With the Panamobile safely inducted into the Talleres de Mecanica y Servicios en General (Ford dealership), we set about the business of "waiting." Waiting is an art-form here because you don't always know what you are waiting for and why. I decided to multi-task and put in a call to Diego, the TV guy and beg for a new remote control. Diego is a tricky one ... he promised to come out to the beach months ago with a new remote, but so far, there has not been a sighting. Successes come in small bundles sometimes. Upon hearing that I brought the old remote with me, Diego arranged for an exchange. He agreed to bring the new one to our hotel's front desk if I would leave the broken one for him to retrieve. When the switch happened as agreed upon, I wondered, "If this feeling of elation what people feel when ransom is paid and prisoners are released?"
We managed to kill time for about 24 hours when I got the courage to call Ricardo, the auto "consultor de servicio," and ask him when the car would be ready. After a lengthy explanation of "con mi auto," I was informed that it would be ready at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The list of problemas did seem to correspond with the major cost of the repair "cotizacion" and I authorized the work to be done.
We entertained ourselves on day 2, Tuesday, without shopping .... well, without shopping a lot. I did buy two bottles of Tilex and a bottle of spray starch. You see, we did not want to have too much excess baggage since we would eventually take a taxi cab back to the auto repair shop. In our quest to keep busy with no shopping, we discoverd a real gem in the City, the VIP section of the Multi-Plaza Mall's movie theater. For $4.50 each, we watched a pretty good movie while relaxing in very cushy lay-back loungers and drinking vino blanco, delivered to our seats by the waiter who comes when you press a call button. Nice!
On Day 3, Wednesday, I called to confirm that the Panamobile would be ready by 4:30. "Si," was the response. (I should have known this was too easy). We packed up and patiently waited until about 2:00 p.m. before heading on over to get her out of hock and be on our way back to the playa. (Hah!) Feeling confident that she might be done early, we arrived via taxi cab ... with 2 suitcases, 2 bottles, of Tilex, a bottle of spray starch, a new table runner, a dozen new kitchen dish towels, and three bags of decorative rocks for my flower vases. Pero no! (But no!) The car, she was not ready. BIG problema ... and Senor Dan was definitely not amused. Back to a hotel. We were already tired of the first one so we decided to change the scenery and the choice of restaurants. I might mention that the only positive so far was the plethora of excellent restaurants in Panana City! Anyway, we climbed into another taxi with 2 suitcases, 2 bottles of Tilex, a bottle of spray starch, a new table runner, a dozen new kitchen dish towels, and three bags of decorative rocks for my flower vases. Oh, and I forgot the new lint roller with 2 extra rolls. All is this important, as we are now hauling around WAY more than we brought with us ... in a taxi cab. However, before leaving the car shop, I pleaded with the techician to PROMISE me the car would be ready on Thursday, day 4. He promised and gave me a big smile with a "thumbs up."
Good, a different part of the City where the temptation to buy anything else to travel around town with us was small. Wednesday night was highlighted by a great dinner, fun at the local casino paying penny slot machines, and a good night's sleep. Then came breakfast and a chance meeting with our friend and sometimes tour guide, Gisela. Gisela was so happy to see us, as she had just returned from Chiriqui, where she bought a lemon tree for us. She immediately called her husband on her cell phone and told him to bring it to us at the hotel. Great ... now a lemon tree to haul around. Not that we were not grateful for the tree but the timing was just not the best. What to do? Say thank you and wait for the arrival of the tree! As promised, the tree arrived and we piled into the smallest taxi cab in Panama City with 2 suitcases, 2 bottles of Tilex, a bottle of spray starch, a table runner, a dozen new kitchen dish towels, 3 bags of decorative rock for my flower vases, a new lint roller with 2 extra rolls ..... and a lemon tree.
After unpacking the taxi cab, we hiked down a hill with all our belongings and were greeted with the encouraging news that the Panamobile was ready for us. Senor Dan loaded our possessions into the van in record time while I went inside to pay our bill. I was THIS CLOSE ... pero no. Just as the cashier started to take my credit card, her computer crashed and she was not able to print out the receipt that detailed all the work that was done. I managed to comprehend that she wanted us to return the next day to complete the transaction. Senor Dan ... and you all know this ... has only so much that he can tolerate. I thought the fuse was finally going to blow. But wait. I did the only thing I could do. I called our friend Tania on my cell phone. She talked to the car folks for us and negotiated that we would pay our bill, take the car, and they would send the receipt to a contact across town, who would then relay it to us out at the playa by courier.
So it was that we finally left Panama City on day 4 in our repaired van, with 2 suitcases, 2 bottles of Tilex, a bottle of spray starch, a new table runner, a dozen new kitchen dish towels, 3 bags of decorative rocks for my flower vases, a new lint roller with 2 extra rolls, and a lemon tree. Oh, and I forgot to mention the new TV remote control and the extra 5 pounds each that we gained while eating out (actually, porking out) for 4 days.
Today, we are safely back in our house. It does not bother me that the painter is upstairs painting the outside wrought iron, the maid is apparently using a whole bottle of PineSol to mop the kitchen floor, and the electrician is trying to install new light sockets in various places throughout the house. We probably should go to the grocery store. Pero no! We are not leaving the place ... maybe for days. The Panamobile needs her beauty rest. And we are watching TV with our new remote control and looking out the window at our new lemon tree.