So…thinking of buying a used car in Panama? We bought a used car, used it, and then sold our used car when we were finished using it. Actually, that’s a lie. We sold it because it was a piece of $#!T car…and I’m about as good with cars as I am with analogies.
A few months ago we decided to buy a car in order to get around better. Let me rephrase that, lest you start thinking we “get around”, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more.
My wife and I have been house-sitting quite frequently here in Pedasi. We are booked solid until August. There’s a catch though, we have some house-sits that are outside the Greater Pedasi Area. That’s why we bought a 2003 Hyundai Elantra a few months ago. And in case you didn’t know, Elantra translates into Albatross. Really, it does, look it up.
About five days after we bought it, it started slipping, jarring, and…well, just not being a nice car. We took it to a “mechanic” (read: the guy in town with all the tools). That was fun. Really, it was. Try it.
Without going into all the details, here’s what we did for two months of having our Hyundai Albatross:
- Rebuilt transmission
- Changed fuel filter (for which we needed Hyundai brand purchased in PC)
- Patched a flat tire (back right)
- Bought new tire (back left)
It got to the point that every day we hoped our car would:
- Make it up the next hill
- Make it home
- Have four inflated tires for more than a week
- Not suck for long enough that we could get some $#!T done
- Not make me sing Adam Sandler’s song Piece of $#!!T car
Frustrations mounted. Tensions had to be cut with Ginsu knives. I had visions of our Hyundai Albatross turning into the deadly car Christine from Stephen King’s adapted movie…Christine. Plans were being conspired to rid ourselves of the Albatross via a cinder block on the gas pedal and a high cliff.
But cooler heads prevailed and we decided to cut our losses and sell our piece of $#!T car. We sold it to a Panamanian whose dad happens to be a guy in town with all the tools, aka, a mechanic. When all was said and done we ended up paying close to $100/day for our Hyundai Albatross. In the meantime, we have opted to rent a car when needed at the bargain price of $29/day, saving us:
Cars are expensive here. I read somewhere that the costs are 30% higher than North America, and I believe it (I have to, I’m too lazy to do the math). The big difference is fixing a used car in Panama. People drive them into the ground. The culture here allows it too. Everybody in town knows ‘a guy’ that can fix their car, or can fix some aspect of a car – just not Hyundai Albatrosses, apparently.
Our car buying experience wasn’t a total drag. It allowed us to experience something we never would have. We got to spend a day with the Panamanian that bought it. Keeping with the bulleted lists theme this week, here are some of the things we experienced:
- Learned mechanics don’t really exist much in this area of Panama
- Pana-dude that bought our car test drove our Hyundai Albatross allowing us to practice Spanish
- Pana-dude brought car to his dad (the mechanic) to inspect
- Pana-dude’s dad was rebuilding a 1970 Dodge Dart in his garage – totally fetch (yeah, I’m a Mean Girls fan, so what, I’m still a rock star, I got my rock moves…yeah, I’m a Pink fan too, shut up)
- Pana-dude’s dad started up the Dodge Dart for us and was so happy to show it off
- Drove Pana-dude to registration building to transfer title
- Went back to Pana-dude’s house to get payment and met his wife and kids
- Had Pana-dude drive us to the bank so we didn’t have to carry cash around town
Buying our car in Panama was a life lesson, a bit of an expensive one, but a great lesson. We vented to our friends, and I’d like to thank them for listening. But the biggest lesson for us was to find a positive in the whole experience…which reminds me of a joke…How do find a blind man at a nude beach? It’s not hard.
This post was brought to you by British humor and the word fetch.