Having been abandoned by Sergio, my “broker” and guide, the day before, I was on my own to wrap things up. I tried calling Sergio a few times, starting about 7:00am. No answer. That meant my first order of business was to find my way back to the car dealer, on the other side of town. I packed up my backpack (once again). I checked out of the apartment, since I expected to be picking up my car and leaving the City. I walked around the corner to the Marriott Hotel. I figured that was my best bet for getting a taxi driver that spoke English. I was feeling a little overwhelmed and was praying on the way: “Lord, I‘m going to need a lot of help today. Would you please start off by giving me an English-speaking taxi driver?” Since I didn’t know the way to the dealer, I had copied some information off their web site regarding their location. However, directions in Panama are generally by landmarks – not terribly specific. If I got in the neighborhood, I could tell the driver where to go. If the driver speaks English, it would make things MUCH easier.
I entered the Marriott through a side door and came out into the lobby area. I approached the bell desk and told them I needed a taxi. Hey, I didn’t SAY I was staying at the Marriott – I can’t help it if they assumed that… The Marriott representative walked me out the front door and to a waiting van. As I climbed in, I was greeted by a clear and well-pronounced, “Good morning, Sir.” An English-speaking driver - another prayer answered. I explained my situation and gave the driver the information I had on the dealer’s location. It just so HAPPENED that the driver lives in a neighborhood near the dealer’s location (prayer answered with a bonus). He drove me to the neighborhood and we chatted along the way. His name is Sabas and he gave me one of his business cards. Once he got near the dealer, I directed him the rest of the way.
At the dealer, I worked with Susana, who handles all the paperwork. It was a little more challenging without Sergio to translate but we managed. She had the final paperwork for my vehicle and we just needed to work on the insurance. She called our insurance agent in Boquete and the two of them exchanged emails and documents. After a couple of hours, I had my insurance certificate and was now covered, at least with liability insurance, to drive the car back to Boquete.
I left the dealer and walked to the mechanic shop. I met with the mechanic, who spoke no English. He started explaining the specifics of what he found and what he did – in 60 MPH Spanish. I could pick up some of it, but still didn’t know if the car was ready for me or not. Fortunately, I discovered the owner of the shop, Saleh (Indian – from India), spoke English. He was a nice guy and became my on-site interpreter. He explained that the mechanic had cleaned out the gunk from the crankcase. They even showed me on the driveway all the splattering of debris from the crankcase, in case I had any doubts.
The mechanic and I took the car out for a short test drive. Unfortunately, the oil light came on, once the engine was up to temperature. They had another solution to try. That took another couple of hours and, unfortunately, still resulted in the oil light coming on during our test drive. The mechanic was going to need to replace the oil pump. I went with him to an auto parts store and I bought the new oil pump. It was now late afternoon and the mechanic knew I was anxious to get on the road back to Boquete. He volunteered to stay late and work on the car, to get the repair done. That way, I could leave in the morning.
I called Scotty and asked him if I could stay yet another night. He said, “No Problem.” I could have my same studio again.
The mechanic had spoken with Sergio several times during the afternoon, so Sergio knew what was going on. I spent all afternoon at the shop and about 5pm I called my new friend, Sabas, the driver who picked me up in the morning. He lived nearby and picked me up in about 10 minutes. He drove me back to the apartment and we arranged to meet at 8:45am the next morning. He would drive me back to the shop so I could pick up the car and get on the road.
I had also spoken with Sergio a few times during the day. I told him my first stop in the morning would be at the dealer, to see if I could get them to agree to reimburse me for the repairs. I had now shelled out about $300 for parts and repairs and I didn’t have the final bill for the oil pump replacement yet. To my surprise, Sergio said he would meet me at the dealer. I didn’t believe him but that really didn't matter - if he shows up, great. Perhaps the guilt was setting in for abandoning me the previous 2 days.
This was my 4th night in the city. I had only packed clothes for 2 – 3 days and some clothing was now havingto be “recycled”. I had to buy some additional toiletries as well. When I met Jessica, Scotty’s girlfriend, at the apartment to get the keys (once again), I asked her if there was a washing machine in the building. As a matter of fact, there was – and it was right across the hall from my studio (next to my bathroom). It was a nice washer and dryer and they even supplied the laundry detergent and other supplies – at no charge. I was so excited! After dinner I did my laundry and now had clean clothes for my drive to Boquete tomorrow. Ahh, the little things that make a difference…
I received an email from the mechanic (in Spanish) about 7:45pm. I translated it with my trusty iPhone app and he said he was finished and took it for a test drive. Everything was good. YAY!!