We have spent a lot of our time in Panama City in various supermarkets: we are unlikely to find such a variety of goods until we reach New Zealand, and everything in the Pacific islands will be expensive. But we found time to do some sightseeing, with Helene and Tommy from ‘Bonnie’. We visited the Caseo Viejo, this is not the old, old town, which was ransacked and destroyed by the Welsh Pirate, Henry Morgan, in 1671, and the ruins of which you can still see, but the city that was built to replace it. It was very picturesque, but sadly over run by cars, and restoration was work in progress in some places.
There were lots of souvenir shops and we decided we couldn’t leave without the hats.
We then tried to get among the skyscrapers of new Panama City, but found there was no real centre to it, and the best view is definitely from a distance (usually while in a taxi), however we did find ourselves in the most expensive mall in the city.
Today, Sarah and Inge visited the fruit and vegetable market, which was an amazing place. The vegetable stalls were inside and some of them where only selling in bulk, so you found yourself dodging men pushing trolleys stacked high with sacks of onions, each with their own call to let you know they were coming. Other stalls were stacked high with all sorts of vegetables, and even at the prices they charged obvious tourists, it was incredibly cheap. Outside Pineapples and Melons cost $1 each, so they came away well provisioned for the next couple of weeks.
The moorings at Balboa Yacht Club are not the quietest or cleanest. We are less than 100 meters from the main channel to the Canal, so there is a constant stream of big ships, tugs and pilots going past at all hours. Sometimes the wash they create makes it feel like you are at sea, and we are constantly covered in sooty smuts. Today we came back from a final supermarket shop to find a huge dredger anchored right next to us. We are hoping it isn’t going to start work until morning.
Tomorrow we are going to escape from the noise and dirt for the quiet of Las Perlas islands – except its Easter and we have seen half of Panama taking the ferry to the islands. Still it will be a pleasant change after the last 6 weeks, and a reasonable waypoint on the way to Ecuador.