Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Panama City, Take two

At Zuly's backpacker hostel in Panama city, Richard cares for the safety of his guests!
In Carti the Kuna Indians build homes all over tropical islands using materials made mostly from the surrounding forests. Note the Palm tree thached roofs.

A Very large Tri-miran which I heard Grant comment that you'd be able to have a football match on.

Just entering Panama city and about the battle the local Loco's!

The new bridge that will aleviate the anxiety of the river crossing for future motorcycling adventures using the Carti port to catch or disembark yachts in the future.

The infamous river crossing which looked forboding, but was actually quite easily navigated as long as you kept the speed moving forward.

Grant went first and scouted the line. He was a very brave man indeed to blindlt go where very few of the worlds V-stroms have gone before.

I decided to get a shot with a few of the local Kuna women dressed in their traditional brightly colored clothes just after we paid our 5 dollar toll to cross through their land.

Grant up front with the bikes while I sat on a hard 1 inch wide fiberglass rib that added structural rigidity to the hull. The motor to shore was smooth and fast but the Captain was a hard barganer and wanted more than the lions share of the available funds that Grant and I had in our pockets.

After saying our final good bye's to Leonardo, Grant and I boarded a launcher with our bikes crammed into a tiny little craft. The motor to shore was to a Kuna indeginous beach landing where we had to pay a road fee of 5 dollars per bike to pass. This was all easy, however, getting the bikes out of the launcher was a bit of a hastle. Although there were plenty of men around nobody wanted to get sweaty or dirty lifting the bikes and everyone had their own ideas. Finally I got fed up with the Captain and I yelled that we were off loading the bikes onto the beach! Thankfully, Grant followed this up with directions in spanish as to where the men had to position themselfs and from there progress began to happen. In the end both of our bikes we lifted into 30cm deep seawater and pushed up onto the beach safe and sound.

Once all of our gear was out of the boat the negociation began about the fee for transporting us and our bikes to the beach. Leonardo told me prior to getting into the launcher that the maximum that I should pay was no more than 20 dollars each. The Captain began the price at 60 dollars for the two of us and Grant and I agreed to play "good cop, bad cop". I acted like I was peeved off about the price and began low balling at 30 dollars for the both of us. The game lasted 30 minutes until a truck loaded with goods needed a launcher, this new potential for income ended the game at 45 dollars which Grant and I were aiming for.

Next, was to tackle the road out of Carti. In prevous years the road was dirt, however, now it is very passable and actually quite easy with new tar and chip sealed hard top. The only obstacle left is the river crossing which was actually quite tame as the bottom is composed of fine gravel and compacted well enough to give good stability and traction even with my highway slicks. Grant went first and navigated the 100 foot wide river easily by following the ripples where we knew was indicative of shallow water. After watching Grant, I easily rode the same line with no troubles and actually avoided getting my left foot wet as I was able to hold it way up in the air and out of the wake created by the front tire. In total I estimate that the water was no deeper than 50 centimeters at the deepest point, but I could envision someone getting into trouble if they got nervous and fell over.

The road out of Cari was about 33 km long and was all out mountaineering for the bike. Most of the steeps warrented 2nd or even 1st gear climbing and the descents were gear box and brake assisted. The brakes, however, were worthless as Grant and I doused the calipers with WD40 prior to the sail to prevent pitting of the pistons.

We finally made it back to the CA1 and onto a good highway road. Our mission was to make it to Zuly's Backpackers Hostel in the heart of down town Panama. Richard, the owner, greeted us sweaty and tired motorbike men and then provided us with comfy beds and an A/C cooled room. Grant and I were so hungry that we went for supper twice before hitting the sac.

This morning we planned to hit Aduana early and head northward only to find out that the man stamping us in was critical of my expired registration. This warrented that I need buy Panama insurance for the bike. The total cost was 15 USD and validated my motorcycle for one month in Panama. The delay at Aduana was more than 4 hours and warrented that I stay in Panama for another night, so, as it lookes at the moment I'll be heading out first thing in the morning toward Costa Rica. In preparation for all the up coming border crossings I've doctored up my registration using a fine tipped black pen by turning the 03 for March to an 08 to look like my registration is valid until July. As I practiced several times on photocopied registration I managed to execute the forgery flawlessly and the doctoring is undectable. The fact that my registration and insurance is expired makes absolutely no difference because I'm not insured outside of Canada or the US. Infact my friend got rear ended in Mexico while at a stop light and when the police got involved the blame was laid on the Gringo. Sanbornes insurance informed my buddy that he'd best be getting out of there ASAP because there was nothing they could do for him and that He'd be going to jail until the issue got sorted out. Thus the insurance thing down here just doesn't hold water due to the curruption. Hopefully this gets me through Central America without further problems and without additional costs until I can get new registration and insurance when I re-enter the USA and Canada. As it stands I'm off to the beautiful country of Costa Rica in the morning.

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