It’s drifted into night and I’ve spent all day madly searching for passage south. I walked down the docks and streets of Fort Amador, just outside Panama City, looking for answers. The rich skyline remains in view with the open ocean behind me. I’m tired after four days of travel from Guatemala City that were filled with moments of luck and delay. I’ve had my last defeat for the day and will head back to the city to find a place to rest for the night. I approach the bus stop towards a man sitting on the curb. “Permiso senior, cuando tiempo la autobus arriv…”
“Fuck, speak English man. Do I look Spanish?”
His name is Andrew, he’s captain of the Cleopha and he’s quite drunk. He wants to get a taxi to the city to continue drinking. He asks me to sit down. He asks me what my deal is. Naturally I join him on the curb, using my backpack to lean against. He begins to talk; he’s originally from Michigan, but in a weeks time, when his boat’s strut is repaired, he’ll continue his journey home to Tampa via the canal. He’s eager to see his wife and kid. He’s been sailing for four months, beginning in San Diego, and has been through a lot to arrive in Panama. He offers to take me onboard: to go through the canal and up the coast, everything paid for. I’m hesitant, it might be the booze on his mouth and his forwardness. He forces good advice upon me, tells me never to pass up a oppurtunity. I try to explain I’m in the middle of doing just that by heading south, not passing up a good opportunity. He offers a bed on his boat for the night, continually repeating that doesn’t give a fuck what I do, yet he continues to make the offer. After more back and forth we go to his boat to have a beer. I will sleep here tonight and continue my mission tomorrow. He thanks me several times for stopping him from going out and spending his money and then cracks another beer for himself.