Panama, Pana-ma-hah!

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Sep 03, 2008

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Flag of Panama  ,
Monday, August 4, 2008

OK... it is almost surreal that we reached our turnaround point today!! We have literally planned this for over a year and exhausted every scenario that could occur in which we would not be able to make it here...tropical storms, hurricanes, mudslides, injuries, bike  breaking down etc . I think you get the picture! But we have been so lucky and everything has just been great! OK our gear is damp, mildewed and we are pretty STINKY after a day on the bike, but we are here and nothing major has gone wrong (knock on wood!)...and we've visited beautiful places and meet amazing people along the way as well!
Riding over the Puente de las  Americas was a breath taking moment and when we saw the high-rise skyscrapers of Panama City we started celebrating in the helmets! Wow, we were able to ride over that bridge overlooking the Caribbean Ocean on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other! Mind-blowing really!
I love Panama City! It is such a vibrant but divided city. It has tons of 30-story high-rises on one side of  town and poor projects on the other. There is a huge American influence here, you can even see it in the architecture. It's interesting, apparently this whole city caters to American and European investment and retirees  who want to move over here. 
We "rented" a taxi for the day and our cabdriver took us all over town, we were able to see so much and I am so grateful for the opportunity. We saw everything from the amazing Panama Canal to the extremely poor projects, the colonial old town and the more commercialized restaurant areas.

Seeing the Panama canal and watching two HUGE ships go though the locks were an unforgettable experience. The Panamanian government has really put money into making it a tourist attraction but it's great. We learned a lot about the construction of the canal through the movies they showed, as well as  through their 4 story museum!!
Ok, Jess here...and all I can say is...Heeeeaaalll Yeah!  We made it!!  Was there ever a doubt???..uhh...yeah, big time...the Road of Bones for example, washouts, mudslides, accidents, chickens, cows, goats, our experiences in Culiacan, and food poisoning in Playa Azul...but nevertheless, we made it here!, safe and sound.  And yeah, it was pretty amazing seeing Hong Kong-like buildings and infrastructure that we haven't seen in the past 6000 miles!  And of course, I know all about Panama, I learned about it in the 5th grade, and then I listened to Van Halen's "Panama" song quite a bit...what else is there to know??...right?

Well, the roads from the border to Panama city are great, a refreshing change from Costa Rica, so much so...I got a speeding ticket!! The motorcycle cop was hidden in the bushes with a radar gun (common technique used in Hazard County) and jumped out into the middle of the road with his hands in the air, waving me down.  I though to myself, great, we're going to have to bribe the guy on the spot or he's going to take my license I  decided to play hardball a bit, pretending I spoke no Spanish and asking the cop for his name and badge number before I handed over my license...he got pretty pissed off and demanded my license...I gave him my AAA Int'l cheapie license, and then he showed me his name tag. As he wrote up my speeding ticket, I walked over to his bike and wrote down the license plate number and scribbled some other stuff down, as if I were writing him a ticket!...Malin was sitting on the back of my bike and thought that I was being an idiot (she's usually right). Anyhow, he gave me back my license, gave me the ticket and told me to get out of there...I asked where do I pay the ticket, and he just told me to leave and started pointing his radar gun at other I guess I have nice free souvenir now!!

Ok, crossing the bridge was pretty emotional...first off, it was like, hell  yeah!!!..we made it!...but before we were completely  over the bridge, the next emotion set in, and it was...oh crap!!!...we're a long way from Kansas, aren't we Todo (Malin)??!!!...and now we have to come back home!  It was almost an amnesia-type experience where our past 7 weeks didn't our new mission, if we choose to accept it, is to get back home!!!...ooooh, country road, West Virginia, Mountain Mama, take us home, where we belong!!!
I'm going to keep this part short, but Malin and I have been fortunate enough to have lived and traveled the globe quite a bit (albeit by airplane, and laterally, i.e. Europe), but  I've always wondered what lies beneath us?? few jaunts into Baja always required a fairly quick return...but now we finally have had the unbridled opportunity to continue to venture really find out what lies beneath us...and after all of the miles and 150+ hours of time on the Moto de las Americas (the bike), I can say that we truly KNOW what lies beneath...and it's all beautiful!!
Also I'd like to say that we appreciate all of your comments!!!  We read each and every one and given unlimited (yeah right) internet access, we would respond to each one as well...but we can't, but we love 'em!  I know we're only half way through our adventure, but we've proved a lot to ourselves over the course of events thus far, and the three of us...Malin, me, and the Dream Machine, are doing just fine.  I almost feel like, what the hell, why are we turning around here?...what about Antarctica??...I'm sure there's some great riding opportunities there.... right?...are you guys with me on this???...can I get some love here!!!??
 Anyhow, it's way past our bedtime,...but thank you all, God bless, and tomorrow, we begin our journey back towards home... and back to you guys!
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trichtrich on

