Yes. 25 days. 5 days short of a month. 3 weeks and 4 days. That is how long it took for me to get into a run-in with the local police agency in Panama.
I hate being a criminal. Okay, now I'm being dramatic, but I sure felt like a criminal. The story:
Tony's car has had an oil leak. Last week, he took it to get fixed. The car dealership quoted us a price of $2300 to fix it. Uh no. So, Tony decided to take it back to the seller, a used car dealership named Patel's Autos. Today, the car was ready after $600 of repair.
We decided to use the GPS (we call her Mindy) to go to Patel's to test the accuracy of her maps. Got there no problem. When we leave, we decide that we will follow Mindy's directions home. I'll keep her in the car with me, and Tony will follow. (You can see where this is headed, can't you?)
We've been driving for about 35 minutes, and it appears Mindy wants to see every back street in Panama. Tony remembers his deep-seeded hatred for Mindy, and pulls up next to me. He rolls down his window and asks where Mindy is taking us. Uh, dear, I have no idea. I don't drive around downtown. That is your gig. I tell him that we should just finish up with her and see what happens. We are driving down Via Espana. Imagine to yourself a one-way-five-lane highway with cars 8 wide. I go through an intersection, but Tony gets stopped by the light.
I look for someplace to pull over, but I can't move over enough lanes so I decide to keep driving. Tony calls me to find out where I am. (Now everyone can see where this is going) I explain to him that I'm getting ready to turn toward Corridor Norte -picture I-85 outside of Atlanta. He tells me that he is going...(I lose the ability to hear.) I see a policeman waving for me to stop. I assume that he is directing traffic which is a common enough occurrence. Look again. It's me he's stopping. Just me.
I pull into the gas station that he is motioning me toward. He says something in Spanish. I look confused. I say something in English. He looks confused. This is not going well. He motions for me to pull up farther. Thank God for the universal language of charades! I finally figure out he wants to see my passport. Like every good Christian lady oozing with self control, I violently start throwing things out of my purse in a desperate attempt to find it. I'm not positive, but I think Chloe may have been struck by a pack of Orbit gum that was thrown into space.
Finally, I find it, and I hand it to him. I understand the officer telling me that there will be no ticket written, In the same moment, I see Tony pull in behind me. I can't decide whether this a good thing or bad thing. I am definitely glad to have the support, but my Spanish is better, and I don't need this officer getting defensive or aggressive. Tony walks up and shakes the officer's hand. (I fight the urge to tell him to stop running for office. Why must he shake hands with everyone? If this guy ends up on our Christmas list, I'm not going to be happy.) I tell the officer, "Mi esposo." Language training is a gift from above!
Except, now the guard thinks I've been holding back on my Spanish ability. He starts talking faster, and, in my opinion, with more aggitation. Now he wants to see my driver's license. This sets Tony off. Apparently, Tony has received the gift of tongues and starts firmly explaining to the gentleman- in Spanish- that we have 90 days to obtain Panamanian licenses. Chloe, at this point, recovers from the gum blow and starts whispering, "Mom, this isn't good. Mom, this isn't good." Thank you, dear.
Somehow, the details are fuzzy in my brain, the officer decides to let us go. We pull onto the road, drive no more than 10 minutes, and are home. Camilla, who has been sleeping, wakes up as we are pulling into the apartment complex and asks what we are doing. This provides Chloe with the opportunity to dive into the whole tale complete with praises to God's provision. I park the car and begin shaking uncontrollably. Tony gets out of his car and asks if I want dinner. Um no. I'm going to bed. Get me up when we are in Georgia.