Mon-Wed, Aug 11-13th - Chores and Exploring Casco Viejo
On Monday morning, still feeling some of the effects from Saturday night,
we got up and decided to do an unpleasant, but necessary task that
we had been putting off. Since we had left Mexico and entered the more
tropical Central American waters, we had been having a growing problem
with cockroaches on the boat. At first we might see only one every few weeks,
but by now the infestation had grown to where we were seeing several every
day, around the kitchen, at the nav station, the situation reaching
a head when we started seeing them in the master cabin.
So Monday morning we un-stowed everything in the galley, master cabin,
and nav station, piling it all up in the salon and covering it with a tarp.
We uncovered all of the floor boards and opened all the cabinets and drawers.
Then we set off several bug-bombs in the cabin and galley and went to shore,
bringing our computers, so that we could check our email and the weather
at Bennigan's while waiting for the poison to do its work.
After the poison dust had settled, we spent the rest of the day putting the boat
back together. There were dozens of dead cockroaches to be found, and
it took quite a while to vacuum and clean all of the cabinets and compartments
and re-stow everything. I also replaced the port cabin macerator when I
tried to empty the heads and it jammed later that afternoon.
On Tuesday morning, at 9:00 am, I had made an appointment to have a diver come out and
clean the bottom of the boat. Here in the tropical waters, the gunk grows
quite quickly and we had not cleaned it since we had done it ourselves over
a month previously at Isla Secas. I took the dinghy into shore, picked up
the diver and his equipment, and came back to the boat. While he cleaned
the bottom, since it was a sunny day, I decided to apply the canvas waterproofing
I had purchased earlier, so I emptied 3 bottles of the stuff, spraying it
carefully in coats on the bimini and dodger.
The diver turned out to be quite inexperienced and he wanted me to dive
and see his work. When I did, I noticed he had not done a very good
job. I went under the boat, while he watched, and ran a putty knife
over an area, cutting dozens of dime-sized barnacles away with a single
stroke. I dove with him down to the propeller and showed him that
it was not clean either. I then came back on deck and attempted to
explain to him, in broken Spanglish, that he would have to do a much
better job if he expected me to pay him. So he kept working on the
bottom thru the morning. In the meantime, I went down in the galley
and unpacked the freezer and installed a new thermostat. The old
one had been giving us some problems and I had a spare on board.
Finally, at about 12:30 pm, the diver felt satisfied with the work
he had done. I dove the boat, and could still see significant growth
here and there, but was tired of trying to help him out and teach
him how to clean bottoms, so I just said it was ok, and helped him
pack up his stuff and took him to shore.
After that we decided that we'd had enough boat chores
and decided to go back into Casco Viejo during the day and do
the "tourist" thing. So we did.
It was actually quite a pleasant afternoon as we walked along the
quay. We shopped at the small tables set up by the Kuna Indian ladies
and walked around
to the monument dedicated to the architects and governors of Panama
City and stopped at an art museum located in the former "Bovedas",
which were the old prison dungeons in the fort that stood here in the 1700's.
From there we walked all over Casco Viejo, sampling the architecture
and stopping in a few of the fine art galleries & shops located there. The
place almost reminds us of French Quarter New Orleans or La Jolla. Quite upscale
in places. We saw the President's Palace (in use) where armed guards
kept us from getting too close. We walked to the edge of the "bad"
part of town and down to the fishing docks. One could tell where
the bad part of town started because the guards with M16's were thick-
and then they disappeared! We didn't feel great about wandering those
particular streets, so, in short order, we made our way back into the
"nice" part of town, and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon,
almost 3 hours, in the Panama Canal Museum.
It was fascinating to learn more about the Canal. Most people don't
realize that the idea of a canal went back as far as the 1500's, and
that, for instance, crossing the Isthmus by donkey and train was one
of the most important routes that brought prospectors to California
for the Gold Rush. The museum had artifacts from the building of the
Panama Railway, which was instrumental to the later building of the canal.
Another interesting fact is that the country of Panama itself, would not
exist, were it not for the U.S.A. taking over the Panama Canal project
from France at the turn of the century. The U.S. wanted assurances
before they would invest in the country and so they actively helped
Panama declare its independence from Columbia so that the U.S. could
get the terms it wanted before committing to the huge project.
We weren't allowed to take photos in the museum, but it was still
fascinating, especially since we will be going through the Canal ourselves
in the near future!