We started with 5 bikes early morning from the Hostal and when we were out of town, already some more were joining at the first stop for coffee. At around 9.20 o'clock we arrived at the seaside and shortly later, the Steelrat, our sailing ship came alongsside to welcome us with an awesome breakfast. In total there were 22 passengers and 19 bikes.
After everybody has arrived, we were transported to an island El Paraiso to spend the afternoon and night, while the crew was onloading all the bikes. The island was prepared for us with simple, but convenient dorms, good dinner and sufficient beer for all. Even a small airport was available and in use. For us passengers it was the first day to learn each other and enjoy the island feeling.
day off for washing, writing, preparing everything for the boat trip
I am already some 7 weeks in contact with Michael, a german guy living in Swizerland, who found me in the ADV rider forum and since then, we are in mail contact. He is doing the same trip, also with a GS and was always ahead of me on the road. But recently we were in contact and with my revised planning, to take the boat at 9th of october instead of the 23rd (was already fully booked) it seemed, that we might meet on the boat. And in fact I met him and his wife Frauke already in the Hostal Panama House and so we could finally exchange experiences and plan to drive together to Carti/San Blas where the bikes will be loaded onto the boat.
We got up early morning at 5.30 to first take some pictures at the beach. Driving along there was awesome and the morning light allowed some spectacular fotos.
Later on after breakfast, we returned back to the Panamericana, crossing a small little bridge, which seemed to be abandoned already since a long time. The ride to Panama City was unspectacular, the road was very bad with a lot of construction area and huge cracks and holes in the surface. And finally as now everyday, heavy rain started and accompanied us until arriving at the Panama House B&B, where another german couple, Michael and Frauke living Switzerland already had checked in and will be with us on the boat. I knew Michael already from mails, which we were exchanging since 5 weeks. HE had found my homepage at the ADV Rider forum. The driving in Panama City was a disaster with rain and traffic jams all over. We all 3 agreed that we didn't like it at all.
Right after leaving the hotel, I was a the boarder and the custom clearance procedure started again. Leaving CR was easy and fast but then the nightmare at the Panama side started. In meanwhile we were 5 bikers, walking from one point to the other collection the various papers and documents. A the last station we were waiting for our documents but nothing happened. A the end 4 1/h hours passed until everything was done. The new record in inefficiency and stupid procedures.
However in meanwhile I got in touch with Duncan from Australia and Tolga from Turkey and we figured out, that we will be on the same boat from Panama to Columbia. We decided to drive toghether and started towards Panama city until late afternoon. As driving at night still is not recomendable due to the various holes in the road and animals, which might cross, we headed towards the seaside for some 10 km and found an awesome place with a little hut, a small restaurant and there we stayed. A short swim in the pacific and an excellent dinner and some beers closed the day.