The first memory is when we approached the yacht club at Cristobal, Colon after we had transited the canal. Behind the yachts tall coconut trees were bending in the tropical breeze. The temperature and humidity felt like Hawaii. My body felt at home on the Atlantic side of Panama. I want to stay here, I said to John. I wondered then if my body remembered that I had lived near there as a small child when my father was stationed at the Submarine base at Coco Solo.
The second memory was when we first dropped anchor in Linton Bay in Portobelo National Park. We had sailed up the coast to attend a wedding at Puerto Lindo. At Linton we could jump off the boat to swim in clean water and see coral and fish. When we went ashore there were hard-packed country roads perfect for bicycling and jogging and walking. There were coastal hills and mountains for hiking and old forts to explore. My first thought was that I would like to anchor "Primo" here to train to do Ironman Kona. John had completed the first Ironman in 1978 in which I was a last minute DNS (Did Not Start). Our son Michael was an Ironman Finisher in 1979, at age 16. Our daughter Kristin had been the first in the family to be an Ironman Finisher at Kona, in 1988. I had yet to do an Ironman. Portobelo National Park was the place for me to start training again.
The third picture in my mind is the view from the top of a Panamanian mountain that overlooks the valley of Nuevo Tonosi on the Atlantic side of Panama. We had climbed there with a Panamanian who owned property there and kept free range horses and chickens at the top of that mountain. It was a glorious hike. What a place. I felt such affection for Panama. At the top we could see the Atlantic coastline and most of the National Park lands. When we later designed a triathlon course in the park it was that new friend (Manny Berastengui, Engineer for Portobelo) who talked to the landowners to ask permission to run through their properties on the run leg of the course.