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BOATBUMMS LOG

The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Friday, September 22, 2017

SAN BLAS WITH JANET JULY 2017



I am sure you have heard the word Mañana which means Tomorrow in Spanish. Over the years we have learned that Mañana also has another translation: not necessarily tomorrow either but definitely not today. Mañana can be tomorrow but most of the time it’s any time thereafter or weeks or even months. You probably wonder why I bring this up. Well, it seems that the Mañana thing has gotten the better of the Boatbumms Blog, seems like it takes months now for updates. We do have a legit excuse though and we are very sorry about this problem which has been very frustrating on our part. The San Blas Internet Service provided by Digicel only, can only be describes as “sux”. Last year’s coverage was not good either but a heck of a lot better than this year’s. The problem is that Digicel out here does not install Antennas, rather repeaters that are repeated from antenna to antenna to antenna from Panama City until the almost none existing signal reaches the San Blas Islands. For almost a year we have had no Internet service or just limited. There are a few areas in the San Blas where data service is better so each time we needed Internet we sailed to those places. Last time in Banadup in the East Lemons where Mas Mobil can be accessed which definitely is better than Digicel was a disappointment as coverage was minimal to nonexistent and Digi didn’t work at all, so the following morning we pulled the anchor and sailed the other direction to the Green Island Group were Digicel is the strongest, but more disappointment very slow Internet. From there it’s only a 2 mile sail to Nargana where the Antenna is located so you would think being under the antenna would be a super duper strong signal right? No signal at all it goes right over the anchorage but there is about a one miles stretch from there towards the Green Islands were a strong signal can be found, unfortunately it’s in the middle of a channel which can be bumpy when the wind blows. In that one miles we go as slow as we can and at least download our emails. So you can imagine after one Internet frustration after another we just gave it up. We are back in the land of civilization and no more excuses to update the Blog. Well, easier said than done. One thing after another came up, we ordered boat parts we will need and they all got stuck in Irma, that takes a while to chase them down, then our cruising permit was to expire but we needed the renewed boat documentation papers for that which are also stuck in our mail forwarding service in Key Largo which got hit pretty hard by Irma. I guess we are pretty lucky that our mail forwarding office is still intact but will need some time to get power back and getting all the well wrapped in plastic mail organized again. So here we are taking each thing at a time.

We spent almost a year in the beautiful San Blas enjoying it immensely. The San Blas is such a beautiful place we wanted to share it with all our friends and family, unfortunately a very few took advantage of it but we sure did have a blast with them and we always try to spoil our guests to the fullest. Janet was our last victim.

As I needed to provision and didn’t want to take any time away from Janet’s vacation I headed to Panama City 2 days prior, rented a car at the airport, did all the shopping and returned the car back at the airport an hour before Janet arrived. I had organized Lam Tours to pick us up at noon and drive back to the San Blas. Usually we use Tito which is the most reliable taxi service to and from Carti but unfortunately he does not have afternoon rides unless you rent the whole taxi. I was reluctant to use Lam Tour again as last time he charged extra for my two bags. So this time when I asked for the quote I told him we had 2 bags each, quote was $25 each. First problem was we were not picked up until almost 2 pm. He had 2 passengers and lots of stuff in the trunk so our bags had to be loaded on the roof rack. After arriving in Carti I handed Alex the $50 and gave him a $10 tip. He did not look happy and pointed at our 4 bags and said we owed him more money for excessive luggage. 2 bags each excessive?!!! With Tito I sometimes have 3 to 4 bags and he does not charge extra. I asked him how much, he wanted: $40 more. I didn’t say a word gave him the money but will never use him again and definitely not recommend him. So keep that in mind if you think of hiring him.  

For Janet it was an exciting ride, guess I am getting used to the sharp turns the steep up and down roads and the ever changing scenery from farm land to pine forest, to jungle then just fern and jungle again, seeing those beautiful blue morpho butterflies fluttering next to the car and toucans resting on top of barren trees. The drive could not have been any better as the weather was crystal clear and at the highest point over them windy mountain roads we were able to see all of the western San Blas islands. No better introduction to the beautiful San Blas Islands.

