By Judy Woods
Robert and Janet Peterson have just returned from a trip to Panama, and what a trip it was!
The dry-run was a piece of cake, but getting to the airport on a weekday at 4 in the morning was a different story. They made it, but I have a feeling that it might have taken a little back seat driving, whether appreciated or not. Then there was a grueling 16-hour flight from Seattle to Georgia to Panama with a one-and-a-half hour layover.
Robert had wanted to show Janet where he had spent some of his military duty from 1948 to1949 when he was stationed at Fort Gulick, Panama.
They were accompanied by their daughter, Melissa. Their daughter-in-law, Deann, had arranged to have a wheelchair waiting at every airport for Robert. So the family saw to it that Robert and Janet Peterson were well cared for during their vacation trip.
After getting settled in at the Marriott, they were off and running. Of course, one of the first places to visit was Fort Gulick, the place that Robert had been stationed. The jungle hadn’t completely taken over yet. The barracks that Robert lived in was overgrown but there were still others standing elsewhere, so he was able to show Janet what they were like. When they want to use an old site to build on, the Panamanians just wait for the humidity, animals, and forest to move in and take over for a while, and then they move back in, clean up what is left of the mess, and then build whatever they want. And that’s what is happening to Robert’s old fort.
One of the most glaring circumstances that impressed Robert and Janet the most was the complete poverty that they saw just outside of the Panama City limits. They felt that Panama is definitely a two-class society, rich and poor.
Another thing that impressed them was the great lengths that their tour guides went to keep them from getting sick, such as providing hand sanitizer every time they left an area and bottled water everywhere.
Another stop was to visit one of the locks on the canal. They use a crane, which is the largest crane in the world. It was built by the Germans during WWII, and it somehow ended up in Long Beach, Calif. They sold it to Panama for $1, and it is still used there. When a ship wants to go through the locks, depending upon the type of ship, they have certain fees ranging from $230,000 to $500,000 in cash that must be paid two days before they are allowed to go through.
Another stop was to visit a native village. Although both Janet and Robert realized that it was staged for tourists, it was okay because it did show how the Indians lived before they were invaded by the Spanish. The Indians are short in stature, and when Robert and Janet say short, you have to believe very short. They live in open air huts, and the women wear heavy necklaces. They have very beautiful woven articles and the beading is spectacular. I was very impressed with the articles that they purchased.
One of the most impressive experiences that Robert and Janet enjoyed was traveling in a car or a bus to anywhere. It sounds like the streets aren’t large enough for the traffic, but that’s okay. You just get into the vehicle, put your foot on the gas and go, and don’t worry about all of the other vehicles around you.
Robert described a bus ride that he took. The ride was as exciting as usual until the bus driver had to turn around. The road was too narrow for a bus to turn on, so the driver stopped the bus right in traffic. Then he started the turn a half inch at a time until the turn was complete.
There were other buses that were lit up with Christmas lights all in red, they were called “Devil Buses.” They were older buses that were sold to private parties to run on specified routes assigned by the city. I believe Robert and Janet valued life and limb enough to stay off of them, but they did admire all of the lights.
Needless to say the Petersons thoroughly enjoyed their trip and would recommend it to everyone.
The Lions Club wishes to thank the very generous Red Apple customers who contributed to the Sultan Food Bank drive last Saturday. Every little bit can make such a difference. Jen’s grocery list for our food bank right at this time is macaroni and cheese, Top Ramen, Tuna and Hamburger Helper, boxed dinners and sides.
You can drop any items of this list off at the Red Apple, Coastal Community Bank, the Post Office, the Sky Valley Visitors Center, Galaxy Chocolates or at the food bank.
Arlene Gibson, owner of the non-profit Horses Healing Heroes, wishes to give out a big “thank you” to all of those who helped move all of those nine cabins from the VOA to her property up on U.S. Highway 2. The weather was miserable. With the wind and cold rain, it was enough to drive the bravest of souls indoors, but this group of volunteers had made a commitment and they were bound and determined to finish it.
First they had to empty the cabins, then cut them into eight-foot sections, use the excavator or crane to stack each cabin in on itself and then lift it up on to a flatbed truck for transport.
Then at the other end they had to use Arlene’s tractor to unload them on to her property. Doesn’t sound like much, except the land that the cabins were on was heavily treed, the driveway leading out had ruts, the street is a simple, two-lane road and then there are two sharp turns in order to get to U.S. 2.
Then there was weekend traffic to contend with on U.S. 2. The incredible crew that accomplished all of this ahead of the deadline are John Moore, James Luark, Charles Anthony, Walt Waltmire, Monica Bertolini, James Harmon Construction, Ken Gast, Frank Bently, Olum Chantell, Gattod Powell, Larry Brooks, Lana Larson, Dillon and his sister Brandy Hassing.
It took 16 freezing, soaking wet, tiring, long days to finish this project.
Congratulations! Job well done! Thank you!