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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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Old 25 Nov 2008
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Location: San Francisco, California
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Panamanian Caribbean coast cut off

We are currently stranded in Changuinola, Panama and have been trapped on the coast for 3 days. The road over the mountains to David is washed out and the roads north of Sixaola in CR are under water. The road between Changuinola and Chiriquiri Grande is open and passable as of a few days ago. There are currently no flights or boats out as far as we can tell. We haven't been able to get a solid estimate on when roads will re-open or when flights or shipping will resume.

I don't know the condition of the road from Limon CR to San Jose, but that is our best hope as of now. If you know the condition of this road I would love to hear it. I personally saw the washouts in the road to David and I would estimate it will be weeks before it will be repaired.

If you were headed over this way, don't bother.

If you can assist with logistics for getting a bike shipped out of Changuinola, Almirante, or Chiriquiri Grande, I'd love to hear from you.
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Old 26 Nov 2008
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Posts: 657
Use local resources if you can

Hi sp4ce,
we were in Costa Rica a couple years ago and for two years I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to Puerto Limon. I know Sixola, Changuinola and Puerto Limon and have political contacts that represent Puerto Limon and surrounding areas. Private message me if your situation becomes critical (you be the judge). I am in Buenos Aires, but can call a diplutado / congressman, who has his PHd and is a best selling author. He grew up in Limon. He is a very capable and resourceful man with contacts at the Presidential level.

His name is Dr. Quince Duncan and if you deem your situation an emergency, for whatever reason, I am sure he can and will coordinate your evacuation from danger.

Meanwhile, I would contact the Red Cross, Cruz Roja,(sometimes it is better to call the America Red Cross and have them Contact Cruz Roja in your area via high level channels)... if the phones or internet are still up, report in to your countries embassies in Costa Rica and Panama and ask for suggestions.

Here is a time to get to know the people, the culture and locate other valuable resources on your own. You will be OK I believe, just delayed and that might not be a bad thing.

Keep us posted, by your post I see that at least you have communication out...use it... xfiltrate
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Old 27 Nov 2008
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Thanks for the kind offer, xfiltrate. The only danger we are currently in is from boredom. We are holed-up in a hotel in Changuinola and the town has power, phones, internet and plenty of food and water.

The airports (Changuinola, Bocas) are flying again and most if not all of the trapped tourists have gotten out. It is still raining, though not as hard, and the roads remain closed. The first to open will probably be the road north into Costa Rica. Currently the Sixaola/Guabito border is closed due to flooding in the 15km stretch north of the border. The road from San Jose to Limon was open yesterday, but is closed today due to a mudslide. That problem is likely temporary. The flooding will likely continue to keep the road closed as long as it keeps raining which could be a week or more.

The one charter yacht I have been able to contact that operates on this coast is not sailing due to heavy seas and they state that "no one" is. I imagine larger cargo ships are operating, but it is beyond my limited spanish to track those down or attempt to arrange passage on one.

At this point we are probably going to try to find secure storage for the bike in Changuinola and then fly out and "go on vacation" while the bike is stuck.

If anyone needs up to date road status for Costa Rica you can find it here: Dirección General de Policía de Tránsito Costa Rica
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Old 29 Nov 2008
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Posts: 657
Thanks for the Update

sp4ce, thanks for the welcome news. we have all been stuck to our Cnn/Fox/BBC/TVE/Algezeera cable stations here wishing and wanting the terrorist attacks on Mumbai to be over.

If you haven't already, you might want to try some black beans and rice, black beans are boiled in the milk of coconuts there and with rice and plantin are delicious.

2 years ago I remember befriending some members of a banana co op who pulled out all the stops and gave us a very interesting tour of the banana plantation - from the trees, to the collection, washing and packing for shipping.

These guys were experts in the flooding and had a network up into Costa Rica based on the banana trade. Try to meet some of the managers of a banana co op for a tour and info on conditions.

You also have some remaining indigenous peoples occupying the border area and in the jungles around what used to be Pennhurst, before the river washed it out. Some of the legends and folk tales from this area are truly amazing. There used to be a mule drawn cart that was pulled along the railroad tracks through Sixola.

Funny how, in order to attract international funding via eco tourism etc, years ago all the "jungles" became "rain forests" and all the"swamps" became "wetlands" . and etc...

I suppose it was easier to promote tourism by renaming the geography. As far as I know mountains are still mountains, I think.

Anyway, be creative and keep your wits about you and know that you have the opportunity to really learn about a culture different from your own. Keep us posted and good that you are exploring local transport out. Why go on vacation, you could be having one now. xfiltrate ps in that area you won't have to look too far to find english speakers - Limon english, but understandable they have the itenerant "b" going on as in "I Be going now" or Me gonna go up college" " I am going to school;" etc...

Last edited by xfiltrate; 10 Dec 2008 at 23:30.
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