I’ve got a ton of stuff to get done this week. One thing is to fill out a “Proof of Life” form for the SS Administration so they don’t cut off my deposits. Those of us living as expats have to provide them with our real life addresses. That should be fun. While they permit us to use a “General Delivery” Post Office, you still have to provide a street address. As I’ve said before, since there is NO home mail delivery there are really no addresses here as we know them in the States. To the water department I live at “Cerca Del Centro De Salud,” which means “Near the Health Clinic.” On the electric bill I received stuck in the gate this morning (it’s for $14.59 if anyone cares) lists me as: ” Al Fondo Casa Dos Pisos, Entrade Caseta,” which is “The two-story house at the end of the road with the entrance at the bus shelter.” Let’s see how Social Security deals with THAT!
I down loaded the form from the internet, but since I don’t have a printer I saved it to a thumb drive. Now I’ll have to go up to the Info Plaza and have them print it out for me. It’s four pages of gobbledy gook.
The next piece of business is the annual registration of my motorcycle. When I bought it a year ago the company that sold it to me did all the paperwork. Now it’s up to me to renew everything.
Yesterday I went into David and bought the mandatory insurance. Not a big deal. The office is a block off the route my bus takes to the terminal so that was a cinch. Of course at the office nobody that I had to deal with speaks English. But why should they? It’s Panama. The language here is Spanish. So, I did everything in Spanish. The whole process took about a half hour and that included the 20 minutes I had to wait for the policy to be printed. Cost for a year’s worth of motorcycle insurance? Sixty eight dollars and a few pennies.
Registration is a three-step process. The second step is known as the “Revisado.” It’s supposed to be an “inspection” of the vehicle, but like with everything else that’s been associated with the motorcycle (see last month’s stories about going to driving school and the testing for a motorcycle endorsement for my license) the Revisado is another joke and another way of extorting money from the population. There is NO inspection as we’d know it. What they do is take a computerized photo of the front, back and both sides of what ever you have and then give you a form. That’s IT! But naturally you can’t go on to the next step without having completed the first two.
When I got up this morning a little after 7:00 it was rather dark and gloomy. Certainly looked like it was going to rain which is no big surprise considering we are now into what is known as the “rainy season.” Two hours later, though, the clouds were gone and the sun was shining brightly. I know of two places in David where you can get a Revisado, but it’s 20+ miles one way on the Inter American Hwy and then you have to contend with city traffic which is horrendous here.
I asked my neighbor, Negro, the guy with the 40 fighting cocks, if there was a closer place to get it done. He said there was over in Bugaba. That’s the town where I buy my seemed a bit intimidating. It is, after all populated by buses, semis and trucks hauling cattle. There is a way of sneaking down back roads and avoiding part of the highway, but I needed to buy gas at the station down at El Cruce where the Boquerón road intersects with the Inter American. Well, since I’m down there it seemed foolish to drive a couple of miles back the way I’d come from just to avoid a couple of miles on the big, bad road. So I took it. It was a piece of cake. Nothing to it. Fell in behind a car going along at a sedate speed and followed it all the way to where I had to make the turn into Bugaba. Not only that, I knew how to get where I needed to go on a secondary street to avoid the traffic.
I had to wait over an hour and a half for my turn to come so I spent the time talking to a couple of Panamanians who were getting their “inspections,” too. When my turn came along it was all over in under 5 minutes. Went in, paid the fee and left. I could have gone to the Palacio Municipal and gotten the new “Placa” (license plate) but it was clouding up again and I could hear some distant thunder. Wouldn’t be cool to have to ride back to Boquerón in the rain so I came home. Of course not a drop has fallen anywhere near me all day.
Tomorrow I’ll catch the bus to Boquerón and finish the job. It will be cheaper, too. With regular unleaded going for $1.15 a LITRE I can’t ride to Bugaba and back on the motorcycle for what the bus will cost me.