I have to tell you about A funny interaction Scott had with a local policeman the other day. Everyone’s aware that cops have been known to accept bribes as their kind way to help with the time consuming process of taking care of a ticket or other such annoying inconveniences. But, we had been told by other expats living in the area that this sort of ‘Help’ was not practiced so much these days. Friends have told us to be very careful about offering bribes to cops because you take the risk of actually getting into trouble for doing so. So, with this in mind we haven’t been especially anxious to initiate any such interaction if we ever got pulled over for a traffic violation. Which, luckily we haven’t. So, the other day Scott drove our workers down the hill at the end of the day because I was sick. He often drives them down in the back of his truck and even though we are aware that this is illegal its never been an issue so he didn’t even think twice about doing it. Well, of course on this particular day a cop was right at the bottom of the hill, at the spot where Scott normally decides to put on his seatbelt, yes they have seatbelt laws here! ugh! So, the cop of course pulls Scott over to issue him his much deserved ticket. The cop proceeds to tell him that it will be a very expensive ticket, about $200.00! Whew! But, Scott just shakes his head and waits to receive said ticket….the cop walks away and then soon returns to the window….he hands Scott his smartphone to read the translation he has pulled up…”Do you want help Not Paying?” Says the translated text on the cops phone…hahahahaha! Too funny! So, it cost him $20.00 and he didn’t even have to initiate the ‘Help’. So nice to deal with such ‘helpful’ cops! hah! Too funny!
Another interesting little tid-bit I wanted to share is about an experience my friends L & B had the other day when they attended a local Town Meeting. It was meant to be a Forum where the local residence could discuss a proposed Aqueduct in their area. B is very experienced with these types of meetings in the U.S, he’s an architect and has had to attend many such town meetings in his career. But he said this one was so different from what he is used to because the residence were so passionate and emotional and the audience reacted to the speakers with riotous applause and hooting in support of their fellow neighbors. The town of Caldera which is in the District of Boquete was not happy about this proposed Aqueduct and they were letting the governing officials know it with many very poignant speeches at the microphone. Then the mayor of Boquete finally had his turn to make his speach. But I have to tell you this one little part about the mayors entrance to the meeting…He’s a big guy, very imposing and always looks so friendly and open. Well, as he walked into this meeting there was a Big business man standing on the side ,my friends saw the mayor stop to shake this mans hand and the man refused to take the mayors hand…gasp! The mayor stood there with his hand out forcing this man to finally shake his hand…very interesting, my friends thought. So, the Mayor took his turn to speak and my friends said he was very clear about the fact that he was elected by the people to represent them and that he could not be bought! (huh, I wonder if that had anything to do with the reluctant handshake?) And, he said with passion “The People have spoken! They don’t want this new Aqueduct so I SAY NO To this aqueduct! ” wow! L & B said the room erupted in applause and hooting and cheering! I would love to have been in that room to see this!
This weekend has been a big celebration of the anniversary of the 104th year of the founding of the town. So, in true Panamanian style the celebrations have raged on! I saw stages being erected in town, lots of primping and prepping for a party for the entire town. This type of event always includes a parade, or in this case multiple parades. Yesterday at 3:00 was to be the parade I was looking forward to, the Cabalgata (horse parade). Of course it didn’t start until 4:30, in true Panamanian tradition, but no one minded. There were families all hanging out in town, enjoying the nice evening, chatting with friends and neighbors. Lots of street food being sold and the usual balloons and cotton candy too. The horses were just beautiful and amazingly calm amongst all the blasting music and crowds. There must have been hundreds of horses all decked out to strut their stuff. The mayor even rode through the town flanked by lots of cowboys all with drinks in hand. Cuz’ did I mention the roving bars? hah! Oh this is the best part, they had pick up trucks with people standing up at the cab , lines of cups on top of the cab, mixing rum drinks! Then there were other trucks actually tossing cold cans of beer out into the crowd! You could just walk on up to the truck and grab a rum drink for free! ….can you imagine something like that in the states? hah! A truckload of rum handing out free cups! That’s just so funny! Gotta love Panama!
One last thing about last nights celebrations. After the parade had ended and Scott and I were walking through town back to our car, I was enjoying the aftermath of the parade. The town was shrouded in such an overwhelming feeling of community . There were people standing around chatting and laughing. Teenagers on every corner and on the streets with their drums and horns just playing random things. One particular group of teen age boys standing in a circle with their drums, taking turns playing a solo! There were street-side food venders selling skewers of meats and vegetables. Kids running around with balloons and of course the drunken men leaning against the building outside one well know ‘indigenous’ bar in town looking pretty smashed! hah! It was such a free feeling of celebratory bliss all throughout the town. By the time we got to our car my face was sore from smiling so much. When we got home and turned off our generator the sounds of revelry in town were still floating up to our little casita up here in Jaramillo. And once again I fell asleep with a smile on my face. There’s just so much that I love about this place.