Yesterday we finally made it to South America. Boris and I had some time to kill before our flight so we went to see the Panama Canal.
Really cool. I was surprised by how fast the locks work. It takes about 8 minutes to fill or drain one so you can watch a ship pass. An interesting comment I heard from the announcer was that the Government of Panama accepts no checks, cheques, IOU's, bank drafts etc. CASH only to pass through the Canal!
Welcome to the Panama Canal
Ship coming through
These little locomotives tug the ship through and keep it from hitting the sides
The Canal has a very good museum that explains how it works how it was constructed etc, with lots of photos, exhibits and even a 3-D movie. We both thought it was well worth going to see.
After the Canal we caught a cab back to the fish market so Boris could try the $2 Cervice (Seafood Chowder) everyone at our hostel was talking about.
The Fish Market
Not being a fish lover I walked back to Old Town and shot this snap along the way. This is a picture of a man excited about going to South America
I had my lunch, pasta and chicken, at this nice little restaurant
Old Town is decorated for Christmas, in 35 degree heat
After lunch we killed a little more time just walking around
They are going to great expense to restore the old town
I liked the Panama hats. Never bought one, no place to put it on the bike.
This is where we had the great pizza the first night in Panama City
One last shot of the City and it was time to go to the airport.
Boris at The Tocumen Panama City Airport
It's a nice airport, even has one of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville's
I had to have a beer there just so I can say I did.
And before long we were off to Bogata, Colombia, SA
Avianca was using a brand new A320, really nice!
Even had remote control for your TV
And they brought you lunch and a beer for free on an hour and ten minute flight. First time I had a South American beer
The view over the Darien Gap
Before we knew it we were in Bogata, Colombia
We took a cab to a hostel in the Candalaria Distric of Centro after we got checked in we went out for a couple beers at a pub that was charging 70 cents for a great beer, POKER
We went for a walk and came upon a major street that had lots of Christmas lights. It is shut to vehicular traffic and was filled with food vendors serving thousands of people who come to see the lights
Sorry it's a little shaky but I don't carry a tripod
We walked and walked and people watched and tried street foods for supper. I loved this BBQ'd corn
Boris tried some Dulce (Not the dulce that comes from the Bay of Fundy) It is Spanish for sweets
I took this picture of our hostel this morning as we left to get our bikes at the airport
At the airport, it was a long process at Aduana, the guy across from Boris had a great attitude, and we waited in chairs, first time at any border
It was a long process at Girag
Finally we got our bikes
I looked mine over it was all good except I noticed I had a broken subframe bolt. Not Girhags fault I'm sure, most likely broke it on the road to San Juan del Sur or riding through Honduras. ****Note to KLR riders**** Bring spares. I forgot to, but I'm lucky I have a center stand installed and the bolts for the handle you grab for the centersatnd fit perfectly, well almost. They thred through and tighten in the nut welded to the frame.
But they are slightly too long.
When I left Girhag I could here a whining or buzzing sound and realized the bolt I had substituted was rubbing against my chain. Boris and i looked for a garage, or anyone with a hacksaw. At a Texaco we were told just around the next roundabout there was a motorcycle mechanic. In fact there were dozens of bike shops. I don't know how my bike knows to have issues as it's passing a bike shop but I like that about it.
My Colombian mechanics had me on the road in about 20 minutes
Boris was headed south and I'm headed north to Cartagena so we parted ways.
We traveled well together, but we are both solo travellers at heart. We do however hope to meet againg further south and will keep in touch. I am very appreciative of Boris' help organizing a flight etc and wish I could speak Spanish as well as he can. Things would be a lot easier for me down here.
I had a terrible time finding the Northbound Highway out of Bogata and saw a lot of the seedier side of the city but I finally found the "autopista" and I am in a nice hostel tonight run by a mother and daughter who are very nice. They both smile and talk away to me, too bad I don't get much of what they are saying. I am in Chia, just north of Bogata but near the autopista.
The ladies insisted I bring the bike into their house and thought it was funny when I wanted to take a picture of the Moto in the Casa. In fact the daughter wanted to knwo if I wanted her in the picture too, how could I refuse. So here is trusty and my wonderful hosts in the lobby, or more accurately entranceway to the house. I only found this place cause I asked for a hostal at a nearby gas station, there is no sign, I was told to come down this little street and knock at the Porto Blanco (White Door) So I did and I'm here
Trusty with my hosts
Headed towards Cartagena tomorrow. I hope I'll see the guys that actually made the Steel Rat