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Latin America Monica Dispatch

Twenty Dollars to Leave

Welcome to the Maritime Authority of Panama, where our well-laid pans went awry!
Today Shawn, Kavitha, and I took a taxi to the docks because we thought our boat the was leaving at around 8pm. When we got to the Maritime Office, guess what happened? Well, you should know by now. The boat was delayed AGAIN!

As we were getting our passports stamped, another jefe (sounds like "hayfay" and means boss) told me we'd have to pay an exit fee. We were used to paying a fee at all the borders, so I asked him how much while reaching in my wallet. He said, "Veinte," and my jaw dropped. Veinte means twenty!

"Como? Como?" I asked, hoping that I misheard but knowing that my Spanish wasn't that bad. I had heard correctly. Twenty dollars each!

I tried very hard to talk to him, and I smiled, and I smiled, and I smiled some more. After a while, the jefe replied, "This time is the only time we can do this, but you can't tell anybody because we can only do it this once. But we can reduce the fee, because there is a fund to help travelers without much money."

"Oh, gracias, muchisimas gracias! (Oh, thank you, thank you very much!)" I said, knowing that I would definitely tell all of you.

"How much can you pay us?" The jefe asked me. I couldn't believe we were bargaining for the opportunity to leave the country. Finally, the jefe said it was fine for us to pay a total of 15 dollars, and we were outta there before they could change their mind.

We found out later that the two other foreigners on board, a Canadian man and a Japanese man, had paid 20 dollars each, and the Canadian, Hank, had to pay an extra 25 dollars for his motorbike.

Well, the boat wasn't just a little late in leaving, it didn't leave until the next morning! So we convinced the captain to let us sleep on the deck of the boat. Getting from Panama to Colombia is not easy if you want to go around the world without flying! But just you waint and see, we'll get there yet!


Abeja - By Hook or By Crook, But NOT By Plane
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