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Day 343 – 16th November 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 16, 2009

Monday – Colon, Panama

NOTE, this will probably be the last blog post until I arrive in Cartegena, Columbia. Unless I can find fast internet over the next few days, all I will be doing is answering emails. For my current location until I get to Columbia, continue to monitor my SPOT tracks on the right hand side as I will have it going while we are moving on the boat

My plan started to work, after posting an entry, I went down for breakfast which was a bit screwed up, not exactly what I thought I ordered, but I ate it anyway 🙂 The view from the hotel window was just a bit of ocean, the Pacific and towers, there seemed to be lots under construction.

I talked to the staff and they ordered me a taxi they use regularly and the chap spoke passable English 🙂 We headed to the Panama Canal and I followed with my memory recording the road we took, because he said this was the way I would go to Colon, so that was good to know 🙂 The visitors centre opens between 9-5 and we got there about half 9, so that was good. It cost $8 for a full entry, which includes the viewing platform, the movie and the museum, quite cheap really.

First stop was the viewing platform on the top floor as there was a ship in one of the locks.

You can see these small locos attached to the ship with cables, they are electric locos and cost M$2.2 each and are used to control the sideways movement of the ship which is under its own power when moving through with a pilot on board.

The front of that tug is not connected, it is moored to the side of the lock. Once the water level had reached the lake level, the gates were opened and it started to move forward and as the locos reached the end of the track, they released the cables. You can also see the 2nd lock has now been emptied, so another ship was preparing to enter from the left, out of view to me.

After a few minutes it was in the lake with the pilot getting off and another tug joining it from the front. This all took about 30 minutes.

This next shot shows the difference in height of the Pacific Ocean and the Lake level, it is about 27m difference with the 2nd ship in th elower lock. Most ships pay around $90,000 dollars to do the passage and have to pay 2 days in advance, no checks 🙂 The most expensive was $250k and the cheapest was 36c by a swimmer who took 10 days to do the full passage a long time ago 🙂 Here you can see the gates and the height difference in water and in the building is the control tower.

And this is the Pacific Ocean entry to the lock.

After this I went to the movie that showed how the canal was built, first started by the French but finished by the USA in 1914. A great effort and is being added to now with the addition of two new locks at both ends of the canal, here and in Colon in the north. Here is some basic info from the museum.

I will say here the museum was disappointing, it was very dim and there was no progression to the traffic, everyone was walking back and forth so there was no orderly progress. The exhibits were great, but being able to read the plaques and info in the dim light made for a poor experience. Add to that 100 school kids in an echo chamber and you get my drift.

I had arranged for the taxi man to pick me up around 11 or so and he did, to take me back to the hotel, but first off we stopped at the Albrook Plaza, which is a massive shopping complex near the American areas. Here I managed to get some Panama stickers, a bit larger than I wanted but scissors should fix that 🙂 That is the Panamanian flag right there.

Once I got back and started to pack, guess what, of course it started to rain!!!

Bugger it, I wanted out of this city as the taxi driver had said I was in a dangerous area! So, I packed and was gone by 12.30, rain or no rain and managed to follow the road we had done that morning and eventually, after some wet windy tree lined roads through the burbs, I got onto the main highway to Colon.

Of course this turned into a toll road, and cost $2.30

It rained slightly all the way to Sabanitas, but I did not have the wets on, it was too hot and I could relax in a hotel and dry my gear out there. I got to the town where the post office was and after following some bad instructions from Sylvia, I backtracked and found the post office, buggerit, my bike title has not turned up, now WTF am I going to do!!!

I had some lunch at the servo cafe, but I think I payed for that later on!!!

If you look at the map, I headed east to Portobello, but after a while I turned around, what I wanted tonight was a nice hotel with good internet as this would be the last blog entry prior to loading the bike in Puerto Linden. They had 56k dial up at the hostel, enough for email that was all. So, I turned around and got into Colon and went past a real smart Sherraton hotel, because when I asked they said $110/night!! I went into town, the traffic though was a nightmare and I nearly got knocked off the bike, plus it was dirty and looked horrible, fuck it, I turned around and got a room at the Sheraton, I will pamper myself for a night 🙂

I got stuck into posting some earlier blogs, before heading to the bar for a beer, or 3 🙂 It was empty and freezing so I gave that a miss, grabbed a Burger King feed and went back to the room. I emailed Craig about my title, and he ended up scanning the reverse side of his title and sent me that, maybe tomorrow I could get that printed and have a sort of proper copy. He also sent me a form to download, print and send back for a title copy request, but I have no idea where to keep sending these damm things to! This last one had a month and it only had to come from San Diego! Anyway, thanks for all the help Craig, regardless of how it turns out, but I hope I am not stuck in town here for 3 weeks while waiting for paperwork!!

Anyway, I had a quiet night, getting stuff sorted for being off the net and the planet maybe for a week or so.

Day 66 miles and 106 km
Trip – 43,448 miles and 69,923 km



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11 Responses to “Day 343 – 16th November 09”

  1. ybg said

    Its a good thing you picked the dry season to ride in.

  2. Bob Sullivan said

    My wife and I were stationed in Panama for two years in the late 50’s, out in the rain forest when it was still called the jungle, and the area around the canal the Zone. Our first daughter was born in Ancon. Lot’s of fond memories. I hope it has not lost its charm.

    • Hmm, what charm? I liked some of what I saw, but the cities have gone to pot and the country villages are disgusting. The people seem friendly and happy though, so go figure.

      • Bob Sullivan said

        I hope you’re not including Balboa, Ancon and Bella Vista in the assessment of places having gone to pot. These places were charming examples of early 20th century living. If they have gone to pot I don’t want to revisit…the memories are too good to destroy.

  3. Jack Bowen said

    TS good luck with you boat trip. Can you wet a line along the way and catch a Cat Fish or something to pass the time. What a great adventure you are on !!

  4. Jack Bowen said

    12:30 on Monday the 23rd….. Dive in TS you can swim it from where you are at now. Everyone on Travelling Strom withdrawl it is allmost over ! Ya Ya

    • Well, not quite over sorry. I was a bit lazy and did not write much as I was a tad busy(or not).

      I also had another camera loss on day 3 of the trip, so no photos from then on

      I now have to write some stories, after I unload my bike tomorrow lunchtime. So, probably a day or so tomorrow, if I can, the laptop on dry land seems to move all over the place when typing 🙂

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