"Your" man in Panama

Panama City is not the place to drive unless you have nerves of steel, your name is Schumacher or you have a secret death wish. Cars crossing main streets do so with complete disregard of any acceptable rules of the road and without any regard to the price and condition of their vehicle. I was recently returning to our apartment in La Cresta when a man cut across my path. In disbelief I turned to my wife and gasped. “look at this idiot, and he’s driving an $80,000 Lexus.” In Panama City death, dismemberment and trashing expensive cars is secondary-getting where you want to go quickly-is primary.

Jose Hidalgo is more than just a taxi driver. He is 46 years old with six years of experience in the manic, motoring madness that is Panama City. You would imagine the driving would have driven him to drink - but no way. Jose is teatotal.

I have watched him on many occasions as Panama’s City’s dumb and dented have come within inches of his taxi. He is a study in composure and self-confidence.

Fortunately for us linguistically challenged, Jose’s command of English is excellent. The other day my wife and I went to buy some new cell phones. That would have been an exercise in frustration to say the least. It involved four separate processes in two buildings - fortunately Jose came to the rescue and we were in joint communication within an hour.

My brother and his wife came to Panama for a holiday and Jose took them to all the usual tourist traps - the canal, Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo etc. but Jose went one further when he learnt that my brother was a boxing fan. “How would you like to meet Roberto Duran?” He asked. My brother was ecstatic, as this would give him major bragging rights back in Britain. Sure enough Jose took them to Duran’s home. The famous fighter was out but Roberto’s brother invited them in and promised that an autographed photo of Roberto Duran would be mailed to them.

Jose Hidalgo can be “your man in Panama.” He has knowledge of the best hotels, restaurants, lawyers and just about anything that a business or tourist visitor could ask for. He would like to get out of the taxi business and work more as a consultant. That is his dream but at the moment taxi driving pays for his daughters university tuition.

If you are flying into Panama City and need a trustworthy, English speaking person to help with just about any business or vacationing need then contact Jose Hidalgo directly at: (507) 6629-3015 or he can be reached by email: lupehidalgo@yahoo.com