Panama

Panama

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  • Day504

    We had a couple of spare days before loading so we drove over to the Caribbean coast again and spent a couple of days chilling out. I left Jo & Maya at a hostel near the marina and drove back to Colón. It was very strange to spend a night without company but in the morning rain I drove to meet our shipping agent. We had arranged to share a container with a couple of aussie dudes, and we drove down with another couple of cars for the loading.

    I had to drive up onto the back of a pick up truck, which then raised its bed so we could drive into the container. We measured a few weeks ago and knew it would be tight for height, but we ended up having a few inches to spare. It wasn't quite so generous at the sides, and the folded in wing mirrors had less than an inch of leeway, but without much ado I squeezed Elvis in.

    From there we breezed through customs and that was it - hopefully we would see Elvis again in Columbia!

    We then had 3 days to kill before our yacht sailed, and there really wasn't much around so we chilled at the hostel and explored the local bays, islands and marinas.
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  • Day494

    So our original plan was to drive to Panama, and as it sounded pretty complicated and expensive to ship south we were going to sell Elvis here and fly home. That plan had been out of the window for a while as we were so loving life out here, and we'd decided to drive back north to the states, store the van somewhere (possibly Jo's relatives in Arizona). We would then return another time with more funds and then ship from Mexico to South America for another big adventure.

    As soon as we left our most southernly point (Johnny Fiestas!) a day started driving north we had pangs of regrets and started to reconsider...

    We'd been looking into remotely registering the van in the US and it was a huge pain in the arse, plus the costs involved in insuring it when it was dormant there would quickly add up, and undoubtedly there would need to be repairs after years in the hot/cold extremes of that part of the world. We'd worked out we wouldn't be able to make it back home in time for Christmas, so had decided spring would be a good time to try and re-acclimatise to British weather.

    We also thought that you never know what would happen in the future, and tearing yourself away from lives in the UK is never an easy thing to do, sooooo maybe we should make the most of the opportunity now.... We have at least 6 more months on the road and Panama is the normal jumping off point for South America. We'd also discovered that it wasn't going to be as expensive as we'd thought, and we luckily found a couple of aussie dudes to share a container with, which would half the costs.

    The biggest downside to this decision was the fact we were due to meet my little sister in the Yucatan (Mexico) in early November, and we were so looking forward to seeing family again, as well as touring with her and Nick for a while. She helped make the decision easier by telling us not to spoil 6 months just for the sake of 2 weeks with them, but it was still a tough call.

    So after much deliberating we finally decided - we were going back to South America!
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  • Day488

    Boquete is up in the hills around 1000 m, and although there was a lovely breeze on the coast it was absolutely gorgeous to get somewhere cooler. We even got our duvet (a super light one) out for the first time in god knows how long.

    We're drove right to the end of the valley up an extremely steep road, that Elvis wheezed up despite his 5.2l V8 engine! We camped the night at the ranger's hut and did the beautiful Sendero (trail) Los Quetzales (a mythical bird that has been hiding from us all the way since Guatemala). It was only 5km each way but it was through thick cloud forest and I don't think a metre of it was on the level so it was a tough but rewarding hike to the mirador.

    In need of a shower we headed back into town to a little Pension, and were revelling in our first HOT shower for months. The next day we chilled around town and in the evening saved a little kitten that the nasty dogs (not Maya I hasten to add!) at the campsite were attacking.

    In the morning when we tried to leave Elvis didn't want to :( We had a re-occurance of our die-on-idle problem, but luckily we knew of an American mechanic in town so the following day he came out to give him the once over. There was nothing else for it but to spend the afternoon enjoying pitchers during happy (6) hour(s) at the local brewery, which had an amazing coffee amber on tap.

    I'd actually got Elvis running again by cleaning up the battery connections and generally poking around without knowing what I was doing, but it was good to get Josh to give him the once over and he lined up a part for us at the bottom of the hill and showed me how to install it.

    We're picked it up en-route back to Johnny Fiestas, where we chilled for a couple of days working out what to do next... (more to follow...)
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  • Day494

    Back in the Caribbean again :) And fortunately far enough away from any nasty hurricanes.

    The drive from the Pacific Coast, departing from the amazing Johnny Fiestas hostel at Las Lajas over the mountains to Bocas Del Toro, was gorgeous. The western side was a beautiful open hillside with some big trees, but at the 1,000m top was cloud forest and then down into lush tropical rain forest. It's definitely warmer this side, and we spent a hot night in a parking spot waiting to get the early boat out, and leaving Elvis settled.

    We're arrived in the islands of Bocas Del Toro (literally mouths of the bull) and after a bit of trouble found a room that would take Maya. I call it a room but at midday it was more like a sauna, so headed out to find the nearest beach. We were pretty unimpressed with this hot & expensive party town so jumped in a water taxi over to Bastiamento Island, and it was a different world! No cars and just a couple of paths winding across the island - much like Little Corn Island in Nicaragua.

