Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everything was fantastic, and then I went 30 hours w/o food or water...

(Panama City, Panama - Cartegena, Colombia)

We headed out of Panama City after eight whole days wandering, reading, enjoying our little apartment, while also gearing the bike up for our South America adventures. New tires, fresh oil, new chain, and a full-body going over by Adam, we were ready to hit the road.
On a ferry ride from our Easter Sunday island trip, we heard about a little village in the Darien Province where the Wuonan live near a river in huts on stilts. To get there, you first have to meet someone who's been there as a volunteer. Done. You then have to contact him to have him contact the local Peace Corps volunteer, Johanna, who is an American living with the Wuonan for two years teaching English. Done. Then you drive several hours, cross the border into Darien (chat a bit with the local military) and find a sign with rainbow lettering that is the only way to mark where the dirt road heads off the main road, and then an hour's driving to the village. The women wear no tops, but when visitors arrive they tend to cover up. There are 500 people living there, and they are just about the friendliest people we've come across. They set us up in a big palm-thatched palapa with a mattress and a white curtain for a door. There was a French couple who had arrived just a few hours earlier, and we got acquainted with them and a few of the local women and men who were to be our hosts, and also our cooks! In a fire pit in the floor they put together a delicious dinner of flavourful rice and fresh fried fish, fried chicken, and a lemoncillo tea which seems to be made of boiling tasty grass in water. After the guests eat, the family sits nearby and eats the rest. They made our dinner, then three meals the next day, and breakfast the morning we left. All really delicious, and each meal with a new tea or coffee.
We took a long jungle hike, Adam played a seriously long game of futbol (and made headshots!), and I made friends with about 15 of the local kids who borrowed my camera and jumped all over around me showing off their tumbling skills.

Two nights enjoying the change of pace, and then we headed toward the coast to Carti, where we would set off on our Boat Adventure to Cartagena, Colombia. Our plan: drive to the beach sometime around 11am, find someone with a canoe, load the motorcycle into the canoe, and then ride the canoe out into the bay where we would then load the motorcycle and ourselves onto the Stahlratte. Oh, and while still on shore someone would call the boat to make sure they were ready for us.
For more information on the boat, visit them at
We had a fantastic ride from Chepos to Carti along slippery, muddy roads through a jungle, a river crossing that required me to slip out of my riding gear and venture barefoot into the water seeking out the shallow spots, and finally hotlaps down an airfield toward the sea.
When we arrived, no one onshore seemed to know which boat we were talking about, nor did they seem like they had ever loaded a motorcycle onto any of their canoes. They did, however, charge us only $15 ($5 less than we had expected) because Adam had made friends with a drunk guy at the river crossing who strolled up and told them to give us a deal. Thanks, Drunk Guy!
After a few unanswered phone calls trying to reach the captain of the boat and some waiting around, the canoe drivers decided they would just load us up and head out to the islands to look for the boat. We arrived at the dock, unloaded all of our gear and panniers from the bike, and with the help of 5 or 6 very small Kuna men, managed to lift/drop the motorcycle five feet off the dock and into the canoe. I took photos. Then it was off over the choppy water, Adam trying to keep the bike propped up and after about 20 minutes we neared the islands of San Blas. Right away we saw the Stahlratte, a 106-year-old fishing vessel-turned hippie commune-turned passenger vessel that for the past three years has been carrying passengers (often with motorcycles) back and forth between Cartagena, Colombia and San Blas, Panama. Ludwig, Peer, Rollie, Nicole, and their three-week intern Tilo greeted us warmly, and roped up the bike, using a winch to lift her onboard.
By the next afternoon, we had four more motorcyclists, and seven backpackers onboard. We headed out to one of the fantastic islands, which are all white sand beaches covered with coconut trees that are the Kuna's main income. We dropped anchor, snorkeled the coral reefs, had a bonfire on the beach where Rum and tuKola ruled the night, and spent a few very pleasant days going from island to island, jumping off the boat into pristine waters.
Then we made the crossing.
And now, I'll let Adam finish up. This time, he really will type something in!

