As I mentioned earlier, my friend O came to visit recently. One of the stops on our must see list was the beach! Since I don’t have a car and we were limited on time, Isla Taboga proved to be the best option. When we woke up on Saturday, it was a bit cloudy, but no way was that going to ruin our plans. After a quick breakfast at Suzette’s Cafe (crepes and omelettes, yummy!), we caught a cab to Amador to board the ferry.
As soon as we caught sight of the island, the sun came out (I’ll credit our positive thinking). When we exited the ferry however, we were greeted by the immigration police asking to see our passports. Uh-oh…we might have a problem here. I only had a copy of my photo and O only had her driver’s license. I started getting a little nervous because I remembered a story my classmate told me about her experience with the immigration police. Long story short, she didn’t have her passport when questioned, and they took in custody for half a day…clearly not what we want. When we explained that we didn’t have our passports, the police asked us to step to the side. As more people exited the ferry, more were asked to step to the side. There were even a number of Panamanians that were asked to wait because they didn’t have their celular card (not sure about spelling), similar to a social security card. After the boat was emptied, the police started questioning everyone one by one.
Lucky for us, I noticed that after questioning, the police were letting people enter the island. Also lucky for us, my Spanish lessons were paying off, and I was able to communicate. Bottom line, according to the immigration police we were going to be given a pass…this time. But next time, we might not be so lucky. We were told that immigration was just as strict here as in the United States, and that we needed to have our passports with us at all times.
Now this is really a toss-up for me. I haven’t had the chance to look up the actual requirements/laws for tourists, but I know that I don’t feel comfortable carrying my passport with me at all times. I prefer to carry a copy of the picture page, as well as the page with the stamp with my entrance date. Any thoughts?
This time around, I brought my own lunch to enjoy while relaxing on the beach (which I recommend if you want to maximize your time). I also saw a few things around the town that I missed on my last trip. Check out my new photos!