October 31, 2006 GMT
Panama City. South America Next!

OK, time to get you all caught up. When I last left you I was sitting in a bar (only because it was raining) on the beach in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. It was only about 35 miles to the Costa Rican border. Got there fairly early and was looking forward to a little less stressful crossing.

As we were checking out of Nic., Shell discovered that somewhere along the line he had lost the "original" bike registration paper. The Nic. "officials" immediately jumped on that and tried to extract large amounts of money from Shell to "make the problem go away". :=)

They obviously did NOT know who they were dealing with. Before it was over, the official said he would give Shell 10 bucks if he would just leave right then. :=) Fortunately Shell had found the original "temporary" registration under the seat that had no date on it. With that he "beat up" the officials and we left. They got the last laugh though since they called their Costa Rican buddies and it started all over again trying to get into CR. AGAIN, Shell was a clear winner in the battle of wills and as Cory and I sat by (with our papers perfectly in order), we watched as another border official "gave up" and told us to move out. Into Costa Rica we went. Very pretty country and surprisingly (after what I had heard) pretty good roads. We rode about two hours and stopped at a very nice cafe in Corobichi and discovered they specialized in whitewater rafting expeditions. Hey. We needed a break from riding. Took a very nice hotel and the next morning did a half day raft trip down the Tenorio River. LOTS of fun. There were many class 3 and a couple of class 4 rapids. One of those rapids had a 12 foot fall.

Over we went and out of the boat I came. Came up under the raft and I was sure Julia had paid one of the guys to hold me under (she knows where the will is). Fooled her again and made my escape. FORTUNATELY the cameraman's equipment had quit working just before my spectacular exit so we were invited to portage back up and try it again.

Somebody had to carry the oars! :=)

Sure, why not. I didn't drown the first time, might as well try again!! This time, I cheated death once again (sorry Julia) and even stayed in the raft. This river was very wild and scenic. Lots of birds and even some of my relatives showed up for the party.

The very nice lady at the cafe also made arrangements for a 2 day trip out of San Jose on the Pacuare River. Our guide book said it was supposed to be one of the 5 best rafting rivers in the world. Also we would stay at a lodge on the river overnight that could ONLY be reached by river. Made it to San Jose and headed out on our 2 day rafting trip. Very cool. Many class 3 and 4 rapids (I stayed in the boat on ALL of them). The lodge was very nice.

The guides fixed dinner and breakfast for us. It was so isolated that the only thing to do after dinner was go to bed so we hit the sack at 8:30 (NOT unusual for me though).

In the morning we were treated to a "zip line" canopy tour.

VERY cool. After the canopy tour, it was back on the river for another day of wet. We made it back to San Jose tired, hungry, wet, and very happy for the diversion. Left San Jose the next morning for what has been described as the prettiest part of the Pan American Highway ride in Central America. It follows the continental divide and a large portion of it is in the 10,000 feet elevation range. It is impossible to describe how pretty and scenic it was. NO, Really, Impossible. We didn't see ANY of it. :=) Light rain, clouds, and fog all the way to Panama. Oh well, I'll take the other folks word for it "it is beautiful" (??). Checked out of Costa Rica and into Panama with little trouble (obviously the western border officials decided NOT to punish their eastern friends with Shell). :=) We made it to David then headed for Panama City. Got there Friday (27th) and checked into another GREAT hotel thanks to Cory's businessman friend Jules (who lives here).

On Sunday we decided to take a little side trip to Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean Sea side of Panama.

Very cool place with lots of small hotels right on the water. Rented kayaks and explored the place. Came back to to the City and took the tour that included the locks. I took lots of pictures. It is VERY cool to stand beside a huge ship being lowered 54 feet in about 45 minutes.

I tried to capture it on the camera but ya just need to see it. Now that I have some down time, I've been making arrangements for bike servicing, doing laundry, kicking back, resting, and waiting for Salvador to get here from Nicaragua. Cory's wife will be here Wed (probably will be the last we see of him for awhile) and she, Cory and Shell will store their bikes and fly back home. Salvador and I plan to fly our bikes to Bogotá, Colombia on the 6th of Nov. for the third part of the big adventure.

Don't forget that there are many more pictures here.


Posted by Rick McDermed at October 31, 2006 09:44 PM GMT

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