The seas were angry that day my friends! Well, actually not really, Grace did peuk 3 times though :-( She tried her best to have a little food or water, but i can honestly say that she went a solid 30 hours without nourishment of any sort. Even today, 3 days after the fact, i still think she´s a bit wobbly walking down the street. In her defense though about half the passengers on board ended up getting ill and EVERYONE, sick or not, got around 20 hours of shut eye over that 30 hour period. Something about rocking about all day in big swell that just makes me sooooooo sleeeepyyy.

We arrived in Cartegena, Colombia safe and sound and unloaded the bikes without incident. With a waterfront lined in tall buildings, our first impression of the city was not what any of us expected. However, as we began to have a look around we discovered that it really is an incredibly beautiful colonial town, surrounded with moats and lagoons and filled with great shops and restaurants. We arrived late morning on April 23 and spent a few hours waiting for paperwork and getting the bikes unloaded before heading over to Casa Mara, a hotel recommended to us by the captain for it´s clean rooms and safe parking.
Since then we´ve had to take care of some additional permitting paperwork, perform some general bike maintenance and then just do a bit of sightseeing and lounging about town. We head out tomorrow for Santa Marta, a popular little beach destination to the North before making our way south to Medellin, Cali and on to Ecuador.

From what we´ve heard from other travelers, the best parts of our journey from North America to South are still ahead of us, and considering how fun it´s been so far, we can´t wait to get to it.

Hope all is well back home, and we´ll catch you at the next update.
Peace and Love,

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From - Two for the Road -

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Of Locks, Docks, and Big Bugs!

What haven't we done in Panama City? It's been a great 8 days, twice the time we've spent in any town along the way, and we have been busy!
Let me first begin with a description of the weather. Each day starts off pretty mellow, warm and humid the day grows hot and by 12 noon we guess the temperature in the upper 80'sF to the low 90'sF. From 12-3pm are the peak hours for miserably humid dripping with sweat sweltering heat. As we finish with our Spanish class at 12pm, we are left to wander the streets seeking shade, and often end up on the bed laying under the fan. We are still delighted with the refreshingly cool water in our shower! At about 5pm it finally cools to a delightful temperature, and at night it cools enough by midnight or so to need the light sheet which is our only blanket. Mornings are delightful and often breezy. Breezes: Las Brisas.
Now, back to our story:
We started off with a movie at the locally famous Albrook Mall, there tried to eat some Mexican-style carne asada burritos which cost $12 and were the opposite of delicious. We have been taking Spanish Immersion classes with Ariel, who has been great and helpful and who wasn't too upset when we didn't do our homework for the last day of class. We're making him banana pancakes for breakfast tomorrow as a thank you. And no, not the scrambled pancakes of previous discussion.
Easter Sunday we took a 45 minute ferry ride to Isla Tobago, where we rented a big beach umbrella for $5/day, splashed in the cool water, and watched some really cute kids nearby. The beach was so hot that the masses all huddled under their own umbrellas when not in the water, and though we covered ourselves in 50 SPF sunblock we still got sunburned! Let me say that we are pretty cautious, and spent nearly every second either in the shade of the umbrella or with sunhats on, and yet still, it got us. El sol, que fuerte!
We have mapped out nearly the entire city as we first searched for a place to stay and then searched for not one but two different motorcycle parts shops seeking the proper tires and parts that we needed. At last, we were sent to MPH where they had the tires, they could change the chain, and all in an hour! Or so they said. For this part of the story, I'll let Adam elaborate:

