Friday, November 9, 2012

Playing Around in Panama

As I said, Mr. Garmin is much happier with the correct chip set in his brain.  I managed to track myself out of Panama city without any major issues.  It is kind of scary how normal it is to squeeze Blondy between two busses and expect them to know that I am there.  I have read that Lima traffic is the worst experience of the whole ride, so I suppose being able to wonder around Panama city should not be a big deal, although this country boy still has a big of angst about the idea of being crunched and flattened.  I travelled over the huge bridge which spans the Panama Canal for the second time.  I was going to try and take a picture while I was riding, but the bridge traffic was too intense.  I will plan to come back to the city earlier next week and either take a tour of the canal or figure out how to get Blondy closer to where the action is.  Clearly it is a world class sight, and it would be foolish to not check out the locks and what is available for the public.

She is kind of wide, isn't she???

I had a destination set for today, which was about 75 km. north of Panama city.  I had hoped to find a smaller hostel on the Pacific side where I could spend some quality time away from the city itself.
I headed out towards San Carlos, and managed to find the beaches that I expected to find, but the hotels and surf camps were way over the top, cost wise, and after a bit of a lunch (10$ cheesburger) I moved on.  I went back to the Pan American highway, travelled south for a bit, and then headed towards the coast again.  This was a failed effort, and it was clear that the rich folks have managed to capture most of the beach front areas, and the small trails leading to the beaches were not Blondy sized.  I have found out that the Pirelli on the front is not a good sand tire, or mud for that matter, and I will have to remember that I am no longer running the TCK or I will be digging the front end out of the rhubarb.

A view from the $10 hamburger hotel...

I returned to the main highway and set my sights  on a Point of land which appears to be way out there in the Pacific, on the map.  There was a single road leading out to the area, and I passed through some interesting terrain, some of it very lowlying, and apparently only a few feet above sea level.  I passed a rider who gave me a heads up sign.  I figured he was signalling that there was a cop ahead, so I readjusted my speed accordingly.  Nope, he was telling the dumb Canuck that the black cloud that he was riding into was full of ten million gallons of rain, and that he was going to get soaked, which of course happened.  Just like our Northern winters being a dry cold, the torrential downpours in the tropics are a warm rain, so I guess it was kind of like getting my clothes washed as I rode...sigh.

The area that I rode into was a point, or puente, which translates in my Spanish into "Peninsula".  After getting soaked and riding a bit more, it was clear that it was time to find some place to crash.  I had been seeing signs about parasailing and bmx tracks, so I wandered down to the end of the Peninsula and went into this "lodge" looking for the price of a room.  I thought that the KTM 990 outside the door was a good sign, and that perhaps the price would be better than the $65 quoted at the hamburger joint.  I knew I was in trouble when the girl welcomed me in English. I asked for the price of a room, and she said, with a straight face: $199.  I responded "that sounds like a full meal deal", and she said, "well, you get a breakfast,too."  Sigh..I guess only KTM riders can afford those kind of prices.  I thanked her, and decided that I would check out a bright yellow B&B that I had passed down the road.

I talked to the lady, who appeared to be French, and she at first offered her $65 room, and when I winced, she said she has a $25 room, with  a separate bathroom.  I checked out the room and it was fine, complete with a mosquito net and a nice big bed.  The B&B has a swimming pool, and is extremely well set up.  The owners are from France and have the place extremely well organized.

After getting rid of some gear, I rode Blondy around the peninsula.  There are three different beaches, and it was interesting to see the different settings that the waters and winds create.

On the southern side of the peninsula there was the most activity, with the fishermen and their boats, as well as the kite surfers from the $199 Lodge up the way.  There were a few trucks out on the beach, as it was low tide, and there were a few seconds where I thought it would be a blast to bring Blondy out on the beach and open her up.  I then remembered a conversation with my son about doing stupid things, or not, and I think that riding Blondy on a salty water beach with road tires and a balding rear tire would probably end up in some kind of disaster and fall under the category: stupid things to be avoided category.
 Some buzzards looking for fallen riders....

Offshore islands...
 Got Beach??

'Sides, it was better that I get out there and walk the beach, as I have not been getting the amount of exercise that I should be getting in the last few days.  So, that is what I did, and managed to get in some walking and take a few photos too.

While I have been sitting here, a crew of drunks have rolled in.  I think a few blogs ago I ranted about the ugly tourists and how they behave inappropriately in others' country.  Well, I think that while we have changed countries, the ugly tourists have not changed their behaviour in the slightest.  Booze and stupidity and money combine loud and innapropriate ways.

I would love to write some more about the party behind me, but I am anxious that they are somehow  going to read what I am writing ...more later.