Thanks to mechanical issues on an American Airlines jet, we’re trapped in amber on the North (Caribbean) side of the Panama Canal. The boat’s owner was supposed to join us yesterday for the trip through the Canal, but his plane was turned back to LAX because, I assume, there are no qualified mechanics here in Panama to fix whatever issue the plane had. So another day n the ‘s weirdest marina, on the grounds of what used to be the US Army’s Jungle Warfare Training Center. We’ve met quite a few cruisers here in this backwater, and most of them have been down here for a Really. Long. Time. The average time spent in panama seems to be running about three years, which, I my opinion, is far too long. Because of the violence and anarchy in Colon, there’s really nothing to do here except drink Panama beer, do laundry, and observe the behavior of the local prostitutes and the men who hire them for as little as $50 a day. We were entertained yesterday by four young ladies who had been hired by two Russian sailors, middle-aged men with beer guts and hard eyes. The girls appeared to be having a good time in the pool and whirlpool, and I thanked heavens that the pool appeared to be liberally dosed with Chlorine. The girls played in the pool, singing snatches of Latin music and making eyes at us. “Ooh Papi,” one of them crooned at me as I walked by, but I merely smiled and said “Ola,” rather than piss off the Russian Mobsters by engaging “their” purchases in conversation. That didn’t stop the rather rotund young women from flashing their boobs and bums at us (most people can’t get away with thong bikinis, and these girls were fine examples of that theory). An American couple we spoke with were questioning the marina management’s attitude toward the girls. They said that day workers were charged $10 a day to be allowed to work on boats in the marina, and wondered if the girls were charged that amount as well. After all, they said, they were day workers, too. At one point Andy tried to take a picture of Larry with the girls in the background, but was immediately shot down by the girls. “No peectures! No peectures! They screeched, while hiding behind one another. So I guess we’ll juts have to remember them in our mind’s eye alone, if at all. So we sat by the pool, watched the show, and enjoyed a few cold Panama beers, brewed across the Canal on Colon. Russ, the marina manager/owner informed us that the same brewery makes Heineken, and that they use the same ingredients and vats to make Panama. He says he can’t tell the difference between the two. I say he’s been here too long. The service here is on a par with most Caribbean Islands I’ve been to, but with a little less of a surly attitude. Nothing gets done quickly, and anything extra you ask for is viewed with suspicion and a remarkable lack of alacrity. Ah well, it is hot here, and extra exertion means more beads of sweat. We hope to begin our journey southward through the Canal late this afternoon, and, after a night moored in Gatun Lake, to finish it tomorrow. For those interested, you’ll be able to watch our progress live through various webcams located at the locks. Google Panama Canal webcams and you’ll find the site. I’d link it, but my Internet connection speed is measured in glacial terms. I’ll attempt to give you all a heads up via the blog, Facebook, and Twitter, as to when we’ll go through.