We visited the French Cemetery where French citizens who died while working on the canal were buried from 1880-1889 . Pretty, little white crosses numbered and neatly organized dotted a grassy hillside on the edge of a little highway outside the city. We happened across it as we left the grand Panama Canal.
The Locks at Miraflores are a sight to behold. Giant ships from China, the US, Japan, Chile, and Panama cruise through each morning from 9am-11am. The visitor's center is built up close for a great view, where you can see half-pint silver train cars guiding each ship through each lock with huge steel lines tied to each side front and back. Our $8 tickets included a 15 minute movie about the $2.85 Billion dollar Canal expansion, a tour of the museum with amazing miniatures of cranes, trains, boats and dump cars that were used in the building of the canal, a whole floor devoted to the insects of Panama (amazing!!!) and a wall-sized miniature model of the entire width of Panama highlighting elevations and the route of the canal and nearby waterways. Many ships were built especially for work on the canal, and nowadays ships are often built specifically to the dimensions of the Panama Canal.
It was amazing to see up close.

We went out downtown on Saturday night, and sipped a few beers while watching the 25th anniversary of the WWE. I tell ya, it can suck you in. Some of the greats of the past came on for the show, and even Mickey Rourke made an appearance. It was a big Saturday Night. Actually, it being the night before Easter there was almost no one out and about, we obviously made the best of it.

Finding ourselves at a loss for what else to do here, we plan on heading out tomorrow toward the Darien Province. There is a village someone told us about where one Greenpeace woman is working out her two-year stint, and the Indigenous people are friendly and hospitable. We look forward to the river and the waterfalls, the local costumes and some more time in the jungle.

Did I mention we went shopping today? I bought a pretty blouse which should spice up our photos, and a tank top. Big news, as you may have noticed our wardrobe is rather limited. It's been fun to travel so lightly, realizing what little one can live on and creating a whole life out of the few things we can pack onto the motorcycle. Having no home at the moment, we are experiencing an interesting sort of nomadic lifestyle. We have become fluid in our packing and unpacking, each piece fits perfectly and snugly in its place. We each have our part, one pulling out the toiletries and shoes while the other unloads the drybag which holds our clothing. One pulls off the GPS and the tank bag, the other pulls of the saddle-tank bags and the helmets. Lastly, the handlebars are turned to the Lock position, a padlock is slipped through the disc brake, and we lug our things up stairs or down, along a hallway or across a yard to whichever new place we will be sleeping in. Showers follow, perhaps we'll wash our riding socks in the sink and hang them to dry. Perhaps not.

Until next time,
Grace and Adam

Click below for our latest photos :-)
From - Two for the Road -

Friday, April 10, 2009

BEST and WORST, Mexico to Panama!

Best: Via Via, Leon, Nicaragua - Our first night here we ended up staying in their nicest room for $25 and it was spectacular. High ceiling, king size bed, cable TV, TWO FANS, and hammocks out front.
Worst: Hotel Buena Vista, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua - They surely have nicer rooms than the one they stuck us in, but it was awful! Three nasty single beds with crummy mattresses and we ended up sharing one because the place was swarming with 'squitos and other nasty insects and we had to share the tiny mosquito net that we packed. The bathroom was gross and they didn't serve dinner. :-(

Best: Sol Y Luna, Hermosillo, Mexico - Only $15, clean, nice mood lighting, nice stereo, private parking, and 3 channels of porn.:-)
Worst: Sol Y Luna, Hermosillo, Mexico - $15 only paid for 4 hours, we felt dirty, no choice on lighting (either mood or nothing), Stereo blared Mexican romance music exclusively, parking had no lock but did have a little observation window, pretty sure the porn was streaming live from other rooms in the motel. :-(

Best: Los Cocos, Dominical, Costa Rica - Nothing fancy, PVC pipes over a cement slab, but a perfect escape from the sticky heat. (we took something like 6 showers that one day) :-)
Worst: This is a toughy. At Hotel Lucy in Montezuma, Costa Rica the pathetic dribble from the disturbingly phalic shower head was more of a lesson in Chinese water torture than an adequate bathing experience. Though I suppose it may be better than the poorly wired shower head in Huehuetenango, Guatemala that was literally "shockingly" refreshing :-(