It's Mara here...and I think I'm gonna cry! You're there! I think I could just burst! (And not because I had gnocchi, calamari, & lasagna for dinner.) There is true glory in setting such a bold and daring goal and actually DOING IT! I swear I smile every time I think of you guys. And although I miss you, I've heard Machu Picchu is incredible, and Peru is just Columbia away! And you don't need no stinking llamas when you've got the Panamanian Pebble Pounder (Malin) - kidding!
Bless you both - stay safe & happy.
Mara & the wee ones

trichtrich on

Van Halen would be proud
'She's runnin', I'm flyin, right behind in the rearview mirror now, got the fearin', power steerin', pistons poppin', ain't no stoppin' now...Panama, Panama,Panama, Panama, Oh-oh-oh-oh, Panama, Panama, Oh-oh-oh-oh, Panama'

Congratulations to Redbeard, Helmet-Girl, the Panamanian Pulverizer, and Bleep on completing 'Leg 1' of the journey. Looking forward to 'Leg 2.'

lisamckinley on

Me, too!
Like Mara, I got a little choked up to read you were there! I'm surprised at the bundle of emotions I carry while you are on this journey. Just to see you standing at the locks...Wow! It gave me little goosebumps! I am so excited for you guys, what an absolute thrill!

braden on

Hey you guys. I absolutely cried out loud reading this one. Then I read others comments and found out I was not alone. The unsoppables did it! I'm so proud and happy for you both. Certainly a day for the history books. All of your blogs read like a novel, but to know that it is real, it happened, the experiences of the vistas, the people, the closeness you must feel for yourselves and others just gives my heart such joy.
With Panama's high-tech sophistication...on the way out... you may meet Diablo! I love you so very much.


jloder on

YES! YES! YES! You made it...very stoked for y'all. Hey, I just looked on the map...Venezuela might be a good time...

'We may only live once, but if we live right, once is enough.'

'Life is not a dress rehersal.'


schowe on

Oh Supuh-dang-dang!
Holy buhjeebers, ya made it! You two globetrotters are our Ambassadors of all Central American Moto-Adventures....a highly coveted honor, I assue you! Time to turn the 'Ménage à McKinley' around and get home to make us all even more aware of how lame our summer was compared to yours!! Ride safe and enjoy the ride.....

johnnyblackpint on

As a whole, their internet availability is pretty sucky...

No blogs = one unhappy vicarious traveler.

On the other hand, there is an entirely new America (South) just waiting to be explored beneath you...

donw on

Hey Jess + Malin! Way to go!

Jess, Arthur said your test of the KTM was fantastic. Watch for a little something in your mailbox to buy a few extra liters of fuel for the GS.

plsportsdoc on

Jess & Malin,
Mighty gnarly is all I can say. Funny, I'm here working and thought, hmmm, wonder if those guys have made it to Panama yet? And, lo and behold, you did it. Awesome. Shoot, might as well keep going til you get to Brazil, sell the bike, and fly home!
All the best from the Allen Clan.
Dr. Joe

j_sully on

SOOOOOOOOOO excited for you guys!!! You both look AMAZING - it's like you can see the adventure in your faces. Much much love guys!!! - Sullys

skinnyfish on

very niiiiiiccccceeee!!!!!!! what a journey, what an accomplishment and what a cultural lesson that van halen really can't emulate . . . may the 2nd half be as rewarding as the first . . .

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