Oh my gosh. Jim and I had what we call a “Successful Administrative Day” back in mid-February.
We needed to renew the car’s license tabs. Well, not really tabs, but the actual license plate. Every year you get a new license plate. This year’s color is yellow (the border of the plate), last years was blue, 2015 was red. We (ok, Jim) knew what needed to be done, but not necessarily how it would all play out. Mentally we had resigned ourselves that this was going to be an all day adventure – as most administrative things are here in Panama.
We knew that our auto insurance had to be current, that you have to have the car inspected and then take these documents to the Municipal building, where God willing and if the stars align, you get the new license plate.
We went to renew our insurance. Turns out we were still good through April. The lady highlighted the “good through” date on the paper for us. That visit was just a few minutes.
Next stop was the car inspection place. I was actually able to direct us straight there!!! Downtown David is a crazy mix of roads and I easily get turned around. Jim does pretty well with it. The car was inspected, and passed. This step was maybe a half hour or 45 minutes at the most.
The next and final stop was to take the documents to the Municipal building, but we have no idea where to go in the three story building. As we approach I see Informacion. I say “let’s start there.” We go in, tell the guy at the counter in broken Spanish what we want. This turned out to be a good idea because we needed copies, which they do there. We paid our 5 cents for the copy and he directs us to a door just down the hallway. We stand and watch for a few minutes, then get in a line. The guy says in Spanish that we first need to pay the caja (cashier) then come back to him. Interestingly, Jim is the Spanish speaker of the two of us, though there are times when I can understand what is being said and he doesn’t. I may not know any of the words, or maybe just one word, but I get it. On this day Jim didn’t understand what the guy was saying, but I did. By hearing the only word I understood, caja, and him pointing to another line, I understood. I said to Jim “I think he wants us to pay over there and come back.” Yep, that’s what he had been saying. In and out of the Municipal building under 30 minutes.
Boy, were we proud of ourselves on our successful (and easy) administrative day.