Best: El Dorado Hotel, Yecora, Mexico - We spent a solid 16 straight hours in this stone walled cave of comfort and nary a whisper was heard from without :-)
Worst: Hostal Central, El Valle, Panama - The howling wind, the rattling metal roof, the banging doors, and the creaking bed all added up to one miserable night awake. The owners were super nice though. :-(

Best: Copper Canyon, Mexico - A wholly fulfilling and spiritually uplifting ride along the winding mountain roads and down into the beautiful canyon.
Worst: Copper Canyon, Mexico - Miserably cold and tired riding through the wind-whipped mountains followed by a seemingly endless knee crushing, back breaking, rocky descent down treacherous canyon switchbacks, avoiding wreckless bus drivers and sporadic livestock.

Best: Starfish Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama - We hate to take anything away from the other incredible beaches that we've seen (I was actually quite a fan of the one where we buried the motorcycle) but this one was nothing short of spectacular. Fairly isolated, beautiful colors, a nice breeze and great snorkeling were just what the doctor ordered. :-)
Worst: San Blas, Mexico - We had a great time in San Blas and met some really nice people, but the beach just wasn't that inviting. Please keep in mind that we're talking about a sandy stretch of land on the pacific coast of Mexico that's lined with delicious eateries. But we had to pick a worst, so this is what you get. :-(

Best: El Retiro Day Tour, Semic Champey, Guatemala - It's hard to beat a tour that includes candle lit spelunking, rope swinging, inner tubing, bridge leaping, hike taking, pool swiming fantasticness, with new friends. :-)
Worst: Los Cascadas, Domincal, Costa Rica - As Domincal approaches the end of dry season, these shimmering jungle cascades have diminished to such a pathetic trickle that the surrounding fetid cesspools brimming with post-life pollywogs were the only things we felt worthy of taking up space on our camera's memory card. Grace swears that when she used to live here, they were amazing! :-(

Best: (We've only seen one. See "Worst" below.)
Worst: Tikal Ruins, Tikal, Guatemala (written and directed by Bethany and Kyle Rogerson, Special thanks to Mike and Leigh Dameron)
ActI: Scene1: Stage Left: 5am. Enter Bethany and Kyle...
Scene2: 5:15am. Group of 6 is found running bleary eyed across an empty parking lot towards the park gate, guarded by a bitter old security guard...
Scene3: 5:18am. Group of 6 engages in impatient small talk, waiting till 6am when the gates actually open...
Scene4: 6am. Though the first to arrive at the gates, ironically our Group of 6 will wait for a slew of late arrivals before being permitted entrance. Kyle and Bethany enter dead last...
Scene5: The group is seperated as a mad dash across the park ensues. The males arrive first, though having taken the wrong route they are only slightly ahead of the females. One of the men arrives without his shirt...
Scene6: One by one the group members collapse as they reach the top of Tikal's highest temple, gasping for breath and dripping with sweat...
Scene7: 6:30am. Camera pans away from the group's weary faces to reveal a wall of fog thick enough to prevent any possible glimpse of the sunrise...
Fade to Black.
ActII: Scene1: 10am. Hours after the unfortunate sunrise debacle, the Group of 6 is seen enjoying an incredible day exploring the ruins, listening to the howler monkeys, and cave hunting for man-eating arachnids.

