I’m going to do something I’ve never done on this blog before: I’m writing TWO DAYS IN A ROW! I know, I know, shocking. Deal with it.
Our car has been in the repair shop since Sunday. This is Thursday. We are having the dimples in the car “de-dimpleized” after someone backed into my driver’s door while I was in the library last Friday. Hit and run. No note. sigh…..So, John and I decided this was the time to take care of that door and replace the back bumper that had twin “bashes” in them from previous, um, driving issues.
Yes, I realize half the town will no longer be able to say “There go the Coles, I know their white X-Trail by the back bumper”. We will now be hiding in plain sight. A white X-Trail is one of the most common cars you will see in this part of the world.
While this photo is what our X-Trail looked like when it was new 8 years ago, I’m hoping it might reach some of it’s former glory after our repairman, Hoffman, gets finished with it.
We have never had work done by this gentleman, Hoffman. He seems like a nice enough guy. We were told by those “in the know” that he’s okay, his prices are low enough. If you want a superb paint job, go to David and pay twice the price.
Since “Dimple” is an 8-year-old workhorse with 210,000 kilometers on it, we decided to keep the repair work local. We went with Hoffman.
Supposedly it was to be done on Tuesday afternoon. Late Tuesday we get a call from Hoffman, saying he’s having trouble matching the paint. Turns out this car was repainted before we bought it, so he had to spend time discovering THAT fact to figure out why the formula for a white Nissan X-Trail wasn’t matching the rest of the car. Tuesday evening he received the correct formula and began painting Wednesday. Then some rains hit. By last night, the paint wasn’t dry so hopefully it will be done today.
In the meantime, John and I have been hoofing it all over town. Cabs have been such a help, but yesterday afternoon, when the big rain hit I was finishing up a 3-hour gym workout at Valle Escondido. I had been promised a pick up and ride home by hubby in the newly painted car. Lo and behold (this is Panama, after all) when I got the call from John that the car was not ready, I had to find my own way home.
I tried calling a cab, but with the rain and the time of day (5:30 pm — EVERYone was heading home from work), every taxi was busy. Sooooo, me and my umbrella walked from Valle Escondido in the rain, into town where the city buses park, waiting to get filled up before they head out on their runs.
In case you don’t know, most main roads here all run in large loops that begin in town and end up back in town. John and I live on the Arco Iris loop, running north of town through the areas known as Los Naranjos, Lino, Alto Lino, Alto Boquete, “that part across the river past The Rock”, etc.
Now I want you to know something. I’ve ridden the city buses here many, many times, but I’ve never written about them. Until now.
I’ll give you a brief lesson:
In case you’re thinking the buses look like this:
On the other end of the Spectrum, if your image of bus travel in Central or South America is like this:
…once more, think again!
The truth is, the city buses here are sort of large, mini vans. Some of them are nice and new, while others — well — they could use a little sprucing up. ALL of them leave the station when they are full. I was unable to take a picture of the one I was on as I didn’t have my camera with me, so I found this image on the web that definitely has the feeling of every bus I’ve ever taken in Boquete:
Somehow I find myself in the back row, stuffed into the corner, feet propped up on the wheel hub, backpack on my lap/chest. Before we took off on our route, I was able to count 17 heads on our bus and I was the only woman, let alone the only expat.
As we traversed up the road out of town, I also noticed we left the rain behind in downtown. That’s what I love about this area: with 13 different micro-climates, you never know when or where it could be dry or wet. I love the saying here: “Don’t like the weather? Cross the street.”
As we approached my stop, I realized only one person had gotten off the bus. It was still packed. There I was, stuffed into the back, with roughly 7 men between me and the exit. Oh boy, all these men were going to have to exit the mini-van to make room for me to get off the bus. There were lots of “permiso” and “lo siento” phrases uttered by me as I struggled with my overloaded back pack, wet umbrella and tired body to work my way towards the exit. One man wanted to just turn his legs to the side for me to climb over him — he, too, was loaded down with grocery bags from Romero’s and really didn’t want to have to move. One simple phrase “no puedo hacer” from me got him up and moving out the door ahead of me.
When I finally was able to crab-crawl out the door, I decided to make a joke of it. When my feet hit the pavement, I dropped my backpack and umbrella, raised my hands like an Olympic gymnast finishing a routine and “sticking it”, with arms raised overhead:
I yelled “Diez!!” and looked around for the laughter.
I was met with silence and stares.
I picked up my backpack, umbrella and slightly bruised ego and began the climb up the mountain to my home.