We had about a 20 minute wait for Blas’s team to arrive and drive and 20 minutes later at 18:00 we arrived in the East Lemons were Sid and Paradise were anxiously waiting for us.
Sid had made arrangements for dinner at the small island with the restaurant we call “The Red Roof Inn”, the one we celebrated Miguel’s Birthday. As I brought parts back for Freya, Louis and Jules and two of their friends John and Frances joined us as well. We had a fantastic lobster dinner, the lobster was topped with the traditional Panamanian Creollo sauce, served with coconut rice, tomatoes, and cucumbers. It was amazing.
Her first sunset

Red Roof Inn

The following morning when we enjoyed our morning coffee and Janet in aaaah and ooooh over the beautiful view of palm covered islands, a familiar Ulu approached with the smiling face of famous Mola maker Lisa. Janet had a great time and was happy that she bought most of her presents for her friends and family already on her first day in the San Blas. Lisa makes by far the most unique mola things like wine holder, mini purses, place mats, pillow cases, cozies, tablet covers, eye glass holders etc.

My walking island


Island built out of conch, wasn't there 6 years ago


A little later I took Janet to Siabibi, the elderly Kuna Lady. I had promised her to bring some rice which I did. As always she was very happy to see me and brought chairs out for us to sit. Janet bought a few more presents from Siabibi’s family, before we returned to Paradise to pick up Sid. 
Siabibi's island



Her house

 
Siabibi, he told me she was going to die soon so I asked her how old she was. She is only 3 years older than me

Oh no, another little tienda to buy souvenirs. This time the souvenir was for me, a beautiful mola headband
We took Janet to our little fort, an island built of conch, we use for our trash burning. While Sid burned trash, Janet and I swam in the warm water. 

all the trash from provisioning


Anchorage in the background




Later we sat on our noodles enjoying at cocktail, well Sid and I did while Janet was wrestling with the noodle no matter what she did she would tip over. (Thanks to Janet’s notes my memory of her visit is being refreshed and since she WILL read this I will not leave out the dinners she wrote down. Tonight’s dinner was Sid’s delicious BBQ pork ribs and potatoes. I prepped garlic sauteed green beans, asparagus drizzled with a garlic mayo/cream sauce and Caesar Salad with Parmesan cups. Janet and I enjoyed watching the stars in the hammock.

After breakfast we took Janet on the island I usually do my morning walks and also took her to the ankle deep sand spit. We collected lots of sand dollars and some shells, (unfortunately the in a plastic tub stored sand dollars survived almost to the end of her vacation when somebody’s foot stumbled on it and most broke).





baby conch


An approaching thunderstorm made us return to Paradise

For dinner Janet enjoyed Chateau Briand with a green pepper corn sauce, steamed broccoli, saffron lobster risotto and garden salad.

We were going to leave early for Green Island the following day but the wind had picked up to the point we decided to postpone our trip. Good thing as Lisa showed up with more stuff to buy for Janet plus we both ordered a few things as she told us she was going to Green Island and also Cocos and we were headed there ourselves (unfortunately she never made it). Plus she was able to see how we provision out here as the veggie boat showed up


We ended up leaving about 1:30 for Green Island. It was a bit choppy out there and Janet was happy she had taken some Sturgeron. I wasn’t feeling to well myself and took a nap. Four hours later we dropped anchor in a very abandoned Green Island Anchorage where usually at least 50 boats are anchored, mostly charter boats. Not one boat was in sight. 