Best: Mexico to Guatemala (La Mesilla) - Quick and easy with no hassles. We did have to drive back a couple km to stop at a checkpoint we missed, but even with that delay the fine border guards got us through in 45 minutes, easily the quickest crossing yet. :-)
Worst: Guatemala to Honduras (Corinto) - Thinking back on this crossing, we realize that there really wasn't anything inately confusing or lengthy about it, but the fact that we were fleeced so thoroughly by the team of Honduran Aduana agents just sticks in my craw. I even took pictures of the corrupt jerks that messed with us, just in case I feel like following up further. :-(

Best: It's a TIE! El Retiro, Semuc Chumpey, Guatemala AND Street Taco Stand, Anywhere, Mexico - El Retiro was an incredible all you can eat buffet that, aside from being delicious, was the first time we both really gorged ourselves on the trip. We feel that the street tacos need no further explanation, they are perfect and delicious and we have missed them :-)
Worst: Scrambled Pancakes, Our Apartment, Panama City - This morning, what was to be a delicious batch of banana pancakes turned into a scrambled pile of breaded nastiness that was the result of both an awful old pan, and a box of pancake mix that had been infiltrated by a webby goo that could have had no other origin than some foul and despicable little bug!

Best: Cerveza Indio, Mexico - Slightly darker than the rest, it is scrumptious.
Worst: Still sampling...

Panama City Hostels

I want to quickly run down our impression of the hostels here in the city so that others won't have to go through the same gruelling experience of driving all about in the blazing heat only to discover that the place was either a total dump or non-existent.
Using our trusty "Lonely Planet Central America" handbook, we visited every budget place we could find and these are our conclusions.

Luna's Castle: Easily the most widely advertised hostel in town as we found posters all throughout costa rica and panama. It's large and very popular. If thay're full, as was the case when we arrived, they'll let you sleep in the grungy "movie room" ($10 per person) where people gather in the darkness throughout the day to watch "The Motorcycle Diaries" and other movies in that vein. If available a private room is $12 per person. There's currently a lot of construction under way and the place is a mess. In addition, they don't have any place to store a motorcycle, although they do claim that it's safe to park just outside the front door, as there's a security guard on duty all night. It was clearly a rockin party hostel but we decided to keep looking.

Hospedaje Casco Viejo: Not far away, this place was cheaper and quieter and was eventually where we ended up staying our first night for $16. They also did not have motorcycle parking and we had to lock our bike up out front and cross our fingers. Things couldn't have worked out better though as the next day we found out that the owner of Casco Viejo also rents out rooms in an apartment building 5 blocks away that include private bathroom, kitchen, balcony and MOTORCYCLE PARKING for only $15 a night! He also said he'll cut us a deal if we stay for a week and so we moved in that day. This place is hands down the best deal in town and a lucky find for us. We're also taking private spanish lessons from one of the hotel workers for $8 an hour for both of us! Our teacher's name is Ariel if you want to ask about him. It's a lot cheaper than the alternative and is going great. The place has Internet for $1 an hour and free wifi in the apartments.

Zuly's Independent Backpackers Hostel: They've got a gated parking lot out front or they'll let you pull a motorcycle back into a garden which is nice. Other than that the place is nothing special with regards to the building or rooms (pretty gross actually) but it's mostly full of international travelers (if that's something you like) and it's downtown near some restaurants and bars. It was $25 for a private room though and we decided it wasn't worth it.

Casa de Carmen: This place was fantastic. It's not exactly walking distance to anything fun, but a short cab ride will get you anywhere you want to go. The place has a great layout, relaxed atmosphere, and secure parking for a bike. This would have been our 1st choice but when we arrived they only had 1 room available for $44, well out of our range. If you make a reservation you can get into a room in the low 30s but even the dorms are $14.50. I guess you get what you pay for.

We were unable to find the following hotels based on the map in lonely planet (and we really looked so either LP got it wrong, or these places have gone the way of the Dodo): Voyager Int'l Hostel, Marmellena, Anita Inn, and Pension Colon. (we subsequently learned that Anita Inn truly did move and they have a website with the new address,

Hope this is helpful.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Two Forks and A Spoon

We just moved into a little apartment room where we can stay for the next ten days. It has its own bathroom and little kitchen, a balcony too. Though very simple, it is lovely to have our own space, to be able to cook, do laundry in the kitchen sink. We have one large fry pan, two forks, a spoon, one little serrated knife, a plastic strainer, a couple of blue and red plastic bowls, and several small ceramic plates. I bought a mini dish soap for .35 cents, a sponge, and some real laundry detergent for handwashing. My sarong now dries outside on the railing, and inside are bras, shirts, and socks. The view to the South is of the ocean and to the North our balcony looks out on a bustling street in Panama City. Possibly the best part of all, the shower has normal water pressure. It feels so luxurious.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

a man a plan a canal panama

(Dominical, CR - Panama City, Panama).

