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  1. #101
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    Day 97 – The Guatemalan Milkman – 97.39 km
    Today in the morning I still have some time to visit the city as my bicycle would be ready at 2 PM, which is the fastest I could convince the guys to do it. I decided to visit the National Palace in the main square, which was built at an enormous cost to the country by a dictator some sixty years ago. The palace really is quite impressive architecturally. I found it kind of humorous when our tour guide said that one of the rooms is closed as they are repairing it from damage caused by a car bomb from several years ago.
    While leaving the palace I saw a man walking around with several goats. I thought, what the heck is he doing in the center of a city like this? My question was answered no more than a minute later when someone walked up and handed him a coin, he immediately pulled out a cup from out of nowhere, raised the goats leg, and began milking away. I was a little taken aback at first, and then nearly died laughing. It really gives the term fresh milk a new meaning!
    Finally on my way back to my hotel to pick up all my stuff so I could go get my bicycle I passed by a movie theater. Of course all the latest American movies were playing, usually dubbed in Spanish. The irony in all of this was that there were street vendors with stalls on the sidewalk directly in front of the theater selling pirated versions of these very same movies. Oh the irony!
    Checked out of my hotel I proceeded to once again catch a bus back to the expensive area of Guate. My guidebook warns against using these buses as there have been reports of robberies, rapes, and even murders on them, but I decided to take my chances. This is a city where there are very many poor people, but also quite a few well off people. Thus, there are of course services to cater to their every need. From gourmet European food to English books, specialized bicycle stores, and Mercedes-Benz cars, you can find it here. Fortunately in one such posh book store I was able to locate the guidebook to Central America that I had been looking for feverishly in all of Mexico. Up until this point I had someone scanning me pages from the book and e-mailing them to me!
    Sure enough my bicycle was ready at two o'clock as promised. They seem to have done a good job, let's just hope this gets me to Panama! I also had them tighten my crankarm which I was having problems with several days ago. Fortunately the expensive area of Guate is located on the outer area of the city, which made my trip out of this metropolis much easier. Even so, I had to be very careful as I was basically bicycling on a major freeway. The road leading out of Guate proved to be quite rough as it was a solid 12 kilometers of all up hill. All this time the city dragged on, although much less crowded now. I must say it was kind of funny when the boys from the bicycle shopped rolled by in a car and yelled encouragement at me!
    After all my suffering up that hill I was greatly rewarded with quite possibly the longest downhill I have ever ridden. The road was great and the hill just seemed to have no end! I counted the downhill as being a solid 24 kilometers with not one climb. However, as I have learned on this trip. Where there is a nice downhill pain and suffering are sure to follow. The road to where I am today was filled with cycles of up and down, and let me tell you that those downs go by much faster than the ups!
    One nice thing about Guatemala is that every so often along the road there is a tent setup where there is a person who provides free information for tourists. I stopped at one of these where the guy recommended a better route to San Salvador for me which is supposedly a little flatter. I'm really enjoying Guatemala; the people are always very friendly and helpful, and the roads are surprisingly fairly good!
    I am currently staying in a town called Jalpatagua not far from the border of El Salvador. I had intended to make it further today, but since I began bicycling at 2 o'clock it was simply not physically possible. Time, not lack of energy, was my limiting factor today. Tomorrow I will wake up bright and early and try to make it to San Salvador as fast as possible so I still have a few hours to see the city.
    Day 98 – Robbed in Broad Daylight – 139.31 km
    So I wasn't robbed at gun point or anything like that, but I might as well have been. I was staying fairly close to the border and thus made it here within an hour. Unfortunately things here spoiled my mood for the rest of the day. Upon leaving Guatemala I was forced to pay $50 in various fees for visas, departure taxes, as well as something else. This seemed very odd to me, but since I had not properly read up on all these fees I couldn't really argue.
    When I made it across the bridge to El Salvador I found out that I had been duped and that I shouldn't have had to pay anything. *******s! I had become a victim of the "Gringo fee" as I like to call it. At this point I was pretty pissed off. I strongly considered going back just to kick someone's ass. Even if I wouldn't get my money back, breaking someone's nose would make me feel a lot better. Upon careful consideration I decided it would be better to simply learn from my mistakes and not try anything dumb, as they would have probably chopped me to bits using their machetes.
    Although fuming mad and ready to give someone a bead down, I reluctantly moved on into El Salvador. One find I find very interesting about this country is that in 2001 they made the US dollar their official currency! It's kind of funny that a country totally adopts the currency of another. Although I must say this is very convenient for me as I don't have to think and recalculate prices for things in my head from one currency to another.
    In order to both shorten my route and spare my legs I did not take the main highway but rather the secondary highways. To my great surprise, these were very good with a wide shoulder. Eventually this highway led to the main highway leading to San Salvador very close to a city called Santa Ana, which is the second largest city in El Salvador. As I was only two kilometers off the road I figured it would be a shame to miss seeing it, and thus took a short detour into the city. Being strapped on time I did an express visit, going only to the main square to snap a few pictures and then moving along.
    The road to San Salvador was great! The shoulders were fairly wide, the asphalt in excellent condition, and the terrain fairly flat. Unfortunately my luck did not last all the way to the capitol. Roughly twenty kilometers before the city I began to climb, or more precisely crawl, up a simply monstrous hill of some ridiculously steep grade. To make matters worse this was a three lane major highway full of traffic with no shoulders. What this means is that if someone is honking feverishly at you, you better move your butt off the road or your getting run over, because he isn't stopping. As if things weren't bad enough I ran out of water going up the hill and had no place to resupply.
    After what seemed like an eternity and many stops I struggled to the top of that hill. I stumbled into a gas station where I drank a liter of refreshing and very unhealthy Pepsi like it was nobody's business. It was about twelve kilometers to the center from this point. Although this was all downhill, it was quite possibly the most stressful and terrifying twelve kilometers I have ever ridden in my life.
