Panama City – by Mike Dawson

So…here we still sit in Panama City…we have been stuck here because our Agent sucks.
We are hoping to take off for Galapagos tomorrow, Monday morning….stay tuned.
Mike has written his story of his time in Panama below. Enjoy:

Saturday Mornings

Some people take Saturday mornings to sleep in, wake up with a loved one, have a cup or two of coffee and read a paper or the internet and others go out to eat a breakfast meal together.
This past Saturday of mine was special just for myself. All this week we have been waiting on a package of boat parts from Miami, via FEDX. It has been in Panama on a vacation of its own. Heck, it even came here once and made a trip back to Miami to do it again. We have an agent that helped us pass through the Canal that was going to help us gather this package and make sure we could leave on our departure date of Saturday, the one that has just passed. Needless to say, even with a promise that she would make the mission happen, the mission was aborted even before it started.
On Friday mid- afternoon, the agent in question committed to deliver the PACKAGE by 9am or 10am on Saturday morning and clear us through Customs to exit the country. Later that night Marnie and I made a call to FEDX International only to find that the package was scheduled to be delivered on Monday evening or Tuesday morning. No way the time that the agent stated. It was not even through customs yet.
As I lay in bed that Friday night pondering my plan to intercept the missing package, with everyone aboard Shellette now on edge of setting sail ASAP, I get up at the crack of dawn and have Ben take me ashore to start my journey. (Ben is the biker now traveling with us). Remember this is Saturday morning resting time.
I speak no Spanish and Panama is All about Spanish. I haled a cab not knowing how to tell him where in this City to go. I act out the motion of a pen; the driver understands me and gives me a pen. On the directions I have, I write FEDX. Everyone knows FEDX right. He gives the sign ok and we depart. I have no clue where we are going and can not read a word of the signs on the streets. I see areas of the city, that in my opinion, are far worse then Harlem or Newark. As a matter of fact, 10 times worse. That in it’s self is another story, maybe one day.
The taxi and I make our way through the city passing high rise buildings just being built that cost mucho dollars and I wonder who can afford these places since the people are so poor. Oh well, it is not me, nor can I worry of this since my mission is all about the package (not the cookie as for some). Traveling for 50 minutes we arrive at the FEDX building at 8am only to find a security guard that states they open at 9am. You must know that the night before the FEDX International told me that they did not even open on Saturday, yet I took a chance and so far so good. The cabby and I sit, still not able to speak a word between us. I made a gesture that I was hungry and he said MacDonald’s, also known world wide. So we made a breakfast of it together until the time passed to be back at FEDX for my package.
Arriving back at FEDX, I make my way into the locked doors and await my turn to present my case and tracking number. As they punch in the numbers I see a look that was not good. The statement back to me was “the package is at the aero Puerto awaiting customs and then delivery. Maybe come back at 11:30am and we will have it here.” Being the persistent person I am, I asked if I could go to the aero Puerto and pick up the package and save some time. Little did I know the place was another hour drive, in another direction that I didn’t know. As we again made our way we passed places far worse then what I made mention prior and yet the people seem content and happy. We American’s can be totally spoiled, and are.
Arriving at the aero Puerto FEDX building I again await someone to assist me with my mission, only to find I do not speak any Spanish, nor they English. After passing tracking numbers back and forth and other I.D. I now have the package in my hand. I let out a sigh of relief. That was sure short lived. The gentlemen says, “by the way, this has not cleared customs yet NOW YOU need to do that.” So, I get the low down and follow the direction to the building that is white, just at the gate. Well all the buildings are white with people standing around all of them. No Spanish again, I pass the papers around and gentleman points toward a blue building. I make my way there and find two ladies; you guessed it only speak Spanish. I hear words like Flamenco Marine, customs, driving taking taxi and returning here. Being confused I get the attention of a trucker that can speak English and he kindly lets me know, Hell has not been reached yet. The deal is I must pay a fee to these ladies and now take one of the ladies in the taxi and drive 1 hour in another direction nearer to Shellette’s position. Once I arrive at the customs place the package will be cleared and then I must bring the lady back to the aero Puerto and then the package is free, mine, no more crap.
Needless to say after 6 hours of driving, waiting, sign language and adding O’s to the end of words to get my message over to all parties, the mission was a success and the eagle landed at the dock to gain passage to Shellette. Wore out and greatly stressed it was done.

Watching the movie with Tom Hanks and Wilson, I now know what it was like to finish the mission of delivery. By the way anyone who knows me, Saturday mornings are never about anything else except working with maybe a cup of coffee at my desk.

4 comments to Panama City – by Mike Dawson

  • Stephanie Omlie

    Mike, I think you need a bottle of champagne after that day for sure! The ocean awaits you, I hope you have a beautiful trip to the Galapagos and I know the animals don’t speak spanish. :) :) Enjoy!

  • Denise Becker

    Hello Mike!
    I am Ben’s mom. I love hearing about Ben and his part in your adventure. Maybe he could have helped you with the Spanish! It sounds like a very frustrating day. Hope it gets better. Thanks for taking him with you, I think it is going to be quite an experience for him. My brother-in-law lives on his boat in Hawahii and has sailed the world, I have also done some sailing, but much less adventurous by far. I admire your courage for following your dreams.All the best. I check your web site everyday for news and will continue to do so. Hope things go more smoothly for you.

  • Jenn

    You gotta be kidding me…isnt the point of this trip to not be stressed out LOL miss you ….safe travels to the Galapagos!! Love you

  • Brian

    Mike, how is my friend Willson? As I remember, in the movie, Wilson accompanied Hanks on all his quests. Maybe you should think of that, at least you would know someone who speaks your language. Safe passage!

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