Saturday, September 24, 2011

We Are Officially Residents.....

We are officially temporary residents that is, and we've already taken advantage of our first discount. 

Today we drove into the city to meet with Alexandra from our lawyers office. She took us to Immigration again for the third time now.  We were both dressed nice since that is a requirement at all government institutions here but my blouse was sleeveless.  As we were walking into the building she handed me a short sleeved tan sweater and said "you need this."  I thought perhaps she thought I was cold and gracefully declined the use of her sweater.  She explained that my shoulders were not allowed to show in the picture, so I needed to put on this sweater.  Had I known I would have brought a jacket to wear. 

We were taken into this tiny 10 x 10 office with a few worn out, torn up chairs where one clerk was working.  We had to wait our turn and watched as she handed what looked like identification cards to two others that came before us.  When it was my turn I sat down she snapped a photo and a few minutes later had me sign the card and then she laminated it and gave it back to me.  Clyde was next for the same process. 

As we left the building with our new cards in hand we realized that we were now residents of Panama.
Alexandra explained that for one year we are considered to be provisional residents.  If at any time during that one year period Panama decided that they do not want us as residents, they can revoke our visas.  In about six to eight months our permanent cards should arrive.  We will have to go have new photos taken and then will be permanent residents (but never citizens) of Panama.  We have also applied for a "multiple entry and exit stamp" to be put into our passports.  Without this stamp we would not be allowed to leave the country during our provisionary period of one year.  If we did leave we would be subject to a $2000 fine upon re-entry.  With the stamp we can go and come as freely as desired.  And now whenever we get off the plane coming into Panama we enter with other residents, not with tourists. 

On the way home we stopped to eat a late lunch.  While waiting for the food to come Clyde realized we can now ask for our "pensionado" discounts.  We were given 25% off the total price of our meal and both had to sign the receipt.  Apparently this must be the way they keep track of the discounts since this is a government regulated program.  Since the meal was only $7.00 it didn't amount to much, but every little bit helps us save a few more dollars in our quest for living cheap along the gringo trail. 

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