We had to take a little three day jaunt to Panama City to take care of our final application process for our Cedula. We took a 5:30 flight on Saturday and just got home last night, Tuesday. Getting a Cedula is not required to be a resident in Panama but its just a good thing to do. As I understand it, the Cedula is sort of like a Social Security card in the States. You are assigned a permanent ID number that never changes. This is important because having a Cedula takes you out of the immigration department completely. When you have a Cedula you no longer have to go through the immigration line at the airport, you are actually a legal Panamanian resident. Our attorney told us we can now put our passports away, we only ever need our Cedula as ID now. Another little detail that makes having a Cedula so good is that many legal documents here like car registration and your drivers license are linked to your Passport number which will change when it expires and you get a new passport. The changing number of your passport is just a hassle because you then have to go through the process of changing all the things that had that old number on them. Once you use your Cedula number for your ID you never have to worry about changing anything, this, in my opinion, was worth one more trip to the city and one more visit to a government office with our attorney. Plus it only cost us $65.00 each and $150.00 for our attorney. Well, I guess you could say that it also cost us a trip to the city but we combined the trip with shopping for things for the main house that we are now beginning to build.
Getting the Cedula was not even remotely complicated , unlike our residency visa’s. Obviously one must first go through that whole permanent residency process before being eligible for a Cedula. Then all we did was let our attorney know that we wanted him to help us apply for the Cedula. He took care of whatever paperwork there was, sending it through the proper channels and then notifying us several months later that the Cedulas were ready and we should come to the city and meet him at the Tribunal Electoral to sign the papers , pay and have our photo taken. It took a little over two hours but, I think that amount of time changes depending upon how organized the office is on the day that you happen to go. Our attorney was rather bothered and surprised to have to sit and wait as long as we did. He says that it’s normally much faster and we agreed that part of the problem was all the flirting going on between some of the workers behind the front desk…eye roll! Hah! But once they called our names, we simply looked over the paperwork to make sure all our personal information was correct and there were no spelling errors in our names and so forth, we signed them, gave them the money and then went downstairs to get our photos taken. We will pick the Cedula’s up here in Boquete in about a week. Easy – Peasy!
We did all of that government office stuff yesterday (Tuesday), but we actually flew to the city on Saturday evening. We left after our workers finished for the week. They only work until 1:30 on Saturdays. So we drove down to the airport and left our car in the airport parking lot for the few days we were gone. We’ve done this before with no problems , and its really nice to have our car waiting for us when we get back into town. We had planned to spend Sunday and Monday doing a little house shopping before having to do the Cedula stuff. As you know my good friend Emma lives in the city so we were planning to connect with her for Dinner or Breakfast while we were in town. She’s a very busy young woman and I was thrilled that she wanted to meet us for breakfast on Sunday. Emma lives just around the corner from the hotel we like to stay in ,Hotel Milan. Its not a fancy hotel but its in a neighborhood that we like, El Congrejo. There are many good restaurants within walking distance and its also easy access to the subway when we take the bus from Boquete. This time we flew, so we just took a taxi from the airport to the hotel.
We planned to meet Emma at our favorite neighborhood Bagel place called NY Bagels. When we got there she had beat us there and was enjoying her cup of coffee. And to my surprise she had gotten me a big Happy Birthday balloon and some yummy minty candies!!! I adore that gal!!! 🙂 Not only that , but , she was prepared to spend the whole day with us!! What a great surprise. This turned out to be such a wonderful thing because that girl can drive in the city like a pro!! Of course it was Sunday and consequently very little traffic, but I’ve driven with her in the city with normal traffic and let me tell ya, she’s not to be messed with!! hah! She makes driving in the city look so easy and its so great to be with someone like her who knows exactly how to get everywhere. We were on a mission to find light fixtures and to price appliances and look at furniture. Emma was with me last year when I went shopping for all the light fixtures for the casita so she knew the task ahead was not a quick one. She also knew we were all in for some good Spanish practice! We spent at least 2 or 3 hours at Lumicentro!
I had a list of all the areas in the house that I wanted to find fun, funky, interesting light fixtures for. As well as the outdoor house lights to match the ones I got for the casita. Of course we have a Lumicentro light store here in David but its nothing like the gigantic one in the city. They have an amazing designer section upstairs where we found a few lights that I’m really excited about. Including all the outside house lights and the louvered path lights that we found we bought 47 fixtures. I know that sounds like a lot off lights but remember we will have 3 bathrooms (well, 2 1/2), two bedrooms a kitchen a rec room and a very big terrace with an outdoor dining area. And of that 47 there are like 20 path lights and 13 outdoor lights for the outside of the workshop as well as the house. I just love light fixtures, I think its one thing that can really add a lot of pizzazz to a house.
After the light fixture purchasing was done we went over to Multi Plaza to have lunch. I had never been to this mall and boy is it nice. Its the ‘upscale’ mall and it has every singe high end store you can possibly think of. But Scott and I were looking forward to lunch at PF Changs. One thing we’ve really been missing has been Chinese food. Oh yeah…it was so yummy! We actually went back for round two on Monday and are now officially satisfied with our Chinese food craving. The other important task on our list of ‘to do’s’ was to price appliances for the new house. As everyone knows Scott loves to cook and we both really love to entertain, so the most important room in our home is the kitchen. Its the central area in our house where we spend a lot of time. In our home in California we had a wonderful, kitchen. It was where everyone always wanted to be and we hope to recreate that same feel in this new home. To be honest, I never thought we would be able to find the type of professional appliances that we had in our kitchen in the states. But it turns out that in Panama City they actually have several distributors for some of the brands we love. We went to two places and got quotes for the Range, the hood for the range the fridge and the dishwasher. Now we need to spend some time thinking about what we want to do and if we feel comfortable spending so much of our budget on the appliances. Given the fact that we are building our ‘dream home’ and that we fully expect it to be the last home we ever build, I suspect that we will dive in and get the same stove he had in the states as well as the nice fridge.
Today we’re back to work and the entire crew is up top working on all the prep work for the new foundation. They’re bending the rebar and making all the forms that go into the big holes. Scott thinks they will begin pouring the cement tomorrow. I think they may be done with the footings this week. At the same time, we are still waiting for our Architect to give us the permit for our gas. That’s right, we still have no gas, which means no hot water, stove or washer/dryer! Ugh! Since we’re still depending on our gasoline generator we had to leave all our refrigerated food at Bond & Luana’s house while we were away. The generator doesn’t stay running long enough to keep our fridge going for three days. The architect had emailed Scott yesterday and said that he was going to pick up the permit today…still waiting… 😦 We should also be hearing from the granite guys who are currently fabricating the countertops. That will be installed any day now as well. We also have a place in David working on the frameless shower door. It was nice to have a change of scenery for a few days and spending a little time with Emma never gets old. But it’s always good to be home. Right now ‘home’ means lots of hard work but it’s where our hearts are and we love being here.