Doing a Friend a Favor

It was intended that my next post would be regarding the conclusion of the licensing procedure. But that got trumped by this experience.

Our friend Suzi and her husband Harry had long planned a cruise leaving from Santiago, Chile. They were going to leave their pets with us. Planning to spend a week or so in Panama ahead of the cruise proved to be plans that couldn’t be kept. They barely got the animals dropped off when they had to return to Florida to deal with an unexpected turn of events. They asked us to make a local bank deposit for them. No problem. Or as they say in Panama, “Yeah, right”.

When I learned that Scotia Bank was their local bank of choice, my memory went back about 15 years to an experience on St Croix, USVI. I had not been on the island long when I realized I needed a local bank account. For no particular reason I walked into the downtown branch of Scotia Bank and inquired about opening an account. I was directed toward the back of the building. There I found a small area devoid of occupation. There was a counter and one of those little bells that my elementary school teacher had for use when she wanted to gain attention. I tapped on the bell. Before too long an employee appeared with the expected,

“Yes. Can I help you?”

“I’d like to open an account.”

“Do you have an appointment?”


“Well you have to make an appointment.”

“But there’s no one here.”

“You still have to make an appointment.”

Guess who didn’t ask for an appointment and never showed up there again?

With that background I entered a Scotia Bank in, more or less, downtown David, Panama. The first thing I noticed was a small area with a large number of chairs in a makeshift waiting room in front of the teller windows. I heard a number being called and someone vacated their chair. I groaned.

The consideration to just leave was only brief with the awareness that things would likely be no better later , maybe worse. I went to the counter where all the forms are kept. Clearly, you were expected to have the correct one filled out and ready for whenever your number might be called.

I selected the form that I thought most closely approximated the business I wanted to conduct. But soon realized this one was not correct. There was room for a loan number but not an account number.

Uncharacteristically, I broke line. Trying to display the total confusion I actually felt, I asked the teller to please identify the correct form. He asked for “my” account number. Huh? Well, I gave it to him. “Oh, for that account number you have to go to a different branch, across town.” WTF? Different branches for different account numbers? Well, this is Panama. And I already knew about Scotia.

Arriving at the “correct” bank branch I was met with another surprise. No one waiting for service. No one in line at any of the tellers. No desk with eight different forms. I went up to what I perceived was the most attractive clerk and stated my business. She received my information verbally and I was out of there in literally minutes. This country is full of surprises.

Time for New License Plates … and Driver’s License!

The car’s plates and my driver’s license both expire the end of December. We thought we’d go down into David and knock both of them out today. We should have known better.

The license plate renewal process consists of two major steps: Getting the car inspected and then presenting the certificate at the municipio that distributes the plates.

We pulled into the same business we always use for inspections, presented them with our proof of insurance and the car’s registration and waited to be called. Didn’t take long. It seems that the car (yes, the CAR!) had an outstanding ticket.

This didn’t come as a total surprise. Back in May I got a ticket for “crossing a yellow line”, the details of which do not merit explanation or elaboration. I didn’t pay it at the time because I knew the chances were good it would be lost in the system. Even if that didn’t happen, there would be no penalty or interest for late payment. So there was absolutely no motivation for paying the fine in a timely matter.

We had to go across town to pay the fine. Fortunately for us, this facility was in the same shopping center that houses the driver’s license office. But the driver’s license for anyone over 70 (yes, I know. I scarcely look it) requires a “letter” from a geriatric (I hate that word) or internal medicine doctor. As the professional building was halfway between our present position and our destination, we would stop by on the off-chance that I could be seen sans appointment. We wanted to call first but we couldn’t remember the doctor’s name from two years ago. We did remember, however, where her office was located. As it turned out we had to wait less than 30 minutes before I could be seen.

The physical was grueling … not. She took my BP, listened to my chest, had me stand with one leg forward and close my eyes. Did I fall down? No. Next the other foot, same drill. I was done in 5 minutes. $45. Compare that to a general practitioner when the need is real for $8. But what are you gonna do?

Off we go to finish with the next order of business.

We encountered a “modest” line where the traffic fine is paid but that really wasn’t definitive. We decided that Jan would stay and pay the fine and I would proceed a couple hundred yards to get my driver’s license renewed.

The first line at the driver’s license office was looong! After 15 or 20 minutes Jan showed up, but they wouldn’t let her in! Her sleeveless blouse violated the conservative standards of the office. Oh, brother! Given the very crowded nature of the office I was tempted to just leave when Jan showed up. But I was about halfway through the line by then and decided to stick it out, knowing that I might very well learn that something more was needed for my renewal, something I was not expecting. Sure enough, it came to light that our car was registered under my old passport. Now that I had a cedula, it needed to be re-registered with the ID of the cedula. What does a driver’s license have to do with the registration of a car? We wondered but didn’t even bother to ask.

Now we needed to go to the municipio that provides the license plates. Not so bad, we would get the registration changed, get the plates, and come back here to get my driver’s license. Yeah, right.