Rare day to see the mountains this clear. You can see the Azucar Village
Waisalidup our Xmas/New Year's/Birthday Celebration Island
Ever since the crocodile attack here nobody wants to anchor here anymore, big plus for us. We enjoyed it until sunset when a Colombian registered back packer catamaran parked, they didn’t anchor, they literally parked on top of our anchor. I went on the bow watching. He said just tell me to move and I will, I responded yes please that would be nice you are a little too close. He moved but was only about 5 feet further to the right, still over our anchor area. I don’t understand this, there is lots and lots of room to anchor, about 30 boats could have fit around us, but no they have to anchor as close as possible. 
It was close to 7, the sun was just down and the now anchored boat’s guests started jumping in the water after the darkness settled in, plashing, screaming and having fun. Which is wonderful for them having fun and enjoying it, but obviously the captain did not tell them of the crocodile and as we know crocodiles roam at night. I brought it to their attention so they got out of the water. Now the captain turned the music on, it was loud, so Sid asked him to either turn it down or to move to which the Captain turned it even more up.
So for dinner we were accompanied by loud rapcrapp and techno music. Dinner was Penne Putanesca with a spicy sausage and a salad.

Sid asked the guy one more time politely if he could turn the music down resulting in to turn it up instead, plus the Captain, Mate and some idiot kids started calling profanities, didn’t go over well with Sid after his third rum. On top off the unfriendliness the group went ashore built a huge bonfire and smoked us out. I had revenge in mind and set the alarm for 4 am and had my air horn, pots and pans and any other noisemaker ready. It would have been such a pleasure circling their boat, getting their dog all wound up and blasting our air horn waking them up, but the weather had other plans as it started raining cats and dogs just as we were going to get into the dinghy. Guess Karma will have its revenge. 

I did go over to the boat later on that morning before they left to explain to this guy why we did not approve of the too close anchoring as in this time of the year the boats can face any which way and if you don’t leave enough room they will hit. The worst of the worry is of a local wind called chocosana hits with 45 plus knots and blows for hours and usually hits around 3 am, both boats could have been in trouble. The guys right away started screaming at me f*ing Americans and that he had been in the some Blas way before us, 7 years. I couldn’t help saying while laughing that when we arrived here he was still pooping in his pants. He tried to tune me out with lalalalalalalala, very childish. So I was just going to leave when one couple signaled to me and apologized for the captain and crew’s behavior. They thanked me for warning them about the crocodile, and they understood that he anchored dangerously close to us and they were pissed at the captain for doing so and especially for not warning them about the croc. Comes out they are from Australia and said Crocodiles to them is a serious matter. In Australia when you go camping and you see the same croc the second day in front of your camp, it’s time to move camp as you will be its next dinner, yikes. 

It was actually funny when they pulled anchor and left the captain’s obnoxious mate kept flashing her boobs, Sid just laughed and said “You have enough to pay the rent" and I don’t think she liked that a bit. I did wish the backpackers a safe trip and with the incompetent captain to better check if they had enough life jackets on-board, there was some worried looks between them LOL. Janet was just in disbelief how rude these people were. The charter boats are notorious of anchoring too close and dragging onto other boats, but this one took the prize.

After breakfast I took Janet to our Xmas/New Year’s/Birthday Island called Waisalidup while Sid lost himself in a good book. This once very isolated island has now a palm thatched roof, table with benches. Two big pangas dropped about 50/60 people off who spent a few hours swimming plus lunch on the island. This is a new tour to get to and from Panama to Colombia and vice versa other than by air or boat. The 4 day trip takes them from Carti to Waisalidup for a swim and lunch, from here to Isla Tigre, where they spend the night. Then to Sabzuro and another island and finally from the border of Colombia via bus to Cartagena. Sounds actually like a trip we would do.


The global warming theory claims that the San Blas islands are sinking, which is far from the truth. Wave, current and storms erode the island or move the sand beaches from one side of the island to another like on Waisalidup. In 2000 this island was double the side and the beach was on the East side, 4 years ago the beach was on west side and now the beach goes almost around the island (La Prensa a Panamanian newspaper brought an article out that the San Blas Islands were sinking and the Kunas have to be evacuated to the mainland. I was sitting in the Nargana Clinic at the time and showed the article to the local Kunas, everybody shook their heads and said our islands are not sinking, we would know of it, we live here. One doctor got mad and said “that’s a lie”.)

