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The 30-day Tourist

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Written by Matt   
Friday, 15 June 2007 08:29

So recently there’s been a lot of fuss over a restriction the Panamanian government put on tourists. And without sounding narcissistic, rx I am pretty sure they made this law specifically for me.

The network of news updates and information bulletins, and the way in which they are distributed in Panama are significantly less intricate than that of John Witherspoon Middle School: a place where I convinced a group of sixth graders that potato actually had an “e” on the end of it.


Is the algebra test really cancelled because the teacher had a stroke? Are you really allowed to leave campus without permission? Was that actually human poop they found buried in Alex Argento’s saxophone?


Gossip and rumors here are simply a way of life.


The topic of debate, in case you have been living in a water-tight orb at the bottom of a lake for the past month, is regarding tourist visas. In the past, Panama has allowed “tourists” 90 days to explore before they’re nicely asked to ‘get the heavens out’. You don’t have to go home, the tourism laws used to state, but you can’t stay here. Now that time period has changed, or at least we think, to 30 days. Thing is, no one really knows.


I’m guessing this new law is aimed certain immigrant groups, and I’m pretty sure that neither Europeans nor North Americans are one of them. However being labeled as an illegal immigrant, I am forced to try a little bit harder to look the role. For instance, I recently bought an eye-patch which I think lends itself to the renegade appearance nicely. I also decided that illegal immigrants should not drive SUV’s so I’ve ditched my Nativa in long-term parking in exchange for a beat up 4-speed with baseball cards wedged in the spokes.

 

As I was once considered a tourist, I have been trying to envision what it might be like to have my life reduced down to 30 days. I would, for example, not experience the joy of planting and raising fresh carrots. I would also not be able to take the dance lessons across the street, as they indicate the routine takes around two months to master. Thinking about shortcomings like these tends to make me sad at night. 


Two things have, and continue to keep me unconcerned about this new edict. First, almost every petty crime or violation that I have seen in Panama committed by a European or North American tourist has been mollifiable by a bribe or a penalty fee. Granted, I’m not talking about murder or drug smuggling (though they may apply as well), but for the most part, a semi-innocent tourist has never really been subject to serious reprimand. Some may say that this is Panama’s effort to tighten such laxness, but I’m not getting my panties up in a bunch.


Second, it’s pretty obvious who this law is directed towards. It’s not wealthy American retirees who bring millions of dollars into Panama’s economy or young educated vacationers who are collectively making this place a blip on the radar of sophisticated travel radars. In my humble and probably-dim-witted opinion, it’s directed at Columbians and Chinese whose contribution to drugs, prostitution, and human trafficking in Panama are, let’s just say, charitable.


Say this thing goes through or lasts or whatever, and your life as a tourist as your know it, is reduced to one month after which you evaporate into thin immigrant air. There are plenty ways to get around it if you know the right people, so don’t fret. Hell, let me know and I’ll give you a few loophole suggestions. Point is, no one really knows what’s going on, and for me—at least until I get deported—ignorance is bliss.

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So Many Questions ???
written by Kevin Naylor , June 16, 2007
A 30-Day Tourist - A few years back while visiting some friends up in Quepos,(CR) a similar question arose about renewing a tourist visa there. The solution, then was to drive to Panama for 2 days and get a new one when coming back to Costa Rica. Hopefully something as/or less benign will apply here. As to hearing about the loopholes, I'm all ears. I'm still hoping to visit in October,thing may be clearer by then. I'm enjoying The Panama Real Estate Report 07'.
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written by b surmick , June 16, 2007
At least you'll get a free trip to Miami. As for me, I'll leave it up to the powers that be and Ruben Blades to figure it out, put a spin on it, whatever.
Adios, Panama. It's been a trip.
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be there soon!
written by Jim A , March 11, 2008
Hi again, Matt:
I'd like to take you up on the suggestions route since I'm heading that way soon. Is a tourist visa needed for the 30-day trip down? Have any suggestions on extended-stay type motels near the city and beach? Transportation?
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visas
written by tejano , April 20, 2008
I'm almost sure the tourist visa is back to 90 days and extendable for another 60....Matt, what sort of Visa are you currently sporting?
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written by judith amber , August 30, 2011
What is the new restriction? I was hoping to get a 90 day visa, and then apply for pensionada status. 30 days would be a very short time to accomplish that.
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Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 21:41
 
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