March 29, 2003 GMT
Patacones, por favor!

Las Cascadas...a classic; the "Bar Club" of restaurants...

The customs clerk wouldn't let me use the UK passport because my CR exit stamp was in the Cdn. So, $5 please. Brits go free.
Cheapest border yet for the bike - $4.
The hwy was white concrete, flet like the USA, ca thunk, ca thunk, ca thunk.
Up to Boquete and the cool highlands. Another windy isthmus. The closer i got to Boquete, the worse it got, blasting down the volcano.
The cheapest hotel was full...i think. When i walked in a gust of wind came in with me and whipped at all the ladies' bingo cards....they were using chips not daubers! The looks i got. So maybe she just said they were full.
Ended up pitching the tent down the road at Pension Topas. Waited in the tent for the afternoon rain to blow over and then out for a walk and a meal.
It was after 10pm when i returned to see my boots and canoe bag....where is the tent?? It had blown over the side of the terrace - a 5ft drop. Helmet and all. Moved behind a building for shelter but the wind still hammered.
One more night of that and i left, with slightly bent tent poles.
The nice thing about the 'Americanization' of C.R. and Panama; with all the fast food outlets, is the air conditioned hour i spend w/ a coffee. Then to put the jacket and helmet back on is icy heaven! Of course you must get togged up inside or it defeats the purpose. Give 'em a show, give 'em a show.
Las Lajas on the Pacific. The guide listed some cabinas, but their sign came across as negative. So i pulled into a little bar/restaurant and agreed to eat my meals there, in exchange for free camping under a row of palapas. Excellent patacones; fried green bananas. Best thing since french fries.
The sand blew in through the mossie netting and i thought of you, in Cairo, Carol!! .....HELL..... At least i was able to zip mine shut.
The ride to Panama City felt like Arizona! Dry, purple hills and cactus. The lushness came on the approach to the city; the watershed for the water wasting canal.
Gorgeous view crossing the bridge, too much crazy traffic to stop. Took the wrong off-ramp and had a tour of the causeway. Popped into the Smithsonian marine centre. Lots of green iguanas roaming around.
I like Panama City, its like a tropical Vancouver. Vancouver is tropical, i hear you say. Well everything is relative, Bonnie.
I had heard, or more likely read in the LP, about the "horrors" of driving in the city. No big, Guate City is crazier.
Ran into Mark (1150Gs). We went for lunch at a place along Av. Balboa - Las Cascadas. A Classic. The 'Bar Club' of restaurants. 30m wall of cascades, little bridges over a network of canals filled w/ huge koi. You can buy a cup of fish food to start a feeding frenzy. Plants and concrete animals everywhere.
All the tables have an umberella and chandelier. A switch hangs down which turns on two red light bulbs; for waiter service. Oh the food is good, plentiful and cheap!
Well my time was up. I had to make the big decision....Colombia or Ecuador??...
This is an expensive border to cross!! The bike flew with Girag for $325 and i flew with Avianca for $170. Ouch.

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith at March 29, 2003 07:57 PM GMT

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