I am shouting “Hallelujah” again. Mikkel finally received his Panamanian driver’s license. He is finally legal to drive in Panama. It took 2 times in Panamá; first time he didn’t have the required health certificate from a doctor because he is over 70 years old; second time the doctor who issued the certificate was not an internist, only a general practitioner. Then it took 4 times in Las Tablas; first time the doctor certificate did not state “in good health physically and mentally”; the second time the doctor typed in a “-” instead of a number for his passport; the third time the doctor again deleted one of the numbers on his passport for the certificate. This was very frustrating, but there was nothing he could do but ask the doctor for another one.
The doctor works at a hospital in Chitre and comes to his office in Las Tablas a few evenings per week. And this is a month of many holidays, so the office was closed a lot of the time. Eventually I asked our Spanish teacher if she could call the doctor office for us, since we had not heard from anyone, and confirm that the certificate with the correct passport number was ready for pickup. Finally the fourth time all info on the certificate was correct. The Sertracen center (Panama’s equivalency to the California DMV) knew him well now. So when he came in, he was kindly helped by an English-speaking employee through the whole process. They knew he had all the other correct documents: California license notarized by US Embassy and authenticated by Departmento de Autenticacion y Legalizacion (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) and lab blood test results. We both did these our first week in Panamá. So he was led through the rest of the process after they checked that he had the correct doctor certificate, helping him fill out another application, taking a vision and hearing test and his picture. He only had to pay $20 instead of the usual $40, not sure why, but won’t complain. And then he finally got his driver’s license in hand, no temporary, but good until his temporary carnet (pensionado visa) expires next August. We should have our permanent visa way before then, and then I guess we both have to renew. Next time should be much easier.
Anyway, he is a legal driver now. Panamanian law states you have 90 days once you enter Panama to obtain a Panamanian “licencia de conducir”, so since Nov. 1st, he was driving illegally. Thank God he wasn’t caught by the policia and given a ticket; it would be another series of procedures. We are in a different country where things might seem a little antiquated and redundant at times. It is best to just accept that this is just the way things are done here and not get too upset; just go with it. On to more adventures.