Panama popped up

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
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198
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Trip End Apr 15, 2009


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Flag of Panama  ,
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Panama finally pans out for us but not without a few hassles.
Our flight is short and quick but Gillies ordeal is longer because she is extra cargo and has to wait in her cage to be loaded and unloaded. Today is hot and she is hot when we rescue her from her cage in the airport. Shortly, an official from the quarantine office orders us to get her back into the cage and to follow him to his very important office used for the business of "jerking people around". He looked at Gillies paperwork and immediately tried to reject it because according to him it is missing an all important stamp from someone in Colombia. Biting our tongues and even if we lose control and lambast him it would only hurt Gillie so patiently we repeatedly explain that we are only transiting and not looking for permanent residency. If he read the papers he would know this but his job is to make life difficult, papers or no papers. Finally he agrees that we can leave with her but with home quarantine. What kind of a joke is this? Poor Gillie has been poked and prodded so many times and is healthier than most of us. As it turns out, this has been nothing but foreplay for the real business at hand. They want money, official money not pocket money but who really knows, for the privilege to transport ourselves through Panama.
Late morning we arrive to our hotel Centoamericano, a pet friendly place. It is clean and friendly, centrally located, and has wi-fi among other pleasantries. The rest of the day is for hanging out and enjoying the view over the bay filled with all kinds of boats waiting their turn to enter the canal.
The next day Dom rides for two hours to Colon for a full day of port running around in 35+ degrees while Gillie and I enjoy the comforts of our room. Once Eve is in our possession and back in Panama city there is still police clearance to complete before we are actually free to leave.
On our third day we check out of our room and arrive early to the Police station, the only one in the whole of Panama that can officially import a vehicle, only to discover they are closed for the day due to the arrival of their gold medal olympian. We grin and bear it and make the best of our time here by wandering the countryside from one road to the next and glimpsing the canal again until we find ourselves back in the city amidst traffic that is not moving. Parked cars and cheering crowds of excited nationals bring everything to a standstill as the olympians and their entourage parade through the streets. We sit and watch and manage to capture a photo of the young olympian showing off his gold medal. What a spectacle, for us too because this is our first time to see a real olympic medal and olympian. We found our old parking lot outside of the Yacht club where travelers are known to camp with security. We spent a few days here last time while shipping south. It is a large well kept area along the canal with enough views and space to feel at home.
The fourth day is Friday and the official offices close for the weekend so today has to be the day. We arrive at the station and quite quickly someone attends to us and discovers are papers need more attention so Dom takes a taxi to the customs to get our papers ammended before anything else can proceed. On his quick return someone takes imprints of Eves numbers then sends us off to get photo copies and when we return with them we are told to return at 3 o'clock. So, another day to explore the surrounding area and do some shopping for future camping. Back at 3 pm but now we have to go across the street where our papers are sitting on some ones desk waiting to be signed off but this someone is at a reunion and maybe will return by 4 pm. Are you frustrated yet? Well, Dom has pasted a grin on his face because there is nothing we can do. If the someone doesn't get back today then we stay until Monday. But alas, the papers are complete and we are legal but it is 5 p.m. and too late to travel anywhere so we go back to the parking spot.
The fifth day we are on our way along the Panamerican highway. The whole ordeal was not so bad. It is all part of the adventure.
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