(La Playita Anchorage, Panama City, Panama)
How do I explain today? The day Greg almost got arrested. No. The day Greg was in the scope of snipers. Nah. The day Greg was brought home by a Panamanian Navy officer and an official member of the Panamanian Presidential Guard. Not quite. The day not worrying about worrying about Greg almost failed. Yup, that sounds right.
This morning Greg set out in his trusty dinghy to do three things. One, purchase gasolina for the dinghy; two, purchase 2 stroke oil for the yammy; and three, purchase three more jerry cans from the fish market to complete our long-range fuelling station that is located on the port side of Oceanna. He nailed one and two, then three ended up bringing a world of trouble. Unbeknownst to him, me, and I’m sure a whole lot of other people, the government buildings housing the Panamanian President are located downtown near Casca Viejo and Greg’s Fish Market destination. (note: We are still unsure exactly where they are located, but have zero desire to find out.) Because the tide was out Greg was unable to pull right up to the fish market pier. Instead he tied Marie off to a nearby rock wall and began the walk over. He was immediately met by an armed guard who had a lot of questions for him in Spanish. When the guard realized the language barrier he called an english speaking comrade and handed the phone to Greg – as can be the norm when in need-to-know situations such as this. The guy on the other end questioned Greg’s intentions and identification. When Greg couldn’t present his passport things were not looking good. He was escorted back to the dinghy where an official-type boat was waiting with Marie’s painter line already attached. Greg was then left in the capable hands of the two new guards.
What followed was multiple hours of sitting and waiting. In the beginning Greg’s two new handlers weren’t that friendly. Questioning Greg’s stupidity for not carrying his passport and miming out the gestures of rooftop, sniper, and Greg. The time was passed with intermittent Spanish conversations on their radios and a gradual warming up to Greg. Once the initial shock and awe period had passed they must have come to their own conclusions about him. He had a backpack of 2-stroke oil, a dinghy with a lifejacket, and his ever-present easy-going smile. It’s not hard to deduce that he had no malicious intentions. By the end of their sitting and waiting period Greg was showing the two Panamanian guards pictures of Oceanna on his phone, and they were making jokes via charades about his possible running speed.
Eventually a call came over their radio that must have ordered them to take Greg home and check out his credentials. This is where the story starts for me.
I had opted to stay home from Greg’s little outing as that’s what it was supposed to be. A quick and easy trip. Back in an hour tops. As I worked away and the time ticked passed, I had some passing feelings of worry as to Greg’s whereabouts. As I’ve learned, and even wrote about, not worrying about Greg is true art of self-preservation and sanity, therefore I put it out of my mind and continued on with my day. I actually came up with a few scenarios involving ludicrous items he had added to his day’s to-do list and was going to be proudly displaying to me any moment when he arrived back.
As the day wore on I casually checked the direction he would be returning from. On one such survey across the anchorage I sighted an official, coast guard-esque boat. Now I was doing absolutely nothing wrong, and was surrounded by 50 other boats of the same type doing the same thing, but still your heart rate picks up and you do a scan of your present actions. Not unlike when you see a police car on the road and do a rapid check of your speed and seatbelt. Just the gut reaction to authority. Once my self-implemented, unnecessary panic was over I looked back at the boat and my stomach fell to the floor at what I saw. The police-car boat was towing my dinghy. What was going on?
Even more confusing was Greg’s dog-with-its-head-out-the-window demeanour and location on the incoming bow of said authority boat. Once they arrived, got their boat tied off, and all unloaded onto Oceanna I began to get the story. First things first, we presented them with our passports and boat registration and the routine of copying down our information began. Actually, the first thing to happen was that I was introduced to Greg’s new comrades and the joke was made that only one chica was present instead of the two that Greg had previously kidded about. Following this, the officials began radioing-in our information to whoever it is they were reporting to. This was obviously all done in Spanish, but I caught the jist of “Canadians” and “private boat”. As the time passed we sat in tense anticipation of the unknown. We didn’t know what the possible outcomes were or really what the actual offence was. And it was obvious these two who we were buttering up with cold pops weren’t the ones making the call. Eventually a radio buzzed and a verdict was passed down. Greg was free to go. A ruling we guessed from the guard’s theatrical wiping of his forehead and mouthing of the word “pfewf!”.
To celebrate we offered our now friends another drink, patriotic Canada Dry this time, and gave them a tour of Oceanna. We all did our best with minimal English and Spanish on either side, though it seems small talk is inherently universal. I asked them who they worked for, one was an officer in the Panamanian Navy, and the other was a member of the Presidential bodyguard. They continued cracking jokes making the signs of handcuffs to Greg, while testing the good-life lounging comfortably on our teal cushioned couch.
All in all nothing came of Greg’s exciting day on the town, but I will, say Greg and Marie’s roaming privileges are going to be severely revised.