Wanting to retire in Panama

Archive for March, 2014

Moving Pets to Panama!

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It is with a heavy heart that D and I made the decision to not bring our beloved dog Jaydie to Panama when we leave on April 15th.  Why, you might ask, did we change our minds?  Well, as you can guess, we have been very busy since I finished working on February 28th.  We have been selling a lot of our worldly possessions, had a garage sale, preparing our documents for our pensionado visas (this is still ongoing – I will do an updated post on this experience at a later date), preparing our tax returns for 2013 and getting together with friends and family (this is still ongoing) to say our good-byes to name just a few things.

We are flying to Panama on April 15 and as it turns out, in addition to our getting ready to leave, our son purchased a new home in Edmonton and is moving into it on April 3.  This is definitely  a win-win situation for both of us because, as we all know, the purchase of a new home means the purchase of a lot of new furniture and as it turns out, we have a lot of furniture to “get rid of” since we decided that bringing a container with our household furnishings was not the option we wanted to take.  Well, being that Edmonton is three hours away from Cold Lake, this means that our final day in Cold Lake will be April 3 (with our without the sale of our house – which by the way has not sold yet) – giving me 11 days to get my “sh….. together” so to speak.

Now once we arrive in Edmonton this will give us 11 days before our flight to Panama City.  During that 11 days we plan on making a trip to stay with my parents for a few days and then to visit my in-laws for a few days.  My parents live 1 1/2 hours from Edmonton so that drive is not too bad but the drive to my in-laws is 7 hours from Edmonton – which means two days of travel – and then a few days to visit.  Here is where it get complicated with bringing our dog.

There is a bit of a process involved when moving your pet to Panama from Canada and it is as follows:

1) Within 10 days of leaving the country, your pet must visit a vet where they need to fill out an Aphis 700 form (international health certificate) as well as obtaining an up-to-date rabies and vaccination certificate.

2) All documents must then be notarized by our local CFIA department and then sent to the Panamanian Consulate for their authentication stamp.  Keep in mind that we are no where near a Panamanian Consulate so this would require either flying to get there or sending the paperwork via overnight courier.

3) This paperwork, once received back, must then be sent three days prior to the Panamanian vet whom we need to contact to meet us at the airport upon our arrival.  He will at that time, verify everything and we would be on our way.

Simple right?  But when D and I factor in the fact that we will be doing considerable travelling during our last 10 days in Canada and having to worry about trying to get all the paperwork in order for Jaydie, in addition to trying to still get all our visa paperwork in order, moving our son, packing up the rest of our “stuff”, it has become rather daunting and overwhelming.  In addition to all the preparation involved in getting our dog to Panama, D and I are still unsettled ourselves on where in Panama we want to make our final destination for we absolutely loved every place we visited.  Yes we are renting in Santa Clara for now, but we still want to travel around and check out different areas once we are there and so brings the question, who will look after the dog should we bring her with us while we continue to explore Panama?  We don’t know anyone yet whom we would be able to leave her with?  What kind of kennels do they have in Panama if any (for there will definitely be a lot of overnight stays in our travels)?

So what will we do with our beloved Jaydie??  Well as it turns out, my in-laws have 40 acres of land where they live and “LOVE” animals.  They already have two little dogs and numerous cats, so heck what’s one more right? – lol!  They have been so kind to welcome Jaydie with love and open arms and we all know that she will be extremely happy in her new home, for she hasn’t been quite the same since we moved into town from our acreage last fall, and she just needs the room to run and roam.   So for now, D and I will be able to take solace in knowing that she is going to a good home where she will be loved and when we decide in the future that we are ready for her to join us in Panama, my in-laws are more than willing to work with me in making that happen.  Thanks Kasandra and George :).

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Renting a Car in Panama!

