Friday, September 13, 2013

Another Day In The Big City......

It's been a busy week of running back and forth to Panama City on official business, some of which has gone to the dogs.  Since we bought our car in September it was time to get the car inspected again, renew our registration, car insurance and pick up new license plates. So to get the "revisado" or inspection out of the way on Monday afternoon Clyde ran over to Coronado to have it done.  The man looked at Clyde's paperwork and told him in Spanish that because the insurance would expire the next day, the inspection could not be done. We have an insurance broker in Panama City that automatically renews our policy so maybe her office dropped the ball?  Clyde made a quick call to Priscilla who was in Europe on vacation.  She blamed it on the insurance company for not sending the renewal to her office.  But she did call her office and told Clyde they'd email him the document when it was ready.

We took off for the 90-minute drive to Panama City and stopped at an internet café to check Clyde's email for the insurance document.  It cost us 45 cents for 15 minutes of internet time plus a little extra to have them print the documents, but one problem was solved.  Next Clyde drove around until he saw a car place that could do the car inspection.  They said yes they could do it and soon a man came out, walked around the car and told us we needed two new tires. We realized that it wasn't a good idea to stop into a tire shop for an inspection since of course they'd want to sell tires.  Clyde thanked the man and we left to look for another place.  The car is a 2010 and in the two years we've lived here we've already bought new tires once.  Rubber just doesn't seem to last with the heat and humidity here, or perhaps it's the roads?  We went back to the repair shop where we had the car inspected last year and we were in and out in about ten minutes with a passing grade.

Our next stop was to look at two Dobermans that are up for adoption through Panama Animal League (PAL).  They were rescued off the street recently and spayed and neutered and are waiting in a foster home to be adopted. We had been looking for one additional Dobie to keep Venus company, but instead she'll be getting two new playmates.  The female is a little over two years old, rather passive and shy. She looks just like Venus our current female with the black and tan coloring, floppy ears and cropped tail.  The male is about a year old, hyper, full of energy and attitude. He's a red dobie which means he's a chocolate color with tan patches.  The female is quite attached to the male and it's believed that they might be a mother and son, so that's why we're taking them both.

Keiko on the left Bosco on the right
Can you tell he is a feisty teenager?

We sat down and had a chat with Venus, our dominant resident female who lifts her leg to pee.  She's been informed that she'll need to share her property, trees, mangoes, coconuts and humans with her new siblings. Although Venus has never been aggressive towards any visiting dogs she has ousted a Rottweiler once who ended up waiting for his human outside our gate. It was Christmas Eve and we had some friends over.  One women brought her dog who stayed outside to play with Venus.  Someone forgot to close our front gate and by the end of the night the Rottie was sitting outside the gate, apparently since he knew he was not welcomed on the property. So we'll be careful to introduce Venus to her new friends outside of our property and let them bond before we bring them home.

A stop at Price Smart to stock up on a few things including a 15-pound box of dog treats, before heading home.  Since we had bought some perishables we stopped to buy a bag of ice at a small Chino store.  Clyde came back and handed me a Styrofoam cup with two balls stacked on top of each other inside, and a tooth pick sticking out the top. I smelled them and still had no clue what they were so I asked him and he said "comida china," or Chinese food.  Turns out it was two wonton wrappers with a piece of sausage inside drizzled with soy sauce, at a cost of about 50 cents. Another time on a road trip we stopped at a bakery and picked up some hot, fresh baked rolls to nibble on for the low price of 40 cents total.  Gotta love this stuff about Panama!

Since we ran out of time in the city on Tuesday we made another trip back yesterday for more official business. First stop was the Department of Immigration, our fifth attempt in the process of applying for a Panamanian ID Card called a "cedula."  The benefit of having this ID card along with our pensionado visa is that when our passport needs to be renewed and the number changes, there's no need to worry.  The cedula has a number similar to a social security card that will be ours, and ours alone forever, or at least that's what we've been told. We took a number and waited over an hour for our turn to see the lady at window #21 who took care of us quickly. After that a visit to the Tribunal Electoral for the final step in the process. We checked the paperwork in one office where the mean girl at the front desk seemed perturbed that we didn't understand her fast talking, mumbled Spanish.  At one point she said "sit down" in a deep, gruff voice while she was finishing up our paperwork.  I smiled at her and apologized in Spanish while explaining that we are trying hard to learn Spanish, but not fluent yet. One of the questions on the paperwork was "are you married?"  The answer was "yes, but not in Panama since we were married in the US."  Apparently our marriage is not recognized here since our cedula will indicate that we're single.  Should be interesting when I'm out alone and present my card to men, don't you think?

Once the mean lady was done with us we had to go downstairs to pay our $65 to the cashier.  Then a foto and fingerprints taken in another office and we were told to come back next week to pick up our cards.  On our walk back to our car we stopped at a roadside stand for a "batido," or milk shake.  We watched as the woman made it with fresh pineapple, milk, ice and a little sugar mixed in a blender for $1.75. Yummy goodness found everywhere here, at low prices!

One last stop at Westland Mall for some dog bowls along with a large bucket to provide three large dogs plenty of water. Also picked up some big-ass plastic containers to hold the 15 pounds of dog biscuits that were such a good deal.  Then we picked up some upholstery fabric for $2.99 a yard so my seamster Clyde can make three matching dog beds that he'll fill with cedar chips. Stopped for dinner in the food court which for Clyde was sushi accompanied with something that looked like a corn dog.  Instead of a hot dog inside the corn meal it was plantain deep fried and put on a stick.  I opted for Subway and reminisced about how scary it was the first time I ordered one here.  After all I had to select a bread type, and specify what kind of veggies, condiments, chips and drink I wanted all in Spanish.  But now it's easy breezy and I understood it all.

We made it home by 8pm exhausted from a long day of driving and running around.  Naming the new dogs was driving us crazy so we relaxed in front of the computer browsing through a list of 5000 dog names.  After we'd had enough we decided on Bosco for the male since he's goofy, excited and puppy-like. The slightly shy more passive female will be called Keiko (prounced Kiko) another short, easy name to say when calling for a dog.

Most expats living here that chose to apply for this cedula hired a lawyer at a cost of around $1000.  One couple told us they did it on their own so we thought we'd try it too.  Our Spanish teacher Jasmine was so proud when we told her about this.  Her comment was, "do you realize how much you're improving your Spanish by doing that?"  "You're forcing yourself to go out and speak it, plus saving a bunch of money." The language has been bar far the biggest challenge about living here! So we'll just continue learning, practicing and looking up words in the dictionary everywhere we go....along the gringo trail.

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