Aloha dear friends,

    Early morning here in Hawaii. I am having my cup of Palo Alto, great coffee
    from Boquete, Panama, and thinking of Russell and the Free Spirit. Woundering
    in which ports his adventurous, free spirit is. Thinking of the wonderful
    days we had in our "Central America discovery" trip, and sailing again in my
    mind through Cozumel, Chinchorro, Guanaja, San Andres, Bocas del Toro,
    Portobelo, the Canal crossing, Las Perlas, Panama City, Coiba, Islas Secas,
    So many wonderful memories, hard to tell which one was the most memorable.

    I am thinking of our last day in Panama City waiting for Sean (Russell's son
    who lives in San Diego,CA) and getting the boat ready for the sailing to
    Coiba Island and beyond. Of course we had to go to the supermarket to stock
    up on lots of bananas, other fruits, (hoping that they had mangoes), yogurt,
    and everything else our always ready to eat mouths desired. Sean is a big,
    very handsome young man, this being his first year at college. Russell
    warned us that Sean consumes lots of calories. So does Jerry.
    We went to the supermarket and soon filled 4 carts. The problem was to get a
    taxi that would accommodate the 4 of us and all the groceries. Taxis are
    small in Panama. It was starting to rain again, but that didn't trouble us
    anymore. We were so used to the rain by then, a little one we didn't even
    We got our taxi and to the marina we went. The cab driver was a little
    somber at first but soon he started to talk and then talk some more when he
    found out that I was from Brasil. His favorite singer is an old Brazilian
    one called Roberto Carlos, who was very famous in South America in the 70's
    and 80's.

    After unloading all the groceries and walking the long walk to the boat (we
    were anchored in a Marina), putting everything thing away, it was almost
    9PM. Jerry and I decided to stay in the boat while Russell and Sean went to
    town. Father and son, two very good looking men, enjoying the Panama City
    Before leaving, Sean made a great Sangria for me. He learned how to prepare
    it in his stay in Spain as an exchange student. It was so delicious, the
    perfect drink for that warm evening.

    I remember us leaving Panama City, towards Coiba Island, almost noon, in a
    beautiful day. The rain had finally stopped and we had a promise of good
    wind. We were all so excited, although Jerry was so concerned of us leaving
    so late in the day. He did not want to sail around Punta Mala (Bad Point) at
    night, just the name gave me some concerns too. Punta Mala stuck out there,
    a huge point we had to go around, with its history (or stories??) of rough
    seas, strange currents and winds. We heard many stories from sailors. I
    wandered if we were going to see mermaids around there.

    Sean was a delight to have aboard, his youth, energy, respect and love for
    his Dad filled the Free Spirit. It was his first time on the boat and he
    loved it. He likes to exercise just as much as Jerry does, so soon the two
    of them were exchanging ideas on how to exercise on the boat. Russell and I
    just watched the two of them while we sipped our Panamas (cerveja).

    Sean caught a sierra just after we left, so dinner was fresh fish. I made
    ceviche, rice and salada. A pelican followed us for a miles, after we caught
    the fish. I thought he was about to come aboard and become our pet. Dolphins
    came by the boat, we saw a beautiful sunset, some huge container ships
    sailing towards Panama City, and then, night. Waiting for Punta Mala.
    I went to sleep, Jerry took the first 4 hours shift at the helm, Russell and
    Sean watched a movie. Yes, we had a DV player in the boat and a large
    To our delight our sailing around Punta Mala was beautiful, flat ocean, as
    calm as it could be. We didn't even had our traditional thunder/lightening
    storm. Maybe the mermaids had calmed the seas for us. I slept almost the
    entire night. When I woke up we were anchored in this beautiful bay, Benao,
    a famous surf spot. At 6AM there were already many surfers enjoying the
    surf. We put the dingy in the water and went to the beach. Russell made a
    perfect landing at the far end of the bay, where the surf was very small.
    We walked about 1/4 mile to where the surfers were. There was nothing on the
    beach but a small shack where you could buy sodas. The water was brownish
    because of the rain, the surf was big, fast, and crowded. We decided to go
    back to the boat and get the boards and try it anyway. Then on second
    thought we decided not to. We had breakfast, cereal and fruit, and motored
    away towards Coiba Island.

    Our next stop was another "life renewing" experience. I will be writing
    about it later.

    My love to you all

Updated: Nov. 18, 2010