When D and I went to Panama for the first time in July, we were trying to find information on renting a vehicle in Panama and whether to get full insurance or not and although we did find some information, in general the information was sparse so I thought this would be a good topic to blog about.  On our first trip to Panama we rented a vehicle through a Budget dealership in Panama City.  We booked our rental on-line.  As with any car rental, the price quoted is always the price without the extra insurance, which we were fully aware of.  Here comes the tricky part – how much insurance to get?  For us and for most credit card companies, insurance is included when using their card.  So first thing any new traveller should do is check with their credit card company to see what type of insurance they have and what it covers.  However, in Panama, according to the research I had done, if you were to get into an accident, they will charge the full replaceable cost of the vehicle you are renting back to your credit card and it will be up to you to get the money back from your credit card company upon returning to your home destination.  Not to mention, it is a legal nightmare!

Well for our first trip to Panama we didn’t want to take any chances and opted for the full package, which of course more than doubled the original cost of our online quote and being that we were going to be doing some driving in Panama City (which is one of the craziest cities to drive in that we have experienced) we wanted to have the security of knowing that there would be no hiccups should we be involved in an accident.   Lucky for us, all of our travels were uneventful and we got the vehicle back to them in one piece. 

So when D and I returned to Panama in December, we knew we did NOT want to have to do any driving in Panama City and arranged our itinerary so that we would end up renting a vehicle from the airport in David and fly from David to PC to catch our flight home to Canada.  This time around we chose to rent from Thrifty Car Rental and chose NOT to get the full insurance package because D felt comfortable driving in David (although still a little crazy – not nearly anything like PC – lol).  We opted just for the liability insurance – which you have to get – and would deal with the insurance through our credit card company should any mishaps occur. 

After Thrifty went through the process of explaining the different insurance options and we telling them our decision NOT to go with the full insurance package we had to sign a waiver saying that our credit card would be charged the full amount of the vehicle’s worth should we be involved in an accident which we did.  So we were given an invoice which showed that our total rental charge would be $461.00 US.  However, and this is where everything gets interesting, we had to give them a deposit of $700.00 US, and the difference would be credited back once the vehicle was returned in good shape.  We have rented vehicles before and for some rental companies, they will always ask for a deposit greater than the initial cost just in case their are some cleaning fees, damage fees (like smoking in vehicle) etc, etc that will need to be charged after the fact.  OK then – slip is signed and we are good to go. 

Now let’s fast forward to mid January when my credit card statement is received.  As I am going through my transactions I notice that we were charged the deposit fee but were never credited back the $239.00???  Hmmm, that’s odd – we returned the vehicle in good condition and they signed off saying that everything was good??  So D proceeds to try to find a Thrifty number on line where he can inquire about this transaction.  After finally getting through to who he thought was the correct person, he is informed that in Panama it can take some time for this credit to show up and to give it a couple more weeks but if he wants to talk to them directly, he would have to phone David, Panama himself.  Uggghhhh – really !?!?!?  Well, as it turned out D was going to be returning to Panama at the end of January, so it was decided he would call them then.  

So now it is time for D to fly out and with all the necessary rental paperwork in order he is good to go.  The next day after his arrival in Panama City, he proceeds to the Thrifty car Rental shop and, wouldn’t you know it, he will have to talk to the rental company in David directly – of course he does – lol.  This, however, did not deter him.  So with correct phone number now in hand he was off.  After reactivating the handy-dandy $18 dollar cell phone that was bought on our first trip to Panama the call was made.  Fortunately, he talked to the same lady we dealt with in David who spoke fluent English.  She said she would have her manager look into it and D was to call her back in the next couple days.  Two days later D calls back and voila, yes, we were correct the refund hadn’t been put through yet and she assured us that it usually takes some time to for the refund to be processed (really, really?? it has already been over six weeks – how much time do you need???) but alas she assured us that it would show up by the end of the month.  Keep in mind it is now almost the end of January – so did she mean the end of January or the end of February? – lol.  We are fully aware of the philosophy of “mañana” and “poco a poco” in Panama so figured we would wait until the end of February.  

