Would this happen in Chicago?

Map of Panama

Map of Panama

We went into David again last week, for a follow up dental appointment. It was painless, everything is fine, so I’m able to get back to the gym now – yay! Mostly yay, anyway. The last few days without workout time in my schedule dragged by a little slowly, but I’d be lying if I said I’m always eager to go. However, I’m always thrilled to be done. 🙂

We’ve been to the dental office once a week for the last 3 weeks, but on our first two visits, friends offered us rides as we were making our way to the bus stop. This time, we took the bus all the way in. It was raining when we left, so we bundled up in our rain clothes. It’s a look that Mark can actually pull off — he looks like an ex-jock making his way to the gym in a warm up suit. (I hope he doesn’t take offense at the “ex-jock” label.) I, on the other hand, once I’m fully suited up, am of indeterminate age,  gender and size. And, when I put my sunglasses on, which I do, even in the rain, I take on the appearance of some sort of criminal, trying to camouflage my appearance. One day, I’ll get photos of us geared up for the weather — it’s really very, very funny. I’m ok with it though, at least I’m dry.

We sat in the school bus seats made for 3 children, which means the two of us  had just enough room to be comfortable. Out of necessity, I sit on the inside and Mark on the aisle, because the legs belonging to a 6-3 man just don’t fit properly in those seats.  Of course, when the bus is crowded, 3 adults are expected to squeeze into the seats. I haven’t yet figured out why, when that is the case, ours is ALWAYS the seat that gets picked first to be shared. I huddle as closely as I can to the window, and Mark slumps down so his legs slide below the seat in front of us, but it’s not at all comfortable. This time, we were particularly incredulous because the man who selected us as his seatmates did so even though there were many other empty seats. The rain ended up coming to our rescue, because the edge of our seat was under the leaky emergency door on the roof of the bus, and he decided to move after just a few minutes.

David bus terminal, pic courtesy of Chirqui Chatter

David bus terminal, pic courtesy of Chirqui Chatter

We peeled off our rain suits before getting to David, which was as sunny and hot as Panama City itself. It was the first time we had to make our way from the bus terminal to the dentist office.  (A blogging friend who lives in David has a post with some great pictures of the bus terminal area. You can check it out here:  http://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2012/11/17/the-bus-terminal/ ) I had a good map, but it’s usefulness was limited by the fact that very few streets had street signs. No worries there – past experience has shown that the people of David are exceptionally warm, friendly and helpful. After a little while of walking in the right general direction, but not knowing exactly where we were, we stopped and asked a woman getting into her car if she knew where Dr. Halphen’s office was. Not only did she know, but she was a relative of his, and insisted on driving us there.

There are however, inherent dangers in taking rides with strangers, even if they are sweet Panamanian women in their 60s. In this case, our benefactor seemed a little out of practice in driving. I’m very sorry to report that in the 3 blocks to the dentist’s office, she had 3  EXTREMELY  close encounters with other cars. Before she let us out of the car, she plied us with gingerbread, and showed me her driver’s license to prove her relation to Dr. Halphen.

David is the third largest city in Panama. Can you imagine stopping to ask someone in downtown Chicago ( 3rd largest city in the US) for directions and having them give you a ride?? Just one more example of how life in Central America is different!

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