Legal…. Again in Panama

We’ll; we’ve done it. We had to move to Sapzurro for political reasons. Yep, not every country is as friendly as the US. Panama said one year was enough. Well; come to think of it, most countries are friendlier then the US. The US is so bureaucratically cumbersome that had we been in the US as a foreign national with a cruising boat moving  from one harbor to another a nightmare.  I personally  know of other cruisers that have avoided visiting the US with their boat because of the undo burdens put upon them by our government.  A foreign national with a boat is expected to check in with the authorities whenever they move the boat from one port to the next. And our government doesn’t even know it’s own rules or follow them very well. I’ve spoken with one cruiser that toughed it out and cruised the US. When they call,  the officials are sometimes standoffish and wonder why they called, then other times the official chewed them out because they hadn’t called promptly. What is ironic is that the same people could fly in, rent or buy a car and travel 10 times as far in one day and no one in the government would be the wiser or even care.  Why the US  has this weird affinity towards harassing  foreigners with small boats I don’t know.

Fortunately other countries aren’t like the US in how they treat visitors. In Panama we  fill out some paperwork and are given a cruising permit good for one year at a cost of  $193.00 US.  Then as a cruiser you can get a marinerer’s  immigration stamp.  We checked in in Isla Porviner and paid $100 to immigration for their service and then $5 extra per person. This is $110 bucks more then last year when we checked in.  Additionally, this time when I went into immigration I was informed I had to go back to the boat and pick up W/.  Traditionally the boat captain travels to the necessary offices and acquires the necessary passport stamps for the boat’s occupants.  Last year I went in alone and took care of everything. Since then Panama has changed their policy and all boat occupants needed to present themselves at immigration. Maybe that’s the sign of the times to come. Remember! We had to both go in to Immigration in Sapzurro, Colombia too.  However;  once in the Immigration Officer’s office there was a new added step, they finger printed us. I’m guessing to identify us if something untold happens, then they’ll have the correct body identified. I don’t really think they’ll feed the fingerprint into any database. Not in Panama. Not at this time.

In the end we made it through all the formalities and on a Friday morning to boot, both glad the officials hadn’t decided to add an extra day to their weekend. As westerners and America’s I’m not sure I’ll ever get use to the elastic time in Latin countries. I wonder how time is viewed in the other end of the world and if luck will  have it we’ll know soon enough.

With $303 dollars less in our pockets we can now legally “hang out” in Panama. And with the changes in policy I’m reminded of what Heracles said, “Nothing is permanent in the world except change”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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