Today was the day I expected to be driving back to Boquete. I just needed to pick up the final paperwork and send a copy of the title to our insurance agent, so she could issue a policy. The car should be ready to go. Since I would be leaving in the afternoon, I would probably need to spend the night somewhere on the way back. I'd read that it's about a 7-8 hour drive and that it's not good to be driving on the Pan American highway at night. Tina was doing some research to check out possible hotels where I could stay, if needed. I was ready to get out of the City.
Sergio called me about 9:30am. He said the mechanic, Juan, had discovered a problem when he was changing the oil. According Juan, there was a lot of debris ("gunk", my term) in the crankcase. It appeared the previous owner hadn't changed the oil in a long time. That's bad. The crankcase would need to be cleaned out to remove the debris. I told Sergio that the dealer should be paying for that, since I supposedly had a 6 month warranty on the engine and transmission. He said he would contact them.
Sergio called back in about an hour and said the dealer told him they wouldn't pay because the warranty only covers repairs done by THEIR mechanic. News to me... Sergio said he would be by a little after noon to pick me up. We would go to the mechanic to see what was going on.
I checked out of the apartment about noon. Scotty told me they needed to clean it, because he had a full house for Wednesday night. I took my backpack and went to a nearby Subway restaurant. I got a sandwich and called Sergio to tell him I was waiting there.
I finished lunch and continued waiting quite a while - still no Sergio. I tried to call him several times and he didn't answer. About 2:45pm, I received a call from Sergio. He said the dealer called him to say the paperwork wouldn't be ready until about 3pm. He had to make a run to the airport to pick up another client, then he would come by to pick me up.
I waited and waited. No word from Sergio and I couldn't reach him by phone. I was still sitting on my wooden chair at Subway, with nothing to do. After 5 hours there, I decided I had to go somewhere else. I walked down the street to the Marriott hotel and picked out a spot in the lobby. At least the chairs were more comfortable. I spent about 2 hours there with no communication from Sergio. I was hungry, so I went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. I kept trying to reach Sergio - via phone, text, email. I was very concerned because I didn't have a place to stay that night and I didn't know what was going on with my car. I finally reached Sergio around 7:30pm. I asked him what was going on and why he hadn't been answering my calls. I said I needed a place to stay that night. He said he'd check on it and call me back. He did call back and he said he'd made arrangements at a hotel. "Someone" would be by to pick me up at the restaurant. Apparently, he couldn't come because he was taking care of another client.
Guess, what? After an hour and a half, no one had shown up and Sergio wouldn't answer my calls. I was absolutely outraged. If you know me, you know it takes a lot to get me to my boiling point, but this did it. It was about 9pm, I was in a city where I didn't know my way around, I don't speak the language, I have no place to stay, and the person I hired to be my guide has abandoned me.
The only other people I knew in Panama City was Scotty and his girlfriend. Fortunately, I had their phone numbers. I called Scotty to see if he could give me some advice. He said he HAPPENED to have one unit available that night, because someone had overbooked. Thank you, Lord!! Those words were music to my ears and I told him I'd definitely take it. I was still only a few blocks from the apartments, so I hiked over there and waited for Scotty. I can't tell you how relieved I was.
The unit I got this time was considerably smaller than the first unit (I think it's the smallest one he has) and the price was the same. The bathroom was across the shared hallway, but it was only for my use. There was no kitchenette and despite its size, it looked like Shangri La to me.
I was exhausted and I was trying to figure out how I was going to get back to the dealer and the mechanic the next day, since it was clear I was now on my own. Both businesses were across town and I didn't know how to get there, nor did I know their addresses. I was praying for help and Tina was doing the same on her end.
This was night #3 in Panama City.
[Note that the picture at the top is not me.]
Posted by Mark