Three Weeks in Linton and Counting.
Panama: Where East is West and Nothing is Near and There's No Such Thing as a Quick Trip to Colon

Accepting Help and Paying it Forward

P1010205While it appears the blog hasn’t been a priority, in reality I’ve been thinking about it daily, and have three other posts written. What I haven’t had is WiFi or a sense of humor. Both are required for blogging.

The finicky Digicel towers, my inadequate BLU phone, and EW’s temperamental iPad have meant that of the six cruising sailboats currently in “The Pool”, we are the only ones who can’t get online. On prior days, I’ve gone to Kookaburra to use their data and do a quick check-in on email and Facebook. Posting blogs, checking on my articles, banking, seeing wedding photos (Troy got MARRIED!)—all of those things have been unavailable. This was the icing on the challenges cake.

I’m concerned that we are becoming the Sad Sacks or VDPs (Very Draining People) among the Panama Cruisers. Back when we were living on the dock in Maine, friends of ours took their boat to the Caribbean for a year or two and came back to share their stories, to teach us to play dominoes, and go back to work. One of their tales was about a boat they met frequently on the way down the coast and thru the Inland Waterway. The captain and crew were newbies, and needy. So needy that our friends (two of the most helpful, nicest people you want to meet) began to go out of their way to avoid anchoring near the other boat and getting embroiled in the disaster of the day. Those cruisers were VDPs—very draining people.

We do not want to be VDPs; we certainly aren’t newbies, but we sure have been needy lately. We needed lots of help with the electrical issues (blog post to follow), we have needed help using Digicel, fighting Digicel, and getting on-line. And now… hopefully the final installment of “Problem of the Week”:  EW has shingles.


Here we are, finally back in the Guna Yala, sitting in a beautiful anchorage with our forever friends Keith and Jaime and the opportunity to make new friends, and EW is ill and uncomfortable—miles from medical professionals and products.  Here’s how the cruising world works: After learning about the shingles (and knowing we couldn’t get on-line), Reg from Runner scooted over with a bundle of downloaded documents on homeopathic remedies for shingles. Not 10 minutes after he had dropped those off—while I was rapidly reading and learning about  Lysine and Arginine— Dani and Tate from Sundowner came by to deliver a filet from a huge fish. As soon as we mentioned the article, Dani began to talk knowledgably about Lysine (good) and Arginine (bad) and the foods that contain them. The universe provides.

This morning, Dani obtained the loan of a Telus hot spot device with which we can use our SIM card to get on-line on the boat. (We will purchase one of this on our trip to Panama City.) When I dinghied to Sundowner for the device and tutorial, she gave us a bundle of downloaded information and a more in-depth food list. We’ve been feeling extremely grateful for all the help, and still feeling needy.

However, yesterday afternoon we did find a way to give back.  The family on Tika have only been aboard for a couple of months, and are heading for Cartagena this week. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough coffee to make the passage. This was a tragedy as the closest store with coffee is a day’s sail away in the wrong direction. It is a potential tragedy that we could solve! In the midst of all this angst I’ve been using my energy to reorganize the boat, category by category. Yesterday morning I did the food storage areas and discovered a 6 pound bag of coffee beans we had purchased in St. Thomas. This was in addition to the smaller bags purchased more recently in Colon. The Captain and youngest crew member from Tika were passing us on a sailboard when I yelled, “We have extra coffee!” One tack and they were along our starboard side. I left Russell holding on to La Luna (which wasn’t easy on a sailboard with your young daughter standing between your legs) and popped back up with a bag of  beans. He was thrilled, and offered to pay for it. I refused payment and was so happy to be able to give someone something that I danced a jig (startling Russell’s daughter.). Finally! We were able to Pay it Forward again.

Maybe things will get back to normal soon. Normal for us, that is, which can be strange and wonderful, with rarely a dull moment.

As for EW: He has been a good patient and seems to be getting better. We’ve applied cream supplied by Reg and Deb on Runner, and that has helped. He check the bad foods list and made a lunch of cheese and fruit (no crackers, bread, or nuts). He followed that up with a can of Coke, thinking that “High Fructose Corn Syrup” meant it wasn’t full of sugar.

I can’t even.


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