March 12th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
A rundown part of Panama City

Slept pretty well.  (And it was funny, when I climbed into the tent last night, to find a Bic pen, along with Val’s bikini top – they’d both been sitting there for 2 months.)  A light breakfast – coffee + a sandwich – + then out onto the road.  We’d discovered that buses left from this place for a far more reasonable fee, but we thought we’d give our thumbs a whirl first, while the sun was not too high (tho’ it was still hot enough, God knows!)  A little wait, then a ride in a pick-up, driven by a mechanic for a caterpillar co.  He was a nice friendly guy, + drove fast (tho’ he did give is a shock when he pulled off the highway onto a dirt road at breakneck speed – he had to go + check on an irrigation water pump.)  After that little interlude tho’, he took us on (+ out of his way) to a place where there were gas stations, restaurants, etc.  Not that we needed to use the latter, since in next to no time we’d got ourselves another ride, this time in a truck, taking fruit to the market in Panama.  We didn’t chat so much with this one,  but again he was very friendly, buying us Coke along the way.

Panama City certainly has an impressive gateway – everyone coming from the north has to come  over the Bridge of the Americas spanning the canal, a very attractive looking bridge.  The city tho’ looked pretty run down, the part we drove thro – we’d heard it could be a dangerous place, + you could believe it.  Our friend dropped us off at a car park down on the waterfront, + then pointed us towards a pretty nice pension, which was where we went – it was rather expensive, but seemed clean + pleasant.  Then we walked to the Panama Canal Yacht Club – we’d come to see if we could find a boat, + that sounded like a place to start.  We were shown in to the clubhouse by the guard (because he didn’t speak English) + there our quest attracted attention, the general consensus being that we should try Pier 18.  One old man was very nice – bought us Coke, + then drove us over, + told us to call him again Monday.  No luck there tho’ – some people helpful, others not, but no leads, so took the bus back.  Spent the evening drinking beer, cooking spaghetti, + fighting ants – our otherwise clean room is infested with them.

Our quest to continue our journey beyond the bottle-neck that is Panama and the Darien Gap continues, for if we cannot find a boat, then it has to be a flight, nearest point Medellin or somewhere else in Colombia, and we were a little nervous, hearing of the drug-violence there… and actually, Panama seems to hold similar terrors.  But at least hitching means that we are not damaging our finances too badly.  But the Panama Canal Yacht Club probably is not the answer to our problem; we were told that it was mainly used by wealthy Panamanians; not the sort of ocean-going travellers that we needed.

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