March 16th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Cristobal, the US administered port area (and quite a contrast to Colon)

Every morning the same – the same trek to the same bakery to buy the same sort of bread for the same sort of breakfast.  Not quite fair, I suppose – I’m writing in a sort of time lapse, now at the end of the 17th, + it seems I’ve made the trip over + over, but this, yesterday, was the first time.

Then out to do the rounds of the shipping agents – Cristobal, the port section, has many.  At the first 3, we trotted out the same old question, + received the same old answer – “We don’t deal with passengers.”  But then a real jolt, in the French Line office, not only did the guy not seem to consider our question nuts, not only did he have ships which took a few passengers, but one was coming thro’ in a couple of days, on its (her?) way to Guayanquil.  We were stunned.  He had to telex to find out if they had any space (I got confused at this point, + Val had to straighten me out) as they only had room for 5,  but we could call back at 10 tomorrow to find out for certain.  Needless to say, we were very excited, + had to have a cup of coffee to calm ourselves down.  Try as we might, we couldn’t help thinking what a trip like that would be like, even tho’ it was only a half-chance.  In my heart, I was apprehensive – our luck hasn’t seemed to run this way: too often we seem to have missed out on adventure – but still…!  All the way to Guayanquil!

In the afternoon, we took the train out to Gatun Locks, this time making sure we were loaded up with plenty of film.  Being a weekday, + probably because it was much further from the capital, we were 2 among about 6 visitors, but that was all the better for us.  A beautiful day, + a relaxing time, sitting watching ships pass.  Funny too, when one of the workmen went out across the lock gate when it had started opening, + got caught in the middle.  They had to close them again, with a huge ship waiting while the poor sap got off.

Back to Colon on the bus, then out to the Yacht Club once more.  Met a friendly US/Aussie couple, looking for help to take their yacht thro’ the canal on Monday.  We said we’d love to, if we weren’t otherwise engaged.  Back for cards.

Given a real jolt, clearly, by the possibility of onward travel, even though this was what we were desperate to confirm.  And with that, hope – always a dangerous component.  (I frequently quote John Cleese in the movie Clockwise – “it’s not the despair – despair I can cope with – it’s the hope!”)  And alongside that, a possible opportuity to transit the Canal – things were looking up.

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