Rochelle & Will
After ten days sailing it was time to get our home back which had been sitting in the port of Colon, Panama for almost a week. Will, the Swiss couple and I caught the bus from Puerto Lindo to Colon where our vehicles were in the port. We arrived in Colon at 10am hoping we might just manage to get our cars out that day, but before we could we needed to each buy the mandatory Panamanian car insurance. At the bus station the police told us that the insurance office was just around the corner and would only take a few minutes, they even found a taxi for Will and Martina while Michael, Killa (ki-ya) and I stayed behind with a mountain of bags. Why the Swiss had four large packs to our two small duffels was a wonder to us all. Despite the two policemen we still felt very unsafe, Michael even put on his running shoes while I held our extendible camera pole and tried to look tough. The police also told us to move a few times to keep an eye on us as apparently the area around here housed some pretty dangerous people. It was difficult to move all the bags as well as the dog in one go but we managed even when some crazy guy started giving us some grief and terrorising the dog with a bit of chicken.
Eventually after two stops Will and Martina came back, but without the insurance instead they had directions to yet another place. Here we decided it was better to sick together so we all jammed into the taxi together and away we went. Finally we found the right office, it was outside of a mall with security guards all around so while Will and Martina went inside Michael and I took turns guarding the stuff or going for food and cash. With the insurance done we now taxied to the Seaboard Marine office at the port where somewhere in the myriad of containers our cars were located. The boys ran around all over the port getting papers and paying fees but at 4pm the staff announced that there wasn't enough time to get our cars today. By now we had been expecting this to happen so asked where we could find a cheap hotel. We were pointed to the nearby Hotel International but instructed that we should taxi as walking even 400m was unsafe. We tried to taxi but it was so close no one would take us so in the end we walked and it turned out fine. For $41US we had a great ensuite room with air-con, a TV and even WIFI. However they weren't to happy about the idea of a dog in the Swiss's room but after a slightly heated discussion Michael eventually convinced them it would be ok.
The next morning Will and Martina went off to get started again while I stayed in our room blogging. They returned to the hotel at 11am for a fast drink and the car keys then Michael and Will returned to the port hoping they would be back well before our 2pm check out. Michael and Martina were always swapping because their van was in Martina's name but Michael was needed to do all the heavy work and carefully dive it out of the container. In the end the boys didn't return with the cars until 4:15pm so Martina and I sat in the lobby with the dog hidden behind the bags. When the boys arrived with the cars we immediately loaded up and headed out of town as fast as we could. It was like coming home to finally have our cars back.
The lakeside spot we found in Escobal was just what we needed to escape possibly the most dangerous city on the trip so far. In the heat of the afternoon we all plunged into the warm clear water then walked to the small local store for some food supplies. It was a funny little shop where you could get everything in mini size, mini butter, mini snickers bars and mini condensed milk. We brought eggs and bread for dinner and pancakes for breakfast! We had planned an early start to see Parque Nacional Soberanía but in the end it was decided that we would see wildlife in Costa Rica so why rush from this beautiful spot. The next day after a final late morning swim we knew it was time to get moving if we were going to make it to my Aunties place in Managua before the 6th.
Rochelle & Will