February 17th, 2008 – by: bede17
that's a palindrome, in case you didn't catch it... we arrived in Panama a few days ago. First we left Bonaire for Aruba, which I can't believe I haven't written about. It was nuts. We were on a dock that backed up against a casino, had lunch at Sbarro on the first day, and then I had some Ben and Jerry's later while walking around... it was crazy touristy, but a nice distraction for a few days before we left civilaztion. I walked around for a while on one day and went provisioning on the other, at the best store I've seen yet, practically better than home! I also swam in the resort pool for a bit... oh, did I mention our marina was affiliated with a resort? We could use all their facilities for free, including their private island ($75 a day for non guests).
Cuna (Kuna?) woman
While I was at the pool the others went to the state of the art, air conditioned gym, and then we met up in the locker rooms where there were shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, and hair gel dispensers, not to mention a sauna and hairdryers. It was pretty crazy. From there we had a couple days at sea to the San Blas islands, which we spent on a pretty rolly motor, but it would have been a miserable sail. We were expecting 17 foot seas, and they probably got pretty close to that at points, but because they were directly behind us and sort of slowly rolling, it didn't seem that bad. It was fun to look behind us and think the wave was going to get us, but every time it just rolled under the stern and pushed us along. We got to the San Blas in the morning, cleared in, and made our way to a set of small islands where we had free time for the next day.
this was my favorite, unfortunately someone else bought it
Before leaving we moved back to the main area, and my favorite part of the whole thing, when all the canoes pulled up to the boat and sold us molas (woven cloth). They were absolutely gorgeous and I bought a lot, but every time I got one I saw one more that I wanted. It was pretty chaotic, with at least four canoes side by side, and all twenty something of us on deck, there was a lot of shouting back and forth and throwing of cloths, but in the end I'm really happy with mine, even though I could have easily bought ten more. Next we sailed to Portobello, which is famous for being an old port, but I was head chef that day so I spent the day in the galley, cooking up quite a feast. I like to try new things on my day as chef, so for dinner I made szechuan noodles, zuchinni and tomato casserole, corn bread from scratch, and Derby pie (a recipe from a former shipmate, it's amazing).
It took me forever but I think it was well worth it. The next day we motored the short hop to Colon
, the start of the canal, except that we are outside the city, which is apparently good because there have been riots. Or so we have been told, we haven't experienced anything. I was wondering how I would go provisioning, but our agent took us in his car to a huge store outside the city and then the store brought all of our food in their van. It worked out pretty well, and we spent the next few hours putting it all away. I got everyone to plan their menus for the rest of the trip so I would be able to buy all the dry goods here in Panama, because I don't think I'm going to find much in the Galapagos and the Marquesas.
On our way to the store we had to wait at the canal for a while to let some boats pass. It never occured to me that you could cross the canal, by way of moving bridge, or the simple fact that most of the time you can't, because there are boats. We sat for 20 minutes literally waiting for container ships and cruise ships to go through a lock, and when we drove by we were looking at the door to the lock. It was a little surreal, and I can't wait for when it's our turn tomorrow. We will be on the other side in a couple of days, and will be there for one or two days, so the next time I write it will be from the Pacific!