Umm…I dunno… I found the cable provider’s office, bought some art supplies, made lunch… next thing I knew the day was over.
Getting things done in Panama can be a process. Even the Panamanians comment on how much running around it can take. Thank goodness we aren’t working and usually don’t have to be anywhere.
I had a fraudulent charge on my credit card last month. Chase bank took care of it right away, but it meant cancelling my credit card and issuing me a new one. You don’t realize how much automatic billing you have set up until your card no longer works. One of the bills was Cable Onda, our cable and internet provider.
I had a list of errands and the first was to straighten out things with Cable Onda. We made our way through the always fun and exciting downtown traffic, found a parking spot, and went to the office only to find they were remodeling and the office has moved to a temporary spot. Take that street there, go up to Chiriqui Hospital, then four blocks, turn left, and it’s right there. OK, thanks, no problem. We stopped at the art store, checked on some mail I’m expecting, and then set off to find the office.
Of course it wasn’t where I thought it was. So, we stop at the supermarket to ask the security guard. He hollers to the lottery ticket sales lady and soon everyone in the parking lot was having a conference and giving us directions to the place. Go back to Chiriqui Hospital, turn right at the street below the hospital, go a few blocks and its right by something I never heard of before.
Nope, it wasn’t there either. By now it’s getting to be lunch time and Joel is tired of driving around, so we decide to head towards home. After lunch I headed back to town, back to the hospital, back down the street below the hospital. Nope. So, I tried the street above the hospital, and there it was! They are camped out in a building that I believe is a TV station, judging by all the huge satellite dishes behind it.
They find my account, make a note of my new credit card number, I sign the papers, they make copies (nothing ever happens here without copies!) and I am on my way, quick and easy.
This morning I get an email from Cable Onda. There is a problem with your credit card. The information on the form is correct and other charges have been going through on this card, so I can’t figure out the problem. Back to the office we go. They tell me that it looks like everything is fine, so maybe the email went out before they ran the charges with my new card.
This afternoon I get a statement – thank you for your payment. Whew! OK, all is well.
See, it even takes me a novel to tell the story 😀 But, this is how things often go in Panama. You go to buy something simple like printer cartridges, blue thread, or a cleaning product they had last month. We went to five stores before we found the printer cartridges (but of course now that we don’t need them they have reappeared in the store where we bought the printer). There is a minimum of thread in the fabric store, but plenty in the supermarket (and I have since found other fabric stores that have lots). I am still looking for pumice scouring stick, (but learned steel wool also does well for cleaning the dark deposits in toilet bowls). When something is easy it’s a surprise! Usually though it’s like a scavenger hunt. You need to set out with this in mind so it doesn’t make you nuts.
And, if you are local and need the Cable Onda office, do not go downtown. Go to Chiriqui Hospital. Turn west on the street on the north side of the hospital, and go three blocks. The building is on the far left corner. Look carefully for their sign above the door.
Next week I get to go back downtown to check on license plates for my bike. They didn’t have any so I have a paper and instructions to come back in early February. But, this afternoon I was sitting on my terrace working on a project, and a toucan landed in the tree not 10 feet from me. I must have had a dozen other kinds of birds visit the bird bath today also. Overall life is pretty darn good, and now I’m friends with the Cable Onda lady.