Thursday, March 12, 2009

PANAMA PART 3 "At The Border....And Going South"

Sorry, I was away so long, I had to summon up some courage to continue.

This is a "pothole" compared to the way the road was that day.
That day, the road wasn't there.

This is a picture of a boat similar to the one we used, except for 3 things: (1) This boat has a top, (2) This boat is much larger, (3) This boat is fairly well-built

Now, before I get started, I posted two pictures above to kinda give ya an idea of the circumstances. The race begins..Maria and Jesse James Willie speed ahead down the road, while the overweight, ten pack of ciggies a day, 62 year old, "Loco Gringo Bozo" (that's me, in case you were wondering) chugs pitifully behind. At the little border office there are 2 Costa Rican Border Employees behind the glass drinking coffee and ogling the daily "La Teja". There are several fine daily newspapers in Costa Rica..La Teja is so popular because, lacking any talent for news reporting, it features several very exposing photos of a few beautiful Costa Rican women wearing little more than imagination. To see what atrocious and sensational photos this disgusting periodical is blatantly flaunting, I have to inspect it daily. Actually, inspect it several times to make sure I didn't miss anything.

But I digress. These "helpful" border agen
ts offer a broad, friendly smile as they tell us "Cerrado...Abierte manana, tal vez." "Closed...Open tomorrow...maybe". Maria and I stand on the road and gaze down at the inundated town of Sixaola, it's residences long since evacuated. We watch with rapt fascination as a bathtub-sized raft filled with roaches drifts past....evacuees from Sixaola's only hotel/brothel. I look at Maria. Maria looks at me. We both look at Willie with sheer terror and bewilderment. Willie looks back with amusement or boredom...can't really tell which. He, in very laid back fashion, utters two words..."Panama, mon".

"The Bridge From Hell"
One of the few Bridges I've known that you can
get a good view of the river, standing in the middle, looking down.

A closer look at the "Bridge from Hell"

The three of us nonchalantly stroll past the border station, it's two dedicated agents lost in their "Tejas". It's almost dark, so they probably wouldn't have noticed us anyway..or cared. And so we set out across the Verrrrrry Long Bridge that crosses the Sixaola River to reach Panama. I am not exaggerating one single bit when I say that crossing THAT BRIDGE is somewhat dangerous in broad daylight. Crossing it in the pouring rain at almost nightfall is suicidal and downright stupid. We crossed it in the pouring rain at almost nightfall. Reaching Panama, I kissed the ground....I would have kissed Maria, too, but it didn't look like she was in the mood. Actually, I've seen stuff washed up on the beach that looked more content than she looked at the moment. And more say that she looked like a drowned rat would have been complimentary.

The Panama border town was at least not underwater. I don't know if they have a hotel there, but I do know that the town is about the LAST place I'm going to spend the night. Willie, our current "Mighty Mouse" came to save the day. Or save the night, really, because it is now dark....and, needless to say, pouring rain. He found us a taxi to take us to Chaguinola...the staging town for the boat ride to...BOCAS DEL TORO!!!! The taxi is usually only 5 or 6 bucks. Willie smiled as I gave him a ten dollar tip and then told us that the driver was only going to charge us 50 bucks. FIFTY BUCKS??? FIFTY BUCKS??? CINQUENTA U.S. DOLLARS??

At this point, I'm going to have a cup of coffee and paint a bit. I'll continue this saga when I'm good and ready. Your buddy from Mesoamerica...James


  1. I really have to wonder why you didn't cancel the trip before it started - what a nightmare!!!! What happened to the paintings you packed to sell in Panama? Anyway, glad you got home safely.

  2. I love the pictures of the bridges. I taught English in Costa Rica for a while and traveled over probably some of the very same ones. They are horrifying. I have some pictures if you would like.