I’d hoped David could be our driver for the January Panama visit, but he got a full time job in his field of study — he’s a statistician — and now works full time in a government agency. Lily and Gloria are working on patching together a series of drivers to meet our transportation needs, both in the city and in the village. I can’t rent a car in Panama any more, as those of you who read the blog know — there’s a new policy, followed by all the major car rental companies, not to rent to anyone over 70. What will grocery shopping at the Super 99 via taxi feel like? I’m about to find out.
Not having a car waiting in the villa parking spot will be a minor inconvenience, but actually paying drivers will be a lot cheaper than renting a car. And, drivers are in abundant supply, both in the city and in the village. Driving is, in Panama, a good job. You have to be literate and pass a driving test, but you don’t have to meet any particular educational threshold. You have the entry cost of buying, and then maintaining, a vehicle — but that’s a lot less than the entry cost of trying to start most kinds of businesses.
This will also be a dry run for me on what it’s like not to have a car, something that will likely happen for me within the next ten years as I choose to or am forced to stop driving. Having a personal car is basically an inefficient use of resources, as the vehicle sits around most of the time — and I even pay to have it sit around in the form of a monthly building parking fee. But we’re all so used to having our own cars — even two or three per family. When both Sara and Matt lived at home and were driving, we had three cars. Now I’m down to one. I’m used to the convenience, and I still have two car seats in the back — which is hard to replicate via Uber or ZipCar or Car2Go. But I know it’s inefficient. And I know, in a city like Seattle with abundant options, I could do without.
Will be sure to take a pic of grocery shopping at the Super 99 via taxi. 🙂