The other day I met Jim “Jet” Nielson, holder of four world land speed records and getting ready to try for a fifth here in David on June 6th hoping to set a fifth at 500 mph. I’ll be writing more about him in coming days. Jim is a longtime friend of my friend Frank Hilson who, himself, was an up and coming race car driver in the Sterling Moss era until a horrible, fiery crash ended his career. Frank was the one who pointed me in Jim’s direction.
Jim is also a sailor. He grew up in Hawaii and at the age of 19 was delivering boats that participated in the TransPac races back to the States. He said he had a trimaran in the Port of Pedrigal only a short drive from David. I was down there on my last trip and decided, yesterday, to go scope out Jim’s boat.
Before leaving the States I bought a chip for my GPS with Panama maps. For some reason it wouldn’t accept Pedregal as a destination. So I went to Google earth, got the Lat/Long coordinates and entered those and received routing. The instructions told me to go to the end of the street where the hostel is located and hang a left. It directed me through a few city streets and within 15 minutes I was at the marina. During the drive I spotted several decent looking restaurants and thought I’d go have supper there. Now, I love eating at the tiny restaurant across from the hostel but their menu is extremely limited. A whole fried fish ($5), a fillet of fish ($3), and the best sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) ($2.25) I’ve had in all of Panama to date. But my mouth was telling me it wanted to taste some shrimp that evening.
Dinner time arrived and when I turned on the GPS I went to the “coordinates” and hit “Go” without verifying them. I figured they had to be the same, right? Wrong.
When I got to the end off the street this time it told me to turn right instead of left. Okay, a different route. I drove and drove through city streets I’d never been on, but who knows, right? Wrong. No more street lights and the road narrows every kilometer. Eventually the pavement ends. Now I’m on a dirt road but the checkered flag indicating the destination is visible up in the upper left corner of the screen. The dirt road kept deteriorating with huge rocks and pot holes filled with rain water. Even a four wheel drive would have been going along at the five kilometer per hour pace. The map indicated that the road would be making a couple of switch backs on itself and then I came to a huge iron gate with a massive chain and padlock. Nothing to do but turn around and go back the way I came.
When I finally made it back to the paved road I pulled over, plugged in for the destination for the airport. The road to Pedregal is right along side the runway. In under five minutes I knew where I was. I stopped at the “Mar y Mariscos” (Sea and Seafood) restaurant where I had Camarones Criolla (Creole shrimp) which was delicious. The waiter gave me the 25% Jubilado discount without my asking for it, too. I love Panama.