    The road into the capitol is a major three lane highway with a fairly small shoulder. You are blasting down this road at 40 kilometers per hour. There are very often on and off ramps as well as splitting of the road. Being as cars are traveling more than twice as fast, it is quite a challenge trying not to get run over. Finally off the major highway I made it onto a major road in the city which was also three lanes. Here shoulders are non-existant and thus you are basically stuck taking up a whole lane unless you want to get run off the road by a bus. However, taking up a whole lane is only acceptable if you are able to keep up with traffic. This basically entails pedaling as if your life depended on it as you have to keep up a speed of at least 40 kilometers per hour. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the twenty or so stoplights which stopped me along the way. Bicycling in even the largest of cities in the United States is a piece of cake compared with this. It is simply insane and there is no other way to word it.
    Since I made it to the city at around 4 o'clock I still had a few hours in order to see some of the sights. I conveniently chose a small hotel in the very center which I was able to secure for $8 including a bathroom. Unfortunately my room is located next to a nightclub, so I can not only hear music blasting loud but I can feel it too. I visited the cathedral, main square, several notable churches, as well as the local market. The local market was equally crazy with cars and swarms of people zigzagging between each other. The traffic in the city is absolutely hectic, it's almost a skill not getting killed down here. Here pedestrians yield to cars, not the other way around as in the United States.
    One thing I should mention is that San Salvador is a very, very dangerous city. For a population of 850,000 people there are 18,000 security guards employed here! We're not talking the kind of security guys we have back home who don't carry a gun or handcuffs; we're talking about guys with combat shotguns, M16s, ammunition belts, and bulletproof vests! These guys are found everywhere from parks to pharmacies, hardware stores, and post offices. Coincidently my hotel is conveniently located next to a gun shop for all my shooting needs. So thus another day rolls by. Today I have become a little poorer, but also a little wiser. Either way, I move only forward!
    Day 99 – The Town That Sleeps – 129.28 km
    Before checking out of my hotel this morning I had to make a quick stop to the post office to send a package full of old maps and souvenirs home. I managed to find the post office without problems as I had been there the prior day to buy stamps for some post cards. Sending a package was not cheap, but then again not terribly expensive. A box of dimensions around 3" x 5" x 8" and weighing 1.1 kilograms cost me $18 shipped to Canada. What I find really funny down here is that instead of printing off a sticker with the price or doing something more effective, they simply gave me $18 in stamps. Needless to say one entire side of my box was full of stamps, 17 of them to be precise.
    After having that taken care of I once again set off into the mayhem that is San Salvador. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as yesterday since the historical center is more on the outside of town. I had quite a scare today when my camera nearly became a casualty, a soldier wounded in action if you will. While riding on the shoulder of a busy road I hit a very rough stretch of bumps and holes. I was going fast and not able to avoid it as there were buses to my left. Since I do not keep my front bag zipped all the way up my camera jumped up a few times and right out of my bag! It fortunately got caught on my handlebars and did not fall to the ground. As carefully as possible I slowed to a halt and replaced it to it's right spot. Yikes! What a close call!
    The highways here are typically only two lanes with very wide shoulders of both sides of the road. Thus a system functions here that is similarly present in Poland where a two lane road is made into a three lane road. The center of the road is used as a passing lane and the other two lanes simply move over onto the shoulder. Things get quite interesting when you throw a bicycle on one side and people walking on the other into the mix. Although the roads here are in fairly good condition, the hills here are simply killer. Especially when the sun and heat hit you near midday, it really is a struggle to make it up these things. I had to stop several times to rest in the shade otherwise I probably would have fallen victim to heat stroke. Two flat tires today did not make my trip any easier. What's really bugging me is that although I was able to find the holes I wasn't able to pinpoint the cause.
    While struggling up one such ill there were fruit stands conveniently located on the shoulder. At one of these I tried "jugo de cana", which I am fairly certain is juice made from sugar cane, or at least some kind of cane. It was a brown and sweet beverage; definitely not the tastiest in the world but quite consumable. It is kind of funny the way these beverages are severed. All juices at these road side stalls are given simply in a small, clear plastic bag with a straw.
    Today I am staying in the third largest town in El Salvador, San Miguel. This place is really quite dull. There is a town square containing a cathedral as well as several other government buildings around it. Near by is a busy market which sells anything from souvenirs to tomatoes and telephones. I tried a typical El Salvadorian food today called "popusas", which is basically corn dough stuffed with cheese and as far as I was able to decipher, pork lard. Strange as it may sound, they are fairly good; similar to quesedillas in a way.
    I have managed to find a place to stay here for only $4. For $2 more I could have gotten a room with private bathroom, but I simply couldn't justify the cost. My dinner had cost me $2.25! My room is fairly large and very spacious, since there really isn't anything in it; it's furnishings include only a hammock, bed, and small table. During heavy rain the roof drips a little, which is quite inconvenient when using a laptop, thus I am currently hidden under bed covers. The place turned out to be a good choice however as in the evening they played a movie for free in the courtyard on a large projector, bonus! It was some older Hollywood action flick featuring Bruce Willis; luckily it was in English with Spanish subtitles, so I was actually able to understand something!
    This town is very odd in that it basically dies at 6 PM. After making a phone call back home I had intended to visit an internet cafe in order to update my website, however it simply wasn't possible! When the clock struck six every single business and establishment locked it's doors and shut down. All the people seemed to disappear and the town seemed nearly vacant! Disappointed I hurriedly scurried back to the safety of my hotel, as the last thing I wanted to do was walk around deserted streets at night. Tomorrow I move in Honduras, where I won't let myself be screwed over at the border again!
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  2. #102
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    Day 97 – The Guatemalan Milkman – 97.39 km
    Today in the morning I still have some time to visit the city as my bicycle would be ready at 2 PM, which is the fastest I could convince the guys to do it. I decided to visit the National Palace in the main square, which was built at an enormous cost to the country by a dictator some sixty years ago. The palace really is quite impressive architecturally. I found it kind of humorous when our tour guide said that one of the rooms is closed as they are repairing it from damage caused by a car bomb from several years ago.

