Friday 10/26/2012 David, Chiriqui Province, Panamá

The internet came yesterday, and I haven’t written anything since! I have been busy uploading everything I wrote before internet, and sorting through pics, uploading videos, etc. So, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Lost in the city 

Things continue to feel better every day, but finding things continues to be the biggest challenge. Thursday morning Lorraine had a dentist appointment. We figured we had better find the place ahead of time, so we called for directions. Go to KFC on the highway (yes there is a KFC here, and a number of other familiar fast food places). So, go to KFC, go 3 blocks, past the baseball field, and it’s a white building with two floors, no plants. We went 3 blocks up the highway, and more… nothing. We went 3 blocks down the highway… nothing. We went 3 blocks north of the highway and then some, still nothing. We went back up the highway. I called again for directions and couldn’t get any more than I did the first time. I swear she said 3 blocks, white building, no plants, 2 floors, baseball field. What baseball field??? Finally I gave up in frustration.

Plan B – get a taxi, ask him to take us there. We find one, hop in, he radios his home base for directions and off we go to KFC, turn SOUTH of the highway (the only direction we didn’t go) and sure enough. There’s a large ball field, and on the other side of the street, a white sign with the dentist’s name. White sign… white building…. whats the word for sign?? Akkkk. So, since we were having such luck with this taxi guy I leave Lorraine at the dentist and ask the driver if he knows where to buy a gas can. He drives a few blocks more, and we have a gas can in the trunk and he’s taking me back to my car. Now that I can easily find the dentist I can go back in my own car and pick up Lorraine.

So, days of asking and driving around to find gas cans and dentists… DONE in minutes with the help of a cab driver. We are now cooking with GAS. Heh

Selling the house, and the joys of doing business in another country 

The other big thing is the house in Florida is selling and heading towards closing very quickly – next week! I thought I had it all set up when I left. Sure, we FedEx you any papers, you sign them, FedEx them back. No problem. We do it all the time. Uh huh. This is Panama. It is a problem.

We set off to find the David FedEx office. I know you can imagine how that went. What finally solved it was Joel at home doing research on the internet, giving me the best directions he could, us finding Romeros, the grocery store landmark we needed, and walking all around the store. Sure enough, on a back street behind the store, FedEx!!

So, keeping in mind this is Panama, and this is happening on Thursday, if Joel sent documents immediately they would maybe get to Panama City on Saturday. They would sit until the office opened on Monday, and would get put on a truck to arrive in David on Tuesday. If I sent them back the same day, they would arrive back in Panama City on Wednesday, and maybe get to Florida on Friday. Maybe. So at best, 8 days round trip for documents involving offers and counter offers that are supposed to be signed and returned in a day. Don’t forget also that there are major Panamanian holidays coming up in a week and an extra long weekend. All offices will be closed.

Plan B – get our lawyer to give Joel POA for me so he can sign for me. The lawyer needs a day to get the paperwork in order. I sign things and they need to go to the government office in David to be notarized. Then they need to go to the American consulate in Panama City to be apostilled, something like notarized but for international business. Who knows how long that would take?

So, the final plan – buy a printer/scanner. Email me documents, I print them, sign them, scan them and email them back. This will do for negotiations but for closing, it must be actual signatures, no scanning and emailing. It’s becoming clear that the only way to work this out is for me to buy plane tickets and return to Florida for closing. Who would have thought you can get a person to the US faster than you can get papers there! But, if I do this, I can also help Joel and ma with their trip down here which is a good thing. And, I will be back with Joel in a matter of days.

So with a bit of looking, a couple conferences on skype, I have tickets and a plan. I will take the bus to Panama City on Sunday, fly out on Monday morning and be in Florida in the afternoon. We will all be together on the same flight returning to Panama City on Thursday, stay overnight there and head to David on Friday.

An aside, a bit of advice…. get POA for your spouse, partner, parents, anyone for whom you might have to sign. We have thought about doing this just because its good to have, but we never got around to it. On my return trip, we will be getting around to it!

The best laid plans…. 

Friday we drive off to see our friends, the ones who put me up when I first arrived. On the way to their house the road was blocked. Someone said something about indians, Colon, and protests. There was a protest near where I live last week by people from Colon. The government has made a law that says they can sell land in Colon, and the people don’t like it. It seems the only way people think they can be heard is to cause major disruptions and problems.

Since we couldn’t get to our friends, and couldn’t find a way around the blocked highway, we headed in to town to do a couple other errands. Every shop we went to had people watching TV news about terrible protest all over, especially in Colon and Panama City. People were telling us the roads were blocked and the only way to Panama City was by air. The last time we were here there were protests and the highway was shut down for days. I was getting really anxious about my upcoming trip so I came home and bought plane tickets. That’s a lot more money but it’s sure better than me not making it to closing.

By Friday night it seems the government has backed down on the new law so hopefully peace will return, but who knows for sure. I feel better having that airline ticket.

The people here 

We went to town to do some errands, one of which was to get Lorraine some boots like the people use to work outdoors. They would be good for walking and exploring the area. I started by asking a guy shining shoes on the sidewalk, since he was shining boots and I could find out the word for boots. When he figured out what we wanted, there were a couple other guys in the conversation directing us to a store nearby. These were lady’s dress boots, not work boots so when we returned we explained that these weren’t what we needed. A discussion followed and one of the guys said he knew just the place for us. He came with us, or rather went there as we did our best to keep up. He explained to the shop people what we needed, and stayed with us until she found boots that fit. By now I was thinking boots would be a good idea for me too. Something has been biting my toes and feet, probably something in the grass, so I got a pair for me too. He noticed the bites and a discussion followed about that, and insecticide was recommended to be mixed with water and sprayed in the yard. (I declined but good to know if the boots don’t solve the problem)During the boot fitting, a discussion evolved about socks. I know you need them under boots. What is the word for socks? Calcetines? No? Medias?! Never heard that one. So, next, he takes us to the store he says sells the cheapest socks. I get a package of 12 pair – $5. I am expecting pretty crappy socks but they are surprisingly good! They are light weight but soft, and with the socks on the boots feel comfortable and functional.By this time he has been taking care of us for at least ½ hour, probably more. Once we have our boots and socks, he bids us goodby, good day, and walks off. I figured he might be hoping for a buck or two from the gringo ladies but apparently not. He was just being a nice guy. He said he was a truck driver but with the road blocked he wasn’t working, so he was just hanging out downtown and was happy to help. This seems to be fairly normal behavior here. People take the time to help and are happy to do it.

Well it is getting late so I should post this and get to bed. Tomorrow we get out the oil based paint for the closet and drawers in the 2nd bedroom, put together the desk we bought for in there, and get ready for my trip. I don’t think we have any errands or things to do in town so hopefully we can make some forward progress on the house. It’s nice to have a traveling companion and house guest who likes to help fix up houses!

Just for fun
Look what we found at the grocery store! People in my generation remember this. We drank Boones Farm apple wine a lot!
Look what we found at the bus terminal. There are vendors there who sell snacks, I suppose for people who want something to eat on the long bus ride. There seems to be a little fruit, lots of candy, some bread, cookies, and unidentifiable things like this wrapped in banana leaves. It tasted like firm pudding, not too sweet. I liked it a lot. Lorraine didn’t like it at all.
Of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a bug, and we spotted this very interesting fellow on the front window.

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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