A nice red Volkswagon; sold to me by a Doctor I worked with was my first real possession in Panama. We were living in the city still in my mother-in-law’s home and I’d started to work at the Gorgas Community hospital, ( photo) my baby was 4 months old when I got the job as LPN working in a clinic. Every day I had to find a way to get to and from and I was tired of taxis and buses so when she had a car for sale I jumped for it without telling my husband who was still in Darien. (and he was not happy about this gringa who does her own thing, machismo in action.)
Anyway, I had not driven a stick shift and she was happy to teach me. Kids in the car and off we went. unfortunately, where we went was to Panama Viejo ruins and there was a Guardia stop which I failed to make and so was whistled to stop. All he wanted was for me to back up and make the stop. I didn’t know how to back up, had not had that lesson yet. He had me get out of the car and into the office and asked me where my husband was. ( of course) I told him he was in Darien and couldn’t come to the office. I shed a tear or two hoping that would help my cause and finally a ticket was made out… to the Doctor and we were free to go. She even paid the ticket! What a good friend but I must say that we were taking chances having the kids in the car and me such a novice driving.
I had not driven when I lived in MN. I learned to drive a landrover in Darien, one of our guys taught me but with only 3 streets to learn on I guess I never had to back up.
We/ I had that car for quite awhile and it is remembered for another incident that happened. My husband had a new car now, my red Volkswagen was not his style, and I still used the volks, it was my son’s birthday and we went out to do something and my daughter was in the front seat unhooked without safety belt (no one used them in Panama at that time) The door swung open going around a curb and she fell out the door! My heart stopped, I stopped and an oncoming car stopped to block traffic while I jumped out an grabbed her swept her up and off we went to the hospital. Whew! It was so scary. She was seen immediately in the ER and X-rays were taken of her neck which seemed to be all that bothered her, she stayed in the hospital overnight with me beside her. Guilt! Terrible mother letting her child fall out of a moving car. But you know what, that door had been giving me problems and I’d told my husband about it with no response on his part, of course, that does not take the blame from me.