Boquete, Panama – Panamanian departments, a classic example of inefficiency

The border-crossing Paso Canoas at the Inter-Americana how the Pan Am is often called here is the most important one into Panama. Again the Costa Rican side is discretely signposted. The lady at the Migración is very friendly and even practises her English at us. In contrast to this lady we are just unreasonable for the Aduana officer. It’s not so much personal, it is the presence of any client that forces him to a different act than to meditate in front of his black computer monitor. That’s not designated in his daily routine. Obviously the poor man can’t even talk. He gives his orders by nodding, a gesture is nearly more than he can spare. Now he even has to get up to have a look at the evidence. But Mr Cool doesn’t have himself under complete control. For a short moment his face fell into astonishment as soon as he detects Arminius. Official again he silently and reproachfully taps on a spot at the import certification. Letter confusion happened with our license plate number. Later we’ll realize that the VIN number wasn’t correct as well, but fortunately he doesn’t check it. We should have paid more attention at entry, this can cause problems. Unmoved I shrug my shoulders: “That must be a mistake”, I say in a terse way. Eventually he signs the papers and we may leave.

Now Panama: Some officers direct the arriving vehicles where to park. Two claim we have to go to Aduana first, then to Migración, the other one the opposite. We follow the majority. The Aduana officer ignores us in the beginning and sends us to insurance office first. We have to buy a third-party insurance, 15 $ for 30 days. Back to the customs we wait again to get to know eventually that we have to get the insurance papers stamped in another office. The responsible officer takes her lunch rest and shall be back at one o’clock. This would be in half an hour. After one and a quarter of an hour an army of travellers that’s stressed out awaits the dearly smiling queen who finishes her extended lunch rest in an excellent mood. In less than two seconds she manages to stamp the papers. That’s all. I can’t believe it. That’s why I waited so long? The Panamanian customs is a classic example of Central American inefficiency.

Back to the glass wall in front of the counter we have to wait more. At a certain point the officer can’t delay our papers any more and finishes them with great difficulties reading the German licences. Another officer has a short look into our camper’s compartment, but the 60 cans German beer from Costa Rica is of no interest. Migración is fast as usual: Fill out a form, smile into the camera, get the passport stamped, ready. Last step is vehicle disinfection for 6 $.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.