Page 46: - No Return Ticket - Just a Ride Report /w Pics - From the beginning
We take a bus to David, 30 miles down the mountain. Heidi needs a new pair of jeans and I need new hiking shoes in a bad way. Walking around downtown David I felt like I was part of a roaming freak show. Heidi with her cool new tattoo undershirt was attracting more stares and turning more heads then I have ever seen. People with dropping jaws and tattooed guys wanting to show her their tattoos. I was walking tall…
There are a ton of shoe stores in David but finding a pair size 11.5 was my biggest challenge. I finally find a light pair of soccer shoes for under $20. Heidi finds a pair of cool looking jeans, $12.
I feel a little weird. I don’t want to ‘like shopping’ but this is working for me ;)
Not my first pick but they were cheap, light weight and have good bottoms.
Some general thoughts on Panama:
The conditions of the roads we have ridden in Panama have ranged from good to great. And the traffic has always was on the light side, except in downtown Panama City of course.
The infrastructure in Panama is more modern and clean than the other countries we have been in. I have actually been drinking the tap water here.
This is the first country we have seen cement mixers and lawn mowers, opposed to people mixing cement by hand on the ground and using machetes to trim grass.
The police in Panama have been professional and courteous to us. Only once did we have to show our passports. Twice we didn’t have to show anything, just chitchat.
The prices in Panama are dramatically lower compared to Costa Rica. We can buy a full breakfast at a Panama restaurant for $1.25. The food here is our second favorite next to Mexico. A bottle of Panama beer in a bar is $.50, this is worth repeating, a bottle of Panama beer in a bar is $.50
The people we have run across in Panama have been some of the friendliest we have meet on this trip, hands down. We receive constant greetings while walking on the streets, at the markets, everywhere. People have smiled more and talked more with us here then anywhere we have been on this trip. It’s hard not to notice. While stopping in a locals bar in Boquette we get the same treatment. Someone helped us find a table to sit down at. A guy at a bar stool gets up and moves so we could see the world football match on TV better. Heidi was the only girl in the bar. She gets a napkin wrapped around her beer.
We like Panama a lot...
On to Costa Rica:
It’s Sunday morning and we’re not sure if customs at the border crossing at Rio Sereno is open today. So, we decide to enjoy a slow morning in Boquete while preparing for a short ride to David or La Conception. We will look for a place to spend the night there.
On the way we stopped at a large English used book store. I took the bus here yesterday and verified it’s open on Sunday. Heidi was in book heaven and stocked up on several. I asked the owner if he knew of any hotels in La Conception. He suggested we may like the village Volcan much better and he knew of a few good hotels there. Volcan is even closer to the border and is high up in the mountains in a cooler climate. Sounds good, Volcan here we come. The weather report for David and for San Jose Costa Rica called for 80% chance of thunderstorms on Monday, we figured wherever we stay Sunday night we may end up spending two nights while waiting out the storms.
La Conception is a nice looking little village but it’s less then two hours from Boquete. We were glad to keep riding and head up into the mountains. The ride from La Conception to Volcan is a steady climb through forest and several small villages. The vegetation continued to get denser and lusher as we climbed and neared the cloud forest. It’s a slow ride but sweet. The hotel recommended to us looked nice but we didn’t see any parking. We continue to ride around town and spotted a few other places, none looked that great. Next we ride toward the other end of town and see a place with small cabins and parking, it’s about a mile out of town. It was expensive so we headed back into town to look closer at some other places. All the other places were either not open for business or didn’t have parking. Back at the expensive place we look at a cabin just before paying. The cabins are so small and cramped that no matter what the price, I didn’t want it.
Back in town we check out the a few more places and find a quiet little but suspicious looking resort with small cabins, some private, some duplex, $20 a night. There’s a large bar in the middle of the grounds. The place seems like its seen better days. The bike is parked right outside our door under a canopy roof. We haul a small table and a couple chairs outside under the canopy and proceed to complete our Panama gin tournament. Again I lose and am way behind overall. Outside we’re listening to bugs, birds, ducks and chickens. A couple ladies finish cleaning a cabin and walk across the lawn. I exclaim to them “muy tranquilo” (Very peaceful) One woman answers back (This is my translation) “Yes, but the bar opens at six and later there’s dancing” Heidi and I look at each other, Humm…
We didn’t feel good about leaving the bike alone so Heidi settles in with her book while I walk into town. I stop at an internet café to check the weather for tomorrow. Great, the forecast calls for only 20% chance of rain. We will be on our way to Costa Rica tomorrow. Heidi will be happy to hear that.
Next I walk into a hoppin’ pool bar on the main drag. There are a dozen or more pool tables, all occupied. I find an open stool at the end of the bar. A few guys give me a friendly greeting when I sit down. I down a beer while engaging in a little chit-chat. Before I finish my beer a local guy next to me buys me another, real nice. After chatting in Spanish a little I finished my beer. I order my new friend one and explain I need to ‘take off’ and buy a pizza ‘to go’ for my wife, or else. “Necesito comprar una pizza para llevar para mi esposa, ahora! Gracias por la cerveza amigo” I show up back at the hotel a hero, the best pizza we’ve had on this trip so far.
Heidi and I kick back with a book while we listen to the bar at the hotel come to life. Cars were driving through the grounds till late. We heard some of the weirdest techno Latin jungle music we have ever heard. There were couples going in and out of the cabins till 2 AM. Our first clue about this place was when we saw the sign saying ‘Hotel Abierto 24 Horas’ (Hotel open 24 hours)
Continued: -> Page 47 <- ->