logo Pacific Bliss
Date: 04 Jan 2011 20:02:00
Title: colon 9:21.88N 79:53.66W

Our first time to colon.

Colon we were told is not a place to linger, in fact whilst on a shopping
trip with a very nice North American lawyer who has lived in and around
panama for some time.  He said he had once driven around downtown colon at
night in order to find a taxi his explination of the place was it resembled
something out of a Mad Max Movie.  We have also heard many other spin
chilling stories about the place; one elderly English chap we know told us
not to even work the streets during daylight hours, he was mugged in broad
daylight only a mile up the road from the yacht club, and this is the posh
end of town.  The other official referance to Colon is in Lonely Planet
"spawling slum of decaying colonial grandeur and desperate human existence.
( nice)


Day one,

Secure anchor,  not easy  walk to the super market,  we are told this is ok
in bright daylight,  but clearly not after pm.  One friend of us was
streamed at by a local lady sitting out side the hospital for them to wait
with her unless they would rather be delivered back here by ambulance.  A
clear message that we take taxi's everywhere.

Day two,
We try and avoid paying an


So all in all I have a pretty bleek picture in my mind it's obvious Colin
and I will have
to be on my guard during our time here and more particular trip the
following day I am taking the kids, to see
there friends on Blue Sky.  I suspect it didn't help the state general
angziaty after colin stating in front of the kids how careful i had to be on
my return, as he didn't fancy a dead wife.....

School was a breeze this morning in question the kids are so very excited
about seeing Phoebe and Drake and there sleep over on the other side of the
canal.  We hale a cab outside Club Nautico, it's advised you don't take a
step out of the pound.  and unlike taxi's in the uk you do not have an
exclusive car you share it with anyone who manages to flag down the car and
persuade the driver to go in there direction.   When we get in, we greet a
lady in her 60's who is ahead of us in the drop off,  on our approach to
down town Colon things really start looking really rather neglected and as
we pull up to a building surrounded by boarding item seem to be falling from
the sky, presumably detritase from the upper apartments of the building.   A
farwell to the nice lady and we are on our own, me still in the front and
the kids in the back.  Moment later as we draw to a halt in trafic the
driver purposely leans across and locks the door the lady has just exited
through time for me and the kids to do the same.  I am also signaled to wind
up my window. which is a bloody relief as I have been trying seruptishisly
nudge my bag under the seat with my feet.    So whilst I am now feeling
bonified in my angsiaty it's not really helping in the bigger picture, I
still have to leave the cab and manovue to small children in to the safe
haven of the express bus to Panama.  I pay the guy and have to trust the
driver that he has delivered me to the right place.  My only problem is when
i took this bus before (not from colon) it was smart new and white, this one
in black and looking rather sorry for itself, bugger i just feel like I'm
being pointed toward the dark side......

Safely on board, having tried to project an air of confidence with the kids
we spend 45 mins waiting for the bus to fill,  Z is glaring our of the
window at the local deprevation and cosmo is content waiting for a movie to
start on the screens.  This is no short hop it's a 2 hour journey  and I
have to get back before dark.

