Tag Archives: living the dream

Celebrating Christmas Eve with Barry

Christmas in Linton Bay

It is always a bit strange celebrating Christmas in the islands as it doesn’t quite like feel like Christmas.  And yet, we have spent the last 7 Christmas’s away from the mainland.  The temperature is hot, the skies are blue, the water is clear, and there is no hustle and bustle.  No malls or shopping, no big parties or white elephants.  It’s merely a small gathering or private celebration.

Yet, I still find that I bring some of my traditions with me each year.  I have a small Christmas locker where I store my limited decorations; a wooden tree with a few ornaments and miniature lights, holiday hats, and a few odds and ends.  In addition to displaying my meager holiday collection, I do a cookie baking day.

Christmas Towels: Who do they belong too?

Christmas Towels: Who do they belong too?

Cookie Baking Day is a tradition started by my grandmother where we would all gather in her kitchen and make a variety of cookies for the family.  Once I moved to Texas I carried on the tradition with my friends which was the highlight of the season for me.  On the boat, its very hard to have more than one person in the galley so I tend to make a few batches of cookies myself and share them with other cruisers.  Not the really the same, but it allows me to enjoy the gift giving.

Originally, we were going to head back to San Blas for the holidays, but several cruisers decided to have a potluck on Christmas Eve in Linton Bay.  There is a large building, in mid-construction that has been designated the future marina headquarters.  But, funding has run out and it is now used as a gathering space out of the sun.  Fernanda on “Allegra” organized the potluck, brought a small tree, an extension cord for the lights, and arranged tables and chairs for everyone.  There was a wonderful selection of food, sweets, and beverages.

Matt and I on Christmas Eve

Matt and I on Christmas Eve

Christmas morning was quiet and relaxing, we had xmas tunes playing, ate some cookies, and lounged a bit.  By mid-day we were feeling antsy and decided to head to shore to go for a walk. But, as we approached the dock we noticed a lively group gathered around a BBQ.  Another boat hosted this Christmas day celebration with burgers, shrimp skewers, sides, cookies, beer, and music. It was a sparkling celebration with people from Germany, Sweden, London, Spain, and America.

Celebrating Christmas Eve with Barry

Celebrating Christmas Eve with Barry

Matt and I retired back to the boat where he made another batch of pulled pork from the pork shoulder we acquired at the fresh market in Colon.  It was equally fabulous and tasty and a wonderful Christmas dinner.  About an hour later, friends from “Wandering Rose” stopped by to share a toddy and spread some more holiday cheer.

HOLIDAY CHEER CHECK LIST:

  • Good Friends
  • Beer
  • Holiday Music
  • Funny Hats
  • Christmas Tree
Public Bus to Portobello

Bus Ride to Portobello

We anchored in the back of Linton Bay, closer to Puerto Lindo which is really rolly. In addition to the rolling waves, the pangas come by, rather fast, to and from the port which makes it even more uncomfortable. We were up early and decided to catch the bus to Portobello to try to find a SIM card and get off the dolly boat.

On the way to the marina, we ran into Sam and Toby from “Sweet Chariot” and told them that we were heading to Portobello. They had just cleared in to Panama and needed to finish up with Immigration at Portobello so they decided to come with us. We were told to hop on the bus going the opposite direction, toward “La Guia” to secure a seat. Had we waited for it to make the circle, we would have had to stand for the hour trip. As the bus was approaching we were greeted with a high pitch squealing sound – almost like a whistle. But that was pushed out of our minds when we actual saw the bus coming toward us. It was all chromed and blinged out, highly decorated with sparkle, shine, feathers, and glitter!

Public Bus to Portobello

Public Bus to Portobello

Once seated, we quickly realized the high pitch sound was actually the breaks, or lack there of. Our driver was very skilled and mastered the twists and turns at break neck speeds causing a few to get motion sick. But, we made it safe and sound an hour later and quickly exited after paying $1.40 each.

Portobello is a very small town. It consists of a fort, 5 Chinese stores, a few panderias, a beautiful gallery, a few tourist shops, and a church. I am sure there is more to it, but this is what we saw after exploring for 4 hours.

The little school of rhythm in Portobello, Panama.

The little school of rhythm in Portobello, Panama.

The bus dropped us off at one of the Chinese grocery stores, so we all went in to check it out.  I stopped at the counter to ask if they sold Digicel sim cards as that was my priority and to our surprise they did!  The lady was extremely helpful and sold us our sim and top up cards good for a month.

Sam and Toby went off to find immigration as Matt and I explored  Fort San Lorenzo. This fort was built in 1758 and was in pretty good shape.  It faced the bay where very few boats were anchored.  Most of the boats seemed like “derelict” boats minus of course, one of our cruiser buddies, “Kokopelli” who came here to finish with their immigration process as well.

View of Fort San Lorenzo approaching from the street.

View of Fort San Lorenzo approaching from the street.

For San Lorenzo entrance. Look closely at the date above the arch.

For San Lorenzo entrance. Look closely at the date above the arch.

Fort San Lorenzo entrance with lovely cross.

Fort San Lorenzo entrance with lovely cross.

Inside Fort San Lorenzo.

Inside Fort San Lorenzo.

As we continued down the waterfront, signs indicated a dead end.  We thought we would go to the end and turn up toward the main road.  At the end of the road was a beautiful gallery full of magnificent wooden carved pieces, paintings, artwork, jewelry and more.  It was almost something you’d see in L.A., N.Y. or other high end area.  Gorgeous stuff.  Just past this gallery is a small eatery where we encountered Brian and Mizzy from Kokopelli. After we caught up with them for a few minutes we wandered back through town, through the Chinese grocery stores, and to the church

Iglesia de San Juan de Dios (church) is well known for its Black cruicifix/black Christ or El Christo Negro.  A small tour group was going through so I was only able to snap a few photos.  Nobody knows how El Christo Negro arrived in Portobello, but they have tried to move it several times and it always returns to Portobello.  Twice a year they change His robes and during Holy week, people will walk as far as 50 miles to the celebration, some on hands and knees, some carrying crosses, some on bellies.

Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Interior of Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Interior of Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

El Christo Negro at Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

El Christo Negro at Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Purple is the color for this church in honor of the color of the robes worn during Christ’s crucifixion.  The priests wear purple and the rosary beads and all the trinkets they sell are in purple.

Pretty rosary beads in purple.

Pretty rosary beads in purple.

We found the tourist office which had some pretty displays of festival / carnival masks.

Carnival mask at Customs office.

Carnival mask at Customs office.

Carnival festival clothing in Customs Office.

Carnival festival clothing in Customs Office.

Past noon, we were all hungry so we ordered lunch at a panderia and made good use of their wifi. We installed our new sim cards, downloaded the local Digicel app, and tried to upload the data but no luck.  So, we decided to check the return bus time and do some provisioning.  The best store turned out to be the first store we visited where we bought the sim cards.  At check out, she asked if the phones worked and I said “no”.  She worked on our phone for at least 20 minutes before finally getting it to work.  This lady took the sim card out of her phone to active Sam & Toby’s card as their phone had 1% battery life. Wow, now that is customer service!

It took us several attempts to find the right bus going back to La Guia / Puerto Lindo.  After an hour we were on our way back to the marina.

We headed toward Hans restaurant in Puerto Lindo since the marina bar was closed today.  We enjoyed some libations and chow with “Sweet Chariot,” “Hecla,” “Wandering Rose,” and a new group of cruisers.

Accomplishments:

  • SIM Cards
  • Provisioning
  • Tour Fort San Lorenzo
  • Find El Christo Negro
  • Eat
  • Wifi it up!
Dinghy Dock at Linton Bay

Sailing to Linton Bay

We had been “off the grid” for 12 days. It doesn’t sound that long, but try not watching TV, listening to the radio, or being online (no chats, texts, emails, news updates, Instagram, Facebook, nothing). As romantic as it might sound, it was really hard. There are a few options to get some wifi, but they all included leaving the San Blas islands. We could do a downwind run to Carti, broad reach to El Provenir, or beam reach to Linton Bay.  Linton Bay won out. But first we had to say farewell to Wayne who was being picked up from Carti.

We were all up early awaiting Wayne’s panga ride which was scheduled to arrive at 730am. They arrived promptly and carried our Wayne away.

Wayne leaving in a panga...heading home.

Wayne leaving in a panga…heading home.

We took this opportunity to do laundry, clean up the port side of the boat, and catch up on some laziness. We wasted the day away, but we did make a plan to head to Linton Bay to get fuel, provision, and find a sim card. Always good to have a plan.

The next morning we got up early, checked out the weather report, and discovered that 2 other sailboats that we knew were heading to Linton Bay as well. We deflated and stowed the SUPs, put the bean bags below, and readied the boat for her 45 mile day.

The winds were blowing pretty strong at 25-30 knots and a squall was predicted so we double reefed the main and the jib. The first few hours were great as we sailed along at 8-9 knots, beam reach, and 2-3 meter waves. As the winds slowed we shook the jib out completely and surfed the odd rogue waves that periodically gave us a bit of a push. The waves stayed big with some cresting at 4 meters, rocking the boat in an odd pattern, but the wind stayed strong enough for us to sail.

It was not the best ride with the funky winds, but it was good to have the sails up and the boat moving with canvas. We were escorted by a rather large pod of exceptionally big dolphins. They were a frisky bunch, showing off their best lords of leaping skills. Kept us entertained for well over a half an hour.

We arrived into Linton Bay around 1600 with the sun low in the sky and reefs all around us. We carefully motored into the bay and found a spot to drop the hook in 10 meters of water. Pretty deep water for us as we like to have 7 to 1 scope on our chain. We have 100 meters of chain, so it is doable, just a little out of our comfort zone. As we were anchoring, our friends Dave and Mary from “Wandering Rose” welcomed us with a frenzied wave.

Linton Bay Marina with haul out equipment in background with orange straps.

Linton Bay Marina with haul out equipment in background with orange straps.

We were finally able to get a signal off the GoogleFi phone so I checked emails, attended to some business and answered a few urgent requests. We decided it would be best to go ashore to get some intel so we dropped Sweetie in the water and headed ashore.

A quick stop at “Wandering Rose” provided some good information on the local pub, internet access, trash, and bus schedule. We headed up to the “bar” which is not much more than a floating barge with some chairs, tables, grill, and cooler. None the less, it had wifi.

Linton Bay Bar in front and marina office that ran out of money mid-construction.

Linton Bay Bar in front and marina office that ran out of money mid-construction.

Dinghy dock or panga dock.

Dinghy dock or panga dock.

We saddled up to the bar, ordered Matt a $1 beer and clicked away. Some other friends from “La Vie” arrived and gave us more information on local towns, provisioning, and safety. Not long after, Barry from “White Shadow and “Adventures of an Old Sea Dog” joined us.  Evidently, the bar was low on beer, had no food, and little ice.  So the bartender shut up shop, told us to lock up and left.  A party in Panama for sure.

This funny painting was in a lovely gallery.

This funny painting was in a lovely gallery.

This cracked me up - branding at its best

This cracked me up – branding at its best

MARKETING AT ITS BEST:

Love that the local stores carry some American brands.  And of course cheaper brands of the same cereal…wonder about the taste and quality?