The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


A couple of days after my brother left Dr. Ida the cruiser’s dentist invited a few of us to spend the night at her beautiful resort. Wow what a tranquil place up in the hills above Colon with a spectacular view, surrounded by trees full of bird live. What amazed me was that the many hummingbirds she has look all totally different than the ones living at sea level.
Ida greeted us with mimosas and a few of us enjoyed the cold pool. For dinner Ida wined and dined us, her chef an 86 year old lady put together an incredible buffet with typical Panamanian dishes, it was wonderful. With that we had choice of several very good wines and a selection of delicious desserts; oh was it good. We all had individual cabanas and it was so quite during the night you could hear a mouse fart, hmmm, maybe it was Sid. The following morning we went for a walk around the property into the trees to the panorama view area. Many of us are birdwatchers and so we drove to a place where Ida knows there lives a special and rare bird called the Great Potoo.  The owl like looking bird is indeed unique the way it looks and from some direction it melts right into the tree branch and looks like an extension of the branch, amazing.
What a treat this visit was. (

Ida's beautiful house

Dinner Buffet

Ida helping her chef

Stuffed plantanes

Great Potoo

Ida, Sandy and Binnie

Cindy and Reed enjoying the pool

Last year, Cindy at her Birthday party told me that she wanted to go to Benihana’s for her next BD and that is just what I organized. I rented a Penthouse on the 21st floor in downtown Panama City. Had a taxi pick us up and drove us the Benihana’s…..  You can see the video instead:

One week later the Domino Divas threw me a wonderful BD at Cindy’s house. I usually don’t play but do show up around 5 when they are done to join them for the potluck and drinks. Same on my BD, after they were done they all motioned to head inside as the bugs will come out soon, nice decoy. What awaited me inside was a beautiful table set up oriental style and all the food that was placed on the table was the same theme, wow that was yummy. And the champagne was flowing!!!
The following day I cooked dinner for Binnie and we noticed several crackles raid nests and eat the babies. We were so upset when we watched them fly to the next nest. Sid ran down to the house to get his pellet gun and my job was to keep an eye on them where they fly next to raid. Not sure what I did but all of a sudden my middle and index finger were on fire. I screamed out and I saw a huge at least double the size of a normal wasp fly away from my fingers. Ouch that sucker hurt! I was dancing for a while and tried anything from onion juice, vinegar, baking soda, soaking in hot salt water, you name it but the pain lasted for hours. The swelling started immediately and I knew that it would be huge as I do swell up major after a bee sting.
Saturday the 18th, Deb on Runner cooked a fabulous Birthday dinner for me on her boat. I think I am the only one ever to show up with my own BD balloon, my swollen hand to which I tied a pretty red ribbon, like a balloon.
Nice Balloon
Debi went all out and prepared nothing but the best and one of my favorite rack of lamb. Every 5 minutes or so Deb came out with another present and another, it was amazing. She spoiled me rotten. For dessert Renee and Pete joined into the fun. It as a wonderful evening and the champagne flowed.
Here comes the champagne

I won!!!        Not really just icing down my balloon hand,

Oh gosh!!!

That was not it, on Sunday May 19th my real BD, Cindy and Renee came knocking on the door. I knew that Cindy was coming over but what I thought was strange was that both were wearing bathing suites and a sarongs, hmmm?!!! We drank a bottle champagne then headed up to Binnie’s for ping pong. Del invited me immediately to play ping pong, odd as well, and we started a pretty good game. After a couple back and forth Renee pulled me away and lead me to Binnie’s next door property where I first saw some palm leaves arranged on the patio, then a colorful beach umbrella. Then I saw a pool filled with water and all kinds of pool toys swimming in it, and then a loud “Happy Birthday” cheer erupted. Wow a pool party for me! Didn’t think twice about it and to everybody’s surprise I walked right into the pool and sat down wearing my regular cloth. Lots joined me in the pool and the rest sat around the pool. The champagne came out and one bottle after another was opened. I guess you figured out what my favorite drink is!
Check out the video:

The boys disappeared after a while and when they returned I was invited to enter the apartment as lunch was ready. A colorful buffet was set up and the guys had BBQd some hamburgers. It was wonderful and everybody had an incredible time.
I love the little flip-flops

Also right after my brother had left I received a sad letter from my girlfriend Ines from Switzerland, for the third time she has breast cancer. Her sister lives in the Bahamas and arranged for Ines to be able to have one of her treatments there. I booked a flight to Nassau and visited her and Susanne for a week. Susanne’s apartment is in a beautiful complex right on the beach with pool. For the first two days Ines and I relaxed at the pool while Susanne was working. Then unfortunately the weather changed, we had so much rain, the streets on the island were flooded, we had tornado warnings and everybody was asked to stay home. We did get to see a waterspout from the balcony. It rained for the rest of the week, but we did get good quality time in and the weather did not bother us. Oh, and the food was fabulous in the numerous wonderful restaurants. 
View from Susanne's Balcony


Meeting all of Susanne's friends

Storm photo

BRRRRRR cold!!

