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The visit to Panama was short. More of a re-supply stop than an actual port visit, there really wasnít much excitement. Not that thatís a bad thing, really. Iíve learned that, in the Navy, excitement is often a bad thing. When things are boring, things are calm...calm because there arenít any emergencies to take care of.

    Still, having never been through the Panama Canal, the visit there was neat for me. I got the chance to see the last remnants of the U. S. Naval Base, which is just across the canal from Panama City. The base is now closed in preparation for returning the canal to Panama in accordance with the contract set up when the structure was built.

    The only other interesting memory of Rodman was that it was the port where my phone bill finally caught up with me. That phone bill was the one with all the charges from my phone conversations with Helen in Austria. I was more than a little shocked when it showed up, having never before seen a phone bill with four digits in the dollar amount.

    With the help of the commanding officer and his driver, I managed to find an Internet Cafť, where I was able to transfer funds to pay the bill. With that minor crisis averted, I was able to settle in and enjoy...well, not much.  The food was pretty good and the people are nice, but there really isn't a whole lot of "touristy" stuff to do there.  Panama is interesting, but mostly just because itís not the U.S.

    After we left the "sweeping metropolis" of Panama, we headed further south to Ecuador.  It was here that I really began to appreciate how good we've got things in the United States.