Friday, October 26, 2012

Persistent anxiety in Colon...yet life goes on...

                                      Yesterday in Colon, Panama

       Chris and I remain here in Shelter Bay in Colon, Panama, where riots, violence and shootouts have been ongoing for almost a week now. 48 hours ago the President stated his intent to overturn the new land law which was the cause of the uprising.

         But the protestors have stated that they will not rest until the President actually overturns the law. As of this writing he has only stated his intent to do so. Our understanding is that the insurgents plan to increase their activity today with more rioting, blocking of roads and commerce, etc., until the law is actually overturned.

     We remain protected by the military here in the marina, and we have not actually seen any of the violence here in the aptly named Shelter Bay. And -- life goes on.

    Several of us took a trip into Colon proper yesterday to provision at a grocery store there. We had a Panamanian driver with us in case we should run into any trouble on the way.

                                      Armed military police guard the grocery store in Colon

    We were happy to see the shelves were well stocked at the supermarket, which was up and running, no doubt thanks to the large military protection force there. Several other stores next to the market were closed, however, as was the bank, which was out of money and shut down until further notice.

   So, we've been doing our best coming up with ideas to keep our minds and spirits occupied with positive thoughts...

                                                                   How about a tea party!

           The tea party was the brainchild of 7 year old Ella of "Rivers2Seas," who also invited her dolls to participate (Notice the coffee mugs, which would have to do, as no-one has fine china teacups aboard their sailboats).  I participated eagerly as, in this time of unrest, keeping the children distracted and occupied is a top priority.

    When the uprising began last week we were in nearby Portobelo, where we participated in the annual Black Christ Festival.

                           Thousands of pilgrims from around the world come to the sleepy city
                of Portobelo once a year to visit the famous carving, which is hundreds of years old.

                                                   A powerful sight

          Worshippers crawl on their hands and knees during their journey to the Black Christ.
     Many wear purple adornments that are similar to the vestment that the Black Christ wears.

                 Some drip hot wax onto their backs as they crawl in an act of self-flaggelation

                     As interesting and at times emotionally powerful this was to watch,
                               there were some bizarre and amusing moments as well.

               At times I felt like I was at a flamboyant parade in West Hollywood. For example:

                              This fellow was quite proud of his ruffly Black Christ vestment...

                                                      ...and that of his chihuahua...   :-)

                                                                     Mixed messages

         At the Black Christ festival I found a couple more additions to my occasional series:
    "Latinos unknowingly wearing mildly-to-wildly inappropriate donated American t-shirts."

     This very sweet, very devout and sincere Panamanian woman bearing a purple candle during her pilgrimage most certainly has no idea what her donated American t-shirt says -- and I didn't have the heart to tell her.

 Portobelo has 5 tiendas, all owned and operated by Chinese immigrants who speak fluent Spanish and Chinese, and absolutely no English.

                                              One of the Chinese owned tiendas in Portobelo

           Keep in mind that this sweet Chinese tienda owner speaks NO English.  Sigh. Then there is the obvious irony that since she owns and runs a successful retail outlet, and OK, let's face it, she IS Asian -- I'm certain that she is very good at math and appreciates it's importance in society. LOL...

      Anyway, we are expecting our new battery to arrive from Panama City today. But that is a big "IF," as many of the roads remain blocked by insurgents. But IF the battery arrives, and Chris is able to quickly install it, then this afternoon we will throw off the dock lines and make the two night passage to  Providencia, about 260 miles to the north. We will be buddy boating with "Rivers2Seas" and "Tension Reliever."

    So, that is our plan. More to follow. Onward!   :-)

    UPDATE: Due to the roads being blocked, our battery never arrived this morning, so "Tension Reliever" went on to Providencia without us. We should be here in Shelter Bay for another week at least while we wait for the battery and a battery charger as well. No worries!   :-)

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