Joyful Find: A decent mechanic in Panama City

His name is Carlos Daviz but everyone calls him Lito, he’s a mechanic in Panama City and he knows six English words; Working, Today, Tomorrow, Bucks, Drinking, and Racing. He also knows and loves his VW’s.

We had a broken front shock and we were driving a punishing goat track in the forgotten back blocks of Panama’s Pacific coast – cringing and swearing as a multitude of unavoidable potholes battered our suspension. Sweating over some of the steeper inclines that demanded a preemptive reckless speed, there was no way back, we had to keep going.

That ‘road’ finally exited us onto a well paved, rolling country lane and we glided into Santa Catalina an hour and a half later, which softened the nightmare detour and gave us some hope of reaching Panama City where we could replace the part.

By chance, in Panama City, we ran into Slim Ferguson – an automatic transmission guy, who said he could replace our shock but that he knew a guy who would really enjoy working on our little VW … his name was Lito.

A slight man with a ready smile, Lito walked out of his shop, lifted the hood and whistled through his teeth. Shaking his head with an adoptive pride he looked at the dusty tangle of aging parts and smiled broadly… ‘What a warrior’ he said ‘what a warrior!’ which set Slim into fits of laughter.


Lito worked on our Volkswagen Golf for two days, only accepting payment for parts, ‘thirty-five bucks’. When he was finished he signed the engine and put a Panama flag next to his signature, then he took us on a guided tour of Panama City with his wife.

Cheers Lito, you’re a legend!


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  1. Austin’s avatar

    That’s an awesome story. I know you said, by chance, but I want to know more about how in the world do you guys found such a nice guy to work on your car. :) Did you just walk into a bar and scream “free drinks for a guy who can fix a front shock on my VW “? (en espanol, of course)
    Either way, it sounds like the travel gods smiled upon you, just when you needed it the most.

  2. Tom’s avatar

    Well… we go a lot on the no worries – she’ll be right – follow your nose – happy go lucky principle and sometimes things just work out … by the same token sometimes things just go haywire.

    Lito is one of the genuine good guys, not only did he fix our problem, he also changed the plugs – timed the engine to ‘racing’ perfection, swapped the coil, changed the transmission oil, tricked out the brakes and installed some roof racks for our boards. Legend!

  3. Shreesh Taskar’s avatar

    What a find! Most mechanics are thrilled to work on your ride as it adds a little exotic spice to their work.

    Hope you meet them for routine maintenance and not big problems!

  4. Giovani’s avatar

    Hola Tom y Kelsey:
    Veo que se han divertido mucho en su viaje.
    Que bueno!!!
    Espero que sigan disfrutando y que no se olviden de Chac-mool ni de sus maestros, ok?
    Cuidense mucho.
    México siempre estará abierto para ustedes.

  5. Kristen’s avatar

    I love it. And I love that you know have official record of it on your car :)

  6. Kristin’s avatar

    Can I do a guest Joyful Find post? I am obsessed with the Besos de Moza – did you guys chow down on those in Peru? Chocolate covered marshmallows with a little graham cracker base…mmmm.

  7. tomandkels’s avatar

    Kristin! dude dont you Americans have dream puffs? They are like the besos but with a bit of good! But, we would love to have you guys do a guest joyful find for sure!!!