Thursday January 28, 2016
We spent the last four nights in Panama City. Our friend Jesse who is backpacking was there so we had good times touring the city with him. Panama City has one of the coolest skylines in the world and our location in Old Town was excellent. We toured the city with the “hop on, hop off” big red double decker bus, took a taxi to the Mira Flores lock on the Panama Canal and spent a morning watching the ship traffic, and had many fun meals together. As I said before it is fun to spend time with people we meet along the way. Jesse flew to Buenos Aires Argentina and us to Bogota, Columbia. Because of the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia crossing by road doesn’t exist. The Darien Gap is a jungle full of dangerous wild animals and insects, drug trafficking, indigenous Indians that don’t take too kindly to people, and kidnappings. People and bikes have crossed it with a machete but very few. It is the only interruption in the 19,000 mile Pan-American Highway. At only 90 miles it is a whole different world.
There used to be a ferry from Colon, Panama on the east side of the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Columbia. But this doesn’t exist anymore although many sailboats take the eastern coast along the San Blas Islands. We tried to get on one of these sailboats for a grand 5 day adventure down the coast but the boat captain cancelled due to weather – this time of year it is very windy on the east coast of Panama. So we switched to another boat who at first the captain said he would take the bikes but then changed his mind. Since the next boat trips were not available until February 6th we decided to get out of town and fly to Bogota. Our first choice was Medellin, Colombia but that plane on Viva Colombia Airlines didn’t leave until late afternoon meaning we would not get out of the airport until after dark. The Bogota flight left at 11:45 so we flew a little further south. Yesterday we boxed our bikes and bagged all our panniers. The Panama City Airport was very stringent on checking everything unlike other parts of the world. We had to jump through a few hoops and it took over 2 hours to finally get through security after checking in our bikes and bags. The total coast was about $500. The sailboat trips are about that for one person.
We will spend a few days in Bogota exploring then get back to riding south. Jocelyn achieved her 6th continent which is quite good for the age of 25. I’ve been in South America before and since I do contract work in Antarctica I have all 7 continents under my belt.