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Leaving Panama City Airports

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Written by Matt   
Sunday, 20 August 2006 18:18
Leaving Panama is always sad for me, ampoule just because I know it will be a while before I get to eat fried hot dogs for breakfast, physician lunch, and dinner again. Exiting a Panama airport is usually very simple, nurse as long as you follow some guidelines, which I have interspersed below with several little giggles from my last trip. Remember though, that my expertise is in crow management, so if any of my advice is off beam, I am not the one to blame. You are supposed to arrive 3 hours prior to an international flight, and if you are flying at a popular hour, I'd recommend you go along with that. If, however, you are flying really early or really late in the day, arriving to Tocumen an hour and a half early is plenty in my opinion.

Some people have imaginary friends and some have imaginary pets. I have an imaginary patio and sundeck, and I like to talk about each of them when I am around anyone who will listen. If you get me on the subject, I'll go on for hours about how delightful the two are in the summertime and how the woodwork and waterproofing are really fine. While this rant often entertains people I like, it can also fend off people I don't. The woman behind me in line was the perfect victim.

She was an elderly woman caked in makeup, who, despite being old and cute was very annoying. Her name was Nora. She was the subject of a full body search—part of the airport's new protocol to remove all makeup from passengers—a sort of cosmetic profiling, if you will. She would not stop rambling on about how she had to throw out her toothbrush before she got on the flight. “I've had this toothbrush for 3 years,” she said. “You can't just find this kind of toothbrush anywhere.”

“You don't have to throw out the toothbrush you know,” I enlightened her. “Just the toothpaste and the mouthwash.” Turns out, Nora thought the new airline restrictions included all dental products: like some sort of conspiracy by Delta to ruin everyone's mouth. Nora was a bumpkin.

On the way to immigration, I was looking for ideas to decorate my apartment when I passed a homeless man wearing a black zip-up sweatshirt and lying on the ground by the stairs. It was weird I thought, to see a homeless man at the airport, but it turned out he was maintenance, just caulking the escalator. He seemed cool so I gave him this shout out. Wassup Andre!

The woman at the immigration desk did not seem to mind that I had stayed in the country six days too long, and simply stamped my passport and waved me through. In my experience, staying in the country too long (more than the allotted 90 days) has not been a problem. However, I have never stayed for more than 20 days too long. Either way, I believe there is a small per-day fine you technically incur for each extra 24 hours spent in paradise.

The guy sitting next to me at Gate 28 was reading the article on the front page of a newspaper about how a woman who once won $8 million in the lottery was now reduced to a rusty trailer and a set of dying parakeets. She had spent the money on a big new 8- bedroom home among other luxurious things, before eventually going into serious debt. I continued my eavesreading and the more I read, the worse I felt for the lady. I missed the old days when people blew their winnings on more useful things like magic beans and pyramid schemes and pills that grow hair where there was no hair before.

Before boarding my plane, I was thirsty and bought a small plastic bottle of purple grape juice. I was able to buy it using only change from the bottom of my backpack, which actually felt great, because to me, buying something with loose change makes it seem like it's free. The grape juice tasted better than ever but an hour later I was shitting like a mink.

You do not need to purchase any sort of visa or card on your way out of the country like you do leaving Costa Rica, or entering Panama for that matter. I like to use that money—the money I am not spending—to buy some sort of treat from the wall of snacks in the airport convenient store—sometimes dried pineapple, sometimes peanuts. As of the most recent terrorist attempts, security is pretty tight and you can expect extra delays everywhere from the drop-off lane to the urinals. Of course, you cannot bring any liquids, but you can bring food, which to me is a funny contradiction. If I was feeling mischievous, I would probably test the rule with things that fell right between those guidelines: like Jello or pudding or grits.

For the most part, leaving Panama via Tocumen International Airport is a very smooth and easy process. With all new flight regulations, be sure to check with your airline for new rules before you leave. Chances are, your next flight will have some new law like, you have to wear an eye patch or a head bandana. Either way, you will do fine. Oh, and if it is your anniversary today, happy anniversary!

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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2008 15:40