Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All at sea

First impression of Captain Dennis-- stepping off the boat with a plastic bag full of viagra, passing them out as stocking stuffers to the local indigenous people on the tiny island of Porvenir in the islands of San Blas, Panama. I knew I was in for something... different. I wasn´t sure how I felt about it.

Back to the beginning, Portobelo. The original point of embarcation. The 23rd of December. Portobelo is a tiny, sort of creepy town which makes you feel like you are creeping around the ruins of a real-live Caribbean pirate town. Which you are. Sir Francis Drake´s body is at the bottom of the bay, in the port of Portobelo, for REALS. Portobelo has certainly seen better days. But I was so damn happy to be out of Panama City, and it really does have this decayed, eerie charm to it. It also has a black Jesus. Apparently it inspires many pilgrimages.

Joe arrived soon after I did on the 22nd, and we split a hotel room for the night. Sunset was gorgeous. He taught me how to play cribbage and we had a long conversation. Just the two of us. You can tell Portobelo is an exceedingly quiet town when you´re witnessing the town´s hot spot across the road from the one and only restaurant you´re eating at. And that hot spot is the supermercado.

Joe, as a recurring character in this story, now gets a brief description. Very tall. 6'4'' I think. Earrings in both ears. He´s kind of beautiful. He sort of looks like an overgrown, more muscular elf. There´s something dancer-like about his body, though he is definitely not a dancer. He is from Seattle, is a computer programmer I believe, and is driving his motorcycle from Seattle to Tierro del Fuego at the bottom of Argentina. Pretty much tearing that dream apart. He comes off completely confident in everything about himself. He´s smart. And can be very soulful. Unless he´s just charmed the wool over my eyes. He loves to get naked.

The next day we tried to get in touch with the captain or Kathryn, semi-organizer of this trip.

Kathryn. I met her my first day in Panama City and spent a couple of days with her in Isla Taboga. She works with Captain Dennis, for the moment anyway, and was organizing the crew for the Fantasy. Smart. Beautiful. Charms the hell out of every boy she comes across because she doesn´t seem to give a shit about anything anybody else thinks about her. Is a bit of a lush. Ascerbic wit. Sarcastic. Has been through a lot and is enjoying the hell out of life now. I would say that is currently her M.O. Originally from Texas, until recently lived in Brooklyn. Worked with NGOs. Photographer. She´s the kind of person that will pick you up something from the store when you didn´t ask for it. Staying in Sapzurro, Colombia, working at Dennis´s new hostel. Will almost certainly get up to trouble there. Gets a thrill from speedos and being called `The Help`.

Joe and I meandered around town as we waited for someone to return our emails. Our only instructions had been to show up in Portobelo, and we´d take off in the evening. Rather vague, but that´s Central America for you. We had mystery breakfast for $1. I was assured there was no meat, but mystery breakfast turned out to be two hotdogs and two pieces of fried dough. Dog food it is. I poked into the old cemetery where literally everything was falling apart. Bones opened up to the elements.

Received the frustrating news that we had gone to Portobelo for nothing. We had to go back to Panama City to go up to Carti on a $25 jeep ride. More money, more time, more effort. This better be worth it.


Anonymous said...

Seriously? The viagra being passed out to strangers did not have a negative affect on you? It should.

And, do Joe and Kathryn read this blog?

You should not be so comfortable with strange naked men sharing your hotel room--it is very creepy of you.

But nice writing.

Elizabeth said...

These Joe and Kathryn descriptions are vivid. They sound like great people. I feel like I've met people like Dennis before. I should tell you that I've read your last 5 or 6 posts baackwards so I'm leaving this comment at the beginning of your trip when I've read all about your many days on that boat. Sorry it's out of order - but I'm going to try and comment specifically about each post on the post.