Parted ways with Patrick and Brian a couple days ago as they wanted to stay in Costa Rica another day while Larry and I wanted to move on and get to Panama City earlier. And, I wanted to explore down to the end of road at the Darien Gap. We had planned on meeting up at the docks where we would load the bikes onto the Stahlratte sailboat which Brian and Patrick had reservations on and we hoped to get on as well. But, we got an email from the boat captain and it was completely full already. So, Larry and I needed to make other arrangements to get around the Darien Gap. There are other ways to go, like flying yourself and/or the bike, or shipping the bike in a container. But, From what I’ve read, sailboats are the way to go as they provide another complete adventure. The trip includes several days snorkeling and playing on the San Blas islands before setting sail for Cartagena Columbia. They also transport you and your bike. So, Larry and I rode on but not very far before a monster rainstorm hit and we were forced to seek shelter in an open barn. The owner came out to see what who we were and we asked if we could stay… at least that’s what I think I asked. But, who knows, maybe I asked if they were missing some fruit! Idunno!
Got an early start and made it to the border before they opened. Larry and I have not exactly excelled in our use of the Spanish language. So, we have struggled a bit when crossing borders. But, we know enough about the process now to make it through without getting so frustrated that you want to kill someone. So, a mere 3 hours after arriving at the border, we say goodbye Costa Rica, hello Panama. We then
rode thru some more heavy showers and ended the day just short of the Panama Canal. Got a room with internet access and emailed some sailboat captains regarding transport from Panama to Columbia.
We rode the final 50km into Panama City today. Then spent the next 3 hours trying to find the Hostel. Took some time just to locate a map. Finally found one in a bookstore at a mall. Yup, Panama is very westernized in most respects. Then we wandered around the city for another hour or so trying to read the map and make sense of their addressing scheme - never did really figure it out. Ended up talking to a couple police officers who didn’t speak any English but were kind enough to flag down a gentleman who did.
He gave us directions to the area where the Hostel was located and we managed to find it! Whoohoooo! Yep! it’s the simple things :) Then we bumped into the captain of one of the boats that I had emailed the day. As, it turns out, he was scheduled to leave the next day. Wow, that’s good timing - too good actually. I wanted at least a couple days to explore the eastern end of Panama near the Darien Gap. So, we got him to wait another day before sailing. And, now I will have time to go get a tattoo from a native tribe near the Darien - their famous for their tattoo’s, and not eating westerners.
This was an exciting trip for a number of reasons. It was over 30,000 miles thru Latin America and the Andes mountains, and I didn't speak much Spanish. There was also the small detail of the Darien Gap. And, then there was "Death Road" in Bolivia - supposedly the most dangerous road in the world.
Anyway, I blogged about the entire journey right here.