We are now official Panamanian residents – “Residente Permanente”! It took 6 months after receiving our temporary carnet to become permanent. And when Bellamy, our attorney’s paralegal who drove us to and from the Migration office in Panamá called me “Panamanian” after receiving the permanent card, I felt a myriad of emotions – surprised, satisfied, happy. I am still a U.S. citizen with all the rights including voting privileges, and will always be grateful and proud of it. But being called a Panamanian by another made me a little proud as well. It took a lot to get here (you can read some of my earlier blogs), but after hearing what others have gone through, or still dealing with, both Mikkel and I are happy we started the process back in the states before moving and applying for our residence visa the first week we moved here. We are also very glad we chose Berta Sanchez as our attorney. She has offices both in Pedasi and Panama, and her partner and staff have all been wonderful. This time, Bellamy picked up our passports & temporary carnets the evening before at our hotel, gave them to Jose, their contact in Migration. The next morning at about 9am, Jose was ready with all the documents; Bellamy picked us up and brought us to Migration where we met Jose who took us to have our pictures taken, and in 10 minutes we were out with new “Residente Permanente” cards in hand. (The Migration office is always crowded with many waiting hours to do business.)
Since we had booked our stay at the Balboa Inn for two nights, we spent the rest of the day shopping at the Street of Shops, Discovery Center & PriceSmart. The Discovery Center is kind of a huge Walmart warehouse without much clothing, but selling everything under the sun and many things you can’t find elsewhere. We heard that they had “BarKeepers” cleanser; there was a labeled space on the shelf, but they were out. But we did find cooling racks and pizza pans Mikkel has been looking for, along with an animal trap cage we were buying for the “Defesores de Los Animales de Pedasí” (Animal Advocates of Pedasí) group to trap and bring cats in for spaying and neutering. PriceSmart (Costco) is just down the same street as the Discovery Center, making it easier to venture through the city traffic. There we bought some things for us to stock up on as well as some things other friends back in Pedasí had asked us to purchase. We took a side trip to a home nearby in the Albrook area to look at some items for sell on Craigslist. We now have some snorkling equipment and Mikkel now has his boogie board he’s been wanting. and even a surfboard. Cowabunga! Put on the Beach Boys CD! Later that evening, we took a taxi to Casco Viejo and celebrated with a wonderful meal at “Rene Cafe”. They have a pre-planned menu for dinner or lunch that offers salad, several tapas, 6 entrees, and dessert.; so many savoring flavors cooked fresh as we watched from our table. Adding a good bottle of wine and ending with a cup of expresso created a perfect way to celebrate our new residency. The next morning, we headed home, stopping at a few places along the way to find special grocery items such as whole wheat & rye flour, coos coos, and diet Gingerale for our friend Christine (been looking everywhere for it). In the Azuero, we can’t always find what we are used to finding easily in the several choices of grocery, department, and drug stores in the states. So when you do find something, you buy it then because you may not see it again if you ever come back. For example, Mikkel bought a 5lb. bag of Pillsbury Bread Flour (great for baking bread), but he hasn’t seen it since anywhere. Should have bought more the first time.
So much is required to become permanent residents in this country. But if you want to have a permanent residency visa, you have to accept the governmental procedures and be willing to do all that it takes. That is for any country, I presume. As I have written before, I thank God for guiding us through and blessing us with so much joy. Pedasí is really our home now. When we go back to visit in the states, we will probably be considered tourists