It was a crazy week for us. Along with school and studies, we went to a local Sunday brunch with friends, figured out how to maneuver the medical field (sort of), enjoyed a concert, visited another beach, went to a roof raising party and attended a birthday bash. All within 7 days. Whew!
We started the week with Sunday Brunch. Our neighbors, Chuck & Jeannie and Dwayne, walked with us about a mile to San Francisco Plaza for the once a month German Sunday Brunch at Zum Enslander. The chef is from Germany and is quite the cook. All was delicious and plentiful! It was good times with good food and good people.
On Tuesday I went to a doctor’s office in town after school. Appointments are not taken so it’s first come, first served. The lobby was small but clean. Check in was similar to offices in the USA in that you talked to the receptionist first. She asked for my ID and phone number. Then I took a seat and waited. It wasn’t busy so within a few minutes she took my weight and blood pressure while I sat in the waiting room chair.
The doctor’s office door was right off the lobby so as soon as the patient before me came out, I could look straight into the office. The doctor then called my name and waved me in. I sat and, once she realized I spoke very little Spanish, conversed with me in excellent English. The medication that I need required blood testing, so she wrote me an order for a blood draw at a clinic in town and asked me to return on Thursday. My visit was $20. Total. No copay, no insurance, just $20 cash.
Wednesday morning was my trip to the laboratory for the blood draw. The lab was a nice clean clinic. The tech, though perhaps a bit inexperienced, was easy to understand and work with. She then told me that I could pick up the paperwork the following day at 3. This was $45, again TOTAL. No copay, no insurance, just cash.
So on Thursday, I picked up my paperwork and headed over to the doctor. It was just after 3 and the office was closed. The hours were posted as being 8-6. Hmmm….we spoke with an American friend that we saw and he smiled. Apparently, Panamanian lunches can run for a few hours. So we headed back to the office and, maybe a bit surprisingly, it was open. When I approached the receptionist, she recognized me and informed me that the doctor was out of the office until Tuesday. WHAT??? I just can’t figure out why she said to come back on Thursday if she wasn’t going to be there. Oh well, I guess that’s a little of the mañana, mañana I’ve been hearing about.
As an update, I ended up finding another doctor since my first doctor still wasn’t back in town the following week. My second doctor took an appointment and I was able to see her the next day and get a prescription that I needed. Her office visit was twice as much: $40. Once again, no copay, no insurance, just straight up cash.
At the pharmacy I handed over my prescription, got 7 weeks of medication and was handed back the prescription since it was an ongoing medication. Never gave my name or anything. I guess they don’t track that stuff here. Back home, a similar medication was over $300 for 30 days. I got the whole 7 weeks for $55. No copay, no insurance, just cash (there seems to be a pattern here.) Now, back to the original story stream…
Since we didn’t have time to worry about it, we ran (well, actually, drove the rental car) home and grabbed a quick dinner before heading to a local church in town to attend a concert, Concierto Viento Madera. It was a 5-piece woodwinds group. We figured we’d probably enjoy it, but we were totally blown away! These guys were very good and way better than we expected! Here’s a very short excerpt taken from my iPhone:
On Friday we decided to head out to the beach since we had the rental car. We drove out about 2 hours to Las Lajas. The beach was quiet as no one was there but us. It was difficult to figure out how to get to the beach because much of the area seemed to be private. We passed a resort that had a $10 (!) per person day pass to use their facilities. Not what we wanted to pay just to look out at the beach. So on we drove.
Further down the road, we met a couple, Peter and Astrid. They own a dive shop there in Las Lajas. They explained that the beaches are all public and we could pretty much park anywhere. So we found what seemed to be a suitable spot and headed down to the beach. It was a black sand beach as it’s all volcanic. Not the prettiest beach I’ve ever seen, but the crabs were cute and it was a nice day for a drive.
On Saturday we had 2 events to attend. The first was a traditional Panamanian roof raising. During construction, when the roof is completed, a party is thrown with friends, family and workers joining together to celebrate this big step.
Construction here is not wood and stucco. I guess the constant moisture creates ideal circumstances for big time mold and deterioration issues. So the basic building block is concrete.
Our friend, Carolina, gave us a tour of the building and I got to see for the first time the unfinished insides of a concrete structure. Food and drink was served and it was nice to chat with several of our real estate friends. Lunch was BBQ marinated chicken, Panamanian chorizo (good, but not like what we’re used to in California–not too spicy, almost like a kielbasa), salad and chips and salsa.
Afterward the roof raising we went into town. Our friend, Mike at Mike’s Global Grill, was celebrating his 43rd birthday. So beers at the bar were 43c and a DJ played party music. We saw many people we knew and had a great time hanging out and socializing. What a fun and relaxing way to end a busy week!