Catching up – cars, houses, and cash

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2012

We arrived in David, Panama a little after 9PM (after catching a bus at 2:15). It was a pleasant ride but we were tired from all the traveling. I was also tired from carting my heavy baggage around. I knew it would be weeks before anything from home would arrive, so I brought a number of books on photography and Spanish texts. That’s about the only things I thought would be hard to buy here. If I had it to do over, I would have brought less books. I had a good size suitcase that weighed just under 50 pounds before I transferred 6 books from the computer bag to it, the computer bag that still had a few books in it, and the carry on had my purse and cameras. I made it but I was glad to put all the stuff down! Hopefully when I get settled and have time, I will be glad to have the books though.
My companion had plans to stay at the Bambu Hostel where we happened to stay on our first visit to David. So, since my phone was being difficult, we figured we would take a cab to Bambu and I could call my friends from there for a ride. I was looking forward to visiting Bambu anyway, and I was not disappointed. Greg, the owner, was there and it was great to see him again. They place looked wonderful, an improved version of before with more art on the walls, organized welcoming reception area, relaxing bar area out back, the bamboo “tree house” in the back yard now completed. From what I could see in the dark, the gardens were even more beautiful than they had been before.
If you want an inexpensive place to stay that is great fun, I would definitely recommend the Bambu hostel! Of course it attracts young people and backpackers, but you can find a wide variety of people there. I found it great fun to share the kitchen and common living areas because you meet people and make new friends who probably have a lot of interesting experiences to share.
I was able to use the phone as planned to call my friends to come get me, and how nice to be picked up and settled in my temporary home. They have a great place, a bunch of wonderful dogs, but mostly I was happy to have come to my destination so I could rest, regroup, and see what comes next.
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The next day we awoke before dawn but I slept well and felt much better.
This part of Panama has many farmers, and it is normal to get up before dawn because as soon as it is light, people must get to work. Farming is hard work modest money, so most farmers also have second jobs as well. These are not lazy people! They work very hard, and most live on a fraction of what we consider adequate in the US.

Anyway, we got up for a breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, and omelets which I was to learn is the usual breakfast in this household. The objective today is to check out the car. My friend asked his mechanic for leads on suitable cars. It seems Panama discourages people from having cars, preferring they use public transportation to keep the roads less congested, so cars are expensive here, including used cars. The mechanic couldn’t find a car in my price range, but his recently retired wife wasn’t using hers and agreed to sell it. The car is exactly what I wanted to find, unassuming, reliable, in my price range, and drove well. The owner was out so his assistant said he would have him call us.

This was about enough activity for my first day. The house came the next day. Eduardo Horno, a contact who I had emailed with before arriving, had two houses for me to look at. Again, I had unbelievably good luck. The first one we looked at was perfect for our needs, and also in our price range at $385/month. Another deal was made.
I now had the house and the car. Next it was a matter of getting the money together to finish the deals. This is a cash society. Big stores take credit cards. Out of country checks are difficult to get accepted anywhere. Between individuals though and in most transactions, cash is king and cash comes from the ATM. I brought some cash but not enough for everything, so now it was a matter of daily trips to the ATM to withdraw the maximum daily allowance until I had what I needed. Both of the people I was working with understood immediately and were happy to work with me. The car guy wanted to just hold the car for me with no security deposit beyond my word, and the house guy also would do the contract and hold the keys until I had the cash. These people are much more trusting than people would have been back home, requiring at least a deposit to hold something they could have sold to someone else. I was told this is also the norm. Your word is taken as good and verbal agreements are sufficient.
So, now that I had the house and the car arranged, I think I am caught up with most of the events that have taken place up until this time. It is now Wednesday Oct 17thand things are moving forward, so I will continue this blog in its correct order as much as I can. The house deal was done yesterday. Today is the day for the car. It will be interesting to see how this day unfolds, and I’m sure I will be back to write about it soon. Hasta Pronto!
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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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2 Responses to Catching up – cars, houses, and cash

  1. oldsalt1942 says:

    I second your recommendation of Bambu. I stayed there several times before I made the full-time move here. That swimming pool is really a blessing after a day of traipsing around in the heat and humidity. Greg is a nice guy, for sure. And since the hostel is only two blocks off my bus route into the city I’ll sometimes stop off and drop in to have a beer and chat with him.

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    • kristc99 says:

      We had so much fun there! And, my husband is a musician so of course he and Greg hit it off right away. Last time we went by Greg was out of town so we’ll have to go by again and see if he’s back.

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