November 2nd and 3rd, 2011
The border crossing for Costa Rica to Panama was by far the easiest, and the cheapest, since probably Canada. The customs agent who first looked at my bike wanted some of the bags inspected (actually, tent, bedding and topcase). The guy in charge of the bag inspections didn’t even give me time to get the open before waving me off. Maybe he could smell my socks?
Once that was done, and I paid my dollar for noxious stuff to be sprayed on my tires, I was through.
It was still a holiday, Panama Independence. There were parades going down the street, even with traffic.
Outside of the towns, though, the parades disappeared and traffic lessened. I got to ride under occasional blue skies, on smooth pavement.
Riding long, I saw a historical site marked on my map for the second oldest church in Panama. As it turns out, the Church of Nata, built in 1522, is actually the oldest church in Panama. I wonder who proof reads the maps.
Since I had gotten into Panama so early, I started to wonder if I could make it to Panama City, and Panama Passage, on my first day. But looking at the map, and the sun, I decided I didn’t want to reach the city as it was getting dark. Panama Passage lists directions on their website, but it didn’t look simple and I decided to wait until the next day.
I rode a little further, found an inexpensive hotel (this took me a couple of tries, the first place sure looked cheap but definitely wasn’t) and spent some time looking at a google map of Panama City in the hopes it would help.