Ines the chef
cooked this delicious curry dish


When Sid picked me up at the airport he told me that Karie had called that Bob was in the hospital and not doing so well. Bob is our friend who had a brain tumor removed last August and found out that he had lung cancer which had spread into other organs. Sid said she didn’t sound good at all, so I called her right away, talked to her then called Bob at the hospital. Neither one sounded good so we decided that one of us was going to Knoxville TN to help them out. I had barely time to unpack and pack again and sat on a plane 3 days later. Unfortunately Bob passed away before I could make it up there.

I tell you I will never fly via Washington DC ever again. I would have had 2 hours connection time but my flight was delayed by one hour. After getting on the shuttle to get us to the customs building we waited a good 15 minutes before the captain and crew entered; not until then was the shuttle allowed to leave. So I had 45 minutes left. We had to get our suite cases which took another 5 plus minutes, leaving me with 40.  Immigration had a huge line which cost me another 10 minutes, 30 minutes left. Here I realized that I had some cooked pivas (palm tree fruit) still in my backpack and wanted to throw them in the garbage, but not so. I was told I had to go to Agriculture with the few pieces of pivas I had left. So I approached customs line which was another 5 minutes, leaving me with 25 minutes to my flight. I told them that I just wanted to throw the bag into the garbage and that I had a flight in 25 minutes. Very unfriendly he motioned me to the agriculture line. I knew then that I was not going to make my flight. In front of me was an Arabian lady with a kid, so I asked her if I could go ahead of her and explaining why. In perfect English she said that she didn’t speak English and NO. So I had her little son explain that I had a death in the family and NO again. The lady in front of her heard the conversation and offered me to go ahead of her. I thanked her and tried to get ahead when the Arabian Lady started to fuss and scream that she will not allow me to get ahead. OK, lady I stay. After a good 10 minutes finally moved to the next person in line. The guy behind me now started to talk to the Arabian lady in her language. I took the opportunity and had him translate once more. She said NO again. So I told the guy to translate that she was a heartless woman and that she was being so in MY country. Further 5 minutes later the next person in line was called that’s when she looked at me and said GO. Wow I think the heartless worked, I did thank her. I explained to the agriculture guy my dilemma, but instead he started asking me about the piva and how long I cooked it and started chatting. He then gave it back to me and said anything cooked does not have to go through agriculture! ARRRGH!!! I had to put my stuff through the X-ray machine then I had to bring the luggage to the belt to go to my next flight I was going to miss. The friendly person there told me where my gate was and that I had plenty of time (really??!!!) I headed toward my gate, where yet another line was for passport control. All the people in line let me go ahead so within 5 minutes I was through then around the corner another surprise: another X-ray machine plus take your shoes off. When I walked through the sensor it beeped. Had to step back, took my hair clip out, took off my jewelry and again beeped. They pulled me aside and used the magic wand and beeping again and a harsh voice asked where my stuff was. They removed my stuff to a table and told me to wait. A female then approached me and said that my bra set the alarm off she had to pat me down and if I wanted privacy for that. NO I AM IN A HURRY, I didn't say that but “no” I did. After she patted me down I thought I was free to go, she said it will only take a few minutes she had to test her gloves all because of a wire bra??? There went the little hope I had left to catch my flight!  I missed my flight by 5 minutes and when they placed me on the next flight 6 1/2 hours later they told me how lucky I was to get the very last seat, wow lucky?!! Good thing about missing the plane was my luggage was already there and I could just walk out.
I made it to Knoxville at midnight.

I was with Karie for almost 6 weeks, it was rough going but I helped her a lot by getting his pension changed to her, which they said would take 60 to 90 days plus until then his pension was on hold. Just good Bob left all kinds of instructions on who to call and I guess I got it done pretty fast as she will collect again the end of this months, only leaving her with missing one pension. I tell you it was an eye opener to do all that legal work and I realize if something should happen to Sid I would not be able to do all this where we are now. I would have to return to the States.

I earned a whole bunch of names by Karie:
PA (as in her Personal Assistant)
Pit Bull: as I helped her to get her roommate of two years out of the house. , she never paid rent and lived of Bob and Karie
Personal Chef
Chauffeur driving Miss Karie
Bitch for Beautiful Intelligence Talented, Charming, and Honest, actually for standing up for her and pushing things along. Imagine Bob’s sister Bev sent a law suit threat letter to Bob while he was in the hospital dying and caused and still does a lot of turmoil.
Liquor Nazi: I think that was Karie’s favorite and most used nickname and I deserved it as I hid her bottles from her.

