Alright, people. I obviously have to write a continuation post to my last Panama Canal post, and while we’re not going back through the Panama Canal anytime soon, that doesn’t necessarily mean the PC experience is over: one of the first locations a boat might find once through the Canal (in Colon) is Shelter Bay Marina, just a short motor away from the last lock. It has full capacity showers (with fancy motion sensitive lights, OOO!!), fast Wi-Fi, a lounge with a TV with English, Spanish and Japanese channels, eco tours, sailing lessons (in these little, tiny cute 5-foot long, pint-size sailboats), fresh produce, a HUGE pool (and its heated!!), a laundromat, about a dozen hotel rooms and a haul out yard.
We started the Eco tours about a week ago and actually, they’re pretty cool. A professor named Carlos takes us out every other day and educates us about the nearby jungle and wildlife: the Elephant grass, Coatis, Royal Palms and even some of the bunkers and houses leftover from when the US military was still protecting the Panama Canal. There was a housing district for the officers and their families. There were batteries where huge super guns used to be aaaand…. there were…..(are) bunkers (DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN).
So basically, imagine a bunker from the 1920’s that’s in the middle of the jungle that’s coming out of this big hill, then imagine it nearly a hundred years later: the jungle has taken over, vines are crawling over everything, weeds have overflowed the sidewalks, and the horizon is blocked out by huge trees. Now imagine going inside: darkness, the smell of bat poop and a general feeling of gloom hangs over everything. Flashlights make the shadows crawl away, but only for the remote time they’re focused on one particular spot.. then they crawl back. Paired with the echoes of voices and the otherwise eerie silence, you can very easily imagine a person disappearing around a dark corner and never coming back again. We flash our lights in random rooms, and bat’s eyes glint back at us. Although we are the only humans here at the time, many have been here before us; in some of the back rooms, graffiti covers the walls: proclamations of the end of all things, the names of boats that had passed through the marina, and more. One room was completely covered in black paint, with bats, ghosts, pumpkins, and others compete for room. Of course, this is only the first bunker, and the most known one: the two others, though significantly smaller, are less known and more off the trail than the first. #2 contains several looping rooms. They were used to load things onto these carts that were railed on the ceiling. #3 had the same tables, plus bats! Oh, and at the top there was this military battery where aforementioned super gun used to be. Carlos showed us a picture of when the gun used be in operation. It’s a bit hard to imagine considering that the battery is currently surrounded by trees, whereas back then it had been completely cleared.
Anyways, that’s pretty much it. If you take anything from this particular post, consider slowing down and taking an Eco Tour with Carlos next time you’re in Shelter Bay Marina…..and now I take my leave . Bye.