    We lucked out and got a fantastic room built out over the water, so instant dips to cool down and a lovely breeze. The first day we walked 20 minutes across the island to Wizard Beach, which makes it into our top 10 beach list - and considering how extensively we have travelled that's quite an exclusive list! The next day we chilled, and on the 3rd day we kayaked out to hospital point on the next island over for snorkelling and relaxing in a private bay.

    A couple of quick water taxis and we were back at the van, having picked up a guy we shared a boat with for the drive back across the mountains. Guess where we ended up - Johnny Fiestas of course!
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  • Day502

    It was allegedly a 5 hour drive to Panama City, and it was a pleasant enough drive until we reached the edge of town. We got screwed over by not knowing they made both lanes of the motorway one-way so we got massively hooked up in rush hour traffic so the last 10 miles probably took us 2 hours!

    In the morning we headed to the customs place to get the vehicle inspected in the morning, then back again in the afternoon to pick up the stamped paperwork. We had to spend some time hunting around for a specialist RV part that I thought I might find in a marine store and eventually got lucky, but did mean a lot more time in traffic and visiting some areas of town that I'm sure most tourists avoid.

    Then we headed out on the causeway which provided fabulous views back across the modern city which had a skyline to make Manhattan jealous. We had a nice night having a couple of cold ones looking across the bay, although at half 2 in the morning some rich youngsters turned up, complete with gull wing super cars and stereo systems louder than most night clubs! After half an hour I'd had enough and was about to start the engine to find somewhere quieter when they disappeared as quickly as they'd arrived.

    In the morning we drove back out of the city alongside the canal, stopping to watch a massive boat go through the locks. They actually build the tankers with the size of these locks in mind, and now they are talking about having to make a larger canal for super tankers. The Chinese are looking at building something through Lake Nicaragua which would completely destroy that amazing place, so I hope they just beef up the existing waterway. Interesting fact - the largest tankers pay up to nearly half a million dollars, so you can understand why Panama is a pretty developed and wealthy country. The lowest recorded cost was half a dollar, for a guy who swam the entire length!
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  • Day28

    Nach einem kurzen Einkauf am Markt in Puerto Viejo & kurzem leckerem Frühstück gings los nach Panama. Eine lange Fahrt mit ausschließlich einheimischen. Das erste Fahrzeug hinter der Grenze hatte dann auch nach den ersten 2 km ein Motorschaden sodass es dann in in nem kleinen klapprigen Lieferwagen weiter ging. Bin aber gut angekommen. Lange Bootfahrt zur Insel.

  • Day37

    Ein kompletter Tag im Paradies bei bestem Wetter. Viel am Strand gelegen, Beach Volleyball gespielt, geschnorchelt & die Wirkung der Äquatorsonne erneut kennen lernen dürfen. Ohne Sonnencreme auf den Inseln... Abends wurde dann in lustiger Runde Karten gespielt.

  • Day149

    Ce matin, après une bonne grâce matinée bien méritée et fortement appréciée, nous avons prit une "lancha" (petit bateau à moteur) pour nous rendre à la Miel. C'est le premier village du Panama à cette frontière. Une plage paradisiaque s'y trouve mais comme nous étions le week end, elle était complètement remplie de touristes colombiens. Un magasin duty-free s'y trouve et à notre grande surprise, nous y avons trouvé du vin Las Niñas (comme au château de Jau). Après avoir un peu profité de cette plage, nous avons marché jusqu'au village de Sapsuro en traversant la frontière terrestre entre le Panama et la Colombie. C'était assez drôle car le contrôleur de frontière faisait la sieste, et nous somme donc passé sans passeport ni contrôle d'identité. Nous sommes arrivé à Sapsuro apres 20min de marche sous le soleil. Ce village etait encore plus tranquil que Capurgana! Nous avons été jusqu'à la plage de Cabo Tiburon (qui nous avait été recommandée), et nous étions uniquement 4 personnes sur la plage... c'était absolument génial 😎
    Vers 3h nous avons mangé dans un petit restaurant familial où nous avions du commandé 1h30 à l'avance (en nous dirigeant à la plage). Le poisson cuisiné avec de la mangue pour Guillaume et de l'Ibiscus pour moi était très bon. Le soir, de retour à Capurgana, nous avons profité de la bonne ambiance de la Bohemia où nous avons pu pratiquer notre espagnol ;)
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Panama, Panama, ፓናማ, パナマ, 파나마, ପାନାମା, ปานามา, ປານາມາ, ប៉ាណាម៉ា, ประเทศปานามา, สาธารณรัฐปานามา, i-Panama, Orílẹ́ède Panama, Pa-na-ma, Panamá, Panamà, Panamā, Panamaa, Panamaja, Panamän, Panama nutome, Panamo, República de Panamá, بنما, پاناما, پنامہ, פנמה, Παναμάς, Панама, པ་ན་མཱ, པ་ནཱ་མ།, Պանամա, პანამა, पनामा, पानामा, પનામા, పనామా, ಪನಾಮಾ, பணாமா, பனாமா, പനാമ, পানামা, ပနားမား, පැනමා, 巴拿马

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