DAY496 DAVID – VELADERO DE TOLE
START 7:15 FINISH 16:00 (12/07/16)
DISTANCE 106 KM RIDE TIME 6H28
You get to see some interesting things carried along the road.
The 4 lane Highway to Panama city is getting rebuilt. It has worked out well for me because only half is open. Which means I have been able to cycle on the closed side the majority of the time traffic free. Even though it is very mountainous. The surface is good and I have been able to cycle fast. The towns have been few and far between as pass through the jungle as well as a bit of farm land with cattle, Palm trees and some other crops. There are still road crews working all along the highway and they have been very good to me always offering cold water along the way.
The first 80 km came very quickly………the last 26 were a bit more difficult as I hit the wall in the heat of the day. At 3pm I was exhausted after climbing a steep hill. I called into a road workers camp and asked if I could use there table to have a drink and something to eat. I ended up having a lie down. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I said I was looking for somewhere to camp. The guy there said there was a 24 hour gas station and restaurant up the road. It sounded really good. When I got there it was all run down and finding a camping spot was looking bleak. I was reluctant to cycle on. I could end up having to camp in the bush. I don’t mind it. But if it is going to rain like it has been my tent is going to flood. Just as I started to cycle off. I saw a nice looking house on the opposite side of the road. I cycled over and spoke to the guys outside. They are staying in the house while working. They rang up there boss to ask him. I am so glad he said yes. I have been able to set my tent up under the cover of the front porch and I have a bit of security as well.
DAY 497 VELADERO DE TOLE – SANTIAGO
START 6:45 FINISH 13:50 (13/07/16)
DISTANCE 90KM RIDE TIME 5H58
We got a very nice pink sun rise this morning. No sign of rain which was good.
We did have a lot of mist we had to cycle through. I spent the whole morning in the mountains. It was either going up or going down. After 60km I was happy to be out.
When I reached Santiago I went straight to the Bomberios. I am glad I have had better luck this time. I am now only 279km From Panama city.
DAY 498 SANTIAGO-PENONOME
START 07:00 FINISH 14:00 (14/06/16)
DISTANCE 100KM RIDE TIME 4H58
I no longer had the high way to myself. South of Santiago the 4 lane highway has been completed. Though it must have been a few years ago as it was looking a bit drab.
After a break the traditional dress wore by the local Indian women has returned.
I was still able to fly. It was nice and flat. By 10am I had done 50km. I spotted a Mc donalds on the way into town. So I stopped and treated myself. It was only 1pm and my day was done. I needed to wait a hour before I went and found the Bomberios. I asked at the bank………one of the workers was going on her lunch break. She got me to follow her in her car, taking me straight to the Bomberios. They were more then welcoming. Setting me up on the roof. Under cover. Been protected if it rains is a big bonus and the other bonus is been able to have a shower or just access to water to have a bucket wash. Anything just to get the dirt and sweat away.
It doesn’t happen often and I would never expected it. The Bomberios fed me tonight as well with Chicken, Green Beans and rice.
The Bomberios are often very quite. They do get some big call outs. Walking through town I came across a whole block of shops that had burnt down.
On the outskirts of town I came across a Mosque.
DAY 499 PENONOME-CORONARDO
START 11:00 FINISH 15:00 (15/07/16)
DISTANCE 72KM RIDE TIME 3H38
I spent 4 hours this morning using the free WiFi at Mc Donalds. I didn’t leave town until 11am and in the heat of the day. To make up for lost time I was flying . 40Km after less then two hours I had my first stop. I was able to do another 20 in the next hour and then I saw Mc donalds again, so I knew it would be a town with Bomberios.
I asked and sure enough they were down by the beach. About 3km off the main road.
Its just a small station………good for me they have room. It was only 3pm so I went for a walk down to the beach. Had a bit of trouble finding a access point because the beach was blocked by big apartment buildings, some resorts and lots of flash holiday homes. I managed to get down to the beach. It was deserted. Had a little wonder. There was a bit of thunder, so I bolted back before the rain came. Two days in a row.
The Panama Bomberios feed me. Receiving some great hostility. After dinner all the Bomberios left to visit the other station and they said your in charge. I took the chance to change the tv to a English station.
DAY 500 CORONARDO-PANAMA CITY
START 7:00 FINISH 15;30 (16/07/16)
DISTANCE 89KM RIDE TIME 5H31
If dinner wasn’t enough last night. When I got up this morning. I was greated with the words. Your breakfest is getting cold. What great hospility from the Bomberios.
With the help of a hearty breakfest I set off for Panama City. Not at the lightning pace of the past few days. I had a good hill to get over. From the top had a nice view back to the ocean.
