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Date: 12 Jul 2009 22:02:43
Title: Panama 2

Hello Friends                         "09:22.1N 79:57.1W"
 
Just a quick blog - we're back in the water and all is OK, though we found some of the itemisation on the boatyard invoice unusually frank...
 
 
The Sol Melia hotel Gatun Lake  http://www.meliapanamacanal.com/  is a pleasant hotel in an attractive and peaceful setting. It is also distinguished as being the only hotel I have ever stayed at which, to our astonishment, failed to provide toilet paper in the bathroom when we arrived!
 
Sadly this set the tone for a number of other, er, idiosyncrasies, such as removing all towels in the morning and not providing any replacements until late afternoon (plainly you are not supposed to wash your hands before lunch). After the hopeless failed attempt to serve wine with dinner on the first night, I made such a fuss (we're talking WMD here) that after that there was no problem, at least they knew who we were...
 
After a while it became amusing rather than merely irritating: it wasn't that expensive (everything seems good value here in Panama) and the final response to a polite request to procure a taxi ("sorry, we don't have any taxis right now") was equally comical.
 
After we checked out, another cruiser advised us that in fact we'd been staying in what had been the infamous "Building 400" officially known as 'the school of the americas' aka. 'school of the assassins' where, amongst other things, interrogation techniques were taught. I'll leave you to google 'building 400 panama' if you want - at least we only found out it had been a torturers' training camp after we left!
 
 
We're now on board in Shelter Bay and over the next two weeks we're taking Spanish lessons from the Mum of one of the girls in the office here. Joanne is a charming, retired schoolteacher and if anyone can teach us, she'll manage. We're taking lessons together with Petr and Rebecca on 'Endless' and they've decided that we need exercise, so we're starting the day with a short jog through the jungle. And we do mean 'jungle' - monkeys and anteaters on the path, hopefully not too many pythons.
 
 
We're still looking for a new Cabin Boy, so Michael's doing the chores right now.
 
Best Wishes
 
George & Michael
 

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