These tourists had watched us coming in by dinghy and of course had lots of questions including the San Blas sinking question. There were 4 people talking to us while sitting in the water, but the number grew until we were about 20 people around us and the questions flowed. 

Janet described in her notes:  Manuela was a wealth of information for them.  She told them in Colombia places to eat, about getting soap repellent for no-see-ums.  She asked if they knew about the crocodiles in the area.  They said no one told them about the crocodiles. She said it was safe here and the crocs were only looking for the whitest bodies.  It was very funny because a couple of the girls were very fair and looked at her in shock.


That was very funny seeing the especially one very fair girl’s eyes almost pop out of her head. But they all had a good laugh including her.

When we returned to Paradise, Sid couldn’t wait to tell us what had happened while we were gone. I have never seen him this excited and noticed the hair standing up on his arms. He said he was just reading his book when he heard from Green Island a noise we know crocodiles make, naaaah can’t be, but then he heard it again and of course looked into the direction the noise came from. Didn’t see a croc but at that time a similar croc cry came this time from the other direction from the little tiny mangrove patch in the middle of the anchorage. At this point of his story my hair stood up as well, my gosh there is more than just one croc here.

We lifted anchor and headed to the Coco Island which is said to be the most beautiful part of the San Blas. We have found nicer places, as here you get a good current and choppy water when the wind blows. It also has room for a few boats only and is most of the times packed with charter boats. We didn’t have much wind but it was choppy. Luckily there were only 5 boats anchored and left us a free spot. I think the Cocos and the East Lemons including Chichime are the only Islands left with no crocodile sightings.

The water was very inviting for a swim. Janet swam all the way to the beach of one of the islands then we all enjoyed a cocktail watching the beautiful sunset. While I was cooking dinner Sid sat up on the bow seat, he was so comfortable and obviously very tired and fell asleep, resulting in falling backwards down hitting his head first. He was dazed at first and we kept a close eye on him for a while. He was very, very lucky he didn’t break his neck on the windless. He was fine but since then never sat up on the seat again. The next morning he dove in the water to retrieve his cocktail mug that fell in.
but he did have a good bruise




You can see the Digicel tower in Nargana



The only way Janet stayed on a noodle was in a noodle seat. We made sure she was not going anywhere 

Earlier that day I bought some lobster from one of my fishermen and sautéed the lobster in butter, garlic and herbs then served it on a scallop shell topped it with béchamel sauce, sprinkled parmesan on top and baked it until the béchamel bubbled and the cheese was browned and crispy. Janet loved it so much she forgot to write down what else we had for dinner LOL.

We woke up to lots of rain, Sid had to bail out the dinghy and since the anchorage was rolly (we encountered the same last time) we decided to head to the calmer Swimming Pool our favorite spot. We waited for the rain to stop and had a decent sail to the Pool. None of us got sick this time. 

Janet couldn’t believe that where we anchored it really looks like being in the middle of a swimming pool with water as turquoise and clear as in a real pool. She finally met Debi and Reg and delivered their repaired Binoculars Deb was able to send her and some gifts for both of them. 


Dinner that night was a treat: cracked conch with potato pancakes and garlic green beans. After dinner Sid hung the underwater light out and within no time we were surrounded by dozens of good size barracudas, she also got to see a beautiful spotted eagle ray. There was no breeze so a few no-see-ums made it over to Paradise finding Janet a tasty morsel.


