Sunday, February 7, 2010

The last two days have been busy. We travelled to a remote border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama, did the usual bike export, immigration, bike import, immigration dance. This time it took about three hours in 95 degree heat. It isn't the heat, it is the humidity. Pete and I 'kinda' looked like we weren't from there. we looked like we were from the planet "Pasty White and Soaked". There were a few Mexican travellers and a few from north of Mexico, but the crossing is used mostly by locals.
The area is where the world grows bananas. The ride to and from the border was often through banana plantations, and the road cluttered with trucks hauling bananas.
The big banana companies used to use trains to move good to the ports ( before WWII ), and one of the relics of this system is an old 1906 train bridge at the border. No trains run anymore, so they laid some rough planks ( no nails, so the planks shift around when you ride over them, with the rail ties below. Next thing down is the river). Locals seem to walk to and from the villages on both sides of the bridge without going to immigration. Big transport trucks crossed to move bananas and other goods. The officials wave off foot traffic to allow a bike, car, or truck to cross. It was nervous ride, not too slow, not to fast, not off the planks, don't look at the water......
Today we rode 400 km over a mountain range on the Carribean ( literally up the clouds), and to the dry flatlands near the Pacific. We rode along the Carribean in the morning and along the Pacific in the late afternoon. The east side of the mountains were rainy, full of mucky construction and dirty roads, and the west side of the mountains were warm and sunny. It raised 20 degrees in 20 minutes as we started down.
We were very lucky tonight to find "The Canadian" hotel an hour before Panama City. Presently we are doing laundry while watching the Superbowl ( english with very loud Spanish ads).
Tomorrow more kms, in a day or two we will be at the end of the road, The Darien Gap.
Banana Plantations in Costa Rica. Nice of them to put our road right through.

Bananas grow in rain forests and have deeply ditched rows between trees. I assume these run heavy during the rainy season. They all wear rubber boots in the plantations. This shot is of a store at the border, rubber boots front and centre.

The 1906 converted train bridge and the border. Those are loose planks, kinda sorta placed end to end. They bounced around while we rode over, and there are seperate enough to allow the front tire to drop down to the railway ties.

A local heads home to Panama with a bag of bananas from Costa Rica. He had just stepped off the planks. nobody walked between the rails and there are enough ties missing to make the spacing sketchy.

We stopped for a coffee in Panama, and noticed a bus pull in with cargo on top. Pete noticed one piece of cargo was a dog, in a bag, tied on top.( Dog is leftmost pice of luggage).

This is the dog unloaded. They put the dog in a basket, put dog and basket in a bag, and poked a hole for the dog to just be able to stick out it's head. We followed others similarily loaded dogs on other vans. A bit strange having a dog look down at you from the top of a van.

A little girl was hanging around the bikes, asking for 'plata' (silver).I know you can't save the world, and don't want to encourage a situation that might be dangerous for her, but we did give her some plata.

Mountains, wet side.

xxx Mountains, dry side.


  1. absolutely beautiful photos Tony.....

  2. Wow, biking in Costa Rica.

    Cubic-hole in Fredericton in winter.

    My Cousin, you can now say you have lived!!!

    You guys are doing a great documentation job, you should sell the story to Cycle Canada for $8 Can, or Cycle World for $500 US, or just keep putting it on the net for free!

    Love it, love it.