I love my kids, I love birds, flowers, animals, and the outdoors. I grew up on a farm. So when my number one son (he’s also my only son) and his wife invited me to visit them in Panama on their sailboat; Elysium, I couldn’t turn them down. My husband of 37 years had recently passed away and I now had more time on my hands then I wished. This would be a trip of adventure, a trip to remember, a trip to see how the life they’ve chosen to live is.
I was ready the night before. I tried to go to sleep early as my ride to the airport would arrive at 4:30 am. You know what happened. I didn’t sleep much. So the following day I dragged myself across the tarmac and boarded a plane for Panama. I was exhausted when I arrived but the adrenaline kept me going and once I was cleared of customs and immigration I walked out the doors to the main terminal and there they were; Dave, Wendy, and Roger; the driver they hired to assist us in returning to the boat.
Dave and Wendy’s boat is on the other side of the Isthmus and we had about a two hour drive ahead. They had come in the night before to make sure all went well and they were waiting for me on time so what can I say. I love ’em.
Arriving in Puerto Lindo Dave went and picked up the boat car. They call it a dinghy. A small inflated contraption with a small outboard on it. While I’m in pretty good shape for a spry 85 year old assistance in traversing the Disney World adventure dock and climbing in the dinghy was appreciated. Boarding the boat was another matter but I made it. By now the Sun was fading along with me so they explained some of the procedures on the boat; pointed me to my bed (they call it a berth on the boat) and I made way to counting sheep. Before I could Wendy handed me a glass of wine to unwind and talk a spell about the trip down. When I climbed into my berth I slept like a teenager. Sweet.
My son can’t help teasing. After I awoke in the am and described how I slept he began to tell me I need to buy a boat. That line made its occurrence every day. Like mother like son. I guess he got his stubbornness from me. 🙂
So on the following day they picked up Cindy (an ex -pat) who was a part time seamstress and going to rework the cushions in their aft cabin where I’m staying. Figures they wouldn’t have the new cushions made for me by the time I arrived but I’m told timelines in Panama are not the same as in the US. People work to a different internal clock and while mine is 100% German the rest of the world doesn’t see things as I do.
After their discussion and no input from me (did that really happen), we again boarded the boat full of air (dinghy) picked up another cruiser – Susan (who’s boat is Wooden Shoe) and traveled to the next harbor through a beautiful Mangrove lined creek with an SPF of 10 (Sun Protection Factor). On the other side was a quaint French restaurant at Panamarina. There I gorged myself cleaning my plate like a woman ready to enter a marathon. Fortunately I don’t run anymore. Well, truth be told, I never did. But after the great lunch my
kids pushed desert on me, and while they were in my care and I always told them to “clean their plate”, they chuckled as I was told to finish eating my ice cream. Back to Elysium and I sincerely hope there isn’t anything else on the agenda today as I’m bushed. But the main to-do appeared to be relax, watch the doings of the harbor, enjoy a glass of wine, watch the Sunset and then retire. I can do that.
The following day I was informed we would be moving. Oh-Oh. Hope I don’t get seasick. I watched and took pictures of those crazy kids as they readied the boat for sea. We weren’t going far; 25 nautical miles or so, but it was on the open water and thru one of the busiest waterways of the world, we were going to enter the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. I had been there once; on a Cruise ship, but never on a small boat. Elyslum was shrinking by the minute. Things were stowed below, navigation gear prepped, the awning was struck, the engine was running and we cast off the line holding us to the ground (Dave tells me it was a mooring) and the picked up the anchor they had used to keep them away from the reef. We are not attached now, we’re moving. I’m going to sea!
The trip wasn’t all that bad. I never got sick. I was encouraged to steer the boat (but was not happy at that) and they even put some sails up and we sailed for a couple of hours. Quiet it was, the only sounds
were me telling them what to do. LOL. For once I was rather quiet and in awe of all ships doing commerce in the world. This one day we counted 30 ships (not like the one I’m on) ready to transit the canal. And Dave said that last year the canal moved more cargo then they ever had in all the years they’ve been in operation. I guess things are looking up.
We snuck in the entrance making sure that we crossed behind any of the moving ships as they have right-of-way in the channel and of course they are BIGGER! Then we crept along a jetty and found our way to a berth at Shelter Bay marina.
All tied up and secure, tired and ready to clean up, my kids hauled me to the marina restaurant for lunch. There I had Venezuelan Sea Bass. And oh it was so… good. I didn’t need any encouragement to clean my plate. Even the rice; which I’m not fond of, tasted great. Of course I was informed it was coconut rice. I may have to learn a new recipe. The end of the day arrived, most things have now been brought out of their sea stowage place and they tell me it’s time for “Happy Hour”.
I could get used to this. While I’ve never been one for drink, this glass of wine in the evening does seem to have an effect on my ability to rest with ease. The kids seem to know most of the cruisers hanging out here and those they don’t know they soon do. I’m included but even though I know you won’t believe this I have very little to say and so I listen and learn. Everyone is so nice. The Panamanian waitress’ and waiters treat me like a queen that I am once they learn I’m Dave’s mother. By the time any of the bugs arrive the cruisers retire (I’m told their midnight is about 8 pm) and we walk out to the end of the dock where Elysium is berthed. Again; I sleep like a baby.