Archive for the “Leg 2” Category
Alaska to Panama
Long day ahead of me tomorrow but I’m pretty excited to be going to Colombia. My flight leaves at 12:30pm and I arrive in Cartagena at 10:30pm. I have 2 stops; one in some place I’ve never heard of and the other in BogotÃ¡ (for 6 hours!). Karen and Martin sent me the hotel info where they are staying so I’ll jump in a taxi when I get there.
Everything is packed up into what I hope are strong packages. The bike should be OK and I have all my gear in 2 huge shopping bags that I double-lined with heavy duty garbage bags and then wrapped in packing tape. I’ll also have my handlebar bag and Ortlieb bag that converts to a backpack. Hopefully I can find a cart to lug all this around. How all this stuff fits on my bike I’ll never know.
I finished up a Highlights page for the time I spent traveling from Alaska to Panama. Originally it was going to be from Alaska to Argentina but it would be impossible to go back through that many blog posts. The updated Highlights page is here or you can cheat and go right to the Alaska to Panama page.
There’s also a new page called Bicycle Health that lists all the equipment replacements I’ve made.
Oct 05 2010
Took another chicken bus ride over to the Miraflores locks, one of 3 sets of locks on the Panama Canal. We got there just in time to watch a ship pass through. It was pretty interesting watching the whole process. For one thing I thought they towed the ships but the train things on the side just kept the ship from smacking into the walls–it moved ahead under its own power. They also let east-bound ships through in the morning and west bound ones in the afternoon.
At the mall next to the bus terminal we found a Dairy Queen. I sure did miss those Snickers Blizzards. They are cheap here too. Only $2.50 compared to $6.00 in Canada and whatever they are in the States ($4-something?).
After we got back it was time to pack my bike. Except for one minor bolt on a water bottle cage that I snapped off, everything came apart easily enough. There was plenty of room in the box the frame and wheels. I just hope the airplane people don’t toss it around too much. Credit goes to Karen for taking all the pictures of me getting my bike ready.
Oct 04 2010
10/04 Panama City is just like Miami except more people speak English here. I stole that from Lonely Planet. After being here for the afternoon and heading into the more lively areas for dinner, I think it’s more like New York though.
Traffic was definitely like NY. The PanAm for the last 20 miles had the most wretched shoulder so most of the time I had to ride on the roadway. Oh and it rained the entire time too. I’m sure I used up at least 2 of my 9 lives.
My luck changed when I arrived at the Bridge of the Americas. There was a minor traffic accident on the other side so traffic was moving a crawl. Perfect for me since there was no place to ride the bike except in with the cars. It was pretty cool riding my bike across the Panama Canal. Since traffic was moving at a snail’s pace I had lots of time to stop and look around. The bridge and entrance to the canal were both quite the sight. The bridge is extremely high to allow the cargo ships to pass beneath.
The next adventure was finding the hostel where Karen and Martin were staying. I thought I was all slick pulling the GPS coordinates off Google maps using the address they had for the place. With the waypoint marked on my Garmin I took the ocean route knowing that I’d be able to find the hostel whenever I decided to head in. Well that didn’t work out. The address Google maps shows for the hostel is wrong and my paper map only had major streets marked. So I had pretty much had no idea where the place was. I kind of knew what intersections it was close to so I rode around on busy, one way streets, in the rain, with crazy drivers honking at everything for 2 hours. Finally I thought to myself I really just need to see Karin and Marten walking down the street. Sure enough not 10 minutes later that’s exactly what happened.
After settling in and having a few beers, Karin and I went over to the bike shop and picked up a bike box for me so that’s covered. They also picked me up 2 really big shopping bags I can use to pack my gear into. Then we took my first Chicken bus ride ever to grab some dinner. We even got to see some street ladies getting hauled away by the policia. It’s a bit of a culture shock this city. It’s seriously just like walking around Lower Manhattan except there’s less people. Neon signs abound, street vendors hawking everything, major chain stores on every corner and massive skyscrapers.
Kind of sad that this was my last day riding on the North American continent. It was about 10 months ago that I crossed over into Mexico where I’d end up riding around for the next 6 months before getting into Belize and officially entering Central America. My flight leaves for Colombia on the 8th so I’ll be hanging out here till then.