"Panama smells from top to bottom of bananas." So the bear said to the tiger in "Oh, how beautiful is Panama". In fact, there was a smell of bananas at the border crossing on the Caribbean Sea, just like in Costa Rica. I drove directly to huge banana plantations and the "Bananenghettos", a small village built by Chiquita Brands International, Inc., where the workers lived with their families. The houses were small and ugly, some children were lounging in front of their houses while the mother hung up the laundry. It did not make a good impression on me, so it was "Bananenghetto". Unfortunately I could not use the plants because the fruits are harvested immature so they can ripen during transport.
In the other villages and cities, however, the people were very friendly, I felt very safe here and was even invited to spend the night. Z.b. Of Noemi and her family, who told me that a tourist from the USA was murdered a day before, on a tourist island. What the hell is going on in Central America!?!
There is only one road to get to Panama City and this is the Panamericana. To reach this I had to get away from the humidly sultry Caribbean side and once across the mountain. 1300m are not (more) exaggerated high, but still it is 1300m.
It was already afternoon and I had already diligently brought altitudes to the speedometer, but I thought a bit goes still and then I camp in a village. Up to 600 I fought high and still had motivation. Unfortunately, it slowly became a certainty that I had already missed the last village. It grew fogier, darker and colder, no wonder no one lives here. I was crowded into the cloud forest.
Past a truck that hung in the slope because he had slipped off the road. The policemen standing there did not say a word to me, just looked puzzled. The density of the fog continued to increase, one could not see more than 15m. In the meantime, it was pitch dark. The few cars still driving past me drove only slightly faster than me and I crawled up the mountain. Through their headlights and the incomprehensibly thick fog I could see in the fogging my silhouette 5 meters in front of me in the fog. Creepy. If there were no cars nearby, I could hardly orient myself, could hardly recognize where the road is and could not see whether it goes uphill or downhill.
At about 1000m a car from opposite direction drove past me and stopped. A man's voice called "Hey Mister!". Of course I could not see anything and asked what the guy up here wants from me. I turned, drove back a little, and saw the silhouette of a handsome man in the glow of a blue light coming towards me. Creepy again. It was a fireman. He explained to me how super dangerous it is up here and offered me to take me with me so I can sleep downstairs at the fire department. But I will not drive a meter of this damn mountain twice, that was clear to me. His well-intentioned attempts to persuade him did not help, so he gave me the tip that there was a security guard at the top of the reservoir and let me go on.
Then the fog had reached the maximum and it began to rain. I could see again, but now I was wet to the bone. After another 45 minutes I saw the well-lit artificial lake, which was a relief. The guard was there and showed me a place where I could stay. I filled my waterbag with the toilet of the toilet and took a bitter cold shower in the wind. Then I remembered that I had still bought instant noodles. And indeed the guard had a microwave in his hut.
It was cold, wet and windy, but I was freshly showered and had dry warm clothes on, the target was reached, the old record was blown, there were over 2,500 heights on the speedometer and I had found a place to sleep -> it Were by far the best 3 packs of instant noodles of my life and without knowing what still comes, I think it will stay with it.
The next day we went up a bit higher, to the Quijada del Diabolo, the chimney of the devil, a 150m piece on which the wind whistles along the road at + - 100km / h. Then back downhill to the Panamerikana and 37 ° in the shade in the blazing sun. A last time gas, night at the police station or at the fire department, a small party on the 600th day of the trip on the beach of Las Lajas and then the metropolis was reached, Panama City and the directly adjacent Panama Canal.
Between Panama and Colombia lies the "Darien Gap", a stretch of over 100km where there is no road, instead the dense jungle with which the Panamericana is interrupted. However, there are many paths connecting the settlements there. Especially with the bike it would be super adventurous and definitely feasible, but due to guerrilla activities and drug smugglers for decades also quite life-threatening. In this respect, only two methods remain: sailboat or airplane. Sailboat is certainly beautiful and also adventurous, but the emphasis is on expensive. The prices have risen brutally in the past few years, from $ 500 upwards, the companies make quite well the pockets full. Fortunately, currently three flight companies connect Panama with Colombia, so the decision was quite quick with 124 € for a flight including 30kg luggage. After half-hour discussion at the airport with up to four airport employees and all sorts of luggage on hand luggage I did not have to pay again for my over-luggage.
The view from the plane to Panama City and the tiny seeming canal were great and before I realized that I had just straightened exactly 7000 miles or over 11.200km from Seattle to Panama Ciudad the pilot landed in South America. Flip, Chapter 5 starts.