Sure, I Know Where It Is.

One of the tasks I did yesterday, was to go to the American Embassy and have pages added to my passport. This is basically a whole day job.

The embassy is open from 8:00 am until noon to receive passports. Then you have to return in the afternoon at 4:30 PM to pick them up. You have to be past the guard entry before 4:30 PM, since that is closing time.

The morning run went without a hitch. I caught a cab and the taxi driver knew the location of the embassy in Clayton. It was about a 15 minute ride. There was a huge line of people waiting to enter. They were non-Americans needing to get visas to visit the US. I was able to bypass this line, since I was American and only needing passport services.

I had printed out the request for pages from the Internet, which sped up the process. My time in the embassy, must have been about 10-15 minutes.

At this time of day, there were plenty of cabs, so I didn’t have to wait long to return to the city.

The afternoon run, to the embassy, was a different story. The taxi driver said he knew the location of the US Embassy. He then proceeded to take me through some parts of the city I would just as soon, not visit. I told him this didn’t look like the direction to Clayton. He went by a building that he thought was the embassy, but if it was, it must have been in the 50’s.

I gave him the address in Clayton and we continued. We eventually got to Albrook and he had to ask for directions. That got him a little farther, before he had to ask for directions again. On the 4th set of directions, we found the embassy. Total time for this excursion was 45 minutes.

Both of my morning taxis charged $5.50 for the one way trip. He asked for $12, I told him both other taxis fare and he said, “Ok, $8.00”. I was at the front of the embassy, so I got out, reached in my pocket, and paid him $5.50.

He took it and saw it was $5.50 and started to argue. I told him, I was not going to pay extra, because he was lost and didn’t know the way. He looked at the officials at the embassy and drove off.

I was at the embassy about 3:45 PM. Exactly at 4:30 PM, the window opened and I got my passport. At this time of day, there are fewer taxis in that area.I had to wait about 15 minutes to catch a taxi back to the city. This ride was more pleasant than the one that brought me and it was another $5.50. While getting pages added to the passport is free, cabs cost me $22.

16 thoughts on “Sure, I Know Where It Is.

  1. Hi Carey,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. There wouldn´t have been much of a chance for him to pick me up. One – I doubt that he can find it again. Two – There is no way I would get in a taxi that he was driving.

  2. dear don ray,
    frank & i have taxi stories from p.c. beep beep! even some from chiriqui. still a great value i would never drive in p.c. i can hardly keep my eyes open to ride lol thanks. ellen

  3. Don Ray:
    I am sorry this happnened to you. Unfortunally, some panamanians see “gringos” as an opportunity to make an easy buck, and tend to charge more for services (carpenters, construction, car repaire, transportation, etc), because of the misconception that if you lived in US you are “forra’o en billete” (covered with money). Yes, sakaries are lot better in US that in Panama, but cost of living also is higher, so they cancelled each other. I am glad you stood your ground.
    People like this taxi driver give a bad name to the majority of honest panamanians trying to make a decent living.
    Jaime (CA)

  4. We’ve had a couple incidents also, but bye and large, the taxi drivers here in PC are just guys making a living. Still, one of the most valuable things here is the name and cell number of a reliable driver with a decent car.

    You hoard these contacts like rare baseball trading cards and only give them out to very, very close friends. We had three, but one got a permanent job as a lifeguard at the Intercontinental so now we’re down to just a pair…

    We don’t enjoy driving here in PC and try to avoid the neccessity, especially during rush hour, but it doesn’t intimidate us either. Once she learned the basic city layout, Debbie started driving all over the place.

    FWIW
    Mike

  5. On the matter of getting pages added to your passport, I remember reading when you apply for your passport you can ask for the ‘large’ version, which contains additional pages. Folks who are considering staying in Panama on tourist visas or travelling in and out of the country alot may want to get one of those when obtaining their passports.

  6. Hi Jamie and Mike. I am not nearly as intimidated as I used to be when all I spoke was English. Even speaking broken Spanish as I do helps.

    Hi Terry. That is probably not a bad idea. However, the process isn’t too big a deal.

  7. Don,
    Thanks for sending all the readers our way http://www.panamanotes.com/ I just did a post on PC taxis a couple of days ago.
    $5.50 sounds a little high, but I’m sure to/from the AMERICAN Embassy automatically adds to the price. We went from Albrook Mall across town to Avenida Porras for $3.00 Jane and I are daily users of the taxis and one thing we always do is agree on the price BEFORE we get in. Never a problem.

    Take care out West

    Steve

  8. Hi Steve. I think $5.50 is about right now, for where I a, in San Francisco. It is closs enough I dont complain. That is the same amount I pay going to Albrook to the airport. Thanks for dropping in

  9. On the subject of cabs….Do you know a pet friendly cab service in David? Or a pet friendly car rental service? we’ll be arriving in late august to David. Our facilitator in Panama City says we’ll be able to fly the animals to David. But that will leave us at the airport with a cat and a lab.
    We will need to rent a car, so if there’s a pet friendly car rental at the airport, that would be best. I’m exploring, but thought maybe someone had already done this.

  10. Hi Mary. I don’t know of any pet friendly taxis, but then I have never had the need. I would think all rental companies would allow them if you were responsible for damages.

  11. Hey Don,
    I thought u could get passport services at the consulate on Balboa Ave. Is that no longer correct? And unless taxi fares have doubled in Panama City that seems exagerated to me.

  12. Hi Alan. I don’t know the answer to your question. When I sent an email to the American Citizen Services, they told me to go to the Embassy in Clayton and bring the form from the Internet filled out.

    $5.50 is a reasonable price I think from San Francisco in Panama City to the US Embassy. I usually pay about the same to get from the Albrook airport to where I stay in San Francisco.

  13. The Consulate on Balboa Ave closed about 5 years ago. It is located in the Embassy compound on Clayton. In fact it is the Consulate, not the Embassy, that issues passports and provides citizen services.

    Henry

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