Monday, November 5, 2012

Drowned in David, Panama

Somehow, even though I am not working, I knew today was Monday.  I did not sleep too well, partly due to the anxiety of another border crossing, combined with an overly exhuberent  watch dog of the small and yappy variety.  He spent most of the night outside my door, barking at shadows, bats, and  will-o-wisps..

I had shut it down well before dark, and had a bit of a walkabout in the last Costa Rican community that I would be in for awhile.  I discovered that there were some ruins, well, not really ruins, nearby. I elected to miss them, as it turns out that they are spherical balls, carved from stone, and no one has a sense of their origin.  They were about 20 km's out of my way, and I had an early start to hit the Panama border in the morning.

I arrived around  8:00 AM after a couple of hours ride in the morning fog and breaking sunshine.  Thankfully no accidents this morning, but I did remark on the fact that travelling south, south east is bound to put the sun into a drivers' eyes.  I know from experience that most mistakes are made in the first 30 minutes of a ride, as well as later on in the afternoon, when I am tired and not focussed as much as I need to be.

Blondy gets fumigated.  I then drove through the bay where the fumigation machine is working for trucks, and got a faceful of God knows what insecticide, fungicide, or some sort of cide....

I arrived at the border relatively refreshed, in spite of the poor sleep.  The border between Costa Rica and Panama is a bit confusing, as there is a bit of a no man's land in between the two areas.  I wandered back and forth a bit, getting directed and redirected by cops and others, until I finally lucked on the proper exit for Migracion for Costa Rica.  I also met a handler. I was firm with him abut the price, and made it clear that his rate was for both border.  To his credit, he did save me some time, and certainly helped me find out which window to be at, and which form to fill out.  I did see one instance where I gave him some cordobas, and he folded it up and passed it to one of the immigration dudes as a payoff. I don't think he saw that I saw that he pocketed the other bill himself.  I didn't say anything, as we were towards the end of the process, and I was happy with the expidited manner in which the piles of paper were being dealt with.  I honestly don't know how a Spanish speaking persion deals with the paperwork, and the added formalities associated with importing and exporting a vehicle, whether it be a moto or a car.   In this case, I was glad to pay the guy $20.00 to expedite the process.  He also turned me onto a money changer, who gave me a fair deal on the exchange, as I had checked the going rate the night before.  I was glad to be rid of 10 million dollar notes and back on the dollar system, even if it is the American dollar.

I was through both borders and on my way by 10:00 AM, which is some sort of record for Central America.  I stopped and drank a gallon of water and had two snickers bars, the first in three months (more on this in a minute), and then was on my way, after shooting the bull with a young soldier who was checking out my bike.  I should have got him to pose on the bike, complete with his automatice rifle, pistol, and camo gear (Panama has an army, if you remember...).

A few miles down the road, I was stopped and put through the usual stuff.  Sometimes I wonder if these guys bother to read the passport or the paperwork that they demand.  I was getting hassled about Florida, which I think was a Honduran border town.  It was on my Passport, and this Aduna dude was somehow thinking that I was in Florida, US of A... sigh... Off I go soon afterwards...

It started with a sprinkle, and then the taps turned on...My kharma was good, as I saw the Golden Arches through the ever increasing downpour, no, dare I say: Monsoon.  By the time it broke, I was safely sitting inside a Maconald's, sipping on a coffee and munching on a crispy do-dad (pay attention: snickers and crispy Mac processed do-dads)  Also note that the Macdonalds was situated in David, Panama, in case you have your maps out...

I had missed the onslaught of water, and I amused myself with the map of Panama for a bit.  The deluge was over in 30 minutes, and I proceeded to wind it up and head south. I have said it before, and I will say it again, that processed food will be the death of society as we know it.  What initially started as a slight irritation in the lower bowel areas soon became a crying reminder that if I didn't find a place to park the bike and get into the bushes, there was going to be shit to pay.  Well, needless to say, these roads do not have shoulders, and I was in a lineup of post border anxious idiots who wanted to be in the capital in 30 minutes, instead of 3 hours.  The long and the shit of it is that I did not make the bush.  For those of you who have parented  and done diaper duty, there is only one feeling worse than facing juniors' morning load, and that is knowing that you have filled your own pants.  Crap! I am blaming Macdonalds'  and that damed crispy do-dad for turning my bowels into mush. Of course the two snicker bars added to the mix, and by the time I was able to park Blondy, I was having diaper flashbacks as the unholy aroma of self shit wafted up through my helmet. As they say, what was done was done, and now I needed a new set of pants, socks, and boots.  Short of that, I needed a shower, which wasn't going to happen.  I opted for door three, which was to find a river.  Fortunately for me and Panama, I had been crossing over and remarking on the very clean looking rivers all flowing out to the Pacific. I soon found a river, managed to get Blondy off road and near to the river, and stripped down to begin the washing in the bullrushes routine.  While I kept my right eye peeled for 10 foot anacondas (no, that is Brazil), I managed to clean up most of the mess.  I was not wearing my heavy riding pants, so the quick dry pants that I have came off and got a thorough washing in the river. (sorry down river people, but it was an emergency).
So, it has started to piss down in my stopover, Santiago, Panama. I did not stay at the Hotel David, simply because they spelled grand incorrectly...I am across the street in the Hong Hotel, run by Panamanian Chinese..
Well, in spite of the frog choker, and the embarassing incident with my plumbing (at least I did not get Blondy stuck), I had a relatively good day, and I have just received notice from the German skipper of the sailboat that he has room for two more bikes and people for the 17th of November.  I had planned on going down to Colon and shopping around for a boat or barge, but I think that the 5 days in the Caribbean will be okay too.  I now have a week and a bit in Panama to get things squared away.  I think I will buy a bathing suit and perhaps a new towel... My run for the day:
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