Upon coming to this great big 'house' in Panama I was asked only a few questions by the local Ngobe people. The most reoccurring from the women was bluntly put,
"Do you have a husband?"
"Do you live with your mom?"
They pressed on, "You don't live with your mom or a husband?"
"Oh, Samantha..." One woman said 'tsk'-ing and shaking her head.
She looked at me quite seriously and said, "I would be scared living in a great big house all by myself."
It was the day before I was to be all alone, so I was a little taken aback. With the neighbors very close and workers coming every day, this is the most people I've been around consistently in three months. I worried for a moment that maybe there was a risk factor I had overlooked...
"Well I have Angus and Bella" I said, referring to the dogs, who are well feared. "Why would you be scared? Just because it's so big?"
"Yes. You know what happens to people who live in a big house all by themselves..."
I shook my head 'no', as I thought about gluttony, and images of people living in L.A. in big mansions. She broke my daydream with, "You have to be very careful, because of the witch"
I did my best not to smile, as I imagined the witch from Beauty and the Beast knocking on mansion's all over the world. I was also careful not to mention that my friends and family often affectionately refer to me as a witch. If there was a witch in the village I certainly would love to meet her, but perhaps I didn't understand.
"Is she a spirit, a ghost, a real person?"
"Oh, she's a real person."
"Can I meet her? Can you tell me where she lives?"
"No no no. Oh, Samantha" More 'tsk'-ing and head shaking.
"...Have you seen her?"
"No! If you see her, she will kill you"
"Oh..." I said, thinking on my vampire, werewolf and zombie apocalypse safety measures.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Yes, you need a #&)x!."
I was positive I was miss-translating. The clarification of what she was saying went back and forth for a long while, until I went into the kitchen and got a fork. It couldn't possibly be as simple as a dinner fork, but it was.
"What does the fork do to the witch?" I asked.
"It takes away all her powers"
"So then I can have a nice chat with her? Once her power is gone?"
"Oh, Samantha" She said, again 'tsk'-ing and shaking her head.
I'm happy to report that I have managed more than a month without a witch sighting. It used to startle me, especially in the city when things moved out of the corner of my eye, but there are just so many things moving here, all the time, you just have to relax because its probably a bat, a bird, a leaf, a gecko, or a bug you'd rather not acknowledge. The witch could be here a week trying to sneak up on me and I might just brush her off. 'Oh, that's probably just a monkey' I'll say to myself. So even though all my visitors have left and I'm alone again, don't worry, I have a fork.
I love learning about the different superstitions all over the world (I think it steams from being born on a Friday the 13th). We continued talking and I was having difficulty explaining what a superstition was, so we talked about other different beliefs around here. For example, if your tooth falls out while you're sleeping it means a relative has died. When I told them about the tooth fairy I think they felt a little gypped, and then they really wanted to know more about North America. If you have any superstitions about bats please send them my way.