After a nice break off the bikes with family and friends Jordan and I met up in Panama city. We had a little over a week to burn before we where scheduled to sail and needed to freshen up the bikes and get organized for the open sea crossing. After a horible day searching for tires and oil we realized that we needed to get out of the big city and head for the coast. Panama city is one the most confusing places to navigate. It was too late to ride on so we wondered the neighbourhoods for a place to stay. At around 11pm we came across two young guys fixing up their race boats in the front yard. They spoke great english and filled us in on all the events that they take place in, one being a race from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean through the Panama Canal.
We left the city early in the morning stopping by the Panama Canal on the way out. It is hard to believe the scale of the canal until you see it in person, but it is mind blowing. Before we knew it we were decending down to the Carribean and south towards the small town of Peurto Lindo. We had reserved our spot on a boat through a hostel in town and planned on spending the night there. In all our travels we have had nothing but great experiences with hostel owners, but we quickly learned that the lady at Hostel Wunderbar wanted nothing other than her comission for reserving our spot. We reluctently spent the night.
First thing in the morning we went walking around town looking for a place to spend the week. We met a nice American lady that offered us a place to camp on her property for 4 dollars a night; perfect. She was a character, but we had all the room we needed to work on the bikes.
Most days started with a ride to Peurtobello, a small port 20 minutes north of us. We would fill ourselves on great pasteries and take in all the port gossip. On one of our first visites we met Maria. When she heard of who our captain was she showed us the gashes on her leg induced in a bar fight a week earlier by our soon to be captain. We quickly got to know a handfull of characters that call the port home for now. They would spend most days drinking, smoking and talking shit on other sailors.
Peurtobello was a vibrant little town, tons of kids on summer holidays roaming the streets and fully decorated busses blasting through town. The buses where some of the nicest in Cental America, beautifully painted and usually sporting dual exaust stacks billowing black smoke. It was very apparent that the drivers take lots of pride in their busses, each one with plenty of personal touches.
Just down the street from were we set up camp was the soccer/baseball field. Everyday from sunrise to sunset something was going on. We would watch the action from the sidelines. It was fascinating to observe all the different personalities of the kids, especially during the baseball games. Baseball is no joke and emotions got high a couple times. One of the days Jordan headed out to play soccer while I was working on my bike. An hour later he came back limping with sandals covered in blood. No one plays soccer with shoes and Jordan´s feet were not up for the challenge; he ripped the bottom of both toes completely off leaving massive flaps of skin to be cleaned and glued back in place.
Once the bikes were back together we went exploring further south, wanting to ride as far south as the road goes before ending in the jungle. We discovered plenty of deserted beaches and tiny villages along the way. The landscape was lush, vibrant, and filled with life.
Eventually the road came to an end at a long beach. There was a huge river delta that seperated us from another town we could see down the beach. We wanted to go further but could not find a route through the deep sand, so we turned around and headed back north.
We asked around town until we met a man that said there was a river crossing up the valley and that it would be no problem for the bikes. We took off excited to get a little further south. A dirt road led us past farms and herds of cattle until we came to the river. It was a lot bigger than we expected and we waited around until a truck drove through. The water was up to the headlights but the current was not too strong. We picked our route and dropped in, giving everyone swimming in the river something to laugh at as we got soaked head to toe.
After the river crossing the road got smaller and smaller until it was pretty overgrown. Feeling satisfied with our day we headed back north to our camp. We both were itching to get to South America. Central America had been a blast, but we were dreaming of the Andes and jungles of Colombia.