problems with their ATMs. Their system was down or something so my debit card wouldn't work at my daughter's eye doctor. I needed cash, but none of the ATMs were working. So I went into this branch to get $30 out of my account. I approached the counter, handed over my passport, and the withdrawal slip, and waited as the guy started comparing my passport to what they had in the system. Then he tells me I have to go to some woman's office. I go there and she starts telling me that my signature on the withdrawal slip doesn't match the signature in the system.

So I pulled out my passport again and showed her the signature on my passport. She explained that the signature on my passport doesn't match the signature in the system either. I had no idea what they were talking about. I just wanted $30 from my own account to pay the eye doctor. I asked to speak with a manager, who turned out to speak English very well, as if she were from the States. I explained the situation to her, and she was as rude as everyone else.

Finally, I realized that the signature they had in the system was from my original passport, which I'd used when I opened my account. I opened my account only about a year ago, but I used the passport I had at the time, which had been issued nearly 10 years earlier. I was 20 years old when I got that first passport. I'm 33 now. My signature has changed a lot. I told the lady I was a kid back when I wrote my name that way. So how were we going to fix this problem? I need to be able to get money out of my own account. She told me I'd have to go to the branch where I originally opened my account, and apply for a signature change, or something like that. I lost it at that point and started telling this manager how horrible their service is and whatever else I could think of to say at the time.

When I was finished venting she said, "I never said I wasn't going to give you the money?"

I was so pissed. Why would she put me through all that nonsense and then make a comment like that. Anyways, I got my 30 dollars.

The point I'm trying to make you're planning to move to Panama, be prepared to deal with these kinds of things. Do they happen in the States? Of course they do, but I honestly think if the Western Union thing had happened there, the attendant would have had enough analytical skills to think, "Hmm, this guy has provided me with the sender's name, the amount, the control number, and his passport. His middle name is Michael, but we have M. here in the system. Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the right guy."


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butt Naked Piñatas

My twin sons will celebrate their 4th birthday tomorrow, and they’re into The Avengers right now. Matteo loves Iron Man and Nicolas “Nico” is into Captain America. So I went out last night with my wife in search of piñatas and party supplies. The best place to find birthday stuff in Panama, is the cheap, outdoor shopping mall called Los Pueblos, across the street from Metro Mall if you’re traveling down Via Tocumen, or across from McDonald’s if you’re on Juan Diaz. 

Next to the large Felix Juguetes Outlet (Felix Toys), which is the closest thing to a Toys R Us here in the city, running along the same wall of the shopping center, you find several stores, all side by side, that are Chinese run party supply stores. Panamanians often just refer to these as Chino stores or Chinos. 

In one store we found an Iron Man piñata, which cost only $6.50. We also picked up an Avengers tablecloth for $1.95 and a few dollar prizes for party games. Next door, we found the Captain America piñata, also $6.50 and a bunch of cheap treats for the goodie bags. 

In the third, and final store, I found much more than I expected to find. We were only looking for more Avengers stuff to add to the goodie bags. I was looking up at the piñatas, when I found, next to some of the children’s piñatas, the photo you see below. Notice the beautiful children's Disney princess castle in the middle.

I’ve been carrying my camera around a lot more often now that I’m writing this blog, always hoping to find something worth writing about, and this fit the bill. I just burst out laughing. My first thought was, “What the hell is that?” My second thought was, “Thank God I decided not to bring my 10 and 7 year old daughters along with me (they’d begged me to tag along, but I knew that would mean also being begged to buy them something at each store we entered). I don’t think, anywhere in the U.S., you’d find naked bachelor and bachelorette party piñatas hanging anywhere near the kids’ piñatas. 

In fact, this had happened to me once before when my daughter went with me to pick out party supplies for her own birthday, but it was a different store. She’d looked up at the piñatas, and lodged in between Kung Fu Panada and Elmo was a well endowed naked male piñata. She’d looked up, right at the piñata, but fortunately for me, she’d just seen Kung Fu Panda 2, so it was the cuddly bear that caught her attention and not the gigantic penis dangling from the ceiling. I noticed though, and whisked her away immediately. 

So last night, I’m with my wife, and after chuckling at the wild piñatas, we get to the counter, and right at a child’s eye level, in the glass counter at the cash register, there was an onslaught of penis and boob memorabilia (Souvenirs? Treats? Paraphernalia?). They had penis straws, light-up shot glasses with a little penis at the center of the cup, those little martian-style headbands for women to wear (but with little penises dangling at the ends of the springs, and lollipops, and necklaces with boobs hanging down, and a bunch of other women’s breasts (not sure what half the stuff was). Here’s a photo, but it’s not so clear. There was a reflection off the glass, plus I was trying to discreetly take a picture without looking like a total hornball. I think those are penis and boob bracelets. 