Fast forward again to today…..  So with my latest CC receipt in hand yet again, I am diligently scouring all transactions looking for our refund of $239.00 and wouldn’t you know – you guessed it – no refund!  Are you kidding me – really, really!!!  It has now been 2 1/2 months since the original transaction.  Ok – so now It is now time to call the CC company and put in a formal dispute.  This is where it gets even more interesting!  While talking to my CC representative, I am told that this is quite common practice in some countries for them to delay, delay and delay putting in their refund.  Why you might ask?  Because a consumer only has 100 days from date of transaction to put in a formal dispute against a transaction on the CC and many merchants know that so they continually delay in the hopes that this deadline will have lapsed and then there is nothing the consumer can do – they can kiss that refund good-bye!  Wow – what a sleazy scam!  Anyway, for us, I was able to get in before the deadline and will be filing my official paperwork in the next week once the necessary form is mailed to me in the mail.  Good thing I still have my original receipt from Thrifty.  

On a side note, friends that were travelling with us in December also rented a vehicle from the same company and they were never actually charged the deposit amount and only the amount they were supposed to be charged???  Strange?  So why were we treated differently than them?  After some thought I have come to this conclusion.  You see, they paid for ALL the insurance and we didn’t.  So in the end they must charge the extra fee to people who opt out of the extra insurance and return their vehicle in good shape in order to squeeze that little bit of extra money out of them.   So travellers beware – make sure you are being charged what they say you are being charged and if you are overcharged, keep in mind that you have 100 days from the time of transaction to put in your dispute complaint with your CC company.  As for Thrifty – I will NEVER rent from them again!

I am Officially Retired?!

Thursday was my last day of work!  What …. I’m retired!!!???  I guess I am (although I did in actuality take a 1 year leave of absence from my job – you know just in case – but let’s hope there’s no just in case – lol), but I’m only 48 years old, I’m too young to retire? How do I feel??  First of all, I don’t think it has truly sunk in yet – and for me, I prefer to call it a “life break” – for in no way, shape or form will I be retired for now it is time to really get started on that next step in life – moving to Panama!  There are so many things to get done and so little time to do it in now – I am starting to feel the pressure!

So where do I start?  Well, first and foremost  our house is now for sale!  Our son has bought a new house in Edmonton and he will be taking most of the furnishings which is a good thing – so we will be moving him April 3rd – and we now have a place to store a lot of the other “stuff” that we will be needing to put into storage.   Secondly, our flights are officially booked – April 15 it is!  We are flying United and decided to go first class.  We only purchased one way tickets for now (at $602) each, and will purchase fully refundable return tickets before we leave as we will need to provide a date that we will be leaving Panama since we are pretty sure we won’t  have our pensionado visas fully in place before we leave.  The price to fly economy was 539$ but this would only allow one 50 lb suitcase each, whereas first class allows us to bring two 70 lb suitcases each.  If we had to pay out of pocket for the extra weight it would have definitely cost us more – not to mention the perks we will be getting for flying first class!  We also got our dog all checked in for her cargo flight – poor puppy :'(.  We have had friends and family offer to take her, but alas, D and I just feel she is part of the family and we just can’t leave her behind.   (I just wanted to make a quick note here that for all the flack United sometimes gets from its patrons, they were super helpful and very informative when I called their Pet Safe line to get everything in place for our dog – thanks United!).

We also now have a lawyer lined up in Panama to help us with attaining our Pensionado Visas.  I have compiled a list of all the paperwork we need – thanks Karen  http://indacampo.wordpress.com/how-we-walked-outside-the-carton/ – this information has been invaluable!!!  D and I will also be utilizing the services of ALS Canada to help us out with process.  For now, for this weekend, we will be packing/chucking, packing/chucking and more packing/ chucking – lol.  The paperwork process  will start Monday – so much to do with so little time – Retired???  who said I was retired – lol!