11 October 2011

Moustaches of the Panama Canal and General Panamanian Antics.

This post will cover the rest of my time in Panama City up until my arrival at the Carribean coast, where the road stops and the sea begins.  The Panamerican highway continues down into Darién province, but I veered off and rode towards the coast.

Every time I looked, the skyline looked completely different...

You can always tell what the tide is doing by looking at the fishermen's boats.

After so much rain, all my accessories were moist already, so I passed up this shop.

My legs swelled up and started behaving like memory foam. 
 I freaked out when I found out I had symptoms of Filiarisis, a tropical disease borne by mosquitos and black flies.  I've had enough bites that it was quite feasible.  I went for a blood test which came back negative.  After drinking about 3 gallons of Gatorade, the swelling decreased.  Doctor says I need more electrolytes.  Well, that was exciting.
Then I saw this awesome chick rock band.  They really liked that I knew all the words to all their  Whitesnake covers :).

Diablos Rojos, the panamanian buses are airbrushed to the max, with deafening stereos and glitter upholstery.  I LOVE them!

diablo rojo bumper.

railroad crossing in panama.  

the look on the croc's face is what got me. and yes, i saw a crocodile nearby.
And now, a study of the moustaches of the men who built the panama canal.  I visited the Miraflores locks and museum, which is fascinating if you are at all nerdy, or enjoy moustaches.

ok, no mustaches.  but she might look a little happier with one...

seriously, how do you eat frosted cupcakes with that?

pie chart shows usage of the water from lake gatun. almost 60 percent is used to move ships.

the locks don't look that big.

and they sound wimpy only moving 20 feet of water.

but then a boat comes through, and you realize how badass this engineering project was.

this one was carrying grain or something.

ready to drop!

WHAM!  Drop it like it's hot! Actually it takes several minutes to drain the water out.

here you can see the water level difference.  There are two sets of locks side by side and they are building some even bigger.  

Rolllll coal, baby!  How big is that engine?
actually, it is 74,640 horsepower at 94 rpm.  AWESOME!!!!  Think I could shoehorn that into  a 57 chevy?
yes, even the bathrooms are canal themed.

I liked seeing the plants growing on the church and the vulture on the cross.  kinda spooky.

panama city skyline with boats.

Making new friends at the hostel.  group social interaction has been extremely limited for me, and it was nice to sit on the couch and share a few beverages.

If you are not careful, Japanese cyclists will stay at the same hostel and not even say hello.  This guy rode down from Alaska on his Surly LHT and was headed for Argentina.

Sunny panama skyline.

the hostel gives a discount if you sleep on the roof.

I teamed up with a Belgian backpacker for a 2 day trip to Taboga, an island off the coast.

There were about 60 ships waiting their turn for the canal.

On Taboga, things move slowly.  If this was America, I would expect a Christmas banner in September for marketing purposes.  But this is Taboga.  Yet to be taken down...

ahh yes.  it is refreshing.


paul gauguin stopped here and wanted to buy a place.  it was too expensive, so he got a job working on the canal.  it was too hard, so he quit and went to tahiti to become a famous painter.   so Taboga paints his pantings on their walls...

Sylvie tries out the brick-making machine.

Here, Sylvie wields the ''machete of omens'', ready to lay waste to a coconut. Hott.

catching the last rays of the day from Cerro de la Cruz.

Taboga has an abandoned feel.  Plenty of interesting trash washed up from Panama City...

Massive anchor and an old sea wall.

the tree grows, and the sea erodes

old paddle wheel perhaps?

pedal boat planter...

the container ships are big. each one of those is a semi truck trailer!

The Ever Dainty.

Those who know me well will laugh, seeing a greasy box of mechanical parts I scrounged from the scrap bin.  This was the beginnings of my plan to cross to Colombia....

Diablo Rojo means Red Devil.  Once, the buses had red stripes down the side.

classy bathrooms at the bar.

DJ party in the courtyard of a burned out mansion...

Tatanka got lots of attention outside the workshop where I fabricated the drive components of the bike boat.

The outboard motor shop, Motoborda, is a motorboater's dream.

Fried yucca and plaintains, blaring reggaeton, drunk Kuna women, hot rain, and the mix of smells of fried food and welder smoke.  I wish I could record that moment in all 5 senses to share with you.

at least you can see the food.

I rounded up some supplies to prepare for building a boat on a small island...

Fabian was motorbiking around the world.  Yes, he has used the winch.

Fabian's Honda 650.  Decked out for world cruising.  Here is his blog

of all the skyscrapers in panama, this one was my favorite.

back on the road, this sign for Dari'en province got my blood pumping.  here's to you dreamers out there!  

one last diablo rojo.  unfortunately, the one with hugo chavez was too quick for a photo.

sunny evenings on the panamericana

moon over rice

ants moved into the tent through the floor.... arrrrrgh

The road to Carti, Panama is THE TOUGHEST PAVED ROAD I HAVE EVER RIDDEN.  The bottom of every dip is unpaved to make sure you carry no momentum.  a full day to ride 24 miles.

camping in the jungle

as I neared the coast, I could see countless islands on the horizon.  visons of my path to Colombia.  San Blas Archipelago.

one last insane drop down to the coast.  wrecked cars on every turn and the road has only been open 2 years.

Next up... crossing to Colombia....


dd_traveler said...

I totally want to go to panama now - canal, locks, coast, culture... yay!

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