Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Run In With The Law......

After a long day of working on the kitchen project, my tired husband needed some well deserved relaxation.  I suggested a night out at local restaurant called Picasso's where a well-liked band would be playing some great tunes.  After a few beers and some dancing Clyde was feeling pretty good, maybe even forgetting about his aches and pains.  Since he'd had way too many beers and I was drinking water, he suggested that I drive home.  As usual I didn't bring my purse which meant that I didn't have my drivers license with me.  Routine police check points are quite common here, but since we only had a short drive of about ten minutes we thought we'd probably be safe.

We made our way out of Coronado and turned onto the Pan American Highway.  In about five minutes we'd be home safe and sound, but oh no....what's that up ahead?  Yep, a police check point and suddenly we were in the line of cars that would soon be facing an officer.  What to do?  Should I pull over and switch places?  Clyde said "no, I'd rather pay a fine for you driving without a license than for me to be locked up for driving drunk." And many times the officer just looks into the car and waves the car on through the lineup, without checking anything.

I pull up next to the officer and say "buenas noches" to which he responds the same. There was an awkward silence until the cop said "su licencia." I began to explain in Spanish that we were out at a restaurant and my husband had too many beers and is drunk and cannot drive.  My license is at home since I didn't think I'd be driving.  If you'd like to follow me to my house in Chame, only a few minutes from here I'll show you my license. The cop sternly says "no," and starts giving me a lecture in Spanish telling me that he has to give me an $85 fine.  He tells me to pull over onto the shoulder of the road and wait.  In the meantime the other office approaches the car and apparently he's heard the story already.  He says something to me and I begin to ramble on with my story, throwing in lots of comments like "oh I'm so sorry officer,"...."please follow me home and I'll show you my license," ....."my husband was drinking but me, no, only water,"......along with "excuse my Spanish officer, it's not perfect but I am trying to explain." The cop smiled and showed an ounce of compassion, then assured me that my Spanish was good and he did understand what I was saying.

Next he asked for my name or for my passport, assuming that we were tourists.  I handed him my cedula, the resident visa that we live on here and he typed my name into a little handheld computer.  My information appeared on the tiny screen that he turned to show me asking if that was the correct information.  I agreed even though I really couldn't read it all without reading glasses, but I could read my name.  He walked away and chatted with the other officer for a few minutes before coming back to our car.  When he returned he rambled on in Spanish and we didn't catch it all, but he seemed to be telling us to go.  I questioned "no multa hoy"....which means "no ticket today," to which he responded a clear NO, no ticket today.

We responded with a huge "muchas gracias," and drove away carefully getting to the house as quickly as possible.  We were elated that we were able to talk our way out of a ticket in Spanish!
One big accomplishment and another interesting adventure....along the gringo trail.


  1. Yeah, you guys were lucky. When I had my headlight out and I showed the guy my Panama driver's license, he put my info into that machine and out came the ticket. Real fast. I think that was in the Capira area...maybe Chame. Do you find that the cops out there are usually looking for a bribe? Here in Panama City, it seems that's usually the case. Great post by the way.

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