Febuary 27, 2014-Judy Returns from Florida
We are lost. Its 1:00AM and we're driving through the rough interiors of Panama City. Its dark, there are no other cars and nobody on the streets, hardly a lighted building. We got off the track somewhere coming back from the airport.
I'm not worried however; as long as we don't wind up at a dead end with a bunch of surely Panamanian youths I know I will find the hotel eventually but scenes from Bonfire of the Vanities swirl through my head.
Judy is navigating with Google maps and the android phone, but she is exhausted from the trip and from her time in Florida with Margie. She is incoherent, but she is trying to help.
"Turn right here," she says.
I am skeptical but I see a sign: Balboa Avenue. Now I am jubilant, from Balboa Avenue I can get to the hotel and I accelerate onto the elevated roadway. At 1:30 we reach Belle Vista and turn into the driveway of the hotel. The guard opens the gate and we're here. We have the penthouse tonight, what luxury, and we head up.
I love Panama City. The high rise buildings are stunning. The city is clean and modern. By day the streets are vibrant. But I didn't like getting lost at night.
The next day we have to go to the Canon warehouse to pick up our printer. We have a paper with directions, but the street names don't match up and besides, few of the streets have signs. Traffic is bad. We wind up in the Cinco de Mayo area. Here is a maze of narrow lanes, crowded with people, but the cars are moving; at least we can go somewhere. The freeways, on the other hand, are gridlocked.
Then Google packs it in. I don't know the problem but for the moment, it is useless. For the second time in 24 hours we're lost. The patina of Panama City is starting to wear thin.
We have a brochure with a map and a few streets on it. One I recognize from the directions: Ave. Frangipani. The warehouse is on Frangipani. But it's on the other side of the city. We set out again.
And of course we have another hour of cruising aimlessly before we see a landmark from the directions. Then everything clicks. By 2:00 we have our printer and we can head back to Colon happy to get on the highway north. Nothing left to deal with now but an empty gas tank, empty stomachs, and a baffling system of toll booths. But we're making progress. Judy is back, we've got our shopping done, and Wings is not too far away.
When we get to the boat maybe things can get back to normal.
Click here for shots of Panama City
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Panama