We found free camping for our first week in Panama right on the beach. It was hot, but there was a consistent breeze from the ocean. A bit of rain everyday also would cool off our day and night. Our second night in Panama we met a traveler from Argentina who helped us find someone to share a container to ship our vehicle over to South America. This was weeks before we thought we would find someone to share a container with. We figured if it was going to workout this quickly that we should go with the flow. It was working out so smoothly and quickly that I started to second guess this process. For as long as we had planned on this trip we were ready for the biggest headache yet, shipping our vehicle across the Darien Gap. You drive your vehicle four hours from Panama City to Colon, Panama a massive port city, pray all of your paperwork is in order and kiss it goodbye. For a week we crossed our fingers that we would reunite with The Globe Trol in Cartagena, Colombia, South America.
So if we only had two weeks before leaving North America we should probably drive to end of the road, just to say “we did it!” It was a long and kind of boring drive to get to the end, long as in six hours of nada. Yaviza is a dinky town where the Pan-American Highway ends and turns into a scary jungle by foot. Very few people on this planet have attempted to reach Colombia this way and even fewer have lived to tell the story. We choose the path that was a road and a few have traveled for a picture next to a sign. After this tiny side trip we headed back to Panama City to start our paperwork to ship the van to Colombia, South America. We found a free spot on a road between a soccer field and the beginning of the Panama Canal on the Pacific Ocean side. At night from our van we could see the lights of large container ships heading towards the Miraflores Locks.
We hopped on a city tour bus for a ride around the city and to quickly see as many Panamanian places as possible. Top of our list was the Panama Canal Locks, the city and old town. I dedicate this portion of my trip to my dad and my brother…The Panama Canal. From the point where you see the barges lining up until the third set of locks releases the barge is about forty minuets.
You can see these tiny little locomotives pulling the barge by chain towards the first set of locks.
There’s two lanes here and the first orange ship is released beyond the third lock wall after forty mins and off to the Pacific Ocean.
This is the second ship we watch come through and it drops the water level as fast as eight minuets. This was a much large vessel than the first one we saw come through and I’d bet that the sides were within inches of these walls. So impressive.
At the tail end of this vessel was a stack of about 58 trailers of Chaquita Bananas. That’s a lot of bananas!
Looks pretty doesn’t it, worst traffic EVER. One mile took us almost three hours. It was extremely time consuming to get anywhere after 2pm and frustrating when we were trying to get our vehicle inspected, and millions of copies made to ship it over the Darien Gap.