Goodbye Panama City
30 August 2007 | Taboga, Panama
Well, I'm finally checked out of Panama and cleared customs, scooting under my visa period by one day. My "tourist card", which is similar to a short visa, permitted me to stay in Panama for 30 days, and cost $5 U.S. dollars. I was happy to contribute 16 cents a day to my fellow Panamanian friends and officials.
On a sadder note, Julie has returned to the states due to a minor and temporary medication condition. While she is perfectly fine, she decided to go back to California for 6 weeks and get things sorted out with her regular doctors, which is understandable. She plans to return in early October, which Chris and I eagerly anticipate after being without her for what seems like, a long 48 hours. We have already resorted to eating everything and anything in a tortilla (coined "Mexican scramble" just last night), can't find anything we're looking for, and just plain miss her sweet company and great attitude. My "boat mom" will definitely be missed and I wish her well.
So, it is down to Chris and I to bring Cisnecito up to Costa Rica where we will rejoin Julie and Kim (Chris' sister). I look at this as an opportunity to obtain more experience than I originally anticipated.
Before departing Balboa, I stocked up on as many fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat as possible. Keeping fruits and vegetables in the tropics is not easy as they tend to go bad quickly. So, eating things before they spoil has become a bit of an art and somewhat fun to me. And worst of all, I hate to waste food and try to put everything to use. For instance, our bananas (two huge bushels that hang from the back of the bimini shade) are starting to ripen quite nicely at the present moment. Each bushel has well over 50 "mini" or "sugar" bananas on them. They don't all ripen at once, but normally soften up in separate rows starting from the top, which means the past few days we have had 5-10 ripe bananas each day. Much to my excitement, though no surprise, my potassium levels are currently off the charts. This is no problem for me whatsoever as bananas are my answer to just about everything. Headache? East a banana. Dehydrated? Eat a banana. Hungry? Eat a banana? Tired? Eat a banana. The bottom line is that they help keep me hydrated, my tummy full, and most importantly, my body packed full of great vitamins and minerals, potassium being the number one in this particular fruit. And they taste great too, especially on cereal, with peanut butter, or just plain. I love bananas and couldn't imagine surviving without them. Traveling through the "Banana Republics" is a real treat, and a cheap one I might add. I think I paid 25 cents for 2 kilos of bananas, which equates to about 6 cents a pound. Excellente.
Chris was slightly late getting back from immigration so I had the opportunity to do some laundry. Unfortunately I didn't have time to dry it completely, so the remaining bits and pieces were forced to be laid on deck while we prepped the boat for our departure. Those particular items absorbed a slight smell of diesel exhaust, with soft undertones of burnt oil and rubber, which are all too familiar odors of the canal, and now my forward locker, where they are kept neatly folded and stacked. I will attempt to mask the smell with a few dryer wipes, but cannot find them, once again, because our boat mom has left and was in charge of those matters, and many others.
We headed over to Flamingo Yacht Club to secure diesel and gas, duty free. This was a bit of an ordeal and took much longer than we had originally expected. For reasons unbeknownst to us, the yacht club was unable to refuel our boat for at least 2 hours. This forced us to anchor outside the club in a nice sized southerly swell, and wait for what turned out to be 3 hours to enter the marina. From there, we received the Panamanian runaround about exactly where and when to refuel. Donde de diesel dude? We eventually got everything sorted out and left with 120 gallons of diesel, 9.5 gallons of gas for the dingy, two diet Cokes, and two red Gatorades. This fuel must last us until we reach northern Costa Rica which is a significant distance, especially if we decide to make the trip to Cocos Island, which lies 300+ miles offshore from Costa Rica. So, we are pushed to sail when the weather is right, which brings us to our current location, not too far from Panama City. We are anchored in Taboga waiting for a good weather window to sail to the Pearl Islands, our next stop. Our plan was to leave this morning, but were skunked with very little wind. We will recheck the gribs tonight and anticipate better conditions tomorrow. "Gribs" are weather forecasts, sent to us via email, showing the current and forecasted wind, pressure, etc. Once we make it to the Pearl Islands, we plan to fish, explore, and hang out for a good 4-5 days, or when the next weather window presents itself. From the Pearl Islands, we plan to sail to the Coiba area, best known for its world-class sport fishing waters. So, Chris and I are very excited to get underway.
Today we took care of a few minor repair items on deck and cleaned the waterline on the boat, which had gotten quite dirty after sitting amongst the canal traffic and pollution. I stumbled upon the "Rolling Stone" 40th anniversary edition (Volume 1) and read through three of forty incredible interviews. Bob Dylan, Jimmy Carter, and Paul McCartney were the first three, with many other greats awaiting me tomorrow, and days beyond. I plan to read three per day, which will last me about two weeks. Spaghetti is on the menu tonight and hopefully fresh fish tomorrow. We are getting a bit apprehensive about catching fish and already discussing how we plan to prepare it. BBQ? Smoked? Baked? Wood fire on the beach