The following morning we took Janet to Bug Island, the island Reggie clears, with Sid help when we are here. We soaked Janet, including us in bug juice as they are plenty on the island. Reggie gave Janet the royal island tour. It’s amazing how much Reg and Sid had cleared since last time I was on the island. I brought my dying rosemary plant to the island in the hopes it will make it. The basil and mint Deb and I planted is growing well, so are pineapple the lime trees and papaya tress some other cruisers planted.







this is what it looked like where they cleared

This is a crocodile nest


Don't know what these are but the locals eat them




My favorite area, wouldn't it be nice here in a hammock


A fallen tree growing again



Sid is having fun
Basil, Mint an Aloe we planted

Later on Janet joined us for our daily snorkeling. Janet was a trouper trying to catch up with Debi, Margo and I, but mainly stayed in the shallows concentrating on her underwater breathing and enjoying the colorful fish checking her out.
Waiting for Debi to pick us up
J. Cousteau

Debi with Bug Island in background

Cute little baby octopus, look at the incredible blue eye.

and cute little baby queen trigger

Cute little Janet Cousteau
Dinner was on Runner and as always gourmet. Debi had prepared a delicious Rigatoni pasta with lobster on a lime flavored sauce. She also made a dessert that looked like ice cream but was jello with evaporated milk. It was yummy. We usually lock all our hatches before we leave the boat, but Sid felt confident we would not have rain, after all there were practically no clouds in the sky. Well, it never fails, Sid had to rush back in heavy rain to close our hatches.

Pretty much every night Janet and I would lay in the hammocks and chat until we fall asleep or until rain drops chased us down below. This night we talked till late as the rain cleared the air and the stars were just sparkling.


The following morning Debi delivered some fried Kuna Bread (Panamanian breakfast special called Hojaldra). We ate that with my banana bread I had made for breakfast, definitely a treat the Hojaldra.

While Sid and Reg were slaving away on the island Debi picked Janet and I up and gave Janet a tour of her big boat. Janet was impressed how roomy her boat is including the big household freezer and space she has plus laundry machine.

After the boys came back the girls went snorkeling. This time Janet got to see a lot more fish in all colors and found a big shell. I took my sling with me and shot my first lion fish that was very exciting, I am turning into a hunter LOL. 


Two cuddle fish dancing


Look my first kill

Get that thing away from me

Just as we got back to Paradise an ulu came by selling lobster and crab, I took advantage of it for another yummy dinner for Janet. She was amazed the one big crab, one big and two smaller lobster cost 8 dollars.


In the afternoon I took Janet to Victor’s Island around the corner from Bug Island. There is about 8 families living on this island. Janet bought me two wini bracelets plus one for herself. One of the fishermen I bought the crab and lobster from was on the island and we found out he is a medicine man and was 87 years old and proud of it and has been married for 65 years to one of the ladies we bought the winis. He also said this was his last day on the island as he was going back to Nargana to die. I questioned him on that, that’s when I found out he was 87. I told him he was too young to dye and that I will see him next time. I did see him again a couple months later. Death here is not a big deal, they are just going to another place.


After I told Janet that you can arrange lunch or dinner on the islands she insisted to invite us for one. I took her to BBQ Island where we made reservations for the following day. Janet enjoyed another one of what she calls delicious dinner: BBQ lobster and potatoes, Caesar salad in Parmesan shell, stuffed zucchinis with mushroom baked over with cheese and dessert and afterward was lying in hammock looking for shooting stars.





Another beautiful sunset
We did get a lot of rain that night with loud thunder and lightning which was followed by an overcast day. It was a relaxed day, reading books then wonderful lunch on beach. We had fried fish, coconut rice and a delicious lentil and bean dish. Debi brought her homemade hot sauce and we all enjoyed it. 

Isla Morrodub which means Turtle Island is our BBQ island





The girls decided it was time to relax in the water on the noodles and since Janet was still very unstable on the noodle I tossed her a blow-up ring, it was too funny, she looked like a little girl wearing a tut-tut.



Our Pet. Sid calls him Nipper, I call him Sharky. He get a lot of attention by tourists
Another dinner treat: Mango/Pineapple chow for appetizer (marinated in jerk seasoning with rice wine vinegar, garlic and cilantro), crab cakes and sautéed lion fish. Dessert was my 2 minute chocolate mousse always a hit. It’s very rich, thick and delicious.
Since we had that big lunch it was more an appetizer dinner
2 Minute Chocolate Mousse:
In a blender add 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate (or any chocolate your choice, my favorite is Toblerone if I can find it), bring ¾ cup of milk to boil, pour over chocolate, add some vanilla, blend until chocolate is melted and add a 8 oz. block of Cream Cheese and blend until well mixed. Pour into champagne glasses and chill. Before serving I top it with whipping cream and add a hibiscus flower (if both available). Get creative and add some mind schnapps, baileys, Kalua etc. If it is not sweet enough you can add sugar, I never do.