Don't you think the word "palendrome" should actually be a palendrome? The answer is yes, it should.

Since we last wrote (So it's been a while, we know, but not only is it difficult to find computers sometimes but generally when we can find them they are so damn slow that we are unable to complete an update without tearing our hair out in annoyance) we headed out from Dominical to San Jose where we stayed one night while Adam put on our new tire (which lasted ONE day before going flat. Yaaaay!!). No worries, he's a champ at fixing that stuff and as I lay in the hammock reading my book upon arrival in Puerto Viejo, Adam got a sunburn while sweating in the hot afternoon sun for a couple of hours taking the tire off (AGAIN!), replacing the inner tube, and then putting it back on.
Puerto Viejo, on the Southeast coast of Costa Rica is a funky little Caribbean town with tasty food, lots of dreadlocks, and little potsmoking hippy travelers who also have dreads and who roll around town on old bicycles, lay around in hammocks, and sometimes surf. We enjoyed some serious downtime in our super comfy, $16/night room with cable!! Such a luxury to lay in bed and watch English movies. We stayed at Cabinas Lika, where Roberto took great care of us. There is also a great little Comedor across the rocky street, where I had some of the best beans of the trip. Seriously, that's saying a lot.

After two nights in Puerto Viejo, we rode the short hour to the border at Sixoala, where a rickety one-way bridge is the only means of crossing into Panama. Customs took a while, but went smoothly, and we cruised into our sixth country! We headed toward Almirante where we left Peter in a secured storage room, and rode the launcha (little passenger ferry boats) to Bocas del Toro, beautiful islands just off the Caribbean side of Northern Panama. Here the waters are clear as glass, beautiful orange starfish shimmer on the white sand, and dolphins play. There are mangroves and long white, sandy beaches with picturesque palms lining the shores. We settled in at Mondo Taitu, Lonely Planet recommended it for its lively atmosphere and free pancake breakfasts. They offer free loans of surfboards, snorkeling gear, and even bicycles built for two! We did some serious riding on a big rickety bike with black and yellow stripes, and I will admit that my turn at the helm started off a bit scary. They're hard to steer.
We played a lot of cards, and made good use of their kitchen. Each morning we cooked up the free pancakes (I learned to add syrup to the batter) and each night there we made up huge pots of pasta with vegies and tasty sauce. We have now cooked four times on this trip.

Waving goodbye to Bocas, we headed down the long, beautiful roads South. We stayed in Santiago next to a movie theatre (yay!) and picked up a few of the tools we had lost on the highway just outside of San Jose. Did I mention our tool "pod" lid came off and we lost a few things on the highway? Nothing too serious, and now we've got our bailing wire and electrical tape back, also replaced the chain lubricant which had run out.
We had three choices of movies: Fast and the Furious IIII, Monsters vs. Aliens (in spanish), and Shopaholic. Guess which one we watched. Vin Diesel is such a hunk.