Ha, I don't think I've ever used the word "penis" so much in my life. You could probably play a drinking game with this blog post. Everyone take shot each time Chris says "penis."

So the moral of the story is, be careful where you take your kids here in Panama. In a place like a party supply store, where you think you’d be safe to take your kid along to pick out candy and piñatas and toys, you might find your kid staring face to face with a penis shaped sippy cup. Be careful.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, September 14, 2012

Interesting traffic benefits (and challenges) in Panama

First, I just want to apologize to any readers who have been trying to keep up with my blog. While I still consider myself a stay at home gringo, I have been taking a few freelance jobs on the side, some of which have taken up a lot of my time lately. It's hard to write about Panama in a blog, for free, when other people are paying you to write about Panama. I don't want to use the same ideas they're paying me for, which can slow me down a bit. So going forward I'll try to post more often, even when I'm wrapped up in a job. 

That said, I know the picture didn’t come out so great. Sorry about that. I took it on my Blackberry while the car I was in was bouncing down the road.

One of the great things about living in Panama is the ability to get away with some things you might not get away with back in the States. For example, if you roll through a stop sign (which we all know is a major mistake in the U.S.), there’s a good chance you’ll get away scott free. I don’t even know anyone who  has been stopped for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. Likewise, a yellow light here means hurry the hell up and get through before the light turns red.

One other thing that I find so interesting here in Panama, is the fact that Panamanians create traffic lanes, where one was never intended. And the cops do it too. The other day I saw a cop driving down the shoulder of the Corredor Sur (a major toll rode here in the city) and he was waving and pointing at the cars behind him, warning them not to follow suit. Did they listen? Of course not. A line of cars formed right behind him.

I’ve been teaching English part time in the downtown area, which requires me to drive to work each morning at around 6:30 a.m. The picture you see above was taken during this time, when I usually carpool with my father-in-law. As you can see in the photo, we're following a taxi, who has basically created his own lane. The corridor is really a two-lane highway. If you take this throughway during rush hour, whether it be in the morning or the evening, you'll see an extra lane form. It's amazing. And no one stops the drivers that are illegally making their way down this imaginary lane.

The same goes for motorcycles in the city. Most fast-food restaurants here use delivery guys on motorcycles. You seem them parked outside all major fast-food chains. These guys are nuts, and unfortunately their driving habits lead to many unnecessary accidents. They're known for driving right down the middle of a lane, and for weaving in and out of traffic.

Back home, in any state where I've lived, motorcycles abide by the regular traffic guidelines. They sit in line behind cars in a traffic jam. Of course you'll see the occasional maverick (I never thought I'd use that word other than when talking about one of the old Sarah Palin skits on Saturday Night Live) who races down I-95, seemingly oblivious to any rules or regulations, but for the most part, motorcycle drivers respect the laws of the road. Not here though.

In Panama, motorcycle drivers create their own rules. And oh how I envy them. I've sat in traffic for over two hours, and watched many a motorcycle skip the traffic by dodging in and out, zigging and zagging through the cars ahead of them. This gets dangerous for pedestrians though. 

I was sitting in traffic one time, on an uphill slant, when I saw a young couple in love, holding hands, and crossing the street. With bumper to bumper traffic you'd think this couple would have nothing to worry about in the way of traffic. As they walked through the line of cars to the right and made their way across to my lane, a motor scooter suddenly shot towards them (right up the center of the two lanes), and screeched to a halt so hard that the driver nearly fell off the bike. He stopped only about an inch from the pedestrians. I have no idea how he was able to stop in time. It could have been a really nasty accident. The funny thing was how the driver of the motor scooter threw his arms up in the air and shook his head as if it was the pedestrian couple's fault. 

As I said before, one of the best things about this country is the ability to get away with some of the laws that would be strictly enforced in the States, but with that comes a certain responsibility we all have. I was scared to death to get behind the wheel 11 years ago when I first visited the country. My wife begged me to drive her dad's car and I simply refused. Things have changed a lot since back then, but still...if you don't know the ways of the road, you'll feel like Mad Max trying to navigate a dangerous new world. The roads of Panama are no place for the shy or timid. If you don't insert yourself and force your way out onto the road, you'll never get anywhere. Panamanians are not known for chilling and letting cars pull out in front of them. So as I'm learning the traffic do's and dont's, I'll try to keep you all in the loop.

