Monday, March 3, 2008

Land-based adventures in Panamá

The last couple of days have been really busy. Saturday I took a taxi to meet our agent at a car rental place. Enrique got us his rate on the car and then gave me detailed instructions, including a drawing, on how to get to Shelter Bay to pick up John. That took all morning.

Driving in Panamá is challenging: there are neither accurate maps nor street signs. People use landmarks to give directions, and the landmarks often don’t have obvious signs either. We could get really lost here, but so far, that hasn’t happened. Enrique’s instructions were excellent, and I made it to Shelter Bay with only one wrong turn that was quickly discovered and corrected.

John had a tougher time of it. The haul-out went really well and the bottom looked good. But then John couldn’t get the rudder off. (The rudder has to be off in order to get to the skeg to repair it.) He was having a late lunch at the marina restaurant when I arrived and joined him. Victor, the boatyard lead, was scheduled to come at 4:00 and help John with the rudder. We were surprised and pleased when we went back to the boat at 3:30 to find the rudder off. I was relieved that we would be able to make the drive back to the B&B while it was still light.

Yesterday we had three errands to accomplish: take John’s driver’s license to the car rental place so that he can drive the car, get more minutes for my cell phone, and find an optician to order new glasses for John. Thanks to a link from the Pequeño Paraiso website to Panama Zone street maps online, I was able to find enough landmarks to figure out how to get where we needed to go, but it’s a good thing that I learned to deal with ambiguity back in my working days. (I think that means that I’m good at guessing; I’m not sure. It was stated as a requirement for my last job.)

After we accomplished our missions, we took time to go to the movies. They’re relatively inexpensive here ($3 before 3:00 pm). You just need to be sure that the movie has subtitles rather than being dubbed. The theater made that easy by posting a description of the movies including the original titles (it’s sometimes hard to guess from the Spanish titles.) We saw Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks. If you haven’t seen it yet, we recommend it.

This morning I gave John the drawings to get to Shelter Bay and had him look at the maps. He’s got an advantage because I pointed out landmarks to him as I drove him here. I would have gone with him, but my friend Yadira is coming to Panama City today, and I’m going to meet up with her. I’m looking forward to renewing our friendship; it’s been 14 years already.

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