Panama’s grinding us down

Ever since we got to Panama life has become difficult. Before we got to Portobelo we made a short to-do list: repair refrigerator, weld boom, do provisioning, order electronic equipment, organise canal transit. Now we’ve almost been here a month, each day busy from dusk till dawn, but we’ve managed to accomplish hardly anything. Just to give you an idea: yesterday we had an appointment at the dentist at 11, that means hop on the bus at 9, 2 hours to Colon. We wait for ages at the doctor’s leave at 2, take a taxi to the post office, only to discover that they don’t sell boxes there. They send us on to a shop that does packaging, unfortunately water has gotten into the shop sometime before destroying all their cardbord boxes. Without further ado we search through the stationary shop and find some unused boxes bring them to the counter and the woman actually manages to wrap our things up. 3 o’clock: Back at the post office the woman at the counter is overwhelmed by the task of sending a parcel to Europe, fills in dozens of forms, asks us about procedures (no idea), asks around at the office, etc. 3.45: We hurry to the port in order to get an appointment for the measurement for the canal transit, only to find out that the secretary has left at 1 already, but at least the coffee slurping gentlemen allow us to leave documents there. 5 o’clock: lunch at a shopping center, browse quickly through the electronics department, hurry back to the bus station (almost 6 already, last bus at 6!) and spend 2 hours on the bus squeezed in somewhere at the back with the head next to a loudspeaker blaring enlightening christian songs, holding on to bags while more and more passengers are squeezed in on the way, some of them hanging out of the doors. 8: back at the boat, level of exhaustion very high, level of achievement very low.

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