Thanks again for reading,


Friday, September 7, 2012

You have to talk strange to get by here

Obarrio, Panama City, from above

I've noticed that slightly changing the way you say certain things can really help you get things done here in Panama. For example, I was in McDonald's one night. My kids had already hit the play area so there I was waiting in line behind about fifteen people at the one open register. When I finally got to the counter and started to order, I found the attendant staring at me with a dumbfounded expression on her face. I ordered the Happy Meal again, which here is called a Cajita Feliz (prononuced caheeta fayleez), con Mcnuggets.

"Que?" the lady asked me.

"Mcnuggets," I replied.

I looked up at the sign once more to make sure they did in fact spell it the way we do in the States. They do. So I didn't get what she wasn't getting. I said it again, but tried to give it a Latin twist. Finally she said, "Ahhhh, macnoooogets."

I laughed, nodded my head, and said, "Yes, maaaaacnooooogets."

See, if I'd known the Panamanian way to order, I could've avoided all that wasted time.

I've found that Panamanians have a hard time pronouncing my name, which back home I thought was one of the easiest, most common names ever invented. My name's Christopher. Sounds simple enough. The security guard at my brother-in-law's condo doesn't seem to find it all that easy. I've been called everything you can think of. One of the conversations I had with the poor guy still makes me giggle. He asked my name, so I told him, and this is what I heard in return.


"No, Christopher," I replied.

"Ah, que? Lucifer?"

I shit you not. The guy called me Lucifer. I just busted out laughing. At that point I couldn't even say my own name. It took him a second, but then finally he started laughing too when he heard me repeat Lucifer and keep laughing.

"Creeeestoooofffare," I finally managed to spit out while cracking up.

"Oh Creeestoefare," he said.

I was at dinner one night with my wife and our friends Dennis and Christie, an awesome couple we met in Pedasi. We were at Playa Venao, at a restaurant called El Sitio, one of the hottest places in all of Panama (hot meaning cool...meaning a great place) and Dennis wanted me to meet the general manager (who I think is also one of the owners), a guy named Assaf. The waiter spoke English...sort of. Dennis leaned over and said, "Is Assaf in?"

The waiter just looked at him like he had no idea what Dennis was asking.

"Assaf," Dennis repeated. "Is Assaf around? Can we talk to Assaf?"

The waiter still didn't understand.

Dennis looked back at me and at his wife and at my wife and just kind of shrugged, like "help me out guys."

I didn't know what to say. Dennis had mentioned that Assaf was the boss so you'd think the waiter would recognize the name right away, no matter what language we were speaking.

"Assaf," Dennis said again, trying to stay friendly, but it was clear he was about to get rude.

Finally, my wife leaned over and asked him in Spanish if Assaf was available to chat. She said his name the exact same way that Dennis had said it. The waiter's face lit up. He finally understood.

"Asssaaaaf," the waiter said.

The look on Dennis's face was priceless. He went slack jawed and just kind of threw his hands in the air.

"Is that not how I just said it?" he asked.

I thought the beer I was drinking was gonna shoot out my nose. I lost it. I knew exactly how he felt. I've lived here 3'd think I'd have caught on to these little tricks by now, but I'm still learning that drawing out your words can sometimes make a big difference.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do we have what?

This morning, at 10 a.m., I stopped by a KFC to grab a bite to eat (don't judge me, I'd been up since 5 and was starving and it was the only place around). As horrible as that sounds, I guess I wasn't the only person eating fast-food lunch so early in the morning. It was one of those KFC/Pizza Hut combined joints and the Pizza Hut side had the door locked. Security asked me if I was there for the birthday party. Seriously? A birthday part at Pizza Hut at 10 a.m., Tuesday morning?

Anyway, I was sitting there eating my Twister and my cheese-filled empanada when I remembered a funny story from back when I first met my wife in Anchorage, Alaska. How a Panamanian woman meets a fella from Okalahoma/South Florida is a long story so we'll skip that for now.

When I first started dating my wife, she always had strange requests when we were out. It started with the white donuts she wanted so badly. I searched all over the frozen state, trying to figure out what delicacy she was describing. Apparently, her cousin, who she'd been staying with in Alaska, had introduced her to these sweet, savory, white donuts. She didn't know where her cousin had picked them up. I was thinking these were some sort of gourmet pastries only her cousin knew about. We looked everywhere, and it wasn't until we were standing inside of a gas station convenience store that I realized she was talking about the little six-pack powdered donuts sold by Hostess for $.99.

