Panama City and Contadora, Las Perlas – last preparations before the Pacific

Mercado de Mariscos in Panama City

On the first day after our crossing of the Panama canal we decide to relax, sleep long and the activity of the day is visiting the mercado de Mariscos with Lilian an Hanspeter.

Mercado de Mariscos – a massive choice of fish and seafood!
… and on the outside there is a large choice of cheap fish restaurants, but pay attention to where the smell is ok before sittting down 😉
view out into the bay with all the fishing boats
in the adjacent Parque Cinta Costera there is a lot going on, especially on weekends

There is a lot going on, and after having Ceviche and Fried fish we stroll through the Parque Cinta Costeira, where a concert for the youth is attracting a lot of people.

Hunting ship chandlers all over Panama City

Our daily view to Panama City from the Calzada de Amador
the orange vendor first peels all the oranges, then they are sold to thirsty cusomers on the way…
the red crane boat is passing directly behind the blue fishing boat, our neighbor from Texas
our neighbor in the middle of a beautiful sunset

Then it is getting serious, we have long lists of stuff that we plan to get done in Panama City.

The broken notebook and the satellite telephone are at the beginning of the list, but soon we realize that we won`t get them fixed.

Well, for the phone we walk three times up to the shop until it is clear, that in Panama it will not be fixed, after all. So on our fourth visit we pay 50 % more than in the US or in Europe for a new one and it also takes 3 hours until it has the right software and works finally…

And every single day we take the bus to the city, which costs us 25 cents each, even if it takes two hours to our destination on the other side of the city… We visit the discovery center on the “Tumba Muerto”, the Pesqueros close to Panama Viejo, the Albernaty on the Transistmica until we really know how to get our way around by bus or metro in Panama City. We find a few items on our list but we have the impression that even more we did not find…

Of course, we look for some things that are too “European” like a lithium accumulator, fins for swimming or even electrical equipment with 230 V connection, well that really is asked too much…

Provisioning for the Pacific

Then after one week we finally start with the food/drink supplies, I checked before hand the prices of several stores and made an overview of what to get where. Unfortunately in the moment of buying often these items were not there any more, I had to learn…

the first serious filling up the boat has started, here in the Megadepot…
thanks to Martin the stuff is in two dinghys brought to the boat
In the agricultural market Abastos I buy like for the huge family over christmas and new years… well, it is supposed to last until 6 weeks from now…
a part of the stuff is really cheap in comparison to anywhere else – like the tomatos for 50 cents per lb or 1 US per 3 lb…
…in the modern Rey Supermarket on the other hand the tomatos are rather 1.20 per lb, but on the other hand you can find everything like else as well..

We chose the Megadepot for the stocking up with bulk food like rice, flour, sugar, spirit, wine and beer and toilet paper as well. They deliver to us the next day and thanks to Martin we get the stuff on board in only two dinghy rides. It takes me a couple of hours to fill the food in the plastic bottles, a good way to keep eventual bugs in and others out 😉

Then the Carnival weekend is approaching rapidly and since we don’t want to stay another week in Panama City we decide to stock up with fresh food on Thursday before Carnival.

This is perfectly done in the Abastos agricultural market where normally you get the freshest produce in town. I buy a trunk full of fresh fruits and vegetables, the last possibility in the next 6 weeks, for sure!

Visit at Baru Panama Brewery

intersting feeling, back in safety shoes, glasses and warn west and right through the brewery – I like it still 😉
Thanks to Johann we had a very interesting tour through the brewery!

On Friday we take a short break from the shopping and visit Johann Schauer in the Baru Panama Brewery. Johann welcomes us warmly and shows us through the whole production.

I am more than happy to get the smell of the brewery in my nose and wearing my safety shoes, safety glasses, warn west and even a helmet kind of makes me feel at home ;-). The production is in a very good shape and we see a great and living example of DCS and 5 S in the brew house control room.

Last preparation and Mercado de Mariscos

A Panama and a Ceviche de Langostinos – what a great treat on a Sunday in the Mercado de Mariscos 😉
And while we sit there and enjoy together with Ellen and Martin…
…the carneval program of Sunday afternoon is finished, at least for a while
… and afterwards you have to wait again to be checked at the entrance – that’s not what we like to do…

On Saturday and Sunday we fill up our diesel and water tanks, go a last time shopping, do one more washing machine and finally, on Sunday afternoon we thinks we can go now to enjoy the Carnival in the city.

