San Jose/Costa Rica – Portobelo/Panama

The story so far: In October 2006 Maik and I started, Tom, this recumbent tour and drove together from Germany to Tanzania – 6 months, 13500km. Maik devoted to other goals, I flew to India and cycled to Japan – 7 months, 9800km. After I took a break at home, we are back on the road since March 2008 in a team of two – Denise and me, from Costa Rica to the south. See map.

Costa Rica, the Switzerland of Central America – a flagship country – relatively prosperous with the appropriate infrastructure and supply, for 60 years without an army and neutral, full of mountains. Compared to Switzerland in Europe, Costa Rica, but has many more kilometres of coastline with tropical palm beaches.
The flight to San Jose, the capital, runs smoothly. The first time on a long flight, no luggage gets lost or the bike damaged. However, expiring iodine disinfectant from the first-aid package discoloured my Gore-Tex jacket.
Denises first serious kilometres by recumbent with luggage – a hard beginning. Dense traffic leaving the city with little space for us, initially not the best roads, mountainous terrain with very steep driveways, and then sometimes walkways, and rapid descents. In addition bright sunshine and temperatures of mid 30s degree Celsius, to which we must first acclimate. On the 4th and 5th day already the first 42 kilometres of dirt road.
The highlight in Costa Rica is its nature. Much is done for its preservation and invested – mountains, beaches, which bring us some idyllic camp, and a lot of jungle. In commemoration will remain the animals, many animals, animals that you can not see every day. Indeed, a brown coated three-toed sloth crosses the road. An animal that spends 90% of his life hanging in trees and with sleeping 18 hours a day ranks the second place in the late riser statistics. On the ground, particularly on the asphalt, the animal makes not a good figure. It lies on the belly stretched all the limbs with long-shaped claws. It moves so slow and sluggish. Finally an animal simple to observe. Already the idea to escape, probably would be too much expenditure of energy. Although still a too comical appearance, but on the other side of the road he succeeds with passable technology to climb into the tree again. Furthermore, we see several nose bears, monkeys, up to hand-size insects. One morning I almost step on a snake, which at times Denise pulls at its rear end out of the brush. Daytime noise beautiful parrots, the seemingly always argue. At night noise cicadas, which are with 7cm body length quite large insects, but still surprisingly produce a noise in the volume of a small internal combustion engines.

We reach Panama. On one road along the country in the lowland there is no more jungle any more. It is hot and dry.
Then ahead appears the aesthetic ‚Puente de los Americas‘. It spans the Pacific and Atlantic connecting famous Panama Canal. Together with another highway bridge so the ‚Puente de los Americas‘ is the bridge from North America to South America. Cycling over the bridge is prevented by a policeman. ‚The president himself prohibited cycling on the bridge in 1991.‘ As we want to take the police officers less important than he takes himself, he threats with arrest and fines. At least he stopped a pickup, on which load area we reach with our bikes the other side and thus Panama City.
About Maik, we have place to go. Jorge takes us warmly, and we live in the 22nd floor of a skyscraper in the city centre in an apartment that you absolutely can describe as spacious. Unfortunately, Jorge has little time. We could stay longer, but we are also appointed in Colombia, with still unclear ship passage between.
An essential is a visit to the Panama Canal, in particular the visit of one of the locks, the Miraflores Locks. An interesting building is the channel – (construction) technically, scenically, as large areas are formed by protected lakes surrounded by jungle and historically. Finally, without the Panama Canal the country Panama would not exist. To obtain the concession for construction and operation of the early 20th Century, the U.S. government helped to separate this Colombian province of the mother country.
In only 90km we cross America from south to north, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. In Colon on the Caribbean coast, we want to look for a ship’s passage to Colombia because a way overland does not exist. Although you could muddle through the jungle, a territory free of roads, but which is very difficult, not least because of the guerrillas and similar is anything but safe. Likewise, we also are always warned against Colon because of high crime. At least it is a very uncomfortable, run-down city. The whole day, we are pointed from one place to another while our search for a boat. Empty-handed we leave the city with the tip, to try it in Portobelo about 40km away. In this small village a passage can be found on the first try.
Sailing is on the program in the next few days.


translated by Denise and Tom

photos to this article: San Jose/Costa Rica – Portobelo/Panama : Fotos

7. April 2008 - Tom | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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