We had been at anchor for nearly fourteen days without any air-conditioning in the hottest country in the hottest month of the year. We found tiny white fans and plugged them in. I don’t think it made a difference. The dark Panamanians would be down in the engine room all night trying to fix the broken condenser and such. They would emerge drenched in buckets of sweat, cussing and speaking in their Italian sounding Spanish. I took cold showers every two hours and worked out from the lack of being able to swim or be on land. The crew went from manic, delirious exhaustion from the heat to utter joy when the air conditioning clicked on at 7pm on a Wednesday night. I was excited as Christmas morning.
I spent some time reading Hemingway and a book about the relationship between whalers and whales. I drank coffee with condensed milk (Central American specialty). I practiced Spanish. I laid in a hammock under layers of heat. I danced ballet by myself one day when we couldn’t get on land. I was growing tired of being stagnant and eating food that we couldn’t waste.
I took out a black motor boat with captains permission and picked up trash out of the Panamanian waters. I saw a boat named Carmen San Diego and laughed out loud. I saw a sailor with the most beautiful sailboat I had ever laid eyes on. He was sitting in front of his ship, in a tiny wooden motor boat. He looked like a gringo, who had been living on his boat for years. His skin like a plantain banana. His hair bleached gold from the relentless sun.