. After 68km. It was getting hot and I stopped at a Mc Donalds on the outskirts of Panama city. Just as I was going out the door. Two cycle tourists turned up.Its a small world. Sam & Laura are from the uk. I last saw them 6 months ago when we staied with the same warmshowers host back in La Paz Mexico. Turns out last night we were only camping a few km apart. We are actualy booked to go on the same boat to Colombia as well.
After a bit of a catch up we cycled together for the last 15km into Panama city. By now the traffic was pretty intense and you needed to have your wits about you. It felt like a real milestone as we cycled up to the bridge of Americas after 23 000km. It is the big bridge that was built in 1962 and crosses the entrance to the Panama Canal.
It was 16 months ago that I was sailing under it on the way to Philadelphia. We had to leave the road as with no hard sholder it was to danergrous. It was slightly chalanging as we had to walk our bikes down the stairs, cross under the bridge and then climb the stairs before joining the padestrian path.
Once on the otherside. I said goodbye to Laura & Sam. They cycled a bit further into the city. I have found a quite hostel where you can camp for $5 including breakfest and hot shower. The Hostel Admor will be my base for the next 5 days.
DAY 501-504 PANAMA REST DAYS
This morning I took the bus to the Albrok mall to the biggest Shopping in all the Americas and 14th biggest in all the world. It was huge. It had 4 food courts. Which ment 4 Mc Donalds and 4 of every other fast food outlet. I spent 4 hours walking around. The mall had theamed arears. Dinasours, Childrens rides, a model train serpended from the celling and a road train that took passangers around the mall.
Monday turned out to be a bit of a walking day. The Hostel has been built on the former site of a US militart base inside the Cannal Zone. Ancon is the next suburb over and it was only a 2km walk to Ancon hill. On the way I passed through the old bareeks. Rows and rows of the housing block, now private resadents. It was a nice walk up along the road through the jungle to the top of Ancon hill. On the way up Passed some old bunkers that lead to a huge tunnal complex inside the hill that the Americans had built.
From the top was a 360 degree panoramic view. One side you could see the new and old Panama cannal and the other side Pannama city with all its high risers.
Ancon hill is a reserve. It allows a diverse range of annimals to live freely withen the city. I saw a number of small Monkeys. I was really hoping to see a sloth.
I walked back to the hostel for lunch before heading out again. This time I walked a couple of km down to the Corseway. The corse way was built from earth dug out from the cannal and it links up 4 small islands. From out at the islands you got a nice Look at the Panama city sky line. By the end of the day I had walked about 18 – 20km and my legs knew it.
Tuesdays Morning I finnaly ventured into city. The old town is only 2.5km away. I had to catch two busses. At 0.25 cents it’s pretty cheep. The bus passed through a slum nabourhood of rundown tower blocks.
I saw one guy lying on the ground and going through the rubbish. Another two guys were dismantling a washing machine for scrap with a hammer and chicel. I got off at the end of the Pedistrian street and walked up to the old town.
It too must have been a slum. It is currently in a mixed state of newly restored colenal buildings. There still is many more that a mearly a shell. Some housing squatters.
The old town is built along the waters edge with skinny streets running down to the water.
There was still lots of street art around as well. The Panamaian Indians stand out with their very colourful clothing.
DAY 505 PANAMA CITY – SABANITAS
START 8:30 FINISH 12:00 (21/07/16)
DISTANCE 65KM RIDE TIME 2H34
After 5 nice days in panama city, it is time to get back on the bike and start the ride over to Portobello on the Caribbean side to catch the boat. It was difficult to get out of the city. I had to cross a spagitti of motorways. I was then able to take a quite road out through the Municipal park………really just a jungle, before connecting up with the autopista to Collon.
I no cycling road. I gave it a shot any way. When I got up to the toll gate. I just cycled on. When I saw some police I just waved and kept cycling. Did the same with the next lot of police 10km up the road…………even another police car passed me and I kept going. Then after about 40km the National police got me. They wouldn’t let me cycle on and insisted I put my bike on the back of there pick up and they took me to the next exit where I could continue cycling. I was vertuially where I had planned to stop for the day. So I cycled up to the Bomberios
Difficult getting out of town had to cross some major highways. Took a smaller road through municipal park. Wild jungle. Bridge over road for animals. Connected up with auto pista. Cycled straight through toll box. Pass some police. 10 km up road passed more police. Another police car passed me. Then police stopped me kicking me off the autopista.
Loaded bike into the back of pickup and took me 20km to the next exit. Virtually to where I was staying for the night. I cycled round to the Bomberios. They have kindly found a place for me inside to camp. A very nice trite from the Panama Bomberios. They gave me a hot lunch of Spagitti bolanase.
The bomberios could be busy tonight. I was suppose to meet up with Anja & Radko & Sam & Laura who were cycling out of Panama today as well. We have arranged to meet at the Bomberios. I am currently sitting in Mc Donalds and I am glad I have beaten the rain because it is absolutely chucking it down and those guys are going to be completely drenched.