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.
Fortunately our Jeep was still road worthy as we only had one vehicle so this was good. This brings on the next part, trying to find a body shop in Panama, was a whole other process. We were finally able to locate 4 body repair guys, of which after several weeks and several phone calls only 1 was actually willing and able to repair our Jeep. We really needed a new door for the right rear side, but no one was able to locate or even give us a price on one.
Here we are I believe 5 months later and still have not heard a peep in regards to the court case in relation to this accident which was held only 1 week after the accident. Another thing that is a bit different from the USA, as here you would wait nearly a month for a court date, but on that court date a decision would be made by the judge and it would be done. One of our friends said an accident case of his took nearly a year to be finalized. So drive very safely and overly cautious in Panama and I highly recommend not drinking, as they have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving, I struggle with this a bit time to time, haha.