*Got time for a story? I needed to have a car key cut, so…..*

I asked myself, “How hard can it be to get a copy of a car key made?”

Yesterday I found out it was a lot harder here in David than I had thought.

To be honest, I  understand more Spanish words than I speak, so I try to get by as best as I can using Spanish, sign language, and English. But here in David, Panama, simple things can get complicated, especially when you don’t speak or understand Spanish very well. And my poor hearing, even with my hearing aids, can make it hard to even understand English when spoken softly or with an accent. Undaunted, I hopped in my car and off I went in search of a place that could cut some car keys. Let the adventure begin…..

My first stop was Novey, they cut keys but not the car keys I needed. Next stop, the auto parts store, where I was told “…en frente Supermercado”, (in front of the supermarket). I went there, but saw no key place. Since I didn’t feel like asking anyone a question that I probably wouldn’t understand the answer to, it was back on the road for me.

Now I REALLY didn’t want to go back and tell Kris that I couldn’t get the keys cut and have ask her to please come and translate for me —- what to do now??? Then It hit me – just go to Canasta Basica a few blocks away and see if the English-speaking manager, Oliver, could help me.

Canasta Basica is a government store that sells food at low prices. People drive long distances to buy meat and chicken since the prices are far lower than in their towns. The store was full and very busy, but when my friend Oliver spotted me he immediately stopped waiting on customers, came to over to me, said “Hello”, and shook my hand. There was hope-Oliver to the rescue!

When I asked him if he could help me find a place to copy my keys he turned around, went in his office, and came back with a phone number. Two calls later Oliver had the name of a man who would be coming in 10 minutes to help me. I was surprised that anyone would drive 10 minutes just to cut some keys, that sure wouldn’t happen in Florida where I came from. But, sure enough, about 10 minutes later I was in a car going who knows where with a stranger I had just met who spoke no English. This was going to be interesting.

I must admit I felt a little uneasy handing my keys over to a perfect stranger, leaving my car at the store and hopping in with him. This was even more of an adventure for me since my new friend, whose name is Arturo, spoke close to NO English. But even as I responded “No entiendo”, (I don’t understand) a few times as he spoke in Spanish to me, Arturo was not going to stop trying to communicate with me. He kept talking for the 10 minutes it took to get to his shop and I’ll be darned if I didn’t start to understand a little what he was saying. He had a great smile, a good sense of humor, and was obviously a guy who liked to help people. And I sure needed the help.arturo

At his key shop Arturo went to work on my keys while a couple of neighbor kids came in and made friends with me. When the keys were I done I said in Spanish, “ Cuanto cuesta?”, or “How much does it cost?” in English. “Six dollars”, replied Arturo. I happily paid him thinking the price was more than fair for all his time and trouble, especially with him driving me back and forth. —————————————————————————————————–
When we arrived back at the car Arturo wanted me to try the key in the lock. I did, but it didn’t turn so Arturo took the key and filed it until it worked smoothly. He tried it on both doors, the trunk, the ignition, and squirted lubricant in all the locks. The key now worked great. Success!
Thanks to Oliver and Arturo I had my keys and had made a new friend. And once again I was impressed by the display of the Panamanian spirit of being kind, helpful, and giving. I asked Oliver to tell Arturo that I appreciated all his help and that I would write a post on my blog to help spread his name to the FindinMyselfinPanama readers and get Arturo more visibility and business. We thanked each other, shook hands and said goodbye. I had made a new friend!
If you are ever in David and need help with keys or otherwise, I highly recommend Arturo Merel. His shop is located near the bus terminal downtown.
Arturo specializes in keys but also does other installations, fans, if I understood him correctly. I got the feeling he does a lot of things and that if he can’t help you, Arturo will find someone who CAN help you. And Arturo emphasized the fact that he is available 24 hrs a day!!!
This is just one more example why I love the spirit and helping nature of these
Great Panamanian People!
Thanks again, Oliver and Arturo!!!

10 thoughts on “*Got time for a story? I needed to have a car key cut, so…..*

  1. My biggest concern isn’t learning the language, it’s that I also have a bit of hearing loss (in both ears, no aids), and they speak so fast! I can’t read their lips fast enough much less hear what they are saying!

  2. Sorry to hear about you hearing loss-have you considered aids? I’ve had mine over 15 years and they are a godsend, really boosting the frequencies that make speech indistinct without. And if the person speaks too fast I ask them to please speak slower:)

    • When I was little, I had one so “been there done that” haha One child even took it home (since I wasn’t wearing it) to show his mom one day! I didn’t like it because in the seventies they were big and bulky, and of course, I was self conscious. I tried a small, hidden one once out of college. OH! Everything was so loud! I couldn’t tune anything out! I hadn’t learned to tune the loud stuff out so I could hear the quiet stuff! I was hearing way too much (the water out of the faucet, the air against the car window, the leaves crunching and even the birds were so loud!). With my job (being right in the patient’s face cleaning their teeth), it isn’t a problem. But I have thought about seeing a doctor once in Panama to get evaluated and possibly have one made for super less the cost than here! And when in Panama last, I did always say “Despacio, por favor”. lol

      • Allison, when you have the time, you may want to give the new models a shot.
        As old as mine are (5 years or so) they have easily adjustable modes that allow you to cut out
        or emphasize sounds and background noise. They may not be perfect but they’re a heck
        of a lot better than me trying to carry on a conversation relying on my old worn out ears by themselves!

        BTW-Your comments reminded me of I just started wearing my hearing aids, it was a noise while walking that
        I had never heard before, when I looked down I saw that it was the plastic tip of my shoe lace slapping against my sneaker,
        quite loudly!:)

  3. Joel, I always enjoy your posts that give a pat on the back to your new Panameño friends and the local small business owners. 🙂

    • The saying “There’s nothing like unexpected kindness”, has special meaning to me, I’ve received it and
      been the giver. It really is special, and I felt it from both Oliver and Arturo. I had done nothing to
      deserve it but I felt really cared for by these two men. I wish everyone could that way more often. Both
      these guys work hard taking care of their families, I just wanted to tell the story.

      • I have said before that if you treat people with kindness it will be returned ten fold and people that are able to “go with the flow” will be much more successful here. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

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