Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Going home for the holidays; day trip to Panama City

Tomorrow morning we leave for our trip home for the holidays.  We are sharing an SUV taxi with Paul & Michelle & kids on BLUEPRINT MATCH.  Their flight leaves about the same time as ours so it was convenient to share the taxi to Panama City.

We have made a couple of trips to the supermarket in Colon using the marina free shuttle.  One day we rode through the town of Colon while the shuttle dropped people off for various tasks.  Everyone had warned us how bad Colon is, and they were right.  It is a dirty old town that looks like no maintenance has been done in the past 100 years, or maybe longer.  It is supposed to be very dangerous and the marina and guide books warn against walking anywhere in Colon; you are advised to use a taxi even if only going 2 blocks.  Supposedly some of the criminal element of the local population strongly dislike tourists and outsiders.  All that said, frankly I did not think Colon looked any more dangerous than the Fifth Ward in Houston, Texas.  In fact, I would take my chances on the streets of Colon before I would venture through Fifth Ward on foot.  Colon just looks exceedingly poor and old.

Last Saturday we took the marina shuttle over to Panama City for a day of shopping.  We visited 2 marine supply stores, an upper-scale hardware type store (sort of like Berings in Houston), and the Multi Plazas Mall.  It was an all-day trip.  The Multi Plazas Mall is a very, very nice mall -- it easily rivals the Galleria complex in Houston.  On the exterior of the mall is located Riba Smith Supermarket, which is by far the best supermarket we have seen anywhere in the entire Caribbean.  Prices are higher, but what the heck; it is worth paying more to shop there.  I bought ten 5-lb bags of bread flour; first time we have found bread flour since Martinique.  I vacuum seal the flour and it lasts years.  Wish we had more time to shop because we only saw a tiny bit of the mall.  But we did manage to finally find a shop vac.  Bill has been looking for one since we moved aboard.

Each time we leave the marina we go through the Gatun lock of the Panama Canal.  You have to because that is the only egress to the marina.  We still have not visited the lock for a tour, but what we have seen while sitting in the shuttle has been interesting.   One day we waited for an hour and a half for the canal traffic to clear.  It was interesting to sit there and watch these huge ships rising up into the air above our heads as the lock filled with water.  Ships are built to fit the canal.  There is literally inches clearance on either side of some of these ships.

The canal truly is a marvel of engineering.  It is amazing to us that the engineers that long ago had enough forethought to build in the moveable road sections to allow motorized traffic to cross the canal.  The road sections turn sideways and fold up into indentions alongside the canal separation partitions.  Very efficient and utilizes the minimum of space.

Looking forward to seeing family and friends for the next 3 weeks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year wishes to everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.