Yesterday I completed the first part of the trek to get my US driver’s license authenticated so I can get a Panamanian one. It’s a multi-step process, at several locations. We didn’t get everything done yesterday because my appointment at the first stop (the US Embassy) was at 2 p.m., and one of the other locations closes at 4 p.m. So we will finish the process this afternoon. Marianna is leading me through the steps, thank goodness! I’d be totally lost without her help.
The US Embassy, where I went to authenticate my US driver’s license, was a trip, in itself! After parking the car, we met with an officer who checked my appointment receipt and passport, then asked us to wait in a line. This area was near the street. When gave us the go-ahead to proceed, we walked about 40-50 yards to a small, separate entrance building (kind of a glorified guard shack), and another guard checked my appointment receipt and passport again. Waited a few more minutes in line, until we were permitted to enter.
Once inside, we went through a metal detector and left this small building, went outside, and entered the embassy building itself. My receipt and passport were confirmed a third time, and we had a seat in the waiting area until my name was called and I went to the cashier’s window.
The cashier looked at my passport, Panamanian ID, and US driver’s license, then gave me a form to fill out. After completing the form, I returned it to the cashier’s window and paid the $50 fee. More waiting, then my name was called again to one of the other windows. There, I had to raise my right hand and swear that the information was true and correct on the form I filled out. The form was then given to me to sign, and the agent also signed it.
That was it for the embassy – then it was on to the next stop. I went into a bank at a second location and paid them $2 for something (not sure what), then gave Marianna another $2 and she went somewhere else down the hall to do another step. Then we went to the Foreign Relations Ministry (still at the same location), and Marianna processed the from from the embassy.
This afternoon I will go to a clinic to get my blood typed (blood type is listed on the Panamanian driver’s licenses) and go to the agency that actually issues the licenses. Getting a Panamanian license is not a simple thing, at all!
After we were finished doing the driver’s license things, I had Marianna drop me off at the Multiplaza shopping mall so I could look for an umbrella, and perhaps a new swimsuit. This mall is really big – its footprint is perhaps half again bigger than Quail Springs mall in OKC, and three stories tall. Very upscale, with all the name-brand stores and boutiques, plus a huge food court and movie theater on the top floor.
I saw this little shop that struck my funny bone – the Psycho Bunny. It looks like a boutique casual attire shop, but I loved the logo and the quirky name.
I found a nice red compact umbrella that opens and closes with the push of a button (very powerful and quick to open and close, but a little disconcerting at first), but had no luck finding a plus-size swimsuit. I didn’t see any directories at all in the mall, just information booths with people who answered questions. When I asked, one person pointed in the general direction and said the name of the store, but I didn’t see anything that looked or sounded like what she said when I went that way.
By that time, I was tired of walking, so I just called for an Uber and went back to the hotel. My Uber driver was a busy guy – one passenger got out of his car at the mall while I got in, and when I got to the hotel, he had another fare waiting for him to take them somewhere else.
After we finish with the official license things this afternoon, I’m planning to pack up, check out of the hotel, and take the overnight express bus to David (a six-hour trip, but I can nap on the bus), and then on to Boquete tomorrow morning. Looking forward to leaving this big, crowded city and get to the cooler mountains!