Well, maybe a little crazy for us, which isn’t much but once in a while we need to go sort out something.
I’m minding my own business this morning, when an IDAAN (water company) truck and three guys with IDAAN t-shirts and ID badges show up at my gate to inform me that they were shutting off the water for non payment. Huh?? The landlord pays the water and sometimes he gets a month or two behind but never this. I explain it’s the landlord’s fault, and they say if I go to the IDAAN office TODAY and take care of it, they will leave the water on. Otherwise it gets shut off tomorrow.
My neighbor explains how to find the office. I also look it up on Google maps and it doesn’t look quite the same, but whatever… we set off and Google navigation directs us to a big lot walled off and under construction. That can’t be it, so we set off for the municipio (City offices) which are close to the location my neighbor described.
Since we were close to the post office we decide to mail a card I’ve been carrying around for a while. There was only one other customer before me, so it took only a few minutes for the lady to hand write some forms, put many bar code stickers on everything, and get all the paperwork in order and collect $1.15. Then I’m done and on my way.
Traffic downtown is nuts! Intersections usually have a stop signs one way, and you just take your chances the other way with any tiny break in traffic (or you wait all day). People pull out, ease in, and generally drive aggressively enough to make their way and everyone else just adjusts. It looks intimidating and since I don’t enjoy driving, I’m very happy Joel has no problem dealing with it all. People here seem to remember though, that those other cars also contain people with needs and feelings. People will do their best to get where they are going, but they are also considerate of others and honking the horn is usually only a “hey I’m here” curtesy beep, except maybe the taxis who are notoriously more aggressive, maybe because they have to fight traffic all day every day.
Anyway, we find our way to the area I’m looking for, and the traffic light I was told about (there are very few of those so they make good landmarks). Unfortunately the office doesn’t have a sign outside and it’s not easy to spot, so we have to ask, drive by a couple times, and finally stop at a bank which turns out to be in the same building. The bank guards direct us to the proper door and we make our way to the cashier’s window.
Everything is paid up! Huh? so why did those guys show up this morning? She calls a guy from the back office who disappears with our bill, and returns a few minutes later without an explanation, but with reassurances that all is well. No one else will show up at our door and no one will shut off the water. Who knows what happened, but it’s obviously a mistake.
So, sometimes you wake up with a plan for the day and proceed with it, and sometimes your plan for the day gets shot all to pieces. But, thankfully, since I like my plans, this doesn’t happen too often. And, even more thankfully, if you get muddled up people are super helpful. Today we were helped by our neighbor, a guy in the street selling water, the guards at the bank, and the people in the IDAAN office. It can be stressful and frustrating when everything is different and hard to understand, but it always gets worked out one way or another.
“Everything always works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.” (Tracy McMilian)
And THIS is why expats need to become PROFICIENT in Spanish when they move down there. Can you imagine how most of the expats around Boquete would have fared in this situation?
It sure helps! Otherwise you see expats with a translator in tow. And, most important to me are the relationships with my local friends, which wouldn’t be possible without the ability to talk with them.
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