Bill called around 5PM or so and we left for a 4th of July party in Mobile, Alabama. We drove along the same route I used to take to get to the Dog River Marina before I sailed from Alabama to Panama, then turned left to go to a house right on the west bank of Mobile Bay. We were graciously welcomed, Southern style by a guy who does yoga. He looked more like a Harley Davidson guy than a yogi, and had had the tricked-out bikes. There was a musician on the deck, surprisingly good, who played a few southern songs. One was about a local swamp witch who ran a whisky still to enticed sailors into her lair, some of whom came out of the swamp and some who didn’t. He played Sweet Home Alabama, and even I sang along.
I wondered if there is another song about a state being your home that is anywhere near as good. The Bee Gees sang Massachusetts in a high key I can’t reach. Its good to cry along if you miss the place, but not much fun. Love that Dirty Water is good, fun to sing, but its about the Charles River, not the state. No one ever wrote a song about New Hampshire or Kansas, that I can think of. There are several about California, mostly about flowers, but California isn’t what is used to be.. Texas gets mentioned in lots of songs. I like to sing Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso, but tonight was about Alabama and the USA. Everyone had a southern accent except for Bill and me. A few talked about God. The women were all blond and seemed like sisters or cousins. They all wore red, white and blue. I felt out of place dressed in boat shoes and shorts with a white shirt and no color. I won’t do that again. The kids played with fireworks. It was nice to see kids…someone else’s. The weather was perfect. As Bill said, it was like a mid-west summer night. They don’t like Obama, and don’t worry about offending liberals, and they are not racist. One admitted voting for him. I wouldn’t if I did. Yes, there was even black folks there. These folks are good Americans; all of them. I bet they all have guns in the car and concealed carry permits.
Bill and I left before the sun went down. No need to stay, as Alabama has fireworks all over the place. I started to think I love this it here. As we sang Sweet Home Alabama, I wished I had been raised in the South with God, Guns, and Liberty. Live Free or Die, as we say in New Hampshire. You gotta love it.
I had to get to sleep early, as a taxi was coming at 6AM to take me to the airport to go back to Panama. I woke up at 3:30 AM as the phone rang, with the taxi driver I had called confirming a pickup. WTF? I didn’t go back to sleep. At 6AM, a woman showed up in a Yellow Cab. She got out to help me put my bags in the trunk. She was about five feet tall and tipped the scales at 300 pounds on the hoof, and had short-shorts on with mousy blond hair. She looked like she was right out of Walmart. A guy was sprawled across the back seat.
“What’s he doing here?” I asked.
“I picked him up at a bar. He got drunk and his friends left him. He wanted to go to a hotel but didn’t have enough money. I didn’t know what to do with him.”
I was going to tell her to throw his ass out, but didn’t want him near the house. I told her to make room in the front seat so I could sit there. He stunk of beer and cigarettes, and started snoring.
“Are you mad at me, Sir?”
“Yes, I am.”
“There was nothing I could do. Its my responsibility to make sure my customers are safe.”
“No it isn’t. It’s your job to get them from one point to another. It’s not your job to take on the stupid mistakes of some guy who is drunk. His friends had enough sense to get rid of him. You should have left him at the first hotel. How long has he been in the back of the car?”
“Look, Lady, there are lot’s of women willing to take on the mistakes of stupid men. Don’t be one of them. Get that asshole out of your car.”
“Thanks, Mr. You are right. I will take him to the taxi office and leave him.”
“Well, I would kick him out now, but do what you want.”
At least she drove fast and made all the lights. We got to the airport in 15 minutes. It usually takes at least 30 if you go the speed limit, catching all the lights. Alabama, good, bad and ugly.
It was a fast flight to Panama City. I decided to try to catch the last flight to Bocas from Panama City, saving the money for a hotel room, and grabbed a cab, got lucky with the traffic and made it to the other airport at 3PM, ran in, and there was one seat left on the plane leaving at 3:30. I made it! I got to Bocas and walked from the airport through town to the water taxi. The streets were deserted but I knew where everyone was. The bars were packed out to the street, the score 0-0 for the match between Costa Rica and the Netherlands. Costa Rica is only 15 minutes away.
I knew there would still be no score when I got to the boat so i took a water taxi to the Bocas Marina. I put my gear away, then went to the cantina in the marina where everyone was in front of the TV. I sat next to one of the girls that washes dishes who was holding her heart and screaming whenever the ball was in front of one of the goals. She helps me with my Spanish. It’s not as if someone actually gains 10 yards or hits a double. It’s erased as soon as someone else kicks the ball out of bounds. I really don’t understand why so many people like this game, but the World Cup is fun, and I like watching as long as i am with someone from another country who thinks it is a great sport. I do enjoy all the countries against one another.
Some of the games have the excitement of the Yankees vs. the Red Sox. Well, at least they think so. The game ended in a tie, of course, so they decided to play a different game, called penalty kick, which ended with Netherlands winning. All i could think of is a baseball game tied at the end of 12 innings. The ball is teed up, and you work through the batting order as each guy gets one swing to hit a home run. There is a winner declared of this new game, just so people can go home.
I think there should be two rule changes. First, if you get a yellow card, you go to the penalty box and your team will play short handed for a minute or so, like hockey. As it is now, there are no consequences to a hello card. Second, if the game ends in a tie, a player will be removed from the field, one from each team, every two minutes. At least it’s still football or soccer, not penalty kick. With fewer players, the tactics will change, making it exciting. With penalty kicks, the strategy and tactics are boring.
It is great to be back in Panama. I love the simple way of life. But I also like Alabama. Next time, I might wake up Bill and ask for a ride to the airport and skip the cab.