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 -


  1. Great pics! I bet the Canal is amazing to see in person!

  2. It looks like you guys are half way there! I really enjoy reading about all your adventures. Keep up the posting when you can. Lots of love for both of you! Jen

  3. Ummm...I didn't see any pictures of the little French cemetery. Quite disappointing. :)