San Jose, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama – 8 days, 535 miles

May 8th, 2006 by David

   Departing San Jose, I said goodbye to my father (who returned to the states), and continued climbing into Costa Rica’s mountains. I climbed a 10,000 foot pass and then, in the same day, returned to sea level and the Pacific Ocean. On one of the many climbs, I met two Costa Rican cyclists and convinced one of them to ride my heavy bike up a hill while I pedaled his bike. I told him it would be good training (video right).

Climbing high into the mountains - 9,000 ft
That is the Pacific!
I convinced Max to ride my bike up the hill.  I hope this isn't cheating.

   You may notice I have only three panniers now. I sent a number of items home with my father – the first comment lists some of the things I got rid of.

   From the beach, I continued south along the coast, finding the heat and humidity at sea level almost unbearable. With every climb, my clothes became soaked with sweat. I was relieved to find that the fire station in Ciudad Neily, on my last night in Costa Rica, had not only extra beds, but also air conditioning, a kitchen, and a pool table.

Just another day at the fire station - Ciudad Neily
Pool at the bomberos station - I am stripes
Geovanni explains why we should use bicycles

   Departing Costa Rica, I met Geovanni, a cyclist who rode with me and provided a short oration about why we should use bikes as transportation. Click on the video above right.

Welcome to Panama

   Entering Panama, I noticed no major change in the standard of living – Panama and Costa Rica have strong economies compared to the rest of Central America. I biked quickly across Panama, which I found to be sparsely populated. I camped next to a fire station, camped on an empty beach, stayed in a cheap hotel, and then camped next to the house of a family who sells souvenirs on another beach (photo bottom right – note that my stove is at the bottom of that picture because I am trying to cook dinner).

Fire station in the city of David
Nice shoulder - Interamericana Highway
This part was hilly.
Camping on the beach, near Las Lajas
Las Lajas beach
Edwin, Orbic, Amando, Abimelec, Tris, Alcide, Magheleen, Andy, Belgica, Beatriz, Jaime, Siayeli, and others, and my stove
Well-thought-through plan for getting to Colombia
Trying to get across the bridge over the Panama Canal

   The rainy season has just begun here in Panama, meaning that it is humid all day and there is usually a heavy rainstorm at the end of the day. In such a storm, I crossed the bridge over the Panama Canal, and arrived in Panama City, where I will stay for a few days attempting to find a boat to take me through the canal and into Colombia.

One Response to “San Jose, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama – 8 days, 535 miles”

  1. David says:

    Here are the items that I loaded into my father’s suitcase before he flew back to the states. I am much lighter now:

    Spare Tire: There are tires my size in every town I have been in, and I know how to hitchhike. I may carry one when I get to the Amazon or Atacama Desert.

    Battery powered speakers for my MP3 player: Great for climbs. I may ask for this to be sent back.

    Underwater camera case: I am not biking this bulky item over another mountain pass.

    Map of southern South America: I am not there yet, and it was actually heavy.

    Large flag for soccer team in El Salvador: Nice keepsake, will be well kept at home.

    Guide Book to Central America: I think I am mostly done with carrying guidebooks – they are heavy.

    Bomberos de Honduras T-shirt: Nice shirt, but the orange is fading. Send home and keep. Already have ‘Bomberos de Costa Rica’ replacement shirt.

    Bruce Gordon Pannier: Now everything fits in three panniers, so I sent this one home. Three panniers is awkward, but much faster than four.

    SCUBA dive log book: right.

    Pocket Spanish English Dictionary: I rarely use it anymore, and I have a dictionary in my palm pilot.

    Harry Potter y la Camera Secreta: I have moved on to Harry Potter y el Prisonero de Azkaban.

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