Back To School

As I wrote last week, in order to get a motorcycle endorsement added to my Panamanian driver’s license I have to attend a driving school and pass a written and hands-on test. Coughing up $40 to the ATTT isn’t an option. And as I wrote last week the closest driving school, which is literally only a couple of door away from the licensing bureau, doesn’t handle motorcycle (or as they say here in Panama, simply “moto”) instruction I had to go check out another place that does.

This morning I went to a place called Centro de Capacitación de Conductors Aldo. Fortunately it is only a block off the route my bus takes on its way to the terminal so access isn’t a problem. When I got to the school class was in session. The two students were watching a film. The instructor, Aldo, must have been the inspiration for Jaba the Hut. He was that big. Naturally, I had to do everything in Spanish, and I only had to consult my dictionary once when I wanted to say that I thought having to do everything in Spanish was going to be a :challenge” (desáfio). Again, I was told that I would do all right. Of course both people that told me that were looking for me to sign up for the classes and give them some money.

The “theoretical” part of the school is three half-days long. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with classes starting at 8:30 in the morning. Then there is a five hour hands-on practice on a scooter Saturday and Sunday afternoons at four. After you take the written exam, which you have to repeat at the licensing bureau, there is a 15 day while your certificate is processed by some office in Panama City. During that time I’ll go get my physical exam which is required because I’m over 70 years old. The exam has to be done by either a gerontologist or an internist. Fortunately my primary care doctor at the Hospital Chiriqui program I’ve been enrolled in for the last three years is an internist so I’ll use him. Nice guy and he sort of speaks English in the same way I sort of speak Spanish so we get along. Actually it’s a good thing because it’s been three years since I’ve had a physical.

Total cost for the program is $130 plus the physical, but through the hospital insurance plan I get reimbursed 75% of the cost and another 15% because I’m a “jubilado.” (Spanish word for old fart.) Even though it will seriously cut into the time I have to surf internet porn each day, I’ll be starting the school next Monday. Stay tuned.

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