So when we first moved to Panama, we knew we needed a vehicle right away, as renting can get quite expensive. Despite what many people warned in regards to purchasing a USA Brand, I having never owned an import as in a vehicle not from North America, we purchased a Jeep. The reason many people recommend not buying a USA Brand is that parts are very difficult to come by and people that are familiar with working on them as well. Regardless we purchased a Jeep and it treated us well.
After driving in Panama for nearly 6 months I apparently got a bit to comfortable and neglected to be overly cautious. As anyone that has ever been in a vehicle in Panama will soon realize that the roads are a bit sketchy, for one the signage is in Spanish, two many deep potholes exist through out the Country of Panama and three people are very aggressive and can be dangerous drivers. Tiffany and I have grown up within an hour of the 2nd Largest City in the USA, Los Angeles, which has nearly 4 million people. However despite the size and quantity of people in LA, the roads are quite safe and functional, yes you may often have and extra hour added to your commute in or around LA but for the most part people observe the paint on the ground and the rules of the road. This being said we were certainly shocked at the driving in Panama, as many people simply disregarded speed limits, paint on the ground indicating lanes and even driving in the shoulder/emergency lane for miles and miles.
Hopefully that paints the pictures, so as mentioned we were in Panama nearly 6 months accident free. I was making one of the treacherous returnos/U-Turns and a speeding car nailed me in our nice Jeep, this then pushed me into a taxi cab. Boom 3 car accident, what a shame, everyone involved was safe other than being very shaken up. Now in Panama you are supposed to remain in the same spot where the accident occurred, which I was aware of but being shaken up and growing up around get out of the road strategy of the USA, I moved to the side of the road, Oops. So after waiting for the Policia to arrive and contacting my insurance company. I followed protocol which is a breathalyzer to be sure no one was drinking as this seems to be an issue even at 11 am.
Today’s tip is going to be a pretty quick one! I read a lot of posts from people coming to visit and live that want to know what to do when they land here about cell phones and sim cards!
My wonderful husband just so happened to take a picture of the kiosk at Tocumen airport the last time we were there (good work Todd). This machine is located just outside of baggage claim towards the car rental area. There is usually a very cute Panamanian girl working there that will help you purchase a sim card for your phone and get you going, at least temporarily. All you need is an unlocked phone that takes a sim card, pretty much that easy!
I think we paid about $30 for the card and a weeks worth of service when we first got here, then took it to the Movistar office and signed up for a monthly plan that gives me calling, texts (local), and about 3GB of data per month. I pay automatically by credit card and its just around $32 per month.
Since the roads here are poorly named and very difficult to navigate I would recommend having internet on your phone from the very moment you get here! Of course if you’re being driven and just want to get away from it all, then skip it and enjoy no Facebook alerts at 2 in the morning when you are sound asleep!! Lol!
Hola everyone!! So unlike the USA Panama is pretty particular about their driving rules and will enforce them to the fullest extent of the law. We have heard that you can bribe police officers, but we don’t think that’s any way to live or vacation. So read up on these rules ahead of time and you will be able to drive around knowing you won’t have to worry if you do get stopped.
Driving in Panama Do’s and Dont’s:
-Always carry your passport (or Panama ID called a “Cedula”), your country’s driver’s license (if you do not have a Panama driver’s license) and International Driver’s Permit when driving a vehicle in Panama. The Panama police will ask for these if you are stopped while driving.
-A foreign driver’s license is valid for 3 months in Panama. The police officer may ask to see the Panama immigration entry stamp in your passport to verify that you have not been in the country longer than 3 months. After the first 3 months foreigners are required to obtain a Panama driver’s license.