It was a long and hard 6 weeks but we got everything done and I helped her as much as I could. Linda her sister in law replaced me but soon Karie is going to be on her own. I still support her daily via Skype if I have wifi.
Beautiful Lillies in her garden
Imagine this while in Knoxville I had 3 dozen fresh and still live blue crabs, 1 dz already cooked and two bottles of Virginia Cabernet and Chardonnay delivered directly from the Chesapeake Bay by our friend Bill Boren. What a sweetheart. He drove the long way to visit his father and stopped in Knoxville for lunch and to drop off the yummy critters. I heard some of the critters got a little car sick on the curvy road over the Smokey's. It make two wonderful meals, one sauteed in a beer bases hot sauce and the crab cakes for the second dinner. Bill thank you sooooooooo much, you're awesome!!!!
Blue Crab Bill brought

Karie, Manuela and Michala at pool
The other highlight was Mary Mondello visiting us. She lost her husband Joe 2 years ago, she was wonderful consoling Karie. A week later we drove to Crossville where Mary lives (about 1 ½ hrs W from Knoxville) and had a wonderful time. Back in his youth Sid was drag racing and knew of Joe Mondello who was famous for building heads for the dragsters, couldn't afford them but many years later as a police officer Sid met Joe and became good friends. Then I came into the picture and a couple of months later Mary and her and I became good friends. It was really good catching up with her. She just bought a condo in Hawaii (just before Hurricane Hossie hit) and is moving there a dream both Joe and her had for years
Her beautiful kitchen

Mary and her Joe

Mondello's workshop

Her pond

Megan called me as well with sad news that she has breast cancer and surgery on the 1st of July. She wanted me to come visit so I looked for a flight. How expensive can it be from Knoxville to Wilmington? Yikes a whole 1200 bucks!!! I then tried to catch a train or bus but go figure there is no connection to and from Knoxville by either one. Odd as there is a busy railroad track right behind Karie’s house. Karie insisted on me driving her Mercedes which made it for a very nice drive to Wilmington with an overnight stop at Debi’s house in NC. Debi entertained me with hunting groundhogs which have taken over her yard. It was great seeing her and three days later she wrote me that all the ground hogs are gone now!
She designated her guestroom to us!

The the hunter

I lucked out with the weather, it had been nothing but raining in NC for 2 weeks, I had a sunny day driving to Wilmington and the 3 days I spent with Megan and Greg was beautiful weather. Megan was doing great after her very invasive surgery. She was a trouper and it was so good seeing both her and Greg and her sister Anne. Wished I could have spent a few extra days but my flight was only 3 days away so I drove directly to Knoxville and a funny thing was at the “Welcome to Tennessee” sign a curtain of rain started exactly by the sign. Tennessee had the heavy rain now.
Greg and Megan with Greg´s killer BM´s

Chef Greg


My flight back to Panama was via Houston with 48 minutes to spare. I started sweating already just thinking of my experience in Washington DC. The plane to and from Knoxville I was an Emb145 with 50 passengers. As were descending towards Houston a weird turbulence tipped the wings fast and wildly from side to side. It was such a force that my eyes went blurry and I truly thought this was it. It did the wing tipping at least 10 times and each time it felt the plane was going to roll over. People were screaming and everybody when it was over had their fingernails digging into the armrest and all had ghostly faces. I like roller coasters but this was definitely not much fun. What struck me as odd was that the pilot never broadcasted anything about it.  I could not wait to get off the plane, not just because of that but I had another plane to catch. A tram brought me to my departure gate and again a huge line was in front of my gate, was I going to make it?  It was just a passport control to enter the plane. I made it on time, this was the easiest connection flight ever, my luggage did not get checked either. They never even weighed my suite case in Knoxville, darn if I had known it would have been a bit heavier.
Arriving in Panama City my luggage, both of them, arrived first, I was the first in line for immigration and also first at customs, who just waved me through and first outside and beat Sid. He was just parking the car.
It was so good to see him and be home again, it was a good, 7 weeks not being home, not counting the 3 days packing and unpacking.

CLOD life goes on in Panama. Sid has worked hard on the dodger and it looks REALLY good. Unfortunately it’s rainy season and the humidity makes it hard for stuff to dry therefore it is taking much longer for Sid to finish the project.  

Work in progress

Yep, in the kitchen as the hummitiy outside is impossible to work on it
Beautiful isn't it
Glad I was not home LOL
I fell right back into the CLOD life routine, driving Miss Binnie, meeting the girls for Domino’s, Sunday Ping Pong and now waiting for guests to arrive, Roberto and Carmen former Freshaire/Manatee/Crow’s Nest from Cartagena, Colombia.