Once we arrived at our favourite mall (I have already spent 2 days at this
hideous place) we hook up with Blue Sky quickly through some bad junk food
down our necks, also something I had been dreading and I then had to venture
off to complete the christmas shopping.  Finally having ticked most of the
Christmas list off but none of the stuff I was hoping to do I realise I need
to make tracks if I am going to get back safely.   But famous last words,
the que for the express bus is monumental and when one leaves it takes ab
out 40 mins before the next one arrives.  I have whilst in the que started
to eye-up folk that might want to help me.  I am bloody rich pickings as I
have 1,000dollars cash, a portable dvd player and various kids toys.  So
having restasured myself I will be ok I am checking the state of light at
every given minute.   Eventurally a pluck up courage to ask the man next to
me on the bus if I will be able to find a taxi easily if i go into the colon
bus station.  He doesn't speak any English, but after a few attempt at
understanding one another, it seems I will be fine and there are musho musho
taxi in central and he will help.  I continue to spend the rest of the
journey concerned if I am making the right decision, going in to colon after
dark.  This decision is against all advise and I am feeling decidedly
uncomfortable,  the film playing isn't helping as it's a scary sagorny
weaver alien film.  I finally opt for paying the bus fare for the guy next
to me,  at least I know now we're friends.  He thanks me very much and then
on his blackberry finds a translasion for ' than you have a good trip'  only
there isn't any !.  5 mins later he is up out of his seat and saying goodbye
to the daft, rather odd non bye lingual lady next to him.  At this stage
I really start to fret.  So now I try and call the nice taxi guy we met
yesterday but he doesn't understand me either.  So at the next stop I see
it's somewhere I recognise, its about half way between Panama and Colon.  I
up sticks pretty rapidly and follow afew folk who are home.  Joy of joys I
pick up a cab pretty swiftly,  it seems I am the ideal customer this stage
of the night, western and going back to colon.  But of course getting back
to the gates of where we are moored means going through the centre.  I'm
just so relieved I went with my gut feel and didn't have to spend more than
a minute in this city centre.  Again the driver thumped the auto locking
system during our slow drive through the middle.

When I finally got dropped off and I still was feeling nervous driving
around the docks by myself  during darkness without anyone knowing where I
was.  But back to base the rest was easy all I had to do was walk through a
dark dock to find the end, so I could try and hollow Colin to pick me up,
much to my relief when my call went out he heard me so I was able to walk
back into a better light area ready for collection.  God I needed a glass of
something after today.  I also had to call Z as she was rather pre-occupied
with my potential demise.

Day 3 in Colon

It hasn't stopped raining.......
this means taxi's are double, which mean there are roughly double nothing,
appart from the westerns tax, which is totally fine.  Colin and I have had a
lovely evening dining on fish and chips at the dockside cafe then back home
alone for a movie, perfect and the first time we have been without the kids
for an age.

You get luled to sleep here by the sound of frieght being loaded on
containerships and then you get abruptly woken by the tug boat whizzing past
on there way to maneova one of these big boys.  It seems we are fair sport
for the tug boat drivers as the faster, closer they can get to us produces
such a wake that you feel your in the middle of the ocean blowing a force 8.

Colin is off to collect the kids today but pre that he needs to do all the
official stuff of paying for our passage through the canal and also get our
Zarpe to allow us to travel back to the San Blas.  We decided to come and
face Colon earlier than our exit throught the canal so when we get back we
are a hop ahead of ourselves.

It's also a good opportunity to do our provisioning with out having to hire
cars or travel on countless over crowded chicken buses.  Boy I am so glad we
have come.  after colin departed for Panama I had to de cockroch 10 slabs of
beer (in the ran on the back steps) ferry them in individually disposing of
all cardboard.  Then I was picked up at the gate my our friendly taxi driver
and taken in his pickup to the supermarket.  IT STILL HAS NOT STOPPED
RAINING AND BIG RAIN.

I arranged for the taxi to return 2 hours later.  and 2hrs 6 mins later I
was ready for collection with 3 trolleys load.  this is all fine but I still
have to get it back to the boat which means loading the taxi, traveling
through evil colon making conversation with someone who can not speak
English and I cannot get anyone to understand me.  We get to the dock and it
then takes me 15mins to bale the rain water out of the dinghy before I can
start loading the bloody thing.  Luckily our taxi driver is worth waiting
for and he delivers each bag up a small jetty.  But the journey isn't over
yet.  Once loaded I then have to ferry to the boat and get all 30 bags
mostly our back packs on to the boat.  I started this process at 11 this
morning and decided to call a halt at 9.15.   The boat still looks like a
Midden, but gives a damn.  Colin and the kid are now staying in Panama for
the night, the wind has just got up we have 2 noisey plastic bags taped on
to our stearing stations to aviod water dripping down into the cabins and
someone has decided to move there boat far too close, suspect I won't get
much sleep tonight.  Haven't got a clue what I'll do if we start dragging!
ohhhh the glamour of life at sea..........................................
but you know I really wouldn't to miss this part, not one little bit.


Diary Entries