Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bus trip to Panama City

On Thursday we did our first solo bus trip to Panama City.  Our previous two trips were on the marina shuttle bus; this time we took the public express bus.  It costs only $2.50 per person, is air-conditioned with reclining seats, and even shows a movie most of the time.  We had a very nice newer bus with a movie in English with Spanish subtitles on the trip over there, and no movie and an older dirty bus on the return trip.  Still a bargain at that price even without a movie.  And makes it so easy to get around Panama.

I discovered that the local man sitting in front of us spoke English, so we showed him the address where we needed to go and he told us to get off when he did because it should be in that general area of town.  So we got off when he did, and did not take the bus all the way to Albrook Mall which is the final destination of the express bus.  It was a very good thing that this man was so kind to help us non-Spanish-speaking foreigners!  He said that the taxi drivers will drive you around and run up a fare and then say they can’t find your destination.  He stayed with us and helped us find a taxi driver who knew where we were trying to go.  The first 4 taxi drivers did not have a clue where we wanted to go.  The 5th one knew exactly where it was.  A whopping $1.50 taxi ride away!  Not very far at all.

Our “new” laptop had died and we needed to take it to a Toshiba Warranty Center before the warranty expires on January 28.  We dropped off the laptop with an English speaking technician and will check back with him this coming Monday.  Then we took another taxi to Albrook Mall.  There we had lunch and then caught the 2:00 express bus back to Colon.  We were familiar enough with the area to be able to get off the bus behind 4 Altos Mall, where we hoped to catch the marina afternoon shuttle back.  Timing worked perfectly; except that the shuttle driver had driven the flat-bed truck for that afternoon shuttle run instead of the normal bus because he only had 2 passengers.  So we took a taxi back to the marina. 

This was actually a fun day.  Just wish we had spent more time in Albrook Mall because I would have liked to get a haircut.  Oh well, maybe when we go back over there to pick up the laptop after it is repaired.

The marina is kicking us out!  We must leave no later than early morning on January 24 because they are expecting 38 boats from the Bluewater Round-the-World Rally.  Guess we will go anchor in The Flats when they force us out of here if the computer isn’t ready by then (& we doubt that it will be fixed that quickly).

Yesterday a very nice Cuban guy who crews on a large motor yacht docked next to us gave Bill two fishing rods & reels.  How very nice of him!  Now maybe we can be more successful catching fish.  All we have been using are hand reels connected with bungee cords.  We brought back new lures from our Houston trip because we really want to start catching more fish.  Cross your fingers for us!  We can’t rely on our friends to catch all our fish.

Our friends on S/V BLUEPRINT MATCH have changed their boat name.  The new name is S/V FREE SPIRIT.  They left the Panama Canal Yacht Club this morning enroute to Rio Chagres, only about 10 miles away.  We are jealous because we would love to be anchored over there for a couple of days and then on to Bocas del Toro.  But we are stuck waiting for the laptop repair, so no point in thinking about it further.

Weather here has been unbelievably cool and windy.  We have not turned on the air-conditioning all week, except at night.  The only reason we turn the a/c on at night is because we have an aft stateroom and the hatch faces the stern.  This means that we would be fully visible to the dock when we are in bed.  Since we do not want to wave at our neighbors from our bed, we close the curtains and turn on the air-conditioning.  Seems like such a waste of electricity when the weather is so wonderful.

This is really a nice marina.  But, man, are we ready to move on!

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