This is part of the eighth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Costa Rica
20/3/02 Into Panama and again some assistance from a local kid for $US 1.00 to guide us between officials for stamps and paperwork. $US 1.00 municipal tax stamp in each passport, $US 4.00 for motorcycle papers and $US 1.00 for fumigation spray which never happened but wasn't worth going back to complain about. It seemed we were the final exam for the new batch of customs inspector trainees as they delved into all pockets of the motorcycles under the intense eye of their supervisor. Still security conscious we had two more document checks after leaving the border area and motorcycle police were out in great numbers revenue raising for their own Semana Santa holiday fund which Jim managed a sizeable contribution to for crossing an unbroken yellow line. The old concrete road patchy at times but generally good and a four lane for about half the way to Panama city. We stayed on the outskirts for the night.
21/3/02 Coincidence is amazing when travelling. Yesterday we met a Colombian man who advised us that the coast road to Venezuela could be dangerous and that the road from Bogota was busier and therefore safer. He just hailed us over and bought us a drink because he was also a biker. This changed our thinking to perhaps flying the motorcycle rather than to shipping it. This morning we went to Girag air freight, the company most motorcycle travellers use, at the cargo section of the airport and in 10 minutes arranged to have the motorcycle flown to Bogota for the fixed price for all motorcycles of $US 250.00, flying next Monday. This would give us time to look around Panama and hopefully get the motorcycle out of Colombian customs before Semana Santa (Easter) and to ride to Venezuela during the holiday period which should be safer due to greater traffic and increased police and military patrols. While waiting for more early wet season rain to clear we met four Colombians who had just air freighted their bikes into Panama for a three week holiday and who could give us information on the latest security situation in the country. We booked our own airfares to fly the same day as the bike for $US 174.00 and considered it a very successful day.
22/3/02 A ride to Colon and dodging heavy showers managed to visit the Yacht Club, where boats from all over the world come to pass the Panama Canal. The Gatun Locks to watch three large freight ships drop or rise the 85 feet (25 meters) on their 8 hour, 80 km journey through a series of three locks and a lake between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. The enormous duty free area, mainly for wholesalers, buying and selling every imaginable item in transit somewhere. We managed to stay dry on our return to Panama city and the intense heat leading up to the wet season seems to have gone, replaced by cloudy skies and heavy showery rain at any time.
23/3/02 The motorcycle has been running lean and hot, after investigating we found two joins in the exhaust leaking, presumably from rough roads and hitting the mufflers flexing the joints. The morning spent on repairs and the evening on a great ride with the local Harley-Davidson club who shouted us a few beers and eats at the new restaurant on Flamenco Island. A chain of three islands linked by causeways leads out into the bay with the Pacific entrance to the canal on one side, small and large boats are anchored either side and with no rain and cool breeze perfect conditions. The locals don't ride in the rain and it wasn't till it had cleared that the ride was definitely on. Thirteen bikes left the H-D shop on Panamanian time, about an hour later than scheduled, weaved through the city traffic to the islands. A great evening, welcoming and farewell to Panama and Central America.
24/3/02 Repacked for the flight and a farewell dinner with Jim and his wife Donna who had flown in to join him for a week.
25/3/02 We were at Girag Air Cargo by 8.00 am and by 8.30
all the paperwork had been completed and the motorcycle readied for the flight.
No questions about fuel in the tank or disconnection of the battery. A slight
worry was the importation stamp from customs still in my passport, uncancelled,
supposedly preventing my leaving the country. Girag was not concerned and
immigration didn't notice. We had booked on the 6.00 pm flight in case we
encountered problems with the motorcycle but easily changed it to the only
one third full 12.30 flight and said good bye to Central America.
Move with us to Colombia
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,