Thursday, December 30, 2010

Panama City to David

It's been an interesting three days trying to get to remote Bocas del Toro. Flight delays, missed connections, holiday travelers, etc. have conspired to keep us from reaching our destination, but we are pretty sure that with a little ingenuity we'll finally reach Almirante tomorrow, where we can catch a water taxi to Bocas Town. From there it's a short ride in a panga to Bastimento Island, where the Red Frog Marina is located. We left Puerto Vallarta on the 28th and I expect to arrive at the Red Frog a few minutes before the new years eve festivities begin.

Right now we're in the city of David (pronounced daveeed). The ride, around 350 kilometers in a taxi, took us through the heavily industrial parts of Panama city, through rough looking suburbs, and then through wildly beautiful tropical countryside. Looking out the windows of the truck that served as our taxi, we saw people living in squalid tin-roofed shacks, caballeros astride beautiful horses tending their herds of brahma cattle, poor people trudging along the road carrying all manner of things, including chickens in cages, sides of beef, and other small caged animals. At one point we passed an overturned tractor trailer that had split open and kids were taking cases of soda that had burst from its seams. At another point, we passed a scene where the police had captured, handcuffed and roughed up two men alongside the road. Life in Panama is a long way from how we live in Orange County.

I just finished reading David McCullough's fascinating book, "Path Between the Seas". It's an account of how the Panama Canal was built and the forces, political, economic and military that were brought to bear to accomplish that stupendous feat. Just as important to humanity was the discovery and implementation of effective means of controlling and eradicating yellow fever and malaria in ths region. The USA played a key role in the founding of the Republic of Panama and has been involved in many of this country's most important historical milestones, from Teddy Roosevelt's support for it's secession from its mother country of Colombia in 1903 to George 41's decision to invade the country and capture Manual Noriega, Panama's president, in 1989. That particular adventure was called 'Operation Just Cause'.  I suppose it should be no surprise that the local people of this country have shown us little of the buoyant friendliness that we have constantly experienced in Mexico, but I should also say that in spite of the delays and frustrations of our travels, we've been enjoying our time here. Delays are part of travel everywhere in the world at this time of year, and we're very glad that it's not snowing and freezing here. Wherever you are, have a rockin' good time ringing in the new year!

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