Archive | June 2016

Car Insurance

A few days ago we took a daytrip to Rio Sereno on the Costa Rican border. Shorter distance but travel time is about the same as going to Paso Canoas, Panama’s major western border town. Jan wanted to look for a supplier of hanging baskets. Hardly worth it to me, but she had heard it was a pretty drive and convinced me to make the trip. It was a pretty drive, and that’s what this post was originally going to be about. But things happen, especially things that start with the letter “s”.

Either on our way over or on the way back I mentioned to her that we needed to renew the car insurance soon. I noticed that it expires early next month. No more was said about it.

When we were just a few kilometers from home there was a lone cop doing a traffic stop. He wanted to see drivers license and insurance. No problem. Here you go.

He pointed out the expiration date of the policy: 07-06-16. Yes, so what’s the problem?  I barely uttered the words when I realized that down here that date means the 7th day of June, not the 6th day of July. I knew that, but somehow my brain wasn’t in gear when I looked at the policy a few weeks ago.   (That happens a lot lately.)

He told us to pull off the road. He was going to write us a ticket. From there it got only worse. He said he was calling a tow truck. I tried, Jan tried, but there was no talking him out of it. He was not going to let us drive the vehicle without insurance.

OK, so how about I leave the car here, go to town and come back with an insurance policy? He wasn’t interested. I really considered offering a bribe. It would be so much cheaper … and faster. Jan said no. She was probably right.   But we’ll never know about that.

All this happened on a Saturday mid-afternoon. I called my insurance agent immediately upon reaching home. Well, she got out of the business about 6 months ago. So we called both of our two closest friends here and got recommendations from each. One of the agents responded even late on a Saturday afternoon. By Sunday we had a list of things she needed to write the policy: registration, drivers licenses, passports, and pictures of the car.

The car was at an impound. Couldn’t get in for photos on a Sunday. So that had to wait until Monday morning.

By Tuesday morning we had an emailed copy of our new policy. I went to try to get our car out of jail but was told we had to first pay the ticket. I expected that, but thought it was worth a try.

We had to go into David to take care of the ticket. A one hour drive,  one way.

Without too much difficulty we found the place. A non-descript little office in one of the wings of Chiriqui Mall, the closest thing to a shopping center around here. (But that’s about to change.)

The first window Jan went to (I’m taking pictures) referred her to a different clerk at a free-standing desk.


This clerk said or did something and then Jan went back to the original window.


It was suggested by a friend that the ticket might be waived when we provided proof of insurance. That didn’t happen. $50.

Before leaving I thought I would be great if Jan took a picture of me on this bike.  She wouldn’t even consider it.


OK, so now I couldn’t wait to get back home and get our car out of hock.

When we got to the impound lot the old man I’d been dealing with wasn’t around. I dealt with the wife and the daughter. They wrote me up for $195. I was livid, and they knew it. But what could one expect from a towing business, right?  Even in Panama.

We barely got home when the owner, the old man, called. His women made a mistake. They charged me according to someone else’s bill.  Come back and he will refund us $50. And he did.  I was and still am dumbstruck.

The Lawn Service

Based on the strong recommendation of a neighbor, we contracted with a local Panamanian for a lawn cutting every 2 weeks. After the first cutting, he was about a week late. Now we find he’s almost a month late and the grass is getting really tall. After all, this is the rainy season.

We called him with a gentle nudge and within a couple hours he had a young man show up with a string trimmer, that being second only to machetes in preferred lawn cutting equipment.

As he didn’t arrive until around noon, there was some concern about him finishing before the rains began. The concern was well placed. He had hardly started when the skies opened up. But we continued to hear his trimmer running.

I went to the patio and this is what I saw.