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Day 342 – 15th November 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 15, 2009

Sunday – Panama City, Panama

A long day today and a late finish, in the dark navigating(?) Panama City

Well, after all the sirens going past during last evening, and not using the aircon because it was too cold, I slept using earplugs again. These seem to work, but not comfortable after wearing them all day. They had also been wet in my pocket and do not work very well anymore.

That said, I woke early, managed to post a blog entry, I had some catching up to do and was on the road by 7.30am. I only got as far as the first servo about 1km down the track because my right hand mirror had come loose yesterday and I needed to get it tightened, the tools were under the seat. But, after doing that and a fresh tank of fuel I was good to go. There were a lot of fields out this way, it looked like pineapples, but smooth leafed, not like we have at home.


I had 200kms to go to get to the border and for some reason the route I had planned on the GPS did not seem to match the road I was on 😕 You can see this big zig to the west and then south and back east, weird, especially as I wanted to head straight, but what road signs I saw said Paso Canoas straight ahead of me, that is the border town, so I followed the road. It took me through monkey territory again and then followed the river through some nice twisties.

As I got close to the border I did my usual trick and emptied the bladder and eventually arrived at 10am, not bad actually and about what I had planned, even with the extra distance, but it all adds up.

This is a confusing border, first get a tourist form and fill it out, get your passport scanned at the first window and hand in form.

Once this is done, go to the Aduana, this is behind the glass window behind the line.

Here I saw a sticker for Chad’s shop, Adventure Motostuff, not sure whether he has been here. In here pass your VIP and passport across, fill out another form and get the bike permit cancelled, this all cost nothing 🙂

Then ride down the road to the Panama border. Here is a run around, back and forth, a stupid system. First fill out tourist entry declaration and go to Aduana, get a tourist entry permit, cost $5, take this to a ‘sticker’ man with a badge, pay $1 for this sticker. Take these to Immigration and get your passport stamped.

Then go buy some insurance for the vehicle, a guide kept helping me here without me asking but he took me to ‘his’ shop and sold me insurance. This is a $15 fee for 1 month minimum. It is in that shop, up the back stairs where the Internet sign is.

Now I go back to the tourist transit police and get the insurance form stamped(they like stamps, the photo above has the stamp on it) before heading to the vehicle control, that is to the right of the Aduana on the edge of the building, where the guy in the blue shirt is standing.

They want copies of Drivers Licence, Title and Passport as well as a copy of the entry stamp in your passport, the chap doing insurance can do this at 5c each, it is all US currency here. The people at this office must have been 2nd rate because they frigged around for ages, they eventually asked someone else about the paperwork who inspected my bike, oh he said, it is a motorbike, well of frigging course!!! They had thought it was a car and the details do not match some database, anyway, after that little issue was finished with, they finally printed me a VIP for Panama 🙂 I was not finished yet, I had to find a chap with a DFA on his shirt and he signs the paperwork again, I then have to go to fumigation, hand the papers in, pay $1 to say I had been fumigated then I am finished and can ride AROUND the fumogation bay and I am finally in Panama, whew, this only took one and a half hours but I lost an hour at the time zone at the border, so it was now 12.30pm.

Now I am on a really good 2 lane highway and barrelled along for the next hour or so until I got to David(Dar vid) where I stopped for some lunch, KFC of all things but I needed food and did not want to experiment while still having a ways to go.

I had over 350kms to go and after lunch as it seems to do all the time it started to rain again, I had no choice and had to put the gear on as it was chilly, the road had dropped to single lane each way after David as well.

I kept on going and kept a look out for fuel, I eventually found one and made a quick pit stop, hoping not too many of the people I had passed, passed me again, they were very slow, it is mostly 100kmh zones along here, except for the villages where it is supposed to be 60kmh.

The rain had eased and just an occasional cell would hit me, not enough to take the gear off though. It was getting late when I saw the sign for Panama, I still had a 150km to go and it was now 5pm, this probably meant a night ride which I hate with a vengance. I had only one little issue along here, I was barreling along around the 110 mark, it must have been an 80 zone, cos as I was passing some cars I saw a copper on the side of the road waving at me, well I think he was waving at me to pull over, anyway, I waved back and kept on going, hoping if he calls ahead I can bluff my way out of whatever happens! As it turns out, when I got to the next main town, there was no road block and I successfully turned right and headed out of town 🙂

With the sun behind clouds it meant a dim ride and when I took my sunnies off on the move, I snapped a wing off, bummer, but I eventually got to where I figured Panama City was. I followed roads in, fuelled up and kept going and got lost in the dark riding around looking for a hotel, any fleapit would do! After some asking I eventually found a seedy area with a group of hotels with lots of guards and an underground carpark. It had started to rain again, so I checked it for internet and chose one.

After moving rooms only once, no internet in the other one, I was soon downstairs in the 24 hr cafe eating spag bol and drinking Panama, it was now 8.30pm 🙂

I stunk like a dead skunk of course, after 3 days riding in hot steamy gear I was about had it with riding in the wet, hot and dry would be nice for a change! I had a shower which was great, and then went over to the casino but it was a ripoff(?), you even had to pay for beer, I was hoping for free stuff like in the states. After one beer I gave it a miss and planned the next day back in my room. Checkout was 2pm, so if I got a cab, I couldleave all my gear here and the bike and I could go see the Panama Canal, find some Panama stickers and head to Colon, or PortoBello by tomorrow night.

Day 460 miles and 740 km
Trip – 43,382 miles and 69,817 km



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