Panama Canal - 2
25 January 2015
I awake in darkness. The boat is still. The lake is quiet. The stillness washes over me and I gaze at a sky filled with stars. I enjoy being awake when the world is asleep, being a part of the wind, water and sky. As dawn creeps in, the jungle around us awakes. Howler monkeys growl like lions. The sky fills with the red, orange, and yellow brightness of a rising sun
The smell of fresh brewed coffee that Dennis is making brings me out of my place in nature and back to my place as ship's mate. I put on a red Rocky Balboa shirt to remind me of my son's request to play the movie's theme song as we venture out into the Pacific. Soon I am frying onions, garlic and peppers, with eggs, and Eileen and I make burritos with hot sauce for breakfast.
We leave our resting place for a four-hour motor across the lake. In the light of day the water is muddy and brown. A multitude of birds soar above us landing in the thick jungle that surrounds the lake. I think of the numerous crocodiles that live here and laugh out loud of childhood memories of an amusement ride I loved, called Jungleland. This place is Jungleland on steroids and the unseen crocodiles are large and real.
As the water drains out of the last lock and we finish our descent, the giant gates open in slow motion. All eyes are on these massive structures and the great beyond. There, in front of us is the dark blue Pacific Ocean. There is a nervous excitement in the air and I realize I am holding my breath. Centime inches forward towards a point of no return, committing us to a 4,000 nautical mile journey to the center of the South Pacific.
We hear screams all around. The sailors on Free Spirit and Tuvalu the boats next to us are cheering and hugging one another.
Dennis yells to Eileen, "Take the helm!" I wonder what could be happening to make him give her the helm. And then I hear it all around me. He has downloaded the Rocky theme song as a surprise and it is playing loud in the cockpit. We hug and dance. We hum to the music. Tears run down my cheeks as Rocky yells out, "Yo Adrien, I did it."
We've made it. We have entered the Pacific!