A Little Hope, And Colon

Engine Trouble

Engine Trouble

Heading To Colon  6.23.14

Guido is supposed to come check that engine electrical issue out tomorrow.  Hopefully he has some spare wiring harness parts laying around.  If not, I can simply splice the wires together directly– removing the (bad) harness connections altogether.  So, if this is the issue – I should be in the clear.

I, however, won’t be around when Guido checks it out.  I’ll be in Colon.  Colon is a dangerous spot – there have been beatings, stabbings, muggings, and a variety of other not-so-pleasant experiences there, experienced by travelers.  Even the locals are looking for a way out of Colon. But it’s the nearest city and I desperately need some Rum and Whiskey.  Some wine and food would be nice too.

The ride there is via a bus.  They’re lovingly called Diablos Rojos here:  Red Devils.  They’re like a schoolbus, but older, with more people crammed in, and they run at about 10X the speed down the windy roads around Panama.  Make no mistake – you’re taking your life into your hands when you jump on one.

The good news is I’m traveling with Amy and Austin, and I’m renting a car while I’m there so I’ll have a way to get supplies and continue to refit the boat.   That also means we cut down on the time spent on the Diablos Rojos.  Bueno.

We originally headed to the Colon Free-Zone.  It’s a tax-free zone in Colon.  We were expecting something like a mall – but it’s not that at all. It’s outdoors, dirty, unorganized, and massive.  Needless to say it was a bit of a letdown, and we spent half a day there getting lost and wandering into stores that only sold wholesale.

Eventually we freed ourselves from the Colon Free-Zone.  We did manage to procure a “foldering iron”  – in most places it’s called a “soldering iron.”

Foldering Iron

Foldering Iron

So I went grocery shopping.  This is probably the first time in 5 years that I’ve actually shopped for groceries.  This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve enjoyed it.  A diet of bananas, rice, and beans will do that to you.  Also of note – they carry liquor, wine, and beer in the supermarkets here.  Bueno.

Amy said she’d never seen such a shit-eating grin.  It was ear-to-ear as I filled up a shopping cart with enough alcohol to drown a small country and enough food to feed a small village.  Hopefully it’ll last for a while.

Then we headed back to Puerto Lindo in my rental.  It’s the smallest car I’ve ever driven, and has something equivalent to a lawn-mower engine in it.  I had so many groceries piled in the back of it that the lights were actually angled up.

Engine Trouble

Rental car and Amy

There was a Chinese “restaurant” on the way back that Amy and Austin swore was the best in the area.  It was also dirt cheap, with huge plates coming in at $3.50.   And  it was also unmarked in a now-defunct gas station, which made it pretty difficult to find.  But we found it.  Here’s where you find the best Chinese food in the area.  It was, in fact, great food. And, as promised, dirt cheap.

Chinese "restaurant"

Chinese “restaurant” and Austin

Finally making it back to Puerto Lindo around 9PM, I dropped off Amy and Austin at their new apartment in “town.” It’s $45/month.  Amy volunteered to help me get my groceries into the dinghy –  a non-trivial task when it’s thundering and lightening and dark.  We managed to get everything onboard, I dropped Amy off at her apartment.

We gambled a bit when we loaded the groceries in the dinghy.  We assumed that it hadn’t rained in Puerto Lindo.  Well, we were wrong.  So there was 3 inches of water soaking my groceries.  Everything faired alright except for the eggs.  They would have been fine, but the cartons turned to mush and I didn’t notice in the dark.    I lost a coupe of fine eggs.  This is my table, it’s a fine table.  But more importantly, it has my recreational substances on it – including spare starter relays (for my engine), a couple of Hunter S. Thompson novels, and yes:  my rum/whiskey.

My table

My table

The good news is that I now had some whiskey to help with the loss of my eggs.  So I poured a whiskey neat and stowed the dry groceries, and left the rest in the sink to drain.   Then I got the best sleep I’ve had in the last three weeks.

Exhaustion, it appears, is a great cure for insomnia.

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