    While leaving the palace I saw a man walking around with several goats. I thought, what the heck is he doing in the center of a city like this? My question was answered no more than a minute later when someone walked up and handed him a coin, he immediately pulled out a cup from out of nowhere, raised the goats leg, and began milking away. I was a little taken aback at first, and then nearly died laughing. It really gives the term fresh milk a new meaning!

    Finally on my way back to my hotel to pick up all my stuff so I could go get my bicycle I passed by a movie theater. Of course all the latest American movies were playing, usually dubbed in Spanish. The irony in all of this was that there were street vendors with stalls on the sidewalk directly in front of the theater selling pirated versions of these very same movies. Oh the irony!

    Checked out of my hotel I proceeded to once again catch a bus back to the expensive area of Guate. My guidebook warns against using these buses as there have been reports of robberies, rapes, and even murders on them, but I decided to take my chances. This is a city where there are very many poor people, but also quite a few well off people. Thus, there are of course services to cater to their every need. From gourmet European food to English books, specialized bicycle stores, and Mercedes-Benz cars, you can find it here. Fortunately in one such posh book store I was able to locate the guidebook to Central America that I had been looking for feverishly in all of Mexico. Up until this point I had someone scanning me pages from the book and e-mailing them to me!

    Sure enough my bicycle was ready at two o'clock as promised. They seem to have done a good job, let's just hope this gets me to Panama! I also had them tighten my crankarm which I was having problems with several days ago. Fortunately the expensive area of Guate is located on the outer area of the city, which made my trip out of this metropolis much easier. Even so, I had to be very careful as I was basically bicycling on a major freeway. The road leading out of Guate proved to be quite rough as it was a solid 12 kilometers of all up hill. All this time the city dragged on, although much less crowded now. I must say it was kind of funny when the boys from the bicycle shopped rolled by in a car and yelled encouragement at me!

    After all my suffering up that hill I was greatly rewarded with quite possibly the longest downhill I have ever ridden. The road was great and the hill just seemed to have no end! I counted the downhill as being a solid 24 kilometers with not one climb. However, as I have learned on this trip. Where there is a nice downhill pain and suffering are sure to follow. The road to where I am today was filled with cycles of up and down, and let me tell you that those downs go by much faster than the ups!

    One nice thing about Guatemala is that every so often along the road there is a tent setup where there is a person who provides free information for tourists. I stopped at one of these where the guy recommended a better route to San Salvador for me which is supposedly a little flatter. I'm really enjoying Guatemala; the people are always very friendly and helpful, and the roads are surprisingly fairly good!

    I am currently staying in a town called Jalpatagua not far from the border of El Salvador. I had intended to make it further today, but since I began bicycling at 2 o'clock it was simply not physically possible. Time, not lack of energy, was my limiting factor today. Tomorrow I will wake up bright and early and try to make it to San Salvador as fast as possible so I still have a few hours to see the city.

    Day 98 – Robbed in Broad Daylight – 139.31 km
    So I wasn't robbed at gun point or anything like that, but I might as well have been. I was staying fairly close to the border and thus made it here within an hour. Unfortunately things here spoiled my mood for the rest of the day. Upon leaving Guatemala I was forced to pay $50 in various fees for visas, departure taxes, as well as something else. This seemed very odd to me, but since I had not properly read up on all these fees I couldn't really argue.

