This morning when I awoke I discovered an piece of paper slipped under the door. It was the water bill. We have also received the electric bill in the same manner. Utility bills are hand delivered and we pay them at the local Western Union office about 4 blocks away in town. Later this morning, a motorcycle drove up to our home and honked. Mikkel went out to see and he was handed our first internet “factura” (bill) from Cable & Wireless. In this case once you receive the bill, you can register to receive it online from then on. I pay for my cell phone data bill (which is texted) in person at the Cable & Wireless office in Las Tablas, so I can pay for the internet at the same time.
There is no daily mail delivery in Panama, perhaps one reason is there are no addresses. So as we were preparing to move to Pedasí, we arranged to have our mail forwarded to my daughter’s home in California. She can then take pictures or scan any important mail and email it to us. We had looked into other mail-forwarding services to Panama and decided on MailBox, Etc. which has a branch in Las Tablas. But we were unable to contact that office beforehand, as much as we tried through the website. So we decided we would go there in person after we moved. Once we came in to the Las Tablas office, it was very simple. They were very friendly and one of the employees speaks English. So you may already know that we have an account with MailBox Etc. in Las Tables now. For about $30 per month we can receive packages and mail from the US through a forwarding address in Miami. It takes about 2 weeks or so to arrive depending on when the Miami office receives and sends out, but it seems to be very reliable. We can receive up to 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs.) for this price; we will be charged more if it goes over, and they automatically charge our debit/credit card. This has enabled my daughter to send some of the important mail we need to have plus receive orders from Amazon, AVON, etc., items that we couldn’t find here or it is just too far to travel to Panamá.
Although there is no mail delivery per say here, Pedasí does have a post office. I visited it the other day. Recently we were informed that Social Security is requiring a address in Panama for those receiving Social Security as “Proof of Life”. A forwarding address in the U.S will not be accepted. But a P.O. Box or “General Delivery” will. So I first asked the very pleasant postal worker (in Spanish of course) if there were any PO boxes available. It was worth a try, even though there are probably a total of 20 boxes. He just shook his head and smile. So then I asked what the post office general delivery was. He gladly wrote it down on a piece of paper. The address included the country, province, town, and a 4-digit zip code. That was a surprise to me, but that hopefully will work for Social Security.
So how does one find our home to deliver the bills if there is no address. For the utilities, they must just match the meter numbers of the house to the bill. I am not really sure that the correct bill has been delivered. We agreed to pay the utilities, but they remain in the owner’s name. We are actually sub-leasing and don’t know the owner who apparently lives in Panamá. The water & the electric bills have different names. Nevertheless, we have paid them and keep the receipts for any future needs. For Cable & Wireless, the address on the bill includes the town, barrio, and the color of the house. The delivery man on the motorcycle did call out Mikkel’s name to make sure he had the right house. When we tell people how to get to our house, it is usually directions which include landmarks. In turn, that’s how we find other places we go to.
That’s about it for receiving mail for us. If we need to send something, it is usually by email or ordering something online that can be delivered to someone in the US. There is also other companies such a Uno Express where we can send something to someone else to another Uno Express office within Panama.
One advantage of not having regular daily mail delivery is that we don’t get junk mail anymore. My daughter throws out any mail that she deems as not necessary to scan & email. Instead of junk mail, we get the occasional salesman or vendor. Most of the time instead of coming to the door and knocking, they stand out on the street and shout “Buena”. Vendors usually are pushing carts with what they are selling – shaved ice, sweet bread rolls, etc. Or occasionally a truck will come by selling shrimp or fish. It reminds me when I was a child; Helms Bakery and Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks would roam the neighborhood selling their products, honking their horn or playing music as they drove by. We would go out as the passed and waved for them to stop. Although we had mail service that delivered letters and bills, Mom would go into town to pay the local bills at the various offices. This is how life still is in the Pueblo today.
Pedasí Post Office (borrowed from Google Images)