Janet has been very lucky with the weather as it is rainy season. We woke up to yet another clear and a beautiful day being able to see mountains of the mainland.  Today’s snorkeling was at Barracuda a small but very pretty reef off Bug Island.  Margot found a small conch shell for Janet and she got to see her first school of Cuddle Fish plus a lot of colored fish she hadn’t seen yet. 

Queen Angel

Dinner
 
 Some of you may not know that Lionfish are not native to the Atlantic therefore have no enemy. They are an eating machine devastating the fish population wherever they are. For me it turned into a sport to shoot everyone I see. Unfortunately we help only a small part of this big problem.
Baby Drum, no worries it was let go again, was just to show it to Janet
Sid was working on Reggie’s boat and had lunch over there so I prepared some quesadillas for us and since I know Janet likes hot sauce let her try a wonderful chipotle sauce I buy here in the store.  She loved it so much I left a bottle on her bed to take home. Later in Panama City she bought a few more for presents. Last night while BBQing the lobster Sid accidentally dropped the plate into the water so after we washed our hair in the water I dove to retrieve it.

Janet’s notes: Another fantastic dinner of pork, carrots, chayote and yucca.  Yucca was very good like a potato, which I had never tasted before.  Debbie came over after dinner and gave me a bottle of her secret hot sauce.

Debbie called around 9pm wanting to know what we were up to and if she could join us. We had a fun several hours sitting on the bow just chatting away, felt like a sleep over. It was fun. Oh I think we killed a bottle of bubbly.

7/1/17
Last day in San Blas Islands.  Manuela made a huge breakfast (eggs, pork chops, and fried potatoes with onions).   Today did not go snorkeling, just stayed on boat and read and packed.  Manuela was busy most of the day prepping for dinner tonight.  We went in water later in day.  Very strong current so went to bow and hung on to anchor chain. 
Debbie and Reggie came over for dinner.  Manuela put on a really big spread, glass noodle salad w/veggies and Debbie’s secret sauce, sushi rolls with tuna/veggie, and just tuna, and conch salad.  Debbie brought some white fish for sashimi.  For dessert, we had a pineapple/chocolate/almond cake.  So much food.

We got up early the following morning as the water taxi picked us up at 7:30. Instead of heading back to East Lemons we decided to take the water taxi from here so that Sid could hang out with Debi and Reg instead of being alone, as I was gone for almost a week. From here the fair is $60 instead of the $20 and it takes 1 ½ hrs. to reach Carti. It was a very calm and beautiful clear day a real pleasure drive. We shared the taxi from Carti with 3 Italian and 2 Swiss girls, who had a lot of questions where to go. We were dropped off at Sixt car rental downtown PC and drove from there to the Miraflores Locks to watch the boats go through the canal. We ran into the 2 Swiss girls sitting in front of the entrance realizing that they did not have enough money for the entrance fee. We felt sorry for t
  




Long walk to our room at very end

hem and would have bought the ticket if it was just one person. Janet watched a sailboat and a big freighter go through the locks and enjoyed the museum which tells you the whole history of the Canal.

On our way to the Gamboa Resort I stopped at Pedro Miguel where in 2000 we spent a month at the then Pedro Miguel Yacht Club in the Miraflores lake by the 3rd lock that takes you to the Gaillard cut. Unfortunately it was torn down as a big hotel was going to build there but nothing has ever been done with the property, a shame.

