Day 024 28th Feb. 2010 Fuerte Amador Panama

Sunday.

Walked the long corridor, past 38 staterooms, up the escalators to the 6th deck then up the stairs to Wajang theatre. Mass was being held there today and  was already set up when I arrived. The priest,an elderly nearly seven foot high Canadian has a great sense of humour and gets things underway in his own unusual manner. A fire and brimstone approach but very genuine individual.
Back to the cabin at 8.45, woke Len and it was up on deck to a grey dull sky overhanging a dark brooding sea. Not pleasant but we were heading towards the only patch of blue sky.
The cruise director came over the PA system to remind us that today was the walk for cancer starting at 1.30pm, then at 5pm we would be in Panama harbour and get our tickets for the tender to go ashore in Panama City for some further adventure.
We sat in the Lido talking to a Canadian couple we had had dinner with on a couple of occasions and next we knew lunch was being served. Time passes quickly when you are having fun with new folk.
1pm. Donned the white Tee shirt with pink lettering, shorts and sneakers and off to the start line. Not as many walking on this leg of the trip as last leg but still several ladies who have been stricken with cancer and are now in remission. It is not a competition but I had decided I would dedicate my efforts to Kym Ford and needed to come in first.
A lady of 14 years remission cut the ribbon and we were off. Over the line I go and on my mission. End of lap one and I am in the lead. Two ladies were just behind me and kept pushing and pushing. Len was my water station manager as well as my official lap scorer and photographer. 12 Laps around deck 6. Five kilometres with a nasty head wind on the starboard side, some ship rocking and people on wooden deck chairs blocking half of the deck. A bit of an obstacle course but I was determined. My shins were starting to scream by the third lap, the two women were still close behind. I could hear them talking about their gym exploits and thought“ oh why don’t I do more gym work” or more precisely “why don’t I go to the gym?” On and on and then no more talk from behind! I have left them or they have dropped out. Don’t know, just keep going, Annie.
Reached my water station and the manager says that ‘the women have gone but a man is closing in on me. Watch out!’ I swore under my breadth, said another prayer and gained some more wind. He kept coming up to my shoulder and I kept trying to get him stuck in the traffic of the slower walkers. What I didn’t know, was that he was jogging between the deck chairs to keep up with me. Damm! More water. Lap eleven, one to go. “Go Annie” I could hear. Spurred on I kept fighting; round the stern of the ship for the last time; down the port-side deck, pumping the arms, beating the wind that had shifted to the side and was blowing me off course; round under the tunnel at the bow and down the starboard straight for the last time. I could feel his breadth; hot,sweaty and deep. He was not going to concede. At last! the pink ribbon in sight. Just to rub it in, I jogged the last 20 meters and crossed the line just centimetres in front of him. I was completely exhausted but I had done it for Kym. I had won the non-competitive race of five kilometres. The huge hug from my support team and handshake from the sinewy athletic looking anonymous guy were my rewards. I felt over-the-moon.
Had a hot shower and got ready to go to the tender. Captain came over the PA with disappointing news. The seas are up, and about to get worse so we would not be able to anchor and get the people to the tenders safely. Well more precisely he was more worried about getting back late at night. Rain squalls have come over, the skies are darkening, the seas churning. Panama City high-rise skyline is hiding in the distant mist. From our vantage point on deck 12 we have counted 57 cargo ships waiting their turn to transit the canal. Every one has a booking and will proceed in turn. Ships are coming from the Atlantic side and passing close by. One container ship was a huge yellow and black block. It seemed to be just that, a block. No discernible bow or stern. Most others looked more conventional.
 At the present we are sailing with a full moon escort to some safe haven nearer the canal opening where we can anchor for the night and wait for the pilot to come aboard at 5:30am to lead us through the canal for the second time.