Panama City, Panama (10,912 kilometers – 6,780 miles)
After some tear shed and uncomfortably long hugs with the Outward Bound crew, Sam’wise and Torro Bravo carted the asses of Conbigotes back to the Costa Rican coast and one more night in Manuel Antonio before our pending departure for Panama City to greet Ryan’s Father and the last country of our Central American sojourn. Behind the 8-ball a bit, we needed to get on our horses and push 690 kilometers in 8 days to make sure Ryan’s dad, Tom (don’t call him Vince) McMahon, had two, bearded companions for his arrival.
We couldn’t figure out a way to latch 10 foot surfboards on the bikes so clearly we would have to depart without. Out the door, Christmas came early as we were gifted with the first bit of sunshine in what felt like decades. Two hours later, that gift was stolen from us like when I would throw a tantrum wanting one of my brothers presents and didn’t stop crying until it was so. What followed was five days of continuous rainfall that would test the integrity of our all of our waterproof equipment. I will give my Ortlieb gear a 7, though Ryan will give his a 9. I will give my Sea to Summit rear satchel, carrying the important goods such as sleeping bag and tent a 2. It will now be forever wrapped in the tarp like a corn dog, as it proved to be as water-resistant as a spaghetti strainer. The rain consistently dripped, but needing to be in Panama City was a larger determinant in our riding patterns over the following days. We absolutely cruised, stopping only to dry ourselves at night in Pan-American Highway towns like Tole and Santiago. We did spend a glorious night in David, Panama’s second largest city, to watch the Brewers get bitch-slapped out of the playoffs by the Cardinals, consequently losing Prince Fielder forever.
We plowed our way to the outskirts of Ciudad de Panama and crossed Puente de las Americas on the southern side of the Panama Canal. This would have been a gorgeous event if there was a shoulder on the bridge wider than dental floss. It is difficult to enjoy a landmark such as this one when cars are playing slalom with you 100 feet over one of the most famous stretches of water in the world. With the sun going down and the skyline of the city on the horizon we were quickly reminded of how beautiful this city is. Well, other than the part of extreme projects that dominate the area around Old Town. Not a part of the city you would want to be past nightfall, hammered, blind or just without general use of your senses. Christ I’m rambling here, sorry.
Anyway, Señor Tom strolled into downtown the next day and met us at the Continental Hotel and Casino – incredibly above average compared to what we are used to (the Casino portion of that title rightfully got some cash stolen by us over the course of the stay). A handful of phenominal tourist events during the course of the following days insued. Events such as phenomenal dinners and lunches, a visit to Rodney Carew Stadium for some Charles Cutler and Panamanian League baseball, downtown highrise inspection, the Panama Canal, arguing with hotel clerks about internet availability, Pacific Coast potentially deadly and rocky beach exploration and befriending all of the hotel concierge team (see pictured, Danilo).
Sadly, Mr. McMahon left this morning on a jet plane bound for New Jersey and is not able to make the Colombia boat crossing with us. We have been asked 50 times this afternoon “where is your Dad?” as everyone here fell in love with him and his at times marginally impatient New York’isms regarding speed of service and its quality. It was a god damn pleasure having him on board for a few days.
The Conbigotes team will soon hone our sailing skills, though probably not, as we make the passage from Portobelo, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia. With an Kiwi captain and a boat named Wild Card full of Aussie passengers, it should line up to be an interesting, exciting, and perhaps drunken 5 days of avoiding the Darien Gap to enter South America. I will be stocking up on sea sickness pills and water wings as I turn into a 3 year old girl old out on the ocean.
Half way to Ushuaia…give or take a few hundred kilometers.