2009 COMING THROUGH THE PANAMA CANAL
It is now early morning and I sit here with my second cup of coffee having just read an excellent article on personal retreating – without leaving home. The moment that we left the third lock of the Panama Canal I knew that my life was in the process of active change. I have left 23 years of living in the Caribbean and 45 years of living in America as a child, student, wife, mother, artist and career woman. At 69 I am moving, lock stock and barrel as I live on a trawler, to Hawaii to begin the final phase of my life. A phase where I will no longer be a professional writer, a past minor celebrity as Miss Nancy of Romper Room, and will not be required to make new friends ever so many years.
I have lived in more places than I can count and each has added, in its own way and surroundings to the quality and uniqueness of my life. Many of the lessons have been grievous – losing my only sibling to AIDS, losing both of my parents, losing my home and friends through the process of bankruptcy and disgrace, losing my reputation for living my life as I have chosen. I have long been the subject of gossip and judgement; however, I have made really close friends during all of these trials who are still with me today in thought and through e-mails.
Although I have had only one husband, I have had many lovers and affairs, each
Bringing me closer to loving others as well as myself and each offering up gifts in learning, whether through heartbreak or parting. Dave has taught me much and living with a man who shares the love of our combined lifestyle has been one of the greatest gifts I have received from men. I have a great deal of freedom in this relationship, as does he, allowing us both to grow, now as elders, into the final epoch of our lives.
Entering the Pacific Ocean on Swan Song and cruising up the western coastlines on Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, San Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico before crossing the Pacific to Hawaii is a physical jaunt but to me it symbolizes much more. It is a retreat from any form of normal living always being in motion without modern accruements and I am looking forward to it as a form of meditation and retreat – a time to re-evaluate my life – to acknowledge where I have been mentally and where I am going in my psychic and spiritual life.
Actually, I consider myself quite lucky to have this wonderful experience. Cruising is such a beautiful experience, being close to the sea and sky together without any interferences from man. During my life I have accumulated a vast library, which I carry aboard, as well as many journals, writings, art supplies, jewelry making and handwork such as crewel, knitting or embroidery. Having Peter aboard, sitting in my seat in the Pilot House and replacing me as navigator, counselor and friend, leaves me free to move about my home with few responsibilities other than cooking and seeing to Dave and Peter’s needs, which I do gladly.
If the Pacific is anything like the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea I expect that we will see vast schools of Dolphin, whales, fish, florescent Squid at night in addition to countless numbers of birds and other wildlife. I hope to visit waterfalls and Mayan Temples upon anchoring, as well as small native villages to replenish my
Fruit and vegetable supply – but mostly I hope to do this in a quiet state of continual meditation. A retreat within a retreat.
As I look out over the Bridge of the Americas, in front of us in our anchorage at Balboa Yacht Club, Panama, I am filled with hope. We have a new president in Obama and I sincerely wish him luck; I have a new life – and ending and a preparation for more familial love as well as the crossover that comes at the end of this one. I am readily awaiting each.
NEXT DAY –
I stayed on SS all day yesterday doing all of the last minute washing, etc. to clear the boat for leaving. Peter is now firmly ensconced in his room, which belonged to Foxy and Tessa during their five day visit, and seems to be enjoying a “Room of His Own.” Many times during the day I just have to stop, go to the cockpit, sitting in the chair closest to the canal side and watch the huge cruise ships and freighters that pass by going into or eliciting from the canal. What a view with the Bridge in the background.
All in all we have been in Panama some seven weeks now, 10 days in the San Blas, 5 weeks in Shelter Bay Marina and almost a week in Panama City – this is a glorious country with really sweet people; however, it is terribly dirty which bothers me more than it should. There really is no excuse for trash piled high everywhere when you have a billion dollars a year coming from the canal.
Peter, our agent, reported that canal traffic is down due to the world wide repression which is now in full force. The Bernie Madoff scandal is everywhere in the papers with the rich having been ripped off gloriously and not too happy about it either. There is 20 inches of snow in London and the northeast is suffering blizzards. Meanwhile, we continue to have delightful weather – I carry our portable, plastic fan around with me and we sleep in air-conditioning at night – with the thermometer set at a comfortable 78*. The water is far too cold for us to swim in however with a temperature of 71*.
Today I plan on downloading various audio programs from Old Time Radio – Amos n’ Andy as well as CBS Mystery Theatre – I have already used all of my Audible downloads on Charles Dickens and The Scarlet Pimpernel Series by Baroness Cuzscy.
A WEEK LATER
Well, that certainly went by quickly – our last week in Balboa was spent in provisioning and sightseeing. We hit all of the grocery stores, Peter and I went swimming at the hotel near the yacht club, we took harbour tours and went to the Flamenco Docks again. I forgot to mention that when Foxy and Tessa were here the three of us hired a guide and visited much of Panama City – including the Old City, The top of Fort Balboa, where Dave and I had stayed the week before in a guest house, the business and shopping district and the “Far District” where Donald Trump and other entrepreneurs are investing scillions in high rise hotels and condos. All with gold gilt – sickening in this era of recession.
All in all we had an enjoyable week with several meals out and much work in getting the boat ready - After waiting for Agent Peter to bring back our passports and papers, 2 days later than promised, we finally left. To apologize Peter had also brough bananas, ice cream, a dozen varied Crispi Cream donuts (delicious) and two papers of the Miami Herald – Panama Edition.
We left Balboa around 10:30 on Feb 9th and had a great trip to Isla Bona, a delightful small island situated somewhat away from Isla Otoque where the Japanese tried to mine something years ago. We anchored in the southern bay and immediately I went snorkeling – cold water and not many fish but I did see what looked like an angelfish with a bright orange tail, a black body and a white vertical stripe. I believe the face had traces of yellow. I enjoyed the swim, as did Peter, as we have not been able to swim in natural waters in over a month due to canal traffic and pollution.
It is really good to get going and be out on the water again. We stayed until just after sunset. I made the men their favorite macaroni and cheese with peas and tuna, washed up and then went up to take a final sunset picture. We then pulled up the anchor and traveled some 135 miles to one of the most gorgeous anchorages I have seen yet – Ensenada Naranjo which lies at eh southwestern corner of the Azuero Peninsula. The mountains here are rolling with hundreds of shades of green. We arrived about 3:30pm on the 10th and totally relaxed