    When I made it across the bridge to El Salvador I found out that I had been duped and that I shouldn't have had to pay anything. *******s! I had become a victim of the “Gringo fee” as I like to call it. At this point I was pretty pissed off. I strongly considered going back just to kick someone's ass. Even if I wouldn't get my money back, breaking someone's nose would make me feel a lot better. Upon careful consideration I decided it would be better to simply learn from my mistakes and not try anything dumb, as they would have probably chopped me to bits using their machetes.

    Although fuming mad and ready to give someone a bead down, I reluctantly moved on into El Salvador. One find I find very interesting about this country is that in 2001 they made the US dollar their official currency! It's kind of funny that a country totally adopts the currency of another. Although I must say this is very convenient for me as I don't have to think and recalculate prices for things in my head from one currency to another.

    In order to both shorten my route and spare my legs I did not take the main highway but rather the secondary highways. To my great surprise, these were very good with a wide shoulder. Eventually this highway led to the main highway leading to San Salvador very close to a city called Santa Ana, which is the second largest city in El Salvador. As I was only two kilometers off the road I figured it would be a shame to miss seeing it, and thus took a short detour into the city. Being strapped on time I did an express visit, going only to the main square to snap a few pictures and then moving along.

    The road to San Salvador was great! The shoulders were fairly wide, the asphalt in excellent condition, and the terrain fairly flat. Unfortunately my luck did not last all the way to the capitol. Roughly twenty kilometers before the city I began to climb, or more precisely crawl, up a simply monstrous hill of some ridiculously steep grade. To make matters worse this was a three lane major highway full of traffic with no shoulders. What this means is that if someone is honking feverishly at you, you better move your butt off the road or your getting run over, because he isn't stopping. As if things weren't bad enough I ran out of water going up the hill and had no place to resupply.

    After what seemed like an eternity and many stops I struggled to the top of that hill. I stumbled into a gas station where I drank a liter of refreshing and very unhealthy Pepsi like it was nobody's business. It was about twelve kilometers to the center from this point. Although this was all downhill, it was quite possibly the most stressful and terrifying twelve kilometers I have ever ridden in my life.

    The road into the capitol is a major three lane highway with a fairly small shoulder. You are blasting down this road at 40 kilometers per hour. There are very often on and off ramps as well as splitting of the road. Being as cars are traveling more than twice as fast, it is quite a challenge trying not to get run over. Finally off the major highway I made it onto a major road in the city which was also three lanes. Here shoulders are non-existant and thus you are basically stuck taking up a whole lane unless you want to get run off the road by a bus. However, taking up a whole lane is only acceptable if you are able to keep up with traffic. This basically entails pedaling as if your life depended on it as you have to keep up a speed of at least 40 kilometers per hour. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the twenty or so stoplights which stopped me along the way. Bicycling in even the largest of cities in the United States is a piece of cake compared with this. It is simply insane and there is no other way to word it.

    Since I made it to the city at around 4 o'clock I still had a few hours in order to see some of the sights. I conveniently chose a small hotel in the very center which I was able to secure for $8 including a bathroom. Unfortunately my room is located next to a nightclub, so I can not only hear music blasting loud but I can feel it too. I visited the cathedral, main square, several notable churches, as well as the local market. The local market was equally crazy with cars and swarms of people zigzagging between each other. The traffic in the city is absolutely hectic, it's almost a skill not getting killed down here. Here pedestrians yield to cars, not the other way around as in the United States.

    One thing I should mention is that San Salvador is a very, very dangerous city. For a population of 850,000 people there are 18,000 security guards employed here! We're not talking the kind of security guys we have back home who don't carry a gun or handcuffs; we're talking about guys with combat shotguns, M16s, ammunition belts, and bulletproof vests! These guys are found everywhere from parks to pharmacies, hardware stores, and post offices. Coincidently my hotel is conveniently located next to a gun shop for all my shooting needs. So thus another day rolls by. Today I have become a little poorer, but also a little wiser. Either way, I move only forward!

    Day 99 – The Town That Sleeps – 129.28 km
    Before checking out of my hotel this morning I had to make a quick stop to the post office to send a package full of old maps and souvenirs home. I managed to find the post office without problems as I had been there the prior day to buy stamps for some post cards. Sending a package was not cheap, but then again not terribly expensive. A box of dimensions around 3” x 5” x 8” and weighing 1.1 kilograms cost me $18 shipped to Canada. What I find really funny down here is that instead of printing off a sticker with the price or doing something more effective, they simply gave me $18 in stamps. Needless to say one entire side of my box was full of stamps, 17 of them to be precise.

    After having that taken care of I once again set off into the mayhem that is San Salvador. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as yesterday since the historical center is more on the outside of town. I had quite a scare today when my camera nearly became a casualty, a soldier wounded in action if you will. While riding on the shoulder of a busy road I hit a very rough stretch of bumps and holes. I was going fast and not able to avoid it as there were buses to my left. Since I do not keep my front bag zipped all the way up my camera jumped up a few times and right out of my bag! It fortunately got caught on my handlebars and did not fall to the ground. As carefully as possible I slowed to a halt and replaced it to it's right spot. Yikes! What a close call!

