Sunday, July 31, 2011


Volcan, Panama is right next to the biggest Volcano in Panama. It was foggy the whole time we were there, so we never saw it, but I've heard it's great. What isn't great is riding in the rain, and we set off toward Panama City in a downpour. In classic Central American style the downpour let up after an hour or so, and we baked along in our rain gear until we couldn't stand it any longer and peeled it off.

There was a volcano in there somewhere...
 We had finally caught up with the crew we left when we flew home from Guatemala, and now it was just a matter of finding a meeting point. They were in Bocas del Toros, on the Caribbean coast, and would be somewhere near us sometime around 11am. Tom's bike broke down, their group split in two, and we didn't see anyone until Santa Clara, the next day.

Lodging was looking pretty bad in Santa Clara until we found the XS, a campground/lodge/bird sanctuary owned and operated by American ex-pats for the last 16 years. Sheila showed us around the place, and the restaurant could have been taken straight out of Chicago, her former home. We enjoyed some authentic, American style pulled pork which Sheila cooked up in her crock pot, and it was a nice taste of home.
English menus and barbeque pork: a traveler's guilty pleasures...
 There weren't very many other guests when we arrived, but there were some very beautiful residents:
This Scarlet Macaw looks pretty good for being 60 (human) years old!

This Toucan, like most of the birds there, was rescued from owners who didn't understand the responsibility of caring for tropical birds.
We got back in touch with the rest of the group, and decided this would be a good meeting place. The next morning we awoke to a knock on the door from Charlie and Andy, the Australian contingent of the crew. They were followed closely by Patrick, but by 1pm there was no sign of Tom and Alex...

Patrick had a line on a place to stay in Panama City, which was only an hour away, so we left a note with Sheila for Tom and Alex and moved on. We wandered around Panama City for an hour or so, and finally happened upon the "Panama Passage" hostel, which was set up specifically for overland travelers headed to and from South America. We met up with Shawn(sp?) the owner of the hostel, and found out that there were not enough rooms for all of us. Tom, Alex and Anna then rode up, and we decided to crowd in for one night, and try to find somewhere bigger the next day.

Parking at the Panama Passage
 The next day we found a budget hotel with enough rooms for everyone, and set out on our real mission in Panama City: finding replacement parts for our motorcycles. As you might recall, I had been riding with one foot for the last 400 miles, so I was pretty keen to find a footpeg mount. Everyone needed something, so we headed out to the dealers to see what we could get. Unbelievably, the Suzuki dealership had the bracket I needed in stock, which we figured was about a one in a million chance. I was back on two feet, but Tom and Alex struck out on replacing their chains and tires, so they would have to hang on until Columbia. Charlie finally found a quality shop with a helmet which suited his standards, as 99% of the "helmets" available in Central America are little more than plastic shells with straps. We were overjoyed, Charlie and I because of our purchases, and everyone else (to be quite honest) to be getting out of Central America the next day. Central America has it's charms, but after all of the borders and potholes, a few days on a boat followed by a new continent sounded pretty good.

A celebration was in order, and it looked something like this!
Charlie toasts the end of Central America, Andy looks on

Jill and Kim enjoying mojitos

Tom: "I'll have ten of those!"

Anna: "I just had ten of those!"

Alex the sly, Patrick the wise

Charlie: "Is this one of those pools you're just supposed to look at?"

(After pushing me in) I guess not!

Shirts, jeans, boots and all.

Ummm....I think we should go!

Safe, sound and soaked back in the hotel, with cash to spare....Cheers Central America!

 On the road to the dock at Carti, then on the boat for Columbia! 


1 comment:

  1. That's one way to turn a high-class establishment into a "dive" bar...