Saturday, October 22, 2011

On Time....en punto

The phrase "On Time" is a foreign concept here in Panama.  It's understandable in the Panama City where traffic can be so grid locked that streets turn into parking lots.  But throughout the rest of the country there's no excuse for lateness with no explanation.  Yet everyone we've talked to both locals and ex-pats have experienced it.  We waited at home for three Fridays to have the air conditioner installed but no one showed.  Waited days for furniture to be delivered and the same with appliances.  Each time they didn't see the need to call and when we made contact they always had some excuse that they just assumed we already knew. 

So today we sit and wait again, but this time for our stuff that we shipped from the US.  First they told us they would be here on Friday, then Saturday first thing in the morning.  Clyde asked "what time" and we were told between 8 and 10 am, now it's between 10 and 11am.

Last week during one of our Spanish classes, Jaime the instructor brought up the issue of being on time.  He explained that if someone uses the phrase "en punto" which literally translated means "on point" or "on time" after a given time, that Panamanians take it more seriously and DO show up on time.  Clyde DID try this with the movers and when they said they'd be here between 10 and 11am Clyde added "en punto?"  So we'll see what time they show up today. 

Clyde's been planning what he's going to make once his tools get here.  We need computer desks so we can both have our own space, which he will make.  The kitchen needs some additional storage space, either shelves or cabinets.  I'd like a small writing desk in the bedroom so when I want to get away I can take the laptop and have some privacy.  We're new to this "retirement thing" and realize that we DO need to have time on our own away from each other so we don't kill each other.  And we need space in front of computers to work on our Spanish too through Rosetta Stone and other websites and media.

Yesterday Clyde was like a kid in a candy shop out searching for a table saw.  Here we have the "Do It Center" which is similar to the Home Depot, but they don't sell power tools.  But we did find one of these stores that knew of a table saw at another one of their stores.  When we found it Clyde thought it was too much like a "toy" so we kept looking. He did find one hardware store with real big power tools but they had real big price tags on them.  So he settled on the smaller model from the "Do It Center."

Stores here are too quick to send the customer to another store to get rid of them.  Take for example the kayak clamps we've been looking for.  We had a luggage rack installed onto our Toyota Rav 4 so we can attach kayaks to it.  One store sent us to another who sent us to yet another who only had ONE of these clamps and we need two.   They also had some crazy price tag on them so we think we can make due without by strapping the kayaks onto the car luggage rack.  When I was in retail management in the US, the goal was to keep the customer in your store and sell them as much as possible, but that's not the case here in Panama.  As for the kayaks, we ordered them from Price Smart a warehouse club similar to Sam's in the US. They are supposed to take a month to arrive in the store so we don't have them yet, but are optimistic. 

Better get showered and dressed now as the movers will be here soon......or "en punto" as they say here in Panama.  Just like everything I'm sure the arrival of our stuff will bring it's own adventures here along the Gringo Trail.

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