We were hoping for the heavy rain to stop by the time we get to the Resort so we could enjoy the big pool but it kept on raining. Never less we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of lush vegetation overlooking the Gamboa rain forest and river, being serenaded by tree frogs and a big flock of parrots that landed in the tree in front of our 4 story high balcony. For dinner we opted for the buffet as the dessert section looked just wonderful. The entrée bar was not very good, the salad bar very good and the dessert, well they looked very nice but most were too sweet and not of the right consistency (I wonder if I got the stomach virus here, you will read about that later on). Our room was very, very nice and the bathroom huge and luxurious like in a mansion or villa.
Welcome to our room












Termite nest that has a face






We went for an early morning walk around the resort, heard howler monkeys but never got to seem them. The walk lasted all about 20 minutes as were chased by mosquitoes so we headed back to the hotel, packed and checked out. 


Today’s plan was to drop off our broken SSB/Ham radio in Colon then drive along the coast to Portobelo, Puerto Lindo and La Guyra before visiting and spending the night at Ida’s. But plans changed. On our way to Colon I stopped at the waterfall just a few miles from the Resort. It’s a pretty walk way to the relatively small waterfall but it is very pretty and the smells of the different plants and flowers very relaxing. The huge spider webs were still covered in dew and just sparkling with the morning sun a piece of art by nature.


Janet wanted to experience some local food so I took her to Melania’s favorite breakfast place in Sabanitas which is on the way to Colon. We had Caramagnola (fried mashed yucca pockets filled with meat, very flavorful) and Hojaldras the fried flat bread, also Mondongo (tripe) on a creole sauce as well as lungs cooked the same way. Everything was delicious except we weren’t sure of the texture of the lungs. (http://www.vivapanama.org/cuisine-of-panama.html this website shows some of the Panamanian specialties).

After we dropped the radio off at the mechanic I drove Janet through fugly Colon. It was a big eye opener for her to see this once very beautiful, thriving city now run down, dirty and streets crowded with poor people and traffic. Besides it is very dangerous here. I did drive her to the Cruise ship terminal at the 2000 Mall for some more souvenir shopping. Janet loaded up and had a present for everybody at home plus some Christmas Presents. Just as we were going to leave town the radio man called stating the radio was not working because a plate was much corroded. So our plan changed we returned to the shop and he said he could repair it by maybe Thursday, sounded good. Instead of heading to the north coast I decided to show Janet the Panama Canal on this side.

Unfortunately they don’t let cars drive through the new canal anymore, we have to take the ferry across now which would have taken hours to return, so I drove the road to the Gatun lake side of the new canal which is very scenic and on our way back I stopped at the visitor’s center. Since Janet had seen the ships go through at Miraflores Center, there was no need to spend another 25$ to see it on this end but we asked if it was possible to have lunch at the restaurant. No problem they handed us a free ticket for the restaurant, good to know. The view from up there is beautiful except you can’t see the locks. We had a beer and appetizers and were lucky enough to watch a big freighter go thru the entrance to the new lock.  You could not see the locks work but you could see the tugs leading the freighter into the entrance. I explained to Janet that the new canal did not have mules like the old canal (locomotives that pull the ships through) and that the new canals has problems that some ships get damaged.








We left the canal and drove to the El Ray supermarket to shop wine for Dinner at Ida’s.  Funny as we were at the register we ran into Ida. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening at Ida’s and enjoyed a wonderful dinner we prepared together and we talked into the later hours.

After a wonderful Ida breakfast we left for Portobelo where I showed Janet the ruins of the old forts, the Black Christ church, the old slave cemetery and took her to the Embera lady by the old custom house and Janet found some more souvenirs from her when she realized she is going home with more stuff then she brought down LOL.





All the boat to the right are victims of Hurricane Otto of last year. You can see on in the very back, that's Tomas, his was lucky his boat made it across the sand bar, but he is stuck in the mangrove lake back there.
Further down the road in Puerto Lindo I showed her were we used to live and also visited the marina. Time was running out so we drove back to Panama City with a brief stop and Jim and Melania’s house to say hi and introduce Janet to them as well. Melania knowing that Janet likes hot sauces gave her one of her home made killer spicy hot sauce.
Before checking into our hotel in Panama City I took Janet to Riba Smith which is the high end market like a Gelson’s. She was impressed how modern it was and how much gourmet stuff they sell, except for the items she brought from LA.