    The highways here are typically only two lanes with very wide shoulders of both sides of the road. Thus a system functions here that is similarly present in Poland where a two lane road is made into a three lane road. The center of the road is used as a passing lane and the other two lanes simply move over onto the shoulder. Things get quite interesting when you throw a bicycle on one side and people walking on the other into the mix. Although the roads here are in fairly good condition, the hills here are simply killer. Especially when the sun and heat hit you near midday, it really is a struggle to make it up these things. I had to stop several times to rest in the shade otherwise I probably would have fallen victim to heat stroke. Two flat tires today did not make my trip any easier. What's really bugging me is that although I was able to find the holes I wasn't able to pinpoint the cause.

    While struggling up one such ill there were fruit stands conveniently located on the shoulder. At one of these I tried “jugo de cana”, which I am fairly certain is juice made from sugar cane, or at least some kind of cane. It was a brown and sweet beverage; definitely not the tastiest in the world but quite consumable. It is kind of funny the way these beverages are severed. All juices at these road side stalls are given simply in a small, clear plastic bag with a straw.

    Today I am staying in the third largest town in El Salvador, San Miguel. This place is really quite dull. There is a town square containing a cathedral as well as several other government buildings around it. Near by is a busy market which sells anything from souvenirs to tomatoes and telephones. I tried a typical El Salvadorian food today called “popusas”, which is basically corn dough stuffed with cheese and as far as I was able to decipher, pork lard. Strange as it may sound, they are fairly good; similar to quesedillas in a way.

    I have managed to find a place to stay here for only $4. For $2 more I could have gotten a room with private bathroom, but I simply couldn't justify the cost. My dinner had cost me $2.25! My room is fairly large and very spacious, since there really isn't anything in it; it's furnishings include only a hammock, bed, and small table. During heavy rain the roof drips a little, which is quite inconvenient when using a laptop, thus I am currently hidden under bed covers. The place turned out to be a good choice however as in the evening they played a movie for free in the courtyard on a large projector, bonus! It was some older Hollywood action flick featuring Bruce Willis; luckily it was in English with Spanish subtitles, so I was actually able to understand something!

    This town is very odd in that it basically dies at 6 PM. After making a phone call back home I had intended to visit an internet cafe in order to update my website, however it simply wasn't possible! When the clock struck six every single business and establishment locked it's doors and shut down. All the people seemed to disappear and the town seemed nearly vacant! Disappointed I hurriedly scurried back to the safety of my hotel, as the last thing I wanted to do was walk around deserted streets at night. Tomorrow I move in Honduras, where I won't let myself be screwed over at the border again!
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  3. #103
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    Day 100 – Unwelcome Welcome – 147.65 km
    One hundred days sure does go by quite quick. It has been exactly one hundred days and 11,097 long kilometers since I set out from fateful highway out of Anchorage, but it feels just like if it were yesterday.

    Before heading out of San Miguel today in the morning I opted to visit an internet cafe, as it seems that in these areas it is not possible to visit them in the evenings. The road from San Miguel to the border was around 50 kilometers, which went by quite quick. At the border I was of course harassed by money changers, who I very rudely told to leave me alone. These guys truly are the scum of the earth. They will try to cheat you in any way possible, either by giving you a very bad exchange rate or switching bills on you. After paying $3 for a tourist card I was on my way into Honduras.

    Although the countries landscapes are similar, the people in these two countries are vastly different. From what I have seen today, the people in Honduras are actually quite rude, perhaps only to tourists. You don't see this so much from older people, but it is vividly apparent in the younger generations, which obviously reflect the true views of the older generation. Many times I heard rude comments from the mouths of youngsters as well as got quite dirty looks. Many a time did I see a child barely old enough to speak pointing at me and yelling “Gringo! Gringo!”, after which their parents quickly shushed them up. Even when saying hello to people the manner in which they respond is strange, as if they force a reply.

    I was whistled at and had something yelled at me countless times today. I'm not sure if these people just wanted me to wave to them, because when I did they kept yelling something which I couldn't understand. Therefore, after some time I just completely ignored everyone who yelled something at me from the side of the road. Have they never seen a white guy on a bicycle before? Perhaps they think I'm a circus monkey which waves my hands feverishly and throws dollar bills at people? Either way, it's the most annoying thing. I can't seem to pinpoint it, but there is something very strange about the people here, and I don't really like it.

    I figured that since I will only be spending a day in Honduras I could get away without changing any of my money for theirs and using only US dollars. I was right, to an extent. When I stopped at a gas station I asked if I could pay in dollars, to which they told me yes. Therefore I grabbed an ice cream and a liter of juice. After converting the price to dollars it came out to $2.53. When I started to pull out change the lady behind the counter shook her head and said they don't take change, and I would have to pay $3. Completely absurd! I put back the ice cream and took only the juice, since I was completely dehydrated. The juice cost 18 lempiras, which with a good exchange rate is roughly $0.90. Obviously I didn't get that privilege here and was asked to pay $1.11. The lady told me I would have to pay $2! You have got to be kidding me! I considered paying for such a small sum with my Visa, but I instead simply stormed out of the store muttering curses under my breath.

