11/06/2010 - Panama City and the Casco Viejo

Nicksa, Donald, Dan, Jimmy, Fred and myself were up early to ensure we could catch the first game of the World Cup; South Africa vs. Mexico,… both teams played horribly and it was all Nicksa (Nick from South Africa) could do to keep from crying at certain points.. the second half was a different game completely and it could have been anyone’s match,.. a 1-1 draw was an acceptable score!

We decided that we needed to go shopping to buy things for the ship that we were missing as well as presents for our hosts on Pitcairn.  Apparently what happens on Pitcairn is that we go ashore for 2 days and nights and the islanders put up a crewmember each, in return we bring them gifts.  We were advised previously that “useful” gifts are the most common way to earn good favour!

We asked the taxi driver to drop us off at the mall,.. now we had been joking that since everyone had been talking about buying things in Panama the country must be one long strip mall, however when we saw the Albrook mall we were forced to eat our words, none of us had seen anything like it, it was quite simply the most enormous shopping centre I had ever seen.  To give an idea of size it would probably take you 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other, a good few km long!!

Dan & I opted for the hardware store type of useful and like kids in a candy store we bought every useful piece of kit we could afford!  So for the remainder of the afternoon we walked around armed with at least 4 machetes each, a range of screwdrivers, knives and (in my case) a load of industrial Velcro, if we’d have thrown in a Swiss army knife it would have made Macgyver’s day!  But I did feel that we could walk through any area of the Casco Viejo without fear with our shopping!

This evening I was having a drink with Joanie and Sophie on the dock when Nicksa turned up and advised me that he was going to head into town to meet up with people, not having a plan of attack for this evening I sprang back to the ship, spruced up and was back at the gate within 10 minutes.  We met the pro crew at a bar called Mojitos sin Mojitos in the Casco Viejo owned by an American called Eric who had moved down here a few years ago and showed no signs of returning.  Their burgers were fantastic and sangria was more than acceptable so we hung around until close on midnight at which point everyone seemed to want a change of atmosphere and we headed down to La Casona again… It was much busier than the previous night and was absolutely packed with locals with some funky dance music.

There was a large sheet draped over the only wall and people were drawing on it,.. strangely enough the central image was a ship’s wheel, I discovered Logan, Mike and Rebecca were not only talented seamen, but also talented artists as various images of the Picton Castle began to appear on the canvas! We later discovered that it was to raise money for a local kid who had come off his skateboard, was in a coma and needed money to get him to a good hospital,.. we all donated generously.

The Picton Castle crew are a reggae-mad bunch and despite requesting reggae, nothing was forthcoming so it was decided en masse to find a new venue,..  So we commandeered a couple of cabs and headed into the centre of town and “41 street” which is apparently where all the bars are found,.. we found a couple, but nothing had really got moving and it was widely agreed to head back to El Casco Viejo…. As we entered the area we passed Mojitos sin Mojitos where we came across the remainder of the trainees… Niko was passed out on a chair and Meredith was announcing loudly that she was the best at getting people into places!

I was told that there may be a couple girls on board who had crushes on me, which is a real self confidence boost, but relationships on board have already been shown to be tricky and fickle and we have only been at sea a month.  We have had one breakup, as far as I can tell, 3 (possibly 4) couples that are “together” and the odd surprise hookup.  Rumours abound on the ship and it is impossible to keep everything gossip free, the key here is “see everything, say nothing” and the 3 rules of ship relationships (apparently) are:

·         Keep it below deck (i.e. absolutely no relationship except for the professional on deck).

·         Keep your head (Breakups do happen and the other person will probably hook up with another crewmember).

·         Ensure you maintain other friendships apart from the romantic one.

But I have no intention of shitting on my own doorstep, at least not until the final section of the voyage,… we’ll have to see what happens!

Things begin to get a bit hazy at this point, but apparently we didn’t stay long and headed back to the ship,… I am not sure exactly where I woke up, but I remember having a pancake thrust in my face and pictures surfaced later on in the day that show me asleep on one of the salon tables,… I still reckon they were photoshopped!!!

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