Panama City and Las Perlas Islands

Panama City
Panama City was a nice surprise. It definitely exceeded my expectations. It is a modern city that retains its old town elements, and you can find anything you’re looking for there—including a large mall with movie theaters and fast food! We visited the old town, had some lunch and walked around (with Widago and K1W1 Beanz), and another day we hit the mall for a bit of shopping and a movie. We never did make it to the movie, however, since Dan lost Ryan—albeit temporarily. That’s what Nerf does. A ten year old boy sees Nerf guns in a store and can’t help but stop following his father as he went down an escalator. Luckily, Ryan is 10 and not a toddler so he knew what to do and Dan was quickly able to “find” him waiting at the entrance of the store, but it did make us just late enough that we couldn’t catch a movie.  He also knew we all planned to meet up  at the food court because Ariana and I were shopping separately, so he planned to do that if Dan didn’t meet him there soon.

“New” Panama City

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Very cool building!

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Could Ariana look any happier?  At the mall with Taco Bell…

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“Old” Panama City

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ARC sponsored Lebanese dinner and belly dancing

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Another day we went out provisioning with Henry from Rapscullion. Rapscullion is not an ARC boat but Henry was willing to accompany us in our attempt to find a hardware store (among other stores). We ended up having Dim Sum at a restaurant in the heart of the non-touristy district of Panama City as well. Who knew you could find that there? We also bought a blow-up love seat with two drink holders for sitting on our bow. Aren’t we sophisticated? And with Ariana being fairly obsessed with Modern Family, she told me jokingly that when we return to the States, she’d like to get a really expensive house and a lawn sofa to freak out our neighbors. Our next stop was the Las Perlas Islands which was a full day sail.

Las Perlas Islands

Compared to the San Blas Islands, the Las Perlas Islands were a bit inferior. Maybe I was spoiled with the warm Caribbean waters, but the water in Las Perlas was pretty darned chilly (unless you’re from Canada or somewhere cold!), lacked good visibility, and wasn’t all that picturesque. I will say that we at least were able to find a place to watch the SuperBowl which happened to be on a beach patio with a good-sized flat screen TV with some of the other ARC cruisers on the island of Contadora. The hotel had seen better days, but it ended up being a perfect place to watch the game.

Another resort on Contadora Island, Las Perlas

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I also spent my birthday in Las Perlas and that was nice. We were anchored at a bay across from Mogo Mogo where Survivor was filmed, and my day started with Ariana and Ryan getting up and making me scrambled eggs and cheese on toast, with a cup of hot tea. This was novel and a pleasant surprise; they don’t usually cook. We also ended up having an impromptu BBQ dinner on the beach with several people from the ARC.
The other positive part of this anchorage was the freedom we were able to give our kids, especially Ariana. It is so amazing to watch them mature before our eyes with the increased independence they are afforded on this trip. Ariana (who has given joyrides to her brother in our dinghy before) motored our dinghy over to three other boats in the anchorage to pick up a total of eight kids (including Ryan). Not only was she able to drive it quite well, but she also had to ensure she pulled up the engine before they reached the beach, and had to enlist the help of the other kids to pull the dinghy and motor up higher on the beach so it didn’t float away. She handled all of that a lot better than I would have! And of course, she had to do the same for kid drop off too. Their goal? They were filming a movie that Ariana had written on her own with only a small amount of feedback from Dan and me. Each child in the ARC played a part and she served as Producer and Director (with William from Widago as co-director and movie editor). We have yet to see the final product, but the rally is supposedly going to show it to the entire ARC when we reach Tahiti. I can’t wait to see it! They also created a satirical news sketch under William’s direction that will also be shown, and is apparently quite funny according to the few folks who have seen it at this point.

Ariana shuttling the ARC “actors.”   

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Some of the “actors” continuing their filming on Contadora Island.

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Back at Contadora Island, Ryan got his wish. We ended up coming in first in the multihull division for our trip from Colombia to the San Blas Islands and we scored a bottle of rum. While not a typical award for a ten year old boy, it didn’t seem to bother Ryan (or his parents!). He wants to keep the bottle in his room when we finish its contents…