    I decided to side track into a nearby city which supposedly had two banks. Of course the only paved road in the city was the main one, with everything else being either dirt or cobblestone. It turned out that only one bank had an ATM, which I managed to find with relative ease. Unfortunately, the ATM was not functional, which was verified by three other people who tried to use their cards. Being as I had US dollars I decided to change some for their currency, which proved to be quite difficult as for some odd reason the bank stops exchanging currency after 3 PM. I had to resort to exchanging money with a 'private institution', which is technically illegal although not enforced. I actually didn't know this and asked a police officer where I might find such a place, and he actually pointed me in the right place! There was of course no sign of any kind, simply a small door behind which was a really big door with a small window. I managed to get an excellent exchange rate of 18.90 lempiras for one US dollar; in comparison the evil money changers at the border offered me only 17!

    When passing through Choluteca, the second largest city in Honduras, I decided to visit the post office in order to buy some stamps for post cards. Unfortunately, the main post office in the second largest city in the country was completely out of stamps. How does that happen? Unfortunately I won't be able to send any post cards from here as there are no more post offices in the cities I will be passing though. Choluteca itself is very uninteresting with absolutely nothing to visit.

    I am currently staying in a small hotel combined with restaurant on the outskirts of some very small town which I don't even know the name of past Choluteca. I managed to get a room for $5. Although my room doesn't have a private bathroom it is equipped with a fan as well as television. The downside is that the television is black and white and gets terrible reception on only one channel. The toilet is flushed using the bucket method. That is to say: you do your business, fill a big bucket full of water, pour it in to flush. Although there is a shower, it is not connected to a water pipe for some odd reason. Thus showering is also performed using a bucket method, although this time the bucket is smaller for convenience sake. On a positive note at least the food was pretty good.

    Thus my first impressions of Honduras are negative. I am actually quite happy that I won't be spending much time here. Tomorrow I push onward into Nicaragua, which is the poorest country and most likely most dangerous country that I will encounter on this trip.

    Day 101 – Beauty Amongst Poverty - 137.81 km
    In the morning I woke up bright and early, anxious to get out of this dreadful country. I was surprised to find a bicycle path along the road while going through one town. Granted that it was only a few short kilometers long and in terrible condition, but it was there! Further along the way I was stopped and asked a few questions at a police checkpoint, where the police were surprisingly very friendly. Perhaps it was because they knew I was Canadian, because the first question they asked me was if I was American. Apart from that, I received the same treatment as yesterday from the general population. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that not everyone acts this way, but the amount of this behavior you see is staggering. No offense if your originally from the Honduras, but the people in your country have some serious issues. In the twenty something counties I have visited in all my worldly travels, I rank Honduras last amongst them. I sincerely hope I don't ever visit here again.

    The border crossing was fairly simple. One window was for leaving Honduras, the other window was for entering Nicaragua. Fees for both of these cost me $10, and now I have a bunch of papers in my passport. I crossed over a bridge and I was in the next country of my trip, Nicaragua. Wow, what a difference! Where the sign that said “Welcome to Nicaragua” stood, the road immediately turned to well, chaos. I thought the roads in the Yukon were bad, they're even worse here! I guess it's to be expected as Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere after Haiti. Driving here is quite an art form as it must be preformed in zigzags in order to avoid destroying one's car. Bicycling works in much of the same way.

    Supposedly Nicaragua is one of Central America's safest countries, but I don't buy it. While traveling along one of these more isolated roads children would constantly come to the road side begging for coins. I must say I was quite alarmed and shocked when I saw a child who looked not older than eight waving around a pistol. Back home kids play with toy guns, here they wave around the real thing.

    I moved fairly quickly along the terrain which consists of rolling green hills, with large mountains visible in the far off distance. Apart from severe poverty and several small villages, there wasn't much along the road. I really did feel uneasy on some of the deserted stretches, but fortunately I made it through without issue. I made my way directly to the second largest city in Nicaragua, and supposedly also one of the nicest, Leon.

    I made it to Leon with several hours to spare in order to view the city. I located a pleasant hotel, at which I paid $5.50 for a room. I must say that today's conditions are much better than yesterdays as I have a sink, mirror, toilet, and shower. This time they aren't manually operated but rather connected to water! The city of Leon is an old Spanish colonial town and quite simply a very pleasant place. The architecture of many of the old buildings here is quite beautiful, especially that of the churches. The main town square is overlooked on by a simply stunning cathedral and very lively, containing many food vendors as well as people.

    All in all Leon is a very pleasant town in which it's simply relaxing to walk around. Tomorrow I push on further into Nicaragua, where I will attempt to avoid the capitol by taking a highway which runs by it. Supposedly it is not very interesting, but there are other cities nearby which are quite nice.

