PAN AMERICAN JOURNEY PART XIV – PANAMA
Most City’s are the hub where perfect opposites meet. Where Chaos collides with Order and Beauty meets the Beast. Busy and optimistic, that’s Panama City! The city in which the legal procedure of shipping a vehicle in a container began!
Shipping isn’t really a choice. Between Panama and Colombia the Pan American Highway just doesn’t exist. There is a 160km section of swampy, hilly and dense jungle that is barely passable even if you own a heavy duty 4×4, a shovel, rope and a ton of repellent! And to this day, although kidnappings are rare, they are still happening in that area.
We met up with our Czech friends, Jana and Peter, who also drove from Canada with their VW van and together we split the cost of shipping. After three full days of paperwork, we stuffed both our vehicles into a 12m container using some scrap pieces of wood as a ramp. Our van barely fit. We deflated the tires a bit, and even so the roof of the van scrapped the top of the container! It was an intense moment watching the van literally slid inside! What a gong show, but at last the vehicles were sealed and ready to go.
So temporarily homeless, but not hungry, we set sail on a sailboat to Cartagena, Colombia, South America! 13 strangers were rammed into a boat that was initially intended for 8 max! We spent 3 days sailing around the San Blas islands. There are 378 small islands in total, but only 49 are inhibited by the native Kuna Yala Indians. They are perfect islands all covered with palm trees and lined with white sand. On these tours, there’s plenty of time to play with starfish, snorkel, suntan, read and roam around the islands. All the sights were picturesque, but the organized tour was a bit of a fiasco! For example, on Christmas day we were served moldy bread and our last dinner consisted of two apples, and 1 pineapple….for 13 people!! Anyway we spent two full, grueling days on the open sea and by the end of it we looked like zombies! Pill popping became a pretty regular thing. And those pills work, because no one was caught heaving over the railing!
And so finally we anchored in Cartagena, the Caribbean coast of Columbia. And with sea mans legs we set foot on hard, stable and splendid, unmoving Land!