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Namani at Sea
The travels of Nana, Markus and Nick aboard Namani
The Tip-Top Restaurant
Markus
23-Dec-2011, San Antonio, Jamaica (posted from Portobello, Panama)

Now that we have an internet connection, a little flashback to our last evening in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Our friend Bill had just arrived from the US and we wanted to have a farewell dinner at our favorite food place in Port Antonio, the Tip-Top Restaurant (unique - you have to check it out if you're ever there). By the time we got there however, Owen, the chef, was just closing up the kitchen for the day. Based on a conversation we had earlier he had expected us a day earlier and was planning on leaving early this night. After much regretting on all sides he opened up the kitchen again and we had a fabulous and fun meal (his version of "Chicken Chop-Suey" - as Bill put it: "The Caribbean version of the American bastardization of a Chinese dish"), with Sgt. Lorenzo from the local police force stepping in as the waiter. A very fond memory of a beautiful place with some very nice people...

08 - In Panama
Back to Civilization
Markus
21-Dec-2011, Portobelo, Panama

We weighed anchor in Porvenir yesterday (20DEC) at daybreak, after checking out of the San Blas Islands there the day before. A fast (by our standards) 55nm later we dropped the hook in Portobelo, about 20nm NE of Colon. We had originally planned to stay in the San Blas a few days longer, but with seas building across the entire Caribbean and us slowly running out of supplies, yesterday seemed like the right day to move.

Portobelo was the harbor the Spanish used in the 17th century to load the gold they had brought up from South America on the Pacific side and then trecked across Panama onto ships bound for Spain. The old "Counting House" that controlled and logged the flow of gold back then is still standing here. Apparently, for almost one century one third of the world's gold moved though this harbor. Otherwise, Portobello is a sleepy little town with some backpackers and cruisers. To us it almost feels like a big city after having been "out of it" since we left Jamaica at the end of November. We even took the bus to the supermarket in Sabanitas today (about 1 hour away) to replenish our food stores. We will stay here over the holidays and then hope to make it to Colon by the end of December to have Namani measured for the Canal transit.

Having grown up in Europe I have never really appreciated how big a deal the Panama Canal was when it was first built. The effort and number of lives lost in during the multiple attempts to cut the Canal through dense and hilly rainforest is just mind-boggling. It's interesting to now see the reminders here of how the Spanish struggled to get their exploits across Panama on land (in order to avoid the alternative sea route around Cape Horn - which they had to use again after the English destroyed Portobelo). All the more curious now to actually go though the Canal now...

We'll probably get internet access somewhere in Portobello, so we can finally post some pictures again over the next few days...

08 - In Panama
Back in Porvenir
Markus
19-Dec-2011, Porvenir, San Blas Islands, Panama

Anchored off Porvenir now (8pm local time). Checked out with the harbor master here to get our "Zarpe", the exit document we need to check into our next port of call. Planning to go to Portobello tomorrow (about 55nm), anchor there over the holidays, and then continue to Colon. The squalls and rain we had the last two weeks are finally forecast to move off to the west but starting Wedneday seas are forecast to become bigger (>10ft NE swell from strong tradewinds in the Eastern and Central Caribbean). Hence we want to get out of their way tomorrow. Talked on the VHF to a family from Herrsching this morning (practically neighbours to our Bavarian hometown) and are anchored next to Polish boat with very nice crew tonight. A small world again... It's been really wonderful in the San Blas (despite the unusual squally weather) and we could easily spend another month here. Nevertheless glad we got a good taste of it and are a little eager to move on as well.

08 - In Panama

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