July 25, 2006 GMT
Panama - Puente del Mundo

Beach - Panama

Panama - The Bridge to South America. A country literally cut in half by a man made Canal. Home to the infamous and wild Darién Gap. We were looking forward to our last country of Central America.


Exit Costa Rica - Pañoas Cañas
Very, very simple
* Take passports to Migration window for stamp (they wish to see each individual with their passport at this crossing)
* Take all bike paperwork to Aduana for cancellation

Enter Panama
Again, very, very simple
* Take passports to Migration for cursory check and issue of a small paper to purchase tourist cards ($US5.00 each + $US1.00 each for municipal tax)
* Purchase tourist cards (if arriving at lunch time you will have to wait, as we did, for the officer to return)
* Return to Migration for stamps in passport
* Visit Aduana with copies of bike rego and ownership
* Once permit is issued, a check by Customs officer, who will ask you to open bags, boxes and such and look inside, ask a few questions and send you on your way.
* Ride to quarrantine where they may or may not spray the bike. We did not have the bike sprayed.

Pan-American Highway

The Republic of Panama is a narrow long isthmus (80 kilometers at its narrowest point and 193 kilometers at its widest) with a beautiful tropical climate that remains consistent through out the year. It has a dramatic landscape, lush green forrests covering high mountains and farmed rolling hills stretching to the sea with classic Spanish fortifications and beautiful palm fringed beaches.

Fort - Portobello

By the time we reached David, the second largest city, 50kms from the border the chain guard was once again clattering wildly about the rear end. The first repair in Mexico City had been easily completed with the guard still attached to the swing arm, which was probably as well with the front mounting bolt being in such a rediculously cramped position (only design by computer could be so impractical!) that it had proved imposible to remove. However, with the present state of the guard we had no option but to remove it and throw it away or weld a new section to the original repair.

Grant lowered the bash plate and removed the (rarely used) tools which sit hidden and happily forgotten for most of the time. Amoungst a small collection of spare bolts, nuts and washers a philips head driver was found, which with the help of a shifting spanner, tyre lever and large quantities of WD40 managed to move the offending bolt.

Fort - Portobello

With the guard now removed he walked the short distance to a muffler repair shop and proceded to completely confuse the owner and himself trying to explain in Spanglish the necessary repair.

Fortunately the gentleman was patient, a common and endearing trait of Central Americans, and with due course he grabbed the rather grubby and mangled plastic/metal chain guard and raced off into the rear of the building.

Perhaps a half an hour ensued with much clanging about, drilling and welding noises eminating, he re-appeared. Proudly he passed the repaired guard to Grant who, amazed at the new strength of the repair, asked the cost.

The man, now busy attending to some other task, looked up, furrowing his forehead and pursing his lips in thought. "Two dollars" he replied!

Piggy in Paradise

A day ride to Boquette in the Mountains was a refreshingly cool treat before returning to the InterAmericano (or Pan-Am). It is long, relatively straight and often a 4 lane highway. The sparsely populated road skirts along the coast past the occasional waterfall tumbling from a cliff top, through farm lands and beautiful scenery. It is easy to chew up the miles and miss the sights and sounds of Panamanian life.

Waterfall - Pan-American Highway

We thought it may be nice to stay in Penonomé and visit the local archeological sight. The accommodation options were limited to expensive to the Pension Estrella Rojo.

Jules went to the Reception desk, well a mirrored window with a small hole cut in the glass for communicaiton. She asked the price of a room. "$8.00 and hour" came the reply. She tried again this time asking how much it would be for the whole night. "$8.00 and hour" was the reply again. Trying another attack she stated that she would like the room for the whole night. "Are you here with a Caballero (Gentleman)?" "Yes" she replied. "$8.00 and hour!". Leaving smiling, she relayed the story to Grant, who looking her up and down, observed that in her tight jeans, black t-shirt and sporting her body belt was maybe more suggestive than intended!

We never did find suitable accommodation or the sign to the archeological site! Which is rather an irony as Panama is spread very thin with pre-colombian archeological sites.

Church - Anton

Anton, 120 kilometers from Panama City, is a pretty town with two hotels, one on each side of the Pan-American. We chose the cheapest and they happily allowed us to park Piggy in the foyer. The sleepy town is located slightly off the highway and within an easy walk to church and the lovely colonial building located around the central plaza.

Posted by Julie Rose at July 25, 2006 05:05 PM GMT

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