I bid Chip Hasta la Pasta around 8am and headed off towards Panama. About ten minutes out-of-town who did I pass only Pierre, He must have walked most of the previous day and night to make it to where he was. I briefly stopped and exchanged pleasantries before hitting the road at the break neck speed of 80kph. The roads here are fine but there are cops everywhere, the speed limit is very low and enforced with 300$ fines.
I crossed the border with relative ease, it only took an hour for the whole crossing. I just gave a kid 10$ and he done all the running around for me, he came back periodically with forms for me to sign and to stick me in some cue of other. Best 10$ I ever spent. I was free in Panama and across the last difficult border in the last country of Central America. It’s also the 29th country on planet earth I’ve ridden my bike too or through.
I rode on through the lashing rain for another four hours until I finally reached a little town called Pedsai on the southern most tip of Panama. Here I meet up with Andre and Kerman, two other adventure riders I met in Guatemala. We had dinner swapped stories over a few beers and planned the next stage of our Adventures.
The next day was spent swimming, eating coconuts and riding bikes on beaches around the peninsular. It was the first full day without rain in a long time. The first beach we came across was totally deserted; we had it all to ourselves. There were coconuts a plenty so lunch was free and delicious too. Pedsai is a nice little town full of friendly people, a great place to stay if you ever get a chance. Panama as a whole is a bit different from the rest of Central America. It’s more developed than all bar Costa Rica, the roads are mostly fine and the people are pretty friendly. So far the cops seem honest as well which is a big plus for us.
Tuesday morning the 22nd we took off at 8am after a hearty breakfast to Panama City. It was about three hundred km away and a very easy boring ride, two-thirds of which were on a motorway. Kerman got caught speeding and over taking on a double yellow line, apparently you’re not allowed to do that here. The cop that pulled him was nice and let him off with a warning. That didn’t stop us trying to make the most out of the ride, at one stage Andre was standing on his seat, motorways are so boring for motorcycles but it was the only way to Panama City. We entered the hot and humid city, crossing over the bridge of the Americas which spans the Panama Canal on route. We then spent an hour riding around in the 30 degree heat looking for the hotel we booked, when we found it I think we all wished we didn’t. I didn’t even go inside, I could tell from one look at the outside I wasn’t staying there. We searched a heap of other hotels in the area until we found one with a vacancy and safe parking for the bikes. We are all stuck in the one room, we can hear our neighbour’s TV, and every move they make and the smell is just delightful. Being stuck on a boat with twelve other people for five days should be easy after this…
Our last day in Panama City was spent wandering about like idiotic tourists with cameras taking photos of anything that looked out of the ordinary. Unfortunately Panama City is just like any other Central American city. The old part was nice so we spent the afternoon there watching life pass by. The business district is the usual concrete jungle consisting of towering monstrosities engulfing the skyline. We didn’t even go there; a view from the distance was enough. It turns out that three out of the four of us don’t really like cities and would rather be anywhere else.
We did however go and visit the Miraflores locks on the Panama Canal. It was a little impressive for sure, there were a few ships passing through when we were there so we got to see them rise and fall like the Irish economy as the locks opened and closed. To be honest though we only went there for something to do, save yourself the effort and watch the documentary Discovery Channel made from the comfort of your lounge. You’ll even learn more that way.
We have a two-hour ride tomorrow before we load our bikes onto a catamaran, Colombia bound. We will spend four nights on-board and pass through the San Blas islands on route. It sounds like a sweet trip for sure. The boat takes twelve passengers, three of whom I already know. I just hope the weather’s going to be alright. All going well I’ll be free in South America on Monday next.
I’d just like to say thank you if could for all the kind messages from everyone lately. I don’t even know a lot of you (hopefully someday I will get to meet ye all) but your support is really appreciated. It’s been very hard to motivate myself to continue and to try to enjoy this adventure, your words of encouragement have really helped me to carry on through this difficult time.