From Santiago we headed to the peninsula, down great winding roads to the beach. Panama, by the way, has been the most friendly country next to Mexico. People wave jubilantly from their porches, call out "Buenas!" wherever we go, and have been kind and friendly.
After a great lunch at a raucous beachside bar/restaurant, a shocking trip to the bathroom where the outhouse toilet was literally roiling with inch-long maggots, we drove out onto the sand and South along the shoreline a couple of miles. Adam had his helmet camera on, and crabs dashed out of the way as we flew along, the tide sending little waves our way, and everything just grand until...
we hit the soft edge where the dry sand and the wet sea meet and created 1 1/2 foot-deep puddles of quicksand. Need I say that we were soaking wet, Adam was laughing his "Oh, shit what have I done?" giggle, and then we stopped. Then he tried to move again. Nope. Again, and the sand and water sprayed out from the back and strange noises came out of it, and nope. We were stuck. I got off (obviously) and tried to help, but the poor little bike was sunk so deep we couldn't see the chain. One by one, we took off the luggage parts (tank bag, saddle bags, dry bag on the back, both of the side panniers) and then dug as much sand away from the rear tire as possible. Tipping the bike completely onto it's side, we rotated the whole thing back and forth until it was out onto the harder-packed sand. Luckily, the tide had been going out, or this whole two-hour ordeal would have been a lot less pleasant. So, yay! We had gotten Peter the Girl out of the sand and the muck. Then she wouldn't start. So it was that we removed the seat and the side panels (twice) to reconnect the little wires that had loosened and shorted out.
It was a beautiful beach, and there was a little palm-thatched roofed structure nearby, so if we'd had to stay overnight, it wouldn't have been so bad.
Finally, everything came together. Adam fixed the short, we repacked the gear, and headed into the nearby town where we stayed in a great little place called Hotel Baumy. Also, the only place to stay. $20, and run by a very sweet older couple who were relaxing on their terrace as the days heat cooled into evening.

The next day was a long one, starting just after nine and ending at about 6p, when we arrived in the green mountain town of El Valle. The only hiccup the whole day was when we were stopped for speeding and they made a valiant attempt to fleece us for $50! Two officers were just standing in the road as we rounded a corner and they waved us onto the shoulder. Acting very official they asked to see Adam's license and then told him to accompany one of them into the little office. They had no radar gun or official speed reading of any sort, but they explained that "they could tell" he was going too fast and that, according to the law (they pulled out an official looking book for this part) the fine was 50 smackers! Adam politely disagreed that he was speeding, asked to see any kind of evidence of this and then, doing his best to annoy the officer with extremely poor spanish, explained that he was happy to take the ticket and dispute the fine in court. The officer really did his best to accept payment for the fine on the spot with a promise of avoiding any further legal action, but as this clearly became less and less likely, he simply handed Adam's license back and sent us on our way. Stupid Jerks.
So, El Valle was a great little town with beautiful properties and sprawling houses tucked away in the jungle. Little shops and restaurants are sprinkled about the town which is nestled in the crater of a 3 million year old volcano. From our Hostal Central, $20/night we have access to thermal pools with natural clay mud masks (we both did facials), long hikes along rushing waterfalls where exotic butterflies float on the breeze, and apparently four foot long black snakes like to slither about. I saw a little tiny snake and thought, "oh, better watch out for those little guys" then, not ten minutes later a long, black one slithered out in front of us! Adam words were, "That's troubling." I couldn't have agreed more.

Our hostel was great. The owners friendly and nice, but for being so simple and comfy it is one of the loudest places we've stayed yet. The town gets very quiet after dark, but somehow the tin roof shakes and squeaks in the wind, the bed creaks with the slightest movement, and the whole place is like some kind of echo chamber. Odd, and rather irritating. We both slept with earplugs.

Today we made the short drive to Panama City where we explored the town looking for a suitable hostel where we could safely keep the bike and perform some much needed maintenance (replace the chain, oil filter, air filter, tires, etc) We also plan on taking some Spanish immersion classes while in town! Hablamos Espanol un poco, pero necesitamos practicar mucho mas. We settled on Hostel Casco Viejo where I sit now writing this little diddy and we get ready to head out to dinner. Our ride to Colombia doesn't leave for 12 days so we've got some serious downtime to take in. It is welcome!

And Happy Anniversary to L and M.
And Happy Birthday Emily!

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