Battling bureaucracy (Drive Day 126: November 3rd, 2003)

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Regardless of which shipping route we decide to get around the Darien Gap, there is customs paperwork that has to be filed, in Panama City. The streets are too congested to maneuver the truck, and we almost get robbed on a cab ride from a police station to the customs office. Three men rush up from a traffic median and reach for my door at the same time, but before my cold-addled brain catches up, the cabbie whips a U-turn and guns the motor, effectively ripping the door handle from their hands.

Inside the PTJ – the technical judicial police building where forms are stamped, copied, filed, lost, and various other steps involving fees and irregular office hours – there is no air-conditioning. Or functioning women’s room. But there is awesome fluorescent lighting that makes for super flattering selfies after seven hours of waiting in lines.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

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