The memory that hit me while sitting in KFC involved empanadas. The first time we went to a KFC, in Alaska, she asked me if I could order her a cheese empanada.

"A cheese what?" I asked.

"A cheese empanada," she said, like it was something everyone had heard of.

"I've never heard of that before," I said, and then continued to order our food.

Then we went to a Dairy Queen.

"Can you order me a cheese empanada, please?" she asked.

"A cheese what?" I asked again.

It was the conversation we'd had at KFC, all over again. Only this time she was more persistent.

"They must have them. They're cheese empanadas and they're like a pastry filled with cheese. Dairy Queen and KFC have them in Panama," she insisted.

"Well they don't have them here. I'm sure of it," I promised her.

"Can you ask?" she begged.

"I'm gonna sound stupid. I'm telling you, they don't have them here," I argued.

"You won't even ask? What if they have them and you just never knew about them?"

"Ok, fine."

So I drove up to the drive-thru window, waited for them to take my order, and asked, "Do you guys have cheese empandas?"

"Do we have what?" the attendant asked.

"Cheese empanadas?" I asked again.

"What is that?" the attendant asked.

I looked over at my wife and couldn't hold back my laughter. She was so upset that they'd never heard of the cheese empanadas. Well...I live in Panama now, and there I was, this morning, eating a cheese empanada at KFC. Who would've thought?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The tale of the humongous snake

I was deep asleep Saturday morning, dreaming, probably snoring, and possibly drooling, just loving the fact that I didn't have to get up until 8 a.m., when I heard a scream that caused me to nearly roll out of bed. "Ahhhh, there's a snake in the bathroom!" my wife, Marlene, yelled. I hopped out of bed and ran over to the bathroom door, which she'd left ajar, and peeked my head in. The problem was I didn't have my contact lenses in, so everything was a bit blurry. "It's huge!" she went on to warn me, "And it's mad. It was gonna bite me!"

Through my foggy, hazy vision, I saw a long strip of dark brown along the right wall of the bathroom, and that was enough to freak me out. I slammed the bathroom door and shoved a towel up under the crack at the bottom to prevent it from escaping. Now, I wouldn't say the snake was huge, but it was longer than any snake I'd like to see in my house. Plus, I've seen enough National Geographic to know that size doesn't always matter...not in this situation. For all I knew, it could  have been one of those insanely poisonous snakes that has venom that can kill you in 30 seconds or something like that. That's the kind of stuff that guy with the Australian accent always says on TV.

My wife ran to the phone and immediately called her mom, who went on to call the bomberos (firefighters), the police, and the landlord. Oh, and all this was at about 6 a.m. The landlord showed up first with the police. The cops were laughing and joking as they bounced through our living room, psyching each other up, each prepping the other for the battle with this humongous snake. My wife said they were saying things in Spanish about how they were Conan and about to slay the dragon. The landlord told them to grab machetes, but they claimed they only needed broom sticks. As they headed towards our bedroom, the firefighters walked through the door, a team of three. These guys were wielding machetes.

So about five guys were standing outside our bathroom door. They opened the door and peered in. Then one cop yelled out, "You saw a snake in this bathroom?"

My wife said, "Yes, in there, it's huge. It's on the right side."

The cop replied, "I don't think you saw a snake. I don't see anyth...ah...get him!"

A few slams and bangs later and they called out, "Got him!"

One of the firefighters had cut off its head with the machete. Here's what it looked like after:

Looks pretty big, right? It kept chomping and hissing even with its head cut off. It's some sort of constrictor though, so the cops said it's not venomous, and had probably just come in from the little river behind our house to search for mice. If that's the case we should've kept the little fella around. The cops and firefighters had a good laugh, making fun of my wife's humongous snake. If you're wondering what this huge beast looked like to them? This is the snake without the close up.

Kind of looks like a little turd. In my wife's defense, when it wasn't coiled up, it did seem pretty big. Now my wife makes all the kids wear flip flops in the house and she makes me check the kids ten times throughout the night and won't dare go into the bathroom without searching it first. She crouches down and stalks through the house like some sort of ninja in stealth mode, making sure no snakes have entered the house each morning after she wakes up. Me? I still walk around barefoot and stumble blindly into the bathroom at night. Hope that doesn't come back to bite me.