On the way there we stop for another Ceviche de Langostino at the Mercado de Mariscos together with Ellen and Martin. Then we enter the Carnival area through the control point at the Cinta Costeira, and we are checked thoroughly each of us in a separate queue.

Only then we realize that all the people inside are going the opposite direction, out of the Carnival area.

Why do all the people leave on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm? Soon afterwards we know – because they have to! When one of the guardians also wants us to leave the next possible exit we ask him why – “ because the water throwing is now finished, everybody goes home now, then in a few hours  you can come back again”
A bit frustrated we go back to the Mercado de Mariscos, have another beer and ceviche and try our luck 1.5 hours later – then we see all the people queuing in front of the entrance and decide to skip Carnival in Panama City…

Countdown at Contadora

The next morning we peacefully sail the almost 40 miles to the Isla Contadora, one of the first and for sure the most touristic but also developed in the Las Perlas islands south of Panama City.

fishing is not a big work here, there are thousands of fish around the boat at some times of the day
Reto is installing the lightening protection…
and once agian Reto is all the way up in the mast, drilling holes, and fixing an “antenna” – while I watch and almost get sick at the bottom….
the produce we buy at the Abastos market – unfortunately lagered in the wrong way at home…
so now I make some banana marmelade, banana cake…
…dried bananas and paw paws

After the two weeks of abnormally high swell from all the traffic in La Playita we really enjoy the little swell here. Also the water and the air is massively cleaner and if we still wouldn’t have so much work, we’d relax for sure.

But well, while Reto is working on installing the lightening protection, I have to work my way through the far too quickly ripened fruits.

This time I had them stored completely in the dark but they ripened so fast as never before in my storage net which is in the sun a great part of the day.

While carrying all the papaya and bananas up into the cockpit I swear and ask Reto “can’t you google on how to store fruits?”.

Few minutes later it is clear for me: biiiiig mistake! I store paw paws, bananas, avocados and passion fruits, which are all releasing Ethylen (like what I know of tomatoes and apples but didn’t know of the others) together with everything else.

The most sensitive for ripening are the bananas and pawpaws themselves, but also the citrus fruit do suffer from the Ethylen and ripen much faster than normally!!!

So to all sailors buying fruit for a longer passage – google it and have a look at what you can put together in a storage before you do a large shopping!

In our case it now means a lot of Banana marmalade, cake, dried banana and paw paws, smoothies and last but not least we start a rum pot which according to Reto “is for christmas together with Vanille ice cream 😉 “ Lets see how we get the ice cream on board…

on the beach in the eastern end of Contadora an old ferry has been beached…
Contadora on the carneval weekend – the little planes come and go and the airport lies “in the middle of the island”
the beachh in the north side of Contadora, here is also the ferry landing – how everyone gets over to the ferry? we guess in small vessels…
On our way back we take some pictures of our She San…

In between the work we visit Contadora, a peaceful island, but because of the long carnival weekend quite full with tourists.

In the Chinese Mini market we are happy to see the gas bottles that we still want to change, but a bit surprised about the island increase from 4.50 to 10 US the filling…

…in the mean time the tide has gone up so far that our dinghy parking is reached only by getting wet feet and knees
last thing on the list, exchange the gas bottle for a full one (and we are lucky and get a quote new one as well ;-)) andfinally we should be about ready to leave.. 🙂

Taking the wrong beach for the dinghy almost gets us or better Reto wet – the tide is rising so quick, that even though it took us quite a sweat to carry the dinghy up the beach, when we come back the way to get there is almost cut off by water…We are still not that much used to tides of 5 meters!

Now, another time getting gas, finishing the blog and soon we are ready to leave for the almost 4000 miles sail to the Marquesas.

Are we excited or afraid? Well, first of all so far we didn’t have much time to think about it. Second, the wind prognosis at least in the beginning now seems rather calm, so maybe there will be rather passages of hot and calm condition, rather than too much wind and wave?? We will see…

In any way when our radio or sat phone messages to the blog work, we post an update every now and then to keep you informed whats going on out there!!

2 thoughts on “Panama City and Contadora, Las Perlas – last preparations before the Pacific”

  1. Thank you for a marvellous blog! It lets us share your travel with all the challenges, fun and new experiences.
    I’ll keep watching……..
    Alan in Houston

    1. Hi Alan
      Great to hear from you!
      The English version is now online as well. Enjoy the reading.
      All the best
      Angela Reto

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