Again we had hear horror stories about the traffic going to the city so we planned an early start. People said leave by 4 am which I thought was insane, so we left around 5:30 am and let me tell you ……it’s no joke! They have one main road in and out of the city so it’s a ZOO!
They actually turn one lane of outgoing traffic in to in-coming traffic to deal with the massive amounts of vehicles! There are buses, taxis, shuttles, carpools and cars all trying to get to the same place! If you have driven CA or NYC it’s nothing like it! It’s worse! I was driving the rental car to return it and Todd was in our new to us Jeep. We had two vehicles and one functioning cell phone with GPS, this was tricky as we did no know our way around yet and following a small silver Kia rental car was not easy, however we made it. The total trip took about 2.5 hours from the house to the airport. Part of why this took so long is that we did not use the “PanaPass” as our new vehicle did not have it. PanaPass is like a toll road that connects you quicker and easier in to the city right by the Airport in Tocumen. Since we did not have one we had to take the long way that routes you through some very “colorful” areas of Panama City. Like any large city there are slums and trash and filth, but as we are learning the Panamanian People are extra “trashy” I mean that in the literal sense. For whatever reason they are bad about leaving their trash places. Whether at the beach or in town they just seem to toss it wherever! It’s not uncommon in the states, just surprising that people who have so much pride fore their Country would be so quick to make it look like crap.
Pointer: If you buy a car a little $1 Panamanian Flag in the windshield might save you from a ticket or being pulled over.
So back to our trip to the airport! We made it, got the car returned and started the waiting game. The first two dogs were on time and the second two were delayed! We just prayed that both planes made it and the doggies weren’t too emotionally damaged. Since being here we have heard a few stories of dogs never being the same! We got the call that the first two landed! Oh happy Day! We didn’t know which two it was so when we came up to Mario and Karina from Panamá Pet Relocation, I immediately started crying. It was our two girls Bella and Zoe! I couldn’t contain myself and just sobbed and cried tears of joy! They looked good and had water! We took them outside and started the waiting game for our boys. Within an hour they landed and we went in to meet them! They immediately went nuts when they hear our voices! Praise the Lord our family was reunited in one piece, safe and sound, in Panamá!!
By the time we left the city we had been through so many emotions, but we knew we wanted to get our PanaPass on the Jeep. As you will learn, and we have, everything in this country is a little more difficult than it should be, you will find this is known as “Mañana Time”. You have to drive down the PanaPass corridor to get to the office to even get your PanaPass!! Makes no sense right? (we later found there is an alternate route) So at the “toll booth” we had to try and explain that we were headed to the office to get out PanaPass. It worked and we pulled into the PanaPass office/center.
Now here is another learning curve, make copies of everything and carry them with you! They keep paper copies of everything in this Country, it’s crazy! Luckily Todd was able to sweet talk someone in the office into letting us make a free copy of his passport and the title for the car.
Sometime later at PanaPass, after watching them stick the PanaPass decals on the windshields of buses and taxis the vehicles then driving pass and backing up where the sensor is attempting to get them to work, this was rather entertaining. I believe one vehicle tried around 10 times to get it to work and the bus backing up while cars were pulling up behind them was interesting as well. We finally got our pass and headed home.
Pointer: Buy a printer/scanner when you get here.
Another productive day and the dogs safely with us again.