Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If I only had a brain...

So Ecuador is out. We noticed that a couple of our passports expire in a year. Since most places require that you have a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months from your arrival and there are not a lot of U.S. Embassies in the South Pacific, we decided to have ours renewed in Panama City. When we broke the news to Conrad and Mark that we had changed our mind yet again (we had also recently changed plans about Peru), Conrad happily drew this parallel: "It's like we're the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz--it's like we don't have a brain!" From the mouths of babes...

These hamburger seed pods are much coveted in the Caribbean.
They have greatly challenged my minimalist aspirations.
I couldn't stop picking them up...
The passport application process in Panama City was very straightforward and our passport was actually ready in six days. We left the anchorage in La Playita and headed to Las Perlas to wait for our new passports. La Playita is very roll-y and crowded. When we returned to the boat the day before we left, a friend informed us that a boat had dragged anchor into us. Later that evening, the same boat (which was very close) bumped into us as the wind died and the anchored boats pointed every which way. Conveniently, he does gel coat repairs and promised that he would fix the dings. Still, we enjoyed the change of scenery for awhile.

More hoarding...

Perlas has amazing beaches, though they're a lot smaller at high tide.

Black sand had the consistency of flour. Yup, that's all they're wearing.

We got to join up with some kid boat friends again. Yay!
Conrad and Mark are glad to be back to beaches and spend their time digging the Biggest Holes Ever and playing in the surf. We have spent what seems like an inordinate amount of time scraping the bottom in preparation for The Galapagos, where they are reportedly very strict about bringing in any extraneous critters. I experienced 2 tiny crabs in my ear canal, one of which was in there for several hours before I realized it might not be residual water (it saw the literal light at the end of the tunnel and jumped out when Matt shone a flashlight into my ear). We have seen fishing bats, giant grasshoppers, and a tiny octopus that attached to Matt's wetsuit after cleaning the boat.

Fish eating bats.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Panama City, Panama (not Florida)

Whenever we do a Google search on 'Panama City', it brings up pages relating to the town in Florida. It must be our use of English rather than Spanish.
A new watch battery for $3. The eye-piece is mounted in a plastic
soda bottle cap. Gotta love the ingenuity.
We met one local who said that Panama City is like Miami. It does have a similar tropical setting, with tall white buildings and urban hustle and bustle. Unlike it's grittier sister city, Colon, most areas seem completely safe at any time of the day or night. And its Old Town adds a charming European flavor to the mix. Generally, the people are friendly and helpful, unlike a lot of other big cities.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Going to the flipside


We made it across the Panama Canal with no damage to the boat or crew. In some ways, it is a relatively straightforward process, but things do occasionally go wrong so it's a relief to be finished. We are very glad that we had experienced sailors as line handlers. Originally, we were planning to have as line handlers a non-sailing Brazilian family (a father, mother, and their 19-year old daughter), but they backed out. Instead we had our friend Mark from Amelie V, along with Huzar and Patricia from Indra, a boat we met while anchored in The Flats. Having sailors was invaluable because there was enough going on without having to explain how cleats work or how lines should be led, much less worrying about someone who isn't used to walking around on a boat.