My friend picked me up and we drove the five minutes to the Claro store. He dropped me off and took care of some business. My plan was to get the stick and walk over to McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin. I never eat fast food in the U.S., but I wanted to get as much accomplished as possible and fast sounded pretty good.
I was greeted by a friendly sales clerk who spoke English named Mary, and I picked the latest technology stick-and-router combo within minutes. Mary then took me to the back where I would pay. I stood in line for 5 minutes before it was my turn. I handed the girl at the cage my credit card and waited. And waited. And waited. She cut paper and rolled quarters for almost 30 minutes while I stood staring holes into her head. She never once looked at me or the growing line behind me. When Mary eventually wandered into the back of the store, I asked her what the delay was. She said, "It will just be a minute." Another 20 minutes passed. The line grew longer. I kept reminding myself that I was in a foreign country and not to get upset... but I was tired, hungry, and nearing the edge of my patience.
After I'd been in the store for over an hour, I was finally able to pay, but my Claro stick wasn't ready yet. My friend had come back and was shocked that I hadn't been to McDonald's yet. We told Mary that we would go get breakfast and come back. Unfortunately, we walked into McDonald's at 10:30 a.m. when they switch from breakfast to lunch. It took 30 minutes for me to get a chicken wrap. It was wrong (fried instead of grilled), but I didn't dare send it back.
My Claro stick was ready when we went back, but we didn't have time to go buy a disposable phone. One thing had been accomplished, and I was happy about that.
We met some clients and did a tour of the beach area. We then had the most amazing lunch at a new restaurant on the road to El Valle called Ristorante Firenze. The owner is, not surprisingly, from Firenze (Florence, Italy). The four of us shared 4 entrees, a beautiful bottle of Pinot Grigio from Orvietto, an extra glass of wine just for sport, and a sample taste of the chef's special. The total after tip was $20 each. Every course tasted better than the last. By my second glass of wine, I'd forgotten about the Claro store incident and was back in love with Panama.