The funny part is I don’t even know his name. I know where he lives, I know his astonishing skill, I wear the very clothes that he mends on my body every single day. You’ve probably passed by his house. It’s just up the corner from Avenida B and Calle 4ta, between the corner with Casablanca and the corner with Havana Panama. It sits across from a ruin-looking shell that has weeds and trees growing out from the cement: cats run in there through the skinny bars when they’re scared or feeling threatened.
There’s an iconic man that sits outside the shop who’s name I don’t know either. He sits on a small bench and he’s almost always there at any time of the day. It’s this man who you can see on Casco Viejo post cards and tourist souvenir photos. He has a worn, old, Panamanian look about him this man. He is roommate’s with the tailor who makes my clothes.
The tailor works beneath a mountain of fabric: of old shirts and pants and sewing pins and old machine parts. The shop itself is no bigger than my kitchen with a door to the back that leads to god-knows-where. I often see Kuna Indians walking through this door with large bags.
I first brought the tailor my pants back in 2008 and he hemmed them as good, if not better, than any seamstress I’ve ever used, and returned them in a time-period of about 20 hours. The cost was $1.25 which included tax.
I then took him a slightly more expensive button down shirt which he did an equally impressive job on. There is nothing like a perfectly hemmed button down shirt. And once I realized I had this gold mine about two blocks from my apartment, I started bringing him all my shirts, even if they didn’t need hemming.
“So if you don’t want them hemmed, what are you doing here?” I had no answer to this.
My tailor of Panama is about as efficient, skillful, and inexpensive as they come. If you’re staying with us here at Los Cuatro Tulipanes and want to get anything done, he comes highly recommended.