As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended a meeting with other Panama Wardens at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City on May 8 and May 9.
Besides the valuable education and tour or the ACS operations area within the Embassy, we were treated to a Warden Appreciation reception at the Ambassador’s residence in La Cresta.
Before I tell you about the reception, I have to tell you a story about my late arrival at the first day’s meeting.
On my last trip to the Embassy, I had hailed a cab and asked if the driver knew the way to U.S.Embassy. The driver said he did and off we went. Soon I found myself in an older part of Panama City, that you do not want to visit.
He said it used to he here, but the area was not the current Embassy’s location. He had taken me to where it was many years ago and had since moved. This was turning into a scary ride. I have heard of many people getting in the wrong cab and not having their day turn out well.
Now he starts stoping and asking for directions. An hour and a half later, he finally found the U.S. Embassy. He asked for $25. I knew the fair price for the ride, so I gave it to him and said I would not pay for his not knowing the location. He was angry, but with Embassy guards there, he left.
After that experience, I decided that I would ask the Embassy for help in identifying a trustworthy driver. They did and I agreed to the price for both days and the reception. I knew it would be a little more than normal, but an expense I was willing to pay for peace of mind.
The Embassy confirmed the trip and I was all set. I THOUGHT!
But, Panama being Panama, nothing is ever for certain. I called the taxi driver 30 minutes before he was to supposed to arrive, just make sure no ball had been dropped. I had emailed him the previous night for conformation and to confirm his cell number, which he did.
When he answered his phone, I asked when he would arrive so I would be waiting for him. He said no one from the Embassy had confirmed and he was now busy for the day. He had two conformations, but chose to change his plans. Asi es la vida.
OK. It is now ten minutes until noon and I was to be at the Embassy at 1 PM. I started calling my embassy numbers for assistance with a new trusted driver. Apparently everyone was busy getting ready for the meeting and I only got voice mail.
I called the next person on my list, which was the Ambassador. However, I accidentally called his wife’s number. When the phone was answered, I asked if this was the number for the Ambassador. When I realized I was talking to his wife, I was embarrassed.
I apologized for the interruption and explained how my taxi driver that was chosen by the Embassy had decided not to work and I was trying to find another trusted driver. She said not to worry, she would take care of it.
Shortly I received another call from the Embassy and they said another driver was on his way over. They gave me his name, cell number, car tag number and everything I needed to verify I was getting in the correct taxi.
I arrived at the meeting about 30 minutes late. This may be the first meeting I have ever been late for. I had missed the introductions of the other Wardens, but none of the presentations.
When the Wednesday agenda finished, we were driven to the Ambassador’s residence. It is a very lovely residence with the security you would expect.
We entered and were soon greeted by Ambassador Farrar and his lovely wife Terry. When I got to speak with with Mrs. Farrar, I apologized again for disturbing her earlier in the day.
She laughed. She said when I called, they were in the process of boarding the plane from David back to Panama City, after spending the morning in Chiriquí. She said “Your call was no bother. It is obvious you know who to call when you want something done.”
Mrs. Farrar gave us a short tour through part of the residence. She told us to make ourselves at home because this was our home in Panama City. What a gracious lady.
I took a few photos to acquaint you with the residence.
We went to the back terrace where wine, sodas and many Panamanian styled goodies were served.
If you asked me who had the best time at the reception, I would say it was Lilliam. It seems that Mrs Farrar (a native of Vietnam) is an expert cook and has many of her own herbs and spices growing at the residence. Lilliam was admiring some of the plants as Mrs.Farrar was telling about their uses. When she saw Lilliam’s love for plants, she asked if she would like some. Duh!
That evening we went home with 6 very nice plantings including a chocolate mint. Lilliam was one happy camper.
Here are a couple more photos that I took outside. The second photo contains the Ambassador and his wife and myself and Lilliam, who agreed to accompany me.
At the end of the reception, we were escorted inside the residence and every warden had his photo taken with the Ambassador who presented the Warden with a certificate of appreciation. That photo was taken by the official photographer and the photo is in the process of being sent to me.
I had the following photo taken of Lilliam and I with the Ambassador in front of the U.S. and Panama flags. This is the same location where the certificate was presented.
I am very happy I attended this set of meetings and the reception. It was very enjoyable. We should be proud of all the time that Ambassador Farrar and his wife put in maintaining the relationship between the U.S. and Panama. If you follow the U.S. Embassy Twitter feed, you will be amazed at how little free time this Ambassador has.
That is also why being able to be a part of this gathering was so important to me because I know how important his time is.