We stayed at the Eurostar Hotel, former Royal Sonesta and had a room on the 21st floor with the incredible Panama City Skyline view. Relaxed for a bit and also enjoyed the cold pool on the 27th floor. For dinner we went to my favorite restaurant Machu Picchu as the name suggests a Peruvian Restaurant. We enjoyed the Peruvian national drink Pisco Sour and the second one was flavored with Passion fruit, yum. We share an appetizer sampler with various seafood and the entre was black rice with seafood. I never go wrong with the food here.

July 5th was her last day in Panama City. We had breakfast at the yummy Swiss bakery across the street and sampled the many wonderful desserts and a Panamanian ham and cheese roll with a good cup of cappuccino.

Paradise is in dire need of a new dinghy so we went to look at them at Centro Marino sells and did buy the 10 foot AB ultra-light. I realized the dinghy was too big to take to the San Blas so instead made a down payment for when we return in September. 


It got our name on it

From here I drove her across the Bridge of the Americas that crosses the Panama Canal, which once was the only connection between North and South America. Then to the Causeway at the Amador all the way to Flamingo Island from where you have an magnificent view over Panama City’s skyline. I bet it looks amazing at night with all the lights. By accident I found the long lost artesian market that was years ago at the YMCA and was moved. Janet was a happy camper buying some more souvenirs. Next stop was the famous fish market, famous for their ceviche. We must have sampled corvine, shrimp, Mediterranean mix, combo, and black sea snails ceviche which was our least favorite, actually we did not eat it, it was horrible.


Next on Janet’s list was Casco Viejo the old town of Panama City. I could not find parking so told Janet to get out and walk and I followed her in the car, had to do some circles at time but it worked out great. We did a few more things like the big Albrook mall, bought my new Samsung Prime 7 phone and stopped at a few Asian markets before we headed back to the hotel to pack and rest.

The Hotel’s restaurant on the 26th floor and nothing but windows for a spectacular view has dinner specials for 10.99 with choice of appetizer, main course and includes dessert and a glass of wine. That was just perfect as Janet had to get up at 4 am to leave for the airport at 5 o’clock. Besides we both were tired.

It was so wonderful to have Janet with us. Haven’t seen her in at least 12 years. We hope she will come visit us again anywhere we are.

I was going to move to the Cocos Inn Hostel where I previously stayed as there is a freezer and kitchen available. But it was just so nice in this hotel I decided I deserved to stay here. Which was a good thing as the same night I woke up at 3 am with the worst what I thought was seafood poisoning. The following day I did my provisioning but was really not feeling well and later back at the hotel I had a high fever, could not get warm, not even after a 20 minute hot shower, then standing in the sun up on the 27th floor so I went next door ordered a hot soup then went to bed which was at 5pm. The bed was soaked when the alarm woke me up at 4am. Luckily I felt better and met the taxi at 5 in the lobby. I was happy when I arrived several hours later in and on Paradise. It took me a couple of days to recuperate and feeling better but then it went downhill. So after about 10 days we sailed to Nargana as I had the same symptoms as Sid had with his amoeba. Test came out negative, but it showed I had a virus. Researching it I found that I probably had a stomach virus you can get through a person handling food that was infected with it (Gamboa came to my mind, buffet). It’s highly contagious and nothing you can do about, as a virus cannot be treated with antibiotics, ones immune system fights it off. 

We went back to the pool were I slowly recuperated which took about 3 weeks. The tropics may be nice but it is harsh on health.


We went back to our routine Sid working on the island with Reg and Debi and I snorkeling, except now I did carry my sling with me and every other day I came home with either lionfish or lobster or both and conch. The underwater world is just fascinating and such a relaxing, meditative thing to do.