We took the day to recharge, but more importantly, we needed to file our taxes. April 15th is fast approaching.
We’re glad we weren’t out on the road today because there was a tremendous thunder storm. We’ve been warned that the rainy season is coming. I’m not sure if today’s weather is an indication that it’s here, but I know that I don’t want to stick around for confirmation. The hostel owner said that this storm was nothing compared to what they get when the rainy season is in full swing. A huge benefit of the rain is the temperature dropped and for a moment everything cooled. We had a brief reprieve before things heated up again.
We’re about a week away from Panama City. The Pan-American Highway ends shortly after. For real, the road just deadends. There is no road to Colombia. This is the Darien Gap; thick, impenetrable, swampy jungle. About 60 miles wide, preventing the northern strand of the Pan-American Highway from joining up with the southern strand. There have been a few crazies who have tried it. It’s considered extremely dangerous not only due to the natural hazards, but also because Colombian paramilitary forces (FARC) are active in the Darien and are responsible for a number of assassinations and kidnappings. To be frank, not everyone that goes into the Darien, comes out.
We’re always being warned of dangers and bad people and most of the time we only believe half of what we hear. But the Darien Gap is more adventure than we’re willing to take on.
Another reason for our day-off was to do some research on our transportation options to Colombia. Our practical choices are to fly or take a boat. Flying with bicycles and gear is a real pain in the arse. The bikes would have to be disassembled and boxed. Our panniers would need to fit into luggage that meets the airline’s size and weight restrictions. I don’t see that happening. We’d prefer to go by water, mainly because we’d be able to roll into port and load our bikes on the boat, avoiding the need to disassemble and box them.
Surprisingly, there is no ferry service currently in operation between Panama and Colombia. There are a number of private boats that make the trip, shuttling people between Panama and Colombia and stopping at the San Blas Islands along the way. These are appealing, however a bit expensive, usually around $550 per person plus extra fees for the bikes. We’ve also heard about the possibility of boarding a cargo boat. We’ve been duly warned about the dope trafficking boats. We’ll try our best to avoid boarding those.
It’s all a bit overwhelming to try to plan from afar. We did send an email to a yacht club in Panama to see if anyone is looking for extra crew to help in exchange for passage. Other than that, we’re just going to show up in Panama City and hopefully things will fall into place. We’ve heard there are hostels that act as hubs for info concerning boats going to Colombia. We’ll check in with a few to see what’s available. We haven’t given up hope that someone out there has a friend of a friend who knows someone who has a boat anchored in Panama planning on sailing to Colombia and is looking for crew. That, would be perfect.