    Day 102 – Crash and Burn! - 97 km
    I left Leon bright and early, anxious to make it as far as possible. I took a new road which according my outdated map was gravel in the past. The riding was easy on new pavement amongst rolling green farmlands. I passed by the ruins of Old Leon, which is basically the site of the old city of Leon which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The ruins are now being uncovered and are a mini Pompei of sorts. As much as I wanted to go visit this, it was 15 kilometers off the road across a cobblestone path, which would have taken me an hour in each direction.

    This highway unfortunately led me straight into the capitol city of Nicaragua, Managua, which I had hoped to avoid. However, being so close I figured it would be a shame not to go see it. The city was largely damaged by earthquakes several years ago at which point the old city was totally destroyed. I visited the 'monumental area' which holds the ruins of the old cathedral, the large plaza at which Pope John Paul II spoke here, as well as several other government buildings. This section of town is fairly devoid of life and dangerous even in the day, so I decided not to spend much time here.

    On the way out from this area I saw a sight which really surprised me. I rode by a park which had basically been turned into a squatter camp. Hundreds of people had set up temporary homes here in shacks built of plastic and wooden sticks. It was really, really bad. If there is a definition of total ghetto, this was it. I wanted more than anything to get a picture of this sight, but I was afraid I would get chopped to bits by machetes should I stop and try.

    I moved through the city with little difficulty, as traffic was not as bad as in other large cities. On the main road out of Managua to nearby Masaya I had a small problem, let me rephrase that, a large problem. The road was a busy three lane road, although it contained a shoulder. At one point along this shoulder there was a restaurant on the side of the road, at which there were parking places right near the road. As I was heading straight along the shoulder, a car was turning right into a parking spot. I thought I could make it through in time, but unfortunately he turned right and hit me in the front wheel. I fell off my bike, went over the hood, and into another parked car. I quickly got up to see my front rim totaled. Only after a few minutes did I noticed that my knee was bleeding. My first crash with a car, and my third accident of the trip. Miraculously the only injuries I sustained were a few minor scrapes and bruises.

    It was an unfortunate accident in which both parties were partially to blame. Some police drove by and stopped to see what was going on, and the whole restaurant looked on. Nothing came of it and of course no one would be reimbursing me for my rim. Fortunately the people who hit me were very nice people from Germany who had moved here many, many years ago. They offered to give me a ride anywhere that I would like to go in the city, which was very nice of them. The only problem was that since today was Sunday all the bicycle shops were closed. I asked them to drive me to the center which was nearly 10 kilometers away, but they had no problems.

    Here I managed to find a decent place to stay for $5, complete with bathroom and television with cable TV. I figured the best thing to do would be to first find an internet cafe where I could find located some bicycle shop here. The first one I went to had no internet, the second was closed. While going to the third and furthest I received the greatest piece of luck of my entire trip. I saw a group of cyclists with good bicycle sitting around on a curb and asked them where I could find a new wheel. They told me right here!

    It turns out there is a bicycle club a mere two blocks from my hotel! It was of course closed, but the side entrance was open and the owner as well as some cyclists were hanging around. The owner told me that although he was closed, but after hearing my story he told me he would gladly fix my rim today. He didn't have any new rims, but had a good secondhand one in stock. For this rim and all the labor to fix it, which took over an hour and a half, he charged me only $27! I stayed around the whole time to learn how to do this myself and all the while chatted with the owner. I must say my Spanish has improved immensely since Tijuana! He told me that the only two places in the city where I could find a rim like this was right here and only one other small bicycle shop. I am so damn lucky to have found this place it's crazy!

    With my wheel fixed and being in tremendously great spirits I decided it was time to celebrate and work off the soreness I was experiencing. I head off to a very nice Italian restaurant mentioned in my guidebook which was only seven blocks away from my hotel. After three blocks a police officer on a bicycle pulled up beside me and told me I was crazy to be walking around here alone, even though it was the middle of the day! He escorted me to the main street and told me to be sure to take a taxi back to my hotel, as I'm almost guaranteed to get mugged around here!

    It turns out that this Italian place was out of business, so I headed off to the nearest nearby place which was open, a very touristy mall. Even though this country may be poor, it has a very elegant looking four floor mall. I grabbed some much craved Chinese food as well as some ice cream to kill pain. Deciding to really spoil myself I went to go watch a movie at the cinema. For $2 I got a ticket to see “The Perfect Crime”, which was actually a really cool movie.

    Just as advised, I took a taxi back to my hotel. Although it was only seven blocks the lowest price I could negotiate was $1.50, which is very expensive. A two hour bus ride between cities 100 kilometers apart costs that much! But unless you want to get mugged, you really don't have any other choice. Back at my hotel I met some other fellow travelers in the lounge; two from Toronto and two from the United States. After some conversation we headed over to a restaurant across the street where we sampled some fine Nicaraguan brew. Before I knew it, it was 11:30 PM! Although a painful and costly day, today actually ended up on a very positive note!
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  4. #104
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    Day 103 – Short and Sweet – 47.18 km
    In the morning I decided to have breakfast at my hotel. Being extra hungry I ordered not one, but two breakfasts! I ordered a typical Nicaraguan breakfast as well as cereal. Although I really shouldn't drink milk from here, I just couldn't resist. Those Corn Flakes were so deliciously sinful that it's ridiculous! While reading the morning paper I had quite a good laugh. It turns out that during some parade the day prior a few guys started going at it with machetes. The highlight of the story was that one guy tossed a machete at another. Now, what I found truly hilarious was that they somehow managed to get a picture of the machete while it's flying through the air at the other guy! It's like they knew it was going to happen and were just waiting for the right moment to snap a photo.

