Jazz’s Weird Day, Back in Panama City

Sailing has super high highs and super low lows. Day before yesterday we hauled anchor at 4 am, with our sketchy many-washer-held-on alternator holding the belt for our engine cooling system, it worked. Yay. Approaching the city we saw a huge pod of spinner dolphins! So many jumping and playing, super Yay!

We managed to anchor, beg for a slip with the lady who remembers me as ‘Momma Cat’ for my ‘Cat Mom’ shirt and Captain Cat because he is perfect. So we got a spot and good deal.

Andrew goes to check us into the country and I go to a highly reviewed welding shop with my one piece in two parts. Before handing over the piece I told him i needed this old piece, not to get rid of it. I needed it for a reference to check his work, that the size is exactly right and all, but I didn’t say that exactly. I told him i needed to mail it somewhere for the makers to check and the possibility of money back. People seem to ‘accidentally’ break or lose things when you specifically admit to wanting to check their work, so this was a total lie but I’ve learned to add emphasis when interacting with men in this type of circumstance. I was specific and made him repeat to me that I would get it back. I also waited with the part at the shop. Not gonna leave without it. He left and started work. I couldn’t watch all of it for safety reasons, but it started correctly.

Then suddenly he came back to me with the tube cut off and two parts of the now three parts ground down. My brain temporarily stopped working. The words in Spanish failed me, hell, the words in English failed me. He said there was no tube available in 10mm, so he could use the old tube. I came back to my senses enough to explain that the wear damage inside the tube made one side larger than the other. Hence why a new one was necessary and I didn’t just have the crack welded. He said if I could find the tube tomorrow he would finish fixing it and gave me a hardware store to start at. My still stunned self hugged my now three parts to my chest, got in a taxi, and met Andrew at the final brewery on our beer tasting wish list. I managed to just sit there and stare at my now three ground-down parts, that no longer came together to make the part i needed, while Andrew did a tasting.

I managed to walk down the block to the Irish pub we planned to grab food at. I managed to order a burger and apologize to the waitress that my ‘sad face’ and ‘mood’ were from a bad day and to please not worry. I set my three parts on the table to stare at them while we waited for food. The next day would be the last day before a four day holiday for Easter, aka Good Friday. Our paperwork for French Poly is expiring, Captain’s medications for his exit appointment can’t be retaken, but now won’t be in the required four days before we leave, I no longer had a mold to send to the back up company I was going to have a second part made (I had already arranged a 1 pm pick up, trust no one). I NO LONGER HAD A PART THAT COULD BE REMADE. No reference. No mold. Measurements inside an engine compartment for this range from extremely difficult to absolutely useless. I stared at my now three parts. And I got to experience a new ‘First’ in my mid thirties. Right there, in the outside packed patio of an Irish pub in Panama city, I broke down and bawled. I’ve cried in public before, but I was always humiliated, or at least embarrassed. I’ve run to a bathroom, or hid my car. But this new experience was that I no longer gave a f*ck. As the crying mounted, Andrew kindly gave me my space. I’m like a pooping dog in this way (thank you Quynn for telling me about this) I prefer to be seen and guarded while super vulnerable, like breaking down crying in public. I’m not interested in my guardian hugging me or patting my back distracting them from this duty of making me feel safer by guarding me. Eye contact when possible is nice. Unfortunately, our waitress, a small, beautiful and clearly tough specimen of our gender did not understand Andrew and my arrangement. She was not about to let Andrew stop her and Andrew won’t physically stop a small woman on a kind mission. As I cried into her shoulder, I attempted to explain the situation so she could understand that her intervention into what possibly looked like a bad domestic issue, was just hopelessness over broken metal. She finally understood, I thought, and left. As I’ve had to interject myself into some similar situations, especially in the boating world, to hand a lady a card, or mention our radio would be on all night and we can leave our dinghy down, or even if they couldn’t get to their passport things can always be worked out, etc. I get it’s not a fun role to play. I appreciate it and the toughness to shove herself between me and what may have looked like a unconcerned, glowering (but actually guarding) giant Andrew. I calmed down, even though honestly another few moments to freely cry would have been nice. I ate as much as possible and called an Uber, as this takes a while here. Now enters The American. He’s lived here eleven years and wants to know what’s wrong because ‘I’ve upset the waitress and he can translate the problem to her’ I tell him about the part, to get him to go away. Nope. He calls the waitress over and tells her it wasn’t her fault I was crying in Spanish. Worse Spanish than mine. Then doesn’t say anything about the welding problem, which I HAD explained to her. She politely said thank you. I politely said thank you. Guy didn’t leave, and said a man at his table had had a sail boat here for ten years and knows everything. I politely say I had a bad day and that I would rather just get the information online, for a second time. He looks at Andrew and says his wife repeats herself when she’s upset too. And we really should wait until his boating friend’s done eating so his friend could give us advice. We said no again and he literally asks ‘are we sure? This guy knows everything.’ It’s a sign of my hole of despair at this point that the anger from this dude intruding on an obviously emotional experience couldn’t override the deep hopelessness. He did finally leave but just as we were standing up, his boat friend came over. I asked him if the giant hardware and metal shop I would be starting at tomorrow was a good idea. He admitted he didn’t know, and did a humble commiserate, and left quickly, thankfully. Save me from the narcissistic ‘saver males’ of this world. The Uber brings us back but gets trapped behind a stopped car 300 yards from our dock. We get out and see that the car was stopped to take pictures of a mama sloth and baby sloth! Yay! Another high point.

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