The French Are Driving Me Nuts!

Panama and flag

I don’t know why, but it’s the French. When I go on the ROYAL PRINCESS were will be visiting two French islands (St Barts and Devil’s Island, and one more-or-less, now less, “French” island, St. Lucia. St. Lucia bounced back and forth between the French and the English . . . “What’s the flag-of-the-day, dear, are we French or English this week?” . . . I don’t know why but this particular lecture has been a whole lot of hassle! Maybe it’s just the French.

St. Barts brags that it has “more millionaires per square meter than any place else in the Caribbean”, and the big attraction for locals is to go to Nikki Beach and watch the rich and famous and Hollywood celebrities frolicking in the surf. Some arestunning, with bodies beautiful, but a lot, and certainly some of the most famous, the ones I would know . . . look just like you and I . . . sagging bellies and drooping swim suits. Doubt it? Just do a Google picture search on “celebrity St Barts” and see what you come up with. Tip: it’s more fun to do it with your safe search filter turned “off”! Anyway since Nikki Beach is the hot, sexy, horribly expensive place where the rich and famous go, I know that’s where the not-so-rich-and-famous guests from ROYAL PRINCESS will want to go. So, anticipating their need to gawk, I emailed the following to Nikki Beach . . .

Nikki Beach a

And this is the response I got!

Nikki Beach b

Well, what I emailed was more like this . . .

Nikki Beach c

So, look for me with the beautiful people at Nikki Beach! Enough about the French and rich-and-famous . . .

Kudos to Panamanian Business!

I know I bitch sometimes about the way Panamanian retail does business, and what little sense of customer service I observe. Well, you need to balance my complaints against this . . .

Tony Orta is a fellow I met via this blog. We’ve emailed back and forth and he was coming to Panama, planning to be in Boquete last Sunday, and we were planning on having dinner together to chat about our experiences retiring to Panama. I got an email from him saying that he had to postpone his trip because his father had a heart attack. It turns out his father is 101 years old. And today Tony sent me this follow up . . .

Richard: In anticipation of the trip I was taking to Panama, which just recently had to be cancelled, I had made reservations in Hotels in Panama City, Boca Chica and Boquete. I had also made reservations on Air Panama, and with a car and driver in Chiriqui. I had also made appointments with lawyers in Panama and realtors in Boquete.

In order to facilitate my exit here in the US. I had likewise made reservations with the international airline, a driver to the airport here, and a hotel at the airport prior to departure.

Well, when I cancelled all of the above, explaining the reason for my cancellation being the illness of my father, ALL of the Panama based businesses agreed to cancel without a penalty or charge, and ALL of the businesses based in the US charged penalties and other charges.

There is something right about a culture that places the value of family above the policies of profit making. In every case, the Panamanian businesses sent their best wishes for the recovery of my family. Certainly not the case with the US based businesses. That is definitely a country I wish to live in. Interesting footnote to the culture of the country where you live. Tony Orta

The rose is for those Panamanian companies who did it right . . . and made a friend for Panama, and a customer who will be back, and will spread the word.

However, a lot of Panamanian companies and some individuals don’t do it right . . . which leads me to this quote from a gringo friend, who himself has lots of construction experience on big projects, and who is building a house here in Panama . . . and whose builder, having taken 80% of his money is asking for more money even although he’s only finished 60% of the job . . . sound familiar??

“Building in Panama is one giant Ponzi scheme!”

You got that right! Builders take their profit out up front and then . . . good luck!! Hopefully, if they have some integrity, they will take the money from the next project to finish your project, but if the worldwide economy slows, and if there isn’t another project flush with initial money coming down the pike . . . guess what? Last guy gets screwed royally!

Which is exactly what my builder did. Used my money to finish another gringo’s house . . . well, truth is he never actually “finished” . . . “finished” is a loosely used word in a contractoreese . . . bought himself a new truck . . . then conveniently, with 97% of my money [Yes, I was stupid! But I thought the guy was honest and wanted to help him, as well as get my house done!], only having completed 70% of the job. That’s when I told him to get his ass off my project. So, guess what . . . no warranty, not that a warranty actually means anything in Panama. So now when it turns out the plumber didn’t actually use any glue to hold the PVC pipes together, and the pipe underneath all that expensive tile in the guest bathroom has separated, and I have to hire a real plumber to rip everything up and fix it . . . my guy’s driving around in the new (dark green) Toyota truck he bought with my money . . . and some poor gringo, who is innocent and virgin in Panama, is about ready to get the shaft. You can’t talk to enough people, particularly gringos, and Panamanians, if you can find folks who aren’t related to the contractor you’re considering . . . before making a commitment.  My contractor did the same thing to the three gringo houses he built before me: I just didn’t talk to enough people.   He seemed like a nice guy.  My “gut feeling” told me he was honest.  Yeah, but isn’t that the case with every con man?   So you put it in the contract . . . so what? It doesn’t mean a thing! In the end the contractor will say, “So, sue me?” and you’ll find out that all of his assets are in his wife’s name. I may actually sue my guy. I know it will cost me more money, and in the end I will get nothing, but I will hopefully prevent others from being scammed by this guy. And, suddenly, there will be things like my contract and my suit that are public record, and you will be able to click on the thumbnail and read it all.

What about some builder’s association, or the licensing board, or the architect under whose license this guy worked . . . isn’t there any self-regulation? Remember, I told you that these guys are all related? Who is going to go against their brother-in-law?

So, piracy is alive and well in Boquete!

And lest you think I’m being too harsh . . .

Sept 14 011

 

Sept 14 013

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