Thursday, October 20, 2005

Colón, Panama

I suspect this will have been a "wild goose chase", coming here to seek a marine connection to Colombia. I left Panama City late this morning and drove the 50 miles of "billboard highway" to Colón. I call it that because I've never seen such a concentration of billboards. And they're virtually all aimed at those driving toward the "Zona Libre" ("Free Zone") in Colón. I had no idea there were so many brands of shoes, clothes and electronics.

According to Mike Young, with whom I had lunch the other day, this zone is a major distribution point for the Americas. It's a city of warehouses right at the Port of Colón. Goods can be purchased here, duty-free. The buyer can then arrange shipping to the desired destination.

Checked into the Hotel Carlton downtown (recommended by Anne Girardin). $30 for a decent room, though the environs are sadly impoverished, even desperate. Unloading my gear, I saw that the corner hanger of the right pannier had already broken its epoxy weld. A redundant metal strap is holding, but clearly under strain. (And this short ride was over fairly good roads.)

Following Mike's suggestion, I went to the Panama Yacht Club. Not much activity there. I posted a small note stating that I 'm looking for a ride. I saw a similar note from a New Zealand couple, posted five days ago. The security guard, an elderly gentleman with a good understanding of English, said the club is dying. Not much activity these days. He suggested I go to Manzanillo, where I'd find many small boats, including Colombian boats.

I bummed around the Manzanillo container terminals and Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, French Line and Evergreen offices, inquiring about ships that carry "loose freight" (not containerized) to Colombia. No leads. And the elusive Colombian boat terminal was not to be found. (Several people warned about Colombian boats, saying, in effect, they're not trustworthy.)

So, it may be the airplane after all...

At the hotel, had some lunch/dinner. It was supposed to be beef, but I'd call it "mystery meat". Let's hope I don't succumb.

No comments: