Island Time

Finally, something new! We deviated from our standard, unvarying itinerary today with a stop at Taboga Island located just off shore of Panama City. In fact, the island sits within eyesight of Panama City’s skyscrapered periphery and thus it’s also surrounded by massive freighters waiting for their turn to enter the Panama Canal. There are two reasons why we visited the island: 1) This week is a photo tour with two National Geographic photographers on board, so any extra opportunity for a good photo shot, we jump at. And 2) Our hotel manager, Erasmo, has an apartment on the island where he spent much of his childhood and he wanted to give everyone a private tour. So just after lunch we took the Zodiacs to shore and spent a few hours exploring the colonial streets. At first impression, the small town reminded me of the Caribbean. All the houses were painted in bright colors like blue, pink, yellow, and green, and the residents were complying with typical Caribbean attitude – that is, lounging around, chatting with neighbors, and overall, taking it easy. At the center of the town was a large white church, but I found the barber giving a gentleman a haircut in the street more photogenic. We followed Erasmo through the narrow streets, the photographers with 2-foot long lens snapping photos every step of the way, until we arrived at his three story, bright red apartment house. The first two stories belong to his relatives, but the bottom level – complete with an airy balcony overlooking the harbor – is his getaway from the bustle of Panama City. There we enjoyed cold lemonade while looking at the numerous sailboats in the bay and the larger container ships farther off in the distance. Then it was back to the ship because the Panama Canal Authorities basically dictate our schedule once we’re anchored outside of the Panama Canal. If we’re late for our appointment, we might not get another until the next day! And that wouldn’t be good…

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