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April 24, 2007 (12)




Yesterday, we just tried to catch up on sleep and replenish our energy stores. The weather has turned windy, and the Pacific is coming at us in big swells; it feels like we have already left for the Galapagos, but we are still at anchor near Panama City. Panama City is just across some water and surprised us; it is significant with many tall buildings that look over 100 stories; it seems every bit like another New York City, about 15 miles in the distance.


After breakfast, we went ashore to check out the Flamenco Marina. The French would say it is under construction and is medium good. They are charging prices like the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. Instead of $500 per night at Atlantis to dock Bella Donna, they want $400. John talked to someone who claimed to be the dock master yesterday who quoted us a price of a little over $200 over the phone, which is still more than the dock is worth. Even the internet is charged by the hour per computer; this is highway robbery. So far, from what we have seen, the way to do the Canal is to stay on the North end, on the Caribbean side, in the Shelter Bay Marina, going to Colon to make provisions for the Galapagos. The prices were $50 per night for Bella Donna for dockage, and the internet was $5 per boat to hook up to wireless. The cab rides were said to be $6 per hour, but when we caught a cab to use the Internet at the YMCA and to Rey's to shop, it cost us $20; on the other hand, the air-conditioned bus took us to shop round trip for $4 each. Keep going when you get to the Panama City side of the Canal; it is just too expensive.


We decide to stay at anchor, and maybe we will spend a few days sailing to islands about 40 miles offshore. That is today's idea; let us see what tomorrow's thinking brings.


We only have many primitive islands to visit in the South Pacific, so we spent our last days in more populated and modern areas. We decided to move the boat to quieter water, rent a car, or take a taxi to tour. We go ashore to find out more information and buy fishing tackle. The advice we get is to take a taxi for short trips to local neighborhoods and rent a car if we want to take the main roads out of town; under no circumstances should we rent a car and get lost or make a wrong turn; it could prove dangerous. Taxis are supposed to rent for $6 an hour, but no one we have talked to has found this price. Ramon, someone we found, has a taxi large enough for all 5 of us; he charges $10 per hour. Another cab driver, Raymond, can fit five small people in his cab, charging $9 per hour. Some of us are large even though we are smaller than we were when we started. Ramon gets our business.


We aim to tour the visitor's center that overlooks the Canal at the Miraflores Locks. They close at 5 PM. Deborah does not feel like going, so she will rest and look after Bella Donna. We will go out to dinner tonight across the street and give Deborah a break. We have been having one to die for dinner after another. I don't think other cruisers have it so good.

Well, I will get this off before we go—more tomorrow.


God Bless Bella Donna.

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