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Hammers of Gunfire Lighting Up the Sky

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Written by Matt   
Friday, 08 May 2009 09:02
Kike Florez
"All I know is that if I was voting in this election, ask you could bet your sweet bippy I'd be voting for Kike. He's got a whole lotta know-how that Kike guy."

"I'm not sure it's pronounced like that, search " I said, trying to get past the fact that the phrase sweet bippy is still used outside of the Oregon Trail. "I think it's pronounced more like Keekay, treat " I said, "and I also think you just like saying the name."

"Well however the hell you pronounce it," my friend Everett admitted. "I think I like Kike. I wish I could be like Kike."

The person in debate was running for diputado in Panama and marketing himself via a flurry of billboards along Panama's Inter-American highway. The billboards almost all sport red, white, and blue and their centerpiece is Kike himself standing like an off-Broadway star at the Dixie Stampede Opry House. The look on his face says I know something you don't and depending on their political sway, one could interpret that something to be patriotic optimism or the fact that someone just shit his pants. Kike's slogan is to politics what ketchup is to the food world: Vamos Con Todo, loosely translated as We Go With Everything.

"Tell me one thing you like about Kike's platform?" I asked Everett, this client of mine from the South who likes to say he found himself waking up in Panama one morning and decided not to ask any questions. It's a creepily vague explanation to what he's doing here, but with Everett, it comes off as innocent and Beverley Hillbilly-ish.

"His shirt," Everett said. "OK? I like his shirt."

And then out of nowhere. BAM. Someone rear-ended my car with the force of God and sent us zooming several meters ahead before I could land my foot on the breaks and bring the car to a halt. I looked at Everett with an expression that was meant to say, wow, this is the first accident I've ever had in Panama...and I'm actually a little startled.

"What?" he responded. "He's got a real nice shirt."

The accident took place at 8 PM around election time in a less-desirable region of Santa Ana, Panama City. If you've ever experienced it, a number of things tend to run through your head immediately following a car accident, and while it wasn't the most practical topic, I thought back immediately to a guidebook I had read describing the exact area I was now marauded. "Cops won't even go there," the author warned. "Kids in the street at night, rabid dogs, and the hammers of gunfights light up the sky." It was a decent setting for a pirate get-together, not a gringo waiting on professional assistance.

Rule: never attempt to move your car if you get in an accident in Panama or you may forfeit your case against insurance agencies.

Everett and I got out of the car to a fanatical driver and the smashed front end of his government vehicle. His fury, as we would find out, was geared less towards me and more towards the fact that a) he had a registered vehicle out far past his time slot and b) he was driving erratically and the damages looked to be expensive. I noticed a small rat run across the road carrying a bottle that appeared to be twice its bodyweight. It then attempted to enter a storm drain but the bottle didn't fit. I turned to the upset collisioner and used a phrase I've realized tends to brighten up Panamanians' days. "En la lucha," I told the man. "Que no es mucha, pero que chucha." There's not a whole lot of inherent meaning to this phrase (almost like saying "shit happens") but locals tend to like the fact that a foreigner knows it. It'd be like Guatemalan grandpa arriving in the USA and proclaiming it "colder than a gravediggers bum."

The man smiled and went on to beg I not call the police, seeing as though the penalties he was in for already seemed to be mounting, and getting the authorities involved would only cement his grief. Not being out to ruin someone's day, I obliged and had my mechanic show up to verify that my damages were under a few hundred dollars. The man promised he'd pay me in installments starting payday, which was fine: also his tears earned some of my sympathy.

Generally, one should wait for the police and insurance people to document the accident, but if it's a small enough fender bender (which does happen quite often) OR if both cars are pieces of s#it, a mutual agreement may lead to no action at all. I've been in close touch with my accident man over the past week and he seems fully intent on compensating me in full, which is nice considering I did him a favor equivalent to aiding an escape from castration. As much as it put a damper on the evening, Everett was unnerved as we drove away from the scene, saying that, now that he thought about it, Kike simply had a funny name.

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Last Updated on Friday, 08 May 2009 09:29