29Apr

Colon

Anatomy-Colon

I am not talking here about the piece of anantomy at the end of the human digestive tract, but it would not be an unfair comparison to make.

I am talking about the town of Colon at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal, which Robert and I decided to go visit today. The first problem we had was getting there because the train that runs the length of the Canal was not running due to it being a bank holiday in Panama on Monday 

Colon Building

This meant we had to take the bus which was very cheap but the driver decided that seats were not necessary for everybody on the express option we had chosen, and invited an additional dozen or so to stand in the aisle along what would otherwise have been a fairly comfortable coach. After paying for my ticket I had kept my wallet in my grubby paw so as to keep a close eye on it, but this backfired because I put it down to get water or something else out of my bag and then failed to pick it up upon leaving the bus. I realised this a short stroll down the road from the bus station in Colon and nearly sprinted back to the bus where fortunately we had been the last ones to get off.  The driver let me on and thankfully I found it, the $200 it contained, along with one of my credit cards. Sooooooo Lucky!!

Colon Tenement

We had read that crime was a bit of a problem in the town before heading off, and as we walked down to the coast from the bus station you could see why. The town had once been very rich due to being a way station for the transfer of gold, silver, etc from Central and South America to Spain, and there were a few signs of a faded glory but there was no indication of any wealth left in the town we saw, anywhere. 

Police Patch

I was pretty sure that we were heading the right way to get us to a bar that had been recommended but saw a policeman so double checked with him. He confirmed my belief that the Hotel Washington was just a few hundred metres down the road, but when I went to head off he stopped me and asked why we were walking around the area. ‘Did we have any idea how dangerous it was there? You should not be walking anywhere in this city.’

Even though we were only a few hundred metres from our destination and could have walked the distance in a couple of minutes, he would not let us leave his side until he had got us into a taxi. It was only $2 but by the way he had spoken to me (as a rule I do have enough Spanish to understand people now) there was no doubt in my mind that it was probably the best $2 we would spend all day. 

Zona LibreOf the rest of the town we had hoped to visit the Zona Libre or free zone later in the day, which is a duty free walled area that the locals are not allowed into where designer goods, electronics, etc can all be purchased but the bank holiday had put a stop to that too. That may have been a blessing in disguise however, because I have been looking for an excuse to replace my troublesome laptop for some time now, and buying one only to have it stolen upon leaving the gated area would not have been money well spent!

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