It was midnight when I finally climbed aboard Begonia and peeled of my uniform for the last time in months. Maryanne was having me hit the ground running and had already arranged for us to go to the weekly cruiser’s brunch the next morning at a Chinese restaurant in the city.
There were twelve of us around a big table swapping stories and advice for our upcoming passages. I think I was there mostly so Maryanne could prove to everybody that I really DID exist.
When the bill came, a piece of paper was passed around. Everybody was putting his or her names and passport numbers on it. We were told it was so we could get a discount. Panamá has several favorable laws giving retirees mandatory discounts on pretty much everything. When our server came, she reviewed the list and then looked at me and barked, “You! You are not retired!” I think I cost the whole table a 25% discount. (It was still only $8 each). I guess I must be doing something right if a Chinese woman from twenty feet away thinks I don’t look any older than twenty years above my age. That’s clean livin’ for you. To be honest, looking around the table I would have figured about half of us were too young. Perhaps the glitter on my overstretched “True Belieber, Playgrounds and Chuck-E-Cheese World Tour” t-shirt ruined it for us. (Why is the biggest size available suitable for thirteen year-old girls? C’mon, guys!)
Our clearance paperwork ended up being delayed at Immigration, so we had to wait another day to depart. Without the time pressure to be in bed early for a first light departure, we were free to visit some new friends at a nearby boat for sundowners and stories. Maryanne seems to have a lot of embarrassing stories about me.
We had one last excursion into town to get the really good, high data content forecast from the wifi in town before reverting to the limited type we get over the ham radio. We met Roy along the way and he had the last of our paperwork, so we are now free to leave whenever we like. We will be pulling up anchor at first light in order to take advantage of a full day of winds for the fairly long day trip to our next anchorage in the Perlas.