Today’s experience at Mailboxes Etc was a microcosm of our life here. It also allows me to illustrate several guidelines for living in Panama.
Guideline 1: Rarely will one day be fully good or fully bad. We successfully set up a mailbox in Miami today. We can receive packages and letters from home! That was the good part.
Guideline 2: The accuracy of printed information is not critical to doing business here. The flyer (that was nicely translated into English for expats like us) said that for every gram that we go over our 8 kilo limit, we are charged $.12. Daniel calculated that something the size of my purse, if over our limit, would be about $120. The guy behind the counter said no, it would be $12. Daniel pointed out that the decimal point was in the wrong place. The guy looked at Dan like he was crazy. Clearly this mistake on the flyer did not keep the worker guy up at night.
Guideline 3: What you have experienced at one place on one day does not necessarily indicate what you will experience at the same place on a different day. While we were in Boquete we successfully mailed off a few packages from a Mailboxes Etc. We’ve been meaning to mail a few other things for awhile and today was a good day to do it since we were at a Mailboxes Etc. The first hiccup was that they had no envelopes. They offered a fairly large used Amazon box but it was too big (and dented up) for the small bracelets we were mailing. We decided to go to the pharmacy for envelopes and come back later.
At the pharmacy we found the right envelopes but when it came time to check out they rang up at $18 each. Uhhh no. It took about 15 minutes and a manager to fix that problem.
Back at Mailboxes Etc, I got them all addressed (we had 4 different envelopes to mail) and was ready to pay when the lady behind the counter said it would be too expensive. What? Why? We mailed them from Boquete for less than $3. Well worth the cost of being in touch. She did all kinds of configuring and said they would cost $105 each to mail. Uhhhh no. There was no logical explanation for why they were $3 in Boquete but $105 here other than some mention of “it’s political.” What the heck is that supposed to mean? She said I could go to the national post office and mail them from there. I did not feel like going to the national post office today. I had enough of “unfamiliar” for one day and who knows what I’d encounter over there. So the 4 envelopes are sitting in the car and they make me depressed every time I look at them.
A few other high points of the day: We bought Haley a few new shirts to go along with her recent growth spurt. We ran into the Smiths at the mall. We toured a lovely duplex for rent in town that is definitely on our short list. And we had my new trademark chicken with rice for dinner.
A few other low points: We had Dairy Queen for lunch and they had no fork or knife so I ate a chili cheese dog with my fingers. I got overwhelmed at a new grocery store with way too many people waiting in line at the meat counter, so I gave up and left the store before I got meat.
And that chicken and rice dish? We’ve had it three nights in a row now. I guess tomorrow I’ll have to venture into the unfamiliar cooking territory once again. At least I know where a popular meat counter is…