Thirty minutes away we arrived at the municipio. After taking a number and waiting 30 or 45 minutes, we were called to a counter for service. Incredibly, the copy of the car registration that was previously sufficient was no longer. They wanted the ORIGINAL! As home is yet another 30 minutes way, we will be back tomorrow. Or maybe the day after.

Proof that Things are Out of Control, Example 3

Texas’ law penalizing “sanctuary cities” is being challenged in court.

Those cities breaking federal law are challenging a law that penalizes them for breaking the law.   So they want the law to uphold their right to break the law?

Proof that Things are Out of Control, Example 2

HOPEWELL, N.J.—Freshmen football players, changing in their high school locker room at the beginning of the school year, were startled to encounter a girl who said she identifies as a boy.

The incident in Hopewell Valley Central High’s locker room occurred just a few days after the 2016-2017 school year opened.

Proof that Things are Out of Control. Example 1

Canada passed a law Thursday making it illegal to use the wrong gender pronouns. Critics say that Canadians who do not subscribe to progressive gender theory could be accused of hate crimes, jailed, fined, and made to take anti-bias training.

Here’s the Simple Solution

Once again the TV news is featuring an illegal alien being deported in a tear-jerking scene.  She’s been here for years, a convicted criminal still here only because of Obama, and mother of at least two teen-aged anchor babies.  These kids are now on TV talking about how horrible it is to separate a mother from her kids.  No one seems to mention the obvious solution.  They’re free to go with her.

Temporary Immigration Ban in US

I’m really not understanding all the resistance to the President’s temporary immigration ban. If you’re to believe the media (which I really don’t) then most of the country is in opposition.  Presumably that’s according to the same pollsters that predicted the election.

I’m reminded of a picture that was circulated a while back. There was a bowl of M&M’s with a caption something like “There are 50,000 M&M’s here. Ten of them will kill you. How many will you eat?”

Letting in unvetted or, as we’ve already seen, poorly vetted immigrants is playing Russian Roulette. It truly seems that many in the populace are automatically against something that our President is for. Even if it kills them.

Panama Independence Day

November 3 is Panama Independence Day. I question how many Panamanians realize it, but the country became independent from Colombia because it suited the United States for it to do so. Something to do with the Panama Canal. It just wasn’t going to happen as long as the isthmus was a part of Colombia. This is worthy of a post in itself. Maybe later.

Panamanians love parades. The main street in town was shut down for several hours on two consecutive days. In case you missed it on the first day, you could just as well catch the parade the next day. Although I doubt that’s the motivating reason


Most of the parading groups consisted of only drums. Not sure why that is. But we can hear muted drums almost all night any time of year. Beyond any doubt, the Panamanians love the sound of drums.


One marching group, however, is a fully-fledged band. I’m pretty sure it belongs to the school the next block over. Anyhow, I was delighted to hear them play John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Could it have anything to do with the country’s provenance? Probably not. My WAG is that the band teacher is an American.




Bet You Didn’t Know about This!

In order to have a worry-free trip back to the states we had arranged for a house/pet sitter to come down and look after things. I picked her up in Paso Canoas, the Panama-Costa Rican border town nearest us, in late September. After stepping off the bus from Golfito, the first thing she did was comment on all of the (rowdy) blacks she found. I was surprised, as I seldom saw any blacks at this border town, and those that were around were so few in number as to hardly be noticeable.

A few days later this same house-sitter drove me to this same border town for my trip to the states where I was to meet Jan. Sure enough, there were a LOT of blacks, mostly just hanging around it seemed.
When I got to San Jose, Costa Rica, I described the situation to my cab driver. He was aware of it, and told me they came from various parts but all were headed to the United States!

When Jan and I came back through Paso Canoas following our state-side visit, we found the same situation. Large numbers of blacks. They were not mingling with other travelers but seemed sequestered in groups of 40 or 50. Also, they had their own special lines for CR customs and immigration. Wonder why?

Today October 15, 2016, we took our house-sitter back to Paso Canoas for her return trip home. And sure enough, large numbers of blacks.   I would estimate a total of about 100 individuals.
As we arrived quite early for our house-sitter’s bus I continued to observe and wonder. As before, they were escorted from Panama to Costa Rica customs/immigration in groups of maybe 50, mostly 2 abreast. There was an escort in the front and two in the back. I was somewhat surprised to find that the escorts were national police, not customs and immigration officers.

img_77091  Click to see a short video

Curiosity got the better of me and I attempted to get more information from one of the policemen. He was happy to talk.

I asked if this was a morning event or if it went on all day.  All day.

Where do they come from?  They land at ports in Buenos Aires (Atlantic) and Golfito (Pacific) and come up through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, etc.

And ultimately?  Ultimately to the United States.

How long has this been going on?  He conferred with his fellow officer and they agreed. About 5 months.

This entry was posted on October 15, 2016. 1 Comment