Monday, January 18, 2010

Mysterious Panama – Another Running Adventure

Bologna, mustard, salmon and chips with cheese sauce for lunch!

Log #25 - It's a Mystery
Position: 9 degrees 22.1’ N 79 degrees 57.0’ W
(Cristobal/Colon, Panama)

Remember my run to Fort Lorenzo, the Spanish fort that was built to guard the mighty Chagres River and the riches that flowed down it?

On the running route to the fort there are many side trails that can be seen. I have run down several of these trails and have found nice deserted beaches and some WWI and WWII ruins in the jungle. I have to be careful though because of the crawly things that hide under the leaves or hang from the trees on these trails!

This area is also where the US trained troops in jungle warfare to fight in the Vietnam War. There is unexploded ordnance scattered throughout the jungle so I never get off the trails to avoid blowing something up – me!

So, I ran to Fort Lorenzo again and on the way back I saw a new road that I had not noticed before, probably because of all the sweat in my eyes from the heat and humidity. The road was old and appeared to be just another abandoned jeep trail.

After running nearly a mile down the road through the jungle I saw a huge fence that was topped with shinny razor wire. The wire was not rusted at all and appeared to be pretty new. Hmmmm, I wonder what that is for? Running further I came to a gate that was attached to the huge fence. The gate had a nice big lock on it but the gate was ajar with the lock hanging open.

I did what I normally do, I ran through the open gate of course. What could happen to an innocent gringo runner?

Once inside I stared at an open area with no jungle at all but just a huge mound covered in well-trimmed grass that covered about 5 acres of land. The shiny razor wire fence surrounded the entire area.

There was a set of stairs that led to the top of the mound so instinctively I ran up the stairs. Stairs are always a good workout! The stairs ended at the top at an elevation of about 100 feet. Now I ran across the top of the mound and right over a concrete helicopter platform. That is odd, I thought.

Right then it occurred to me that whoever left the gate unlocked might decide to close it and lock me inside, since they didn’t know someone was here. So I ran down the other side of the mound so I could get a longer run inside of the nicely trimmed area. That is how runners think, instead of going back the same way I came.

I was now running on a jeep trail that traversed around the big mound. Suddenly, you knew this was coming, I heard a generator running. Looking at the mound there was a huge generator station along with air-conditioning units and other black boxes standing against the side of the mound. Life!

My pace quickened now and I nearly flew around the rest of the mound and toward the still-open gate. As I looked toward the mound once more I saw a name, Battery Pratt etched in concrete on what I now knew was a military bunker.

Once out of the secure area I felt much better and continued my run back to Aspen.

Once I cooled down, I went to the computer. Luckily the internet was working so I searched the internet and found all the information I could on Battery Pratt.

Battery Pratt was a communications center used during WWII and up until the time that the canal was given to Panama in 1980. Then it was shut down.

However, as I discovered, the communications center is not shut down. It is very active now! But what is it communicating with???

I think that pirates are involved, Arrrrrrrrrrh!!!

But back to reality:
The World Arc around-the-world sailboats are arriving today at the marina. It is pretty busy here with the docks alive with activity.

Maria fixed a great lunch for us. She is enjoying salmon while I get baloney and mustard! (see the attached photo)

Sail on sail on Aspen…

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