Sunday, 22 February 2015

1/2015 Return to Panama

Hi from Clare,                                                Thursday 19th February, 2015

No.1 Return to Panama

Firstly our apologies for the computer crash we had in December. This happened in the remote San Blas Islands and left us without the means to send our last newsletter for the year.

We spent two lovely months back in Australia enjoying the friendship and hospitality of Col and Denise's home, catching up with family and friends and celebrating the wedding of Andrew's daughter Sarah to Brad in January. The time went very quickly but the memories will last forever, so many thanks to all.

We arrived in Panama City on Tuesday after a long trip consisting of a three hour flight to Auckland, two hours in the airport, a thirteen hour flight to Los Angles, eight hours in the airport and then a seven hour flight to Panama City. We are still tired but jet lag is a mysterious thing, it is now 3.30am and we have been up since 1am. As I write this Andrew is cleaning an engine part. But the activity is better than lying in bed wide awake for hours.

Water front at Panama City

Our arrival in Panama City coincided with the last day of Carnival, so after a quick nap we walked down to the beautiful waterfront to join in the festivities. As you can see by the photos the floats we very colourful, the girls gorgeous and everyone was having a good time. The parade area was fenced off and the crowd waiting to get in stretched as far as the eye could see along the road and around the corner. The police presence was huge and everyone was being frisked and bags searched at entry. I don't know if trouble was expected but the police were certainly being very vigilant.

The following morning we had an appointment at the French Embassy in Panama City to get a long stay visa for the French Polynesian Islands in the Pacific. We asked the female taxi driver who picked us up at the airport the previous day to take us to the Embassy. She agreed to wait with us at the Embassy and then drive us to the bus terminal. The round trip took two and a half hours and the charge was $15, in all conscience we had to give her a decent tip. The traffic in Panama City is chaotic and a real case of 'who dares wins'. It was fascinating to watch our driver nudged her way through many a cross road not giving an inch but courteous at the same time. Who would want to be a cab driver in Panama City? We then took the bus to Colon; we were the only whites on the bus. We were upstairs and all the windows had black out curtains so we could watch a very violent Spanish speaking film on one of the three TV screens. The noise was horrendous, some people watched the movie but most played on their iphones. Colon is a pretty dodgy place with a lot of poverty and a high crime rate. From here we caught a taxi for the 45 minute drive to Shelter bay where 'Eye Candy' was waiting for us. She was is good condition and lovely and dry after having a dehumidifier running for the two months we were away.

Hotel after Carnival

So now we are down to preparing the boat for departure. Andrew is working with a mechanic overhauling the sail drive. You can see by the photos that it is a very messy job and hopefully the rope and noose dangling in front of the engine is for lifting the engine out and not for hanging themselves in despair. Today I took the marina bus to the supermarket in Colon. I really wasn't up to the job of navigating a new supermarket and interpreting Spanish labels, but managed to get the necessities.

The work and the mess
We are on the hard next to English friends Mark and Sue on Macushla. We had dinner together in the restaurant last night and enjoyed happy hour there again tonight after a long day of work. Fortunately the weather is very pleasant with a sunny days and light winds. The rainy season has passed and it is nice to have all the hatches open


Just work and then organise the transit through the canal in a few weeks.

Love Candy xx