January 28, 2019
From Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica to xxxxx , Panama
Long days means I’m fitting in too many things.
After waking up and quasi packing, I went for breakfast at a bakery the hostel manager suggested last night. It was very busy and seemed like a good place. I sat down and started reviewing videos and reading on my laptop. I didn’t realize the time passing, and the staff didn’t realize that they had not brought out my order yet. Even after I reminded them, it took another 15 minutes, for a total wait time of 30 minutes at a bakery and coffee shop. Nothing was special about this bakery, especially not the service and hefty prices when compared to other coffee shops I had recently been in.
So, I walked back to the hostel to load the motorcycle and load the next destination on the GPS. I got a little sidetracked and decided to try to download a video to Youtube. All previous attempts on this trip were unsuccessful. As I stood by the motorcycle sweating, I saw that the video was loading, but very slowly. After waiting about 15 minutes I realized that it wasn’t actually happening — just like all the other places, I wasted lots of time and it didn’t work!
I rode down south to the see the beaches the hostel manager suggested last night and then made my way back north to pass by all the beaches and make my way to the road leading to the Panamanian border. I planned to film the stretch of beaches, however, after about 20 minutes of filming, the camera stopped and I was advised by the attached headset that “the memory is full.” Damn! My mind was so full of other things that I forgot to clear the memory card!
Since I passed by some amazing beaches, I stopped a few places for pics with my cell phone. Although the beaches were amazing, otherwise I could risk another night drive. it was almost noon as I left Puerto Viejo.
I was told that it was 1 hour 30 minutes to the border crossing at the city of Sextile xxxxxxxx, and another hour and a half after the border to Boca Del Toro in Panama. I should be safe.
At the border crossing, the process seemed to move steadily, however, I had to do a lot of walking around to get things each department wanted. This included paying the $8 (USD) Costa Rican Immigration tax which had to be paid at convenience store a block and half away from the border, get the motorcycle sanitized and bring the proof to the Panamanian Immigration Office, and get motorcycle insurance. For some reason, most of the people I dealt with today didn’t seem to be as friendly as their counterparts in all the other border crossings done so far. It was 3:30 when I left the border. Still doing ok if all goes as it’s supposed to.
It didn’t! About a hundred metres into Panama I was stopped at a military road check. The military guys I dealt with were actually very friendly and once I told them where I was going, they said that I was heading the wrong way. The road I was on would abruptly end several kilometres down. That’s another strike against the GPS.
Shortly after being sent on the right road, I was stopped at another road check. Along with the Military were the Municipal Police and Customs. The Customs agent asked me to pull over and requested my vehicle documents. He went into a trailer after I gave them to him, and five minutes later he returned, gave me back my papers, and sent me on my way.
Before and after the border, I noticed lots and lots of banana trees. Each tree had blue plastic bags which covered the bananas growing on them. On the Costa Rican side, I noticed the Chiquita Banana warehouse. On the Panama side, I noticed a few open banana warehouses where they were taking bananas out of the blue plastic bags and were separating them for distribution. After one of the Panamanian cities, I rode on the Dole Fruits Road. It was awesome seeing these places. Now I know where the bananas I eat come from.
In the next two cities, there was lots of construction and detours onto gravel and sand roads. The GPS had me going around in circles so I had to stop and reset the destination. At my first stop, I realized that it was an industrial port area and although I didn’t really look, it did not seem like it would have a place for me to call it a night… so, I continued on.
Soon, I found that the next towns on my route were small communities in the jungle that hardly had anything. I started asking a few of the many people that were walking along the sides of these roads in the middle of the jungle where the next hotel was. It soon became clear to me that I had at least another hour drive. It was about 5:30. I’d be in the dark in the middle of the jungle in Panama. I could always ask one of the families living in one of the houses (or sheds) off this road if I could spend a night there or even camp on their lawn, but I thought I’d drive until things didn’t feel right.
It wasn’t bad at all as the darkness fell. I slowed down and put my spotlight on. It worked very well, however, I’d turn them off very often when I’d come cross people walking in the darkness on the sides of the road. Really, I gave no idea where they were going. I know that there are several shuttle buses that pick up people at designated spots, so maybe they were walking to the next designated spots. I rode in maybe 30 minutes of real darkness when I arrived at a restaurant/gas station/bus terminal. Once there, I asked someone and he directed me to a city five minutes away. Once I got there, I booked into the first decent looking hotel, the Atlantic Suites. I got a room for $33 (USD), and it was much nicer than a lot of the American and Canadian hotel chains I’ve been in. Also, it had a bar/restaurant on the ground floor. Success!