Wrapping up Central America


November 7th through the 12th, 2011

With the canal seen, and the largest hill in the area (that I could see, anyway) climbed, there wasn’t much else to do other than wait for the parts to clear customs, fiddle with the bike, and look around Panama City.

There was a pretty large mall nearby, and I went over to wander around.

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I have read in a few places about panama hats, and it seems to be one of those things people buy when the go to panama. Lonely Planet advises not to bother since they are made in Ecuador.

Panama City also has a natural park, Parque Metropolitano, officially established in 1985 (though it existed as a protected area before that, part of the Canal Soil Preservation Project), 285 Hectares of rainforest 10 minutes from the city. It was even less that than from Panama Passage, since it borders the Ancon Region.

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I got to the park first thing in the morning, hoping to see some animals (and my parts should be ready in the afternoon). Mainly, I was hoping to see monkeys, but didn’t. No monkeys.

It was humid, again, but not raining yet. I had lots of water with, and planned to hike for 3-4 hours. The trails varied from above – basically a worn mud path – to

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rather nice gravel.

But no monkeys.

There were these things,

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and a lot of ants carrying leaves.

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After sweating off a couple of pounds I headed back to Panama Passage, and took a cab to get the parts for Curiosity. When I had set up the shipping with The Shop, I had been told FedEx didn’t actually deliver to houses, and I would need to pick up the box from a FedEx location. I asked Google the closest one to Panama Passage. As it turns out, FedEx would deliver to a house, and the one Google suggested was, in fact, the furthest away. But, it all worked out.

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Technically, the multitool wasn’t in the box, but what I used to get the box open.

Now, this was the 8th, and I was faced with a choice. There was a sailboat leaving on the 9th for Portabello, and a French couple, who were staying at the hostel, were taking it. If I hurried, I could install the parts and head to Portabello for the boat, or pack the parts and install them later. I choose to install them, and then make sure it was all good before shipping. Part of me wondered about this choice, since it pretty much locked me into air transport and I had been looking forward to a cruise, but I wanted to make the bike better.

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In case you can’t see their website, it’s www.transam2011.fr.  They have a much nicer website than I do, but they also work on it more. Those things are probably related.

You will notice I didn’t slam the Beemer they are riding, and that is because the acknowledged it was huge, but for two up adventurous travel there really aren’t many choices. Give some of the roads I had taken Curiosity down I have to wonder if a wing would make it.

I installed the new parts, which went so well I was worried I had done something wrong.

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and gave the bike fresh oil. Then I went for a short ride (to get dinner) and test out the new bits. It was nice to have actual suspension again.

The next day was a holiday (Central America has a lot of holidays), so when I never got an answer at the air cargo company I blamed the holiday and went to see a movie.

The next day there still wasn’t an answer, and that just didn’t make any sense. Eventually I called the fax number, and someone answered right away. It took a couple of tries with my Spanish to get across what I wanted, but they said I would be able to get the bike shipped that day (Friday) if I got it there. So I repacked, called a cab to follow (and give me a ride back) and the headed for the airport.

Now, I didn’t have a lot of gas in the tank when I left, and was on reserve pretty much right away. Part of me wondered if I should add some gas before shipping, but decided not to, since I knew other riders had bee chastened for having too much fuel in the tank when they arrived at the terminal. About when I thought I would stop just to add a gallon or so I got seperated from the taxi in traffic at a toll, and passed the gas station I would have stopped at trying to rejoin it.

So, I ran out of gas.

The taxi found me, and the driver offered to tow me to the next gas station, which he said was just down the road. And, technically, it was. About 12 miles. With my 6 foot strap. This was the most nerve wracking thing I have ever done, and then while taking a right hand corner too sharply, the top strap swept out my front wheel and I had my first crash of the trip. For the record, that was 19,400 miles.

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The only damage was the windshield, and the left foot peg rubber fell off. I admit to being a little sad over the windshield, since I got it with my first bike, way back in 1992. It didn’t quite make 20years old. As for me, the fall was slow and my only injury was some skin off a pinky knuckle, and a sore left big toe. Yay gear.

After this the gas station was only a little further and I got a couple dollars of gas, then arrived at Air Girag and did paperwork for a while. Then I headed back to Panama Passage to find a way to get me to Bogota.

Arranging a flight and hotel was actually easier than shipping the bike (which wasn’t surprising at all), and I would follow Curiosity in the morning of the next day, Saturday the 12th, which was also the last day of Panama Passage at its current location. The moving truck was set to show up at noon, and I flew out at 11am.

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I hear the new place also has a porch.

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