    Being as I nearly got killed by a car yesterday I decided that today I would take it easy and see some of the cool cities that are along the way here. In the morning I must say that I experienced a little dejavu as I had to bicycle the same ten kilometer stretch that I did yesterday leading up to the area I had my accident. Needless to say I was especially careful in the area where I had my accident, although now it was harmless since the restaurant was closed.

    With good time and no near death experiences I had it to the city of Masaya, which is the best place in all of Nicaragua to find any arts and crafts you may need. I sidetracked into the city to seek around and also visited the market here. Maneuvering here with a loaded up between stalls and walking people was no easy task! But alas it was possible, and I even managed to buy two small paintings in the process!

    From Masaya I headed with breakneck speed to Granada, which is the most visited and touristy city in all of Nicaragua. On my way in I was a victim of a vicious rainstorm, but I've grown quite used to those. In Granada I decided to pick out a nicer place to stay as they offered free wireless internet. I admit that at $15 a night the price is steep as the place isn't that nice, but this is a very touristy city after all and thus the most expensive in Nicaragua.

    I must say that I was surprised when the power went out, and stayed out. It turns out that Nicaragua doesn't have enough fuel to power the whole country, and thus different cities are cut off at different times. That means that power is shut off to the entire city here for roughly four hours between two and six. Supposedly two weeks ago it was different and happened in the middle of the night. How crazy is that? Needless to say you could see many portable generators parked out front of restaurants and internet cafes alike.

    Being as I had plenty of time to spare I made sure to thoroughly explore the city. Granada is a classical colonial town set upon a lake and is really quite beautiful. Although many of the buildings are in bad condition and falling apart, the architecture is still something to behold. The streets look as if they belong in a fairy tale as each building is painted a different very bright color.

    While visiting one church I began to chat with a man who did some work around the place. I told him about my trip, and how I was a Polish person living in Canada. When he found out I was Polish he told me that he had traveled there many, many years ago. Needless to say, a one dollar donation to the church later I had a private tour up to the church bell tower! I admit that it was a fairly scary winding 25 meter staircase to the top, but the view made it all worth it. It is quite possibly the best dollar that I have spent on this entire trip!

    I am currently back in my hotel where I am making the most of my wireless connection to the world. Granada is really a beautiful city, but the fact that it is so touristy ruins it's mystical aurora a bit. Either way I'm very glad that I made today shorter and decided to stop here for it was well worth it!

    Day 104 – The Day I Became a Millionaire - 86.23 km
    Although my hotel did cost me an arm and a leg, they did at least serve a free breakfast. Unfortunately this breakfast was just enough to keep a normal person from starving, let alone a cyclist whose metabolism is racing. Needless to say after breakfast I filled myself up with a loaf of bread.

    While cycling out of Granada I thought for a second that I had been caught in the middle of a shoot out, or that someone was shooting at me. While riding I heard a very loud bang like a gunshot, and I'm sure that half the street ducked, me included. It turned out to be much less interesting than that. I had experienced my first 'blow out' of the trip. That is to say, my rear inner tube basically exploded and blew my tire off my wheel. As I was going fairly slowly on these city streets I managed to stop without killing myself or causing any damage to my wheel. Being as I can now change a flat tire with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back, I fixed the problem and was quickly on my way.

    The road to Rivas was fairly uninteresting. Apart from green rolling hills through farmland my only highlight was riding in zigzags on roads in worse condition than even in the Yukon. Cycling down here is a bit like playing Russian roulette. If you miss and ride into a big hole, you break your wheel as well as possibly yourself. Then there is always the risk of getting hit by a car which is likewise weaving around these holes.

    For the first time today I had to unfortunately take a bus for part of my route. The road from Rivas to the Costa Rican border is supposedly a danger zone for cyclists for some reason. In the last month three cyclists have been robbed at gunpoint on this stretch of road, and since I haven't seen many traveling cyclists down here my odds didn't look too good. In fact, one of the people that had been robbed sent me an e-mail herself to warm me about this section. I thought about paying the police to follow me in a car or perhaps to even buy a handgun to be able to defend myself. In the end I decided that this was not worth the either the hassle or the risk and just decided to take a bus. I figure that I can forgive myself since I bussed a whole 24 kilometers, whereas Panama City is actually 700 kilometers further than I thought! It's not like I'm including this distance in what I've ridden anyway.

    At the Costa Rican border someone of course tried to screw me out of money, it wouldn't be a Central American border if someone didn't! Some people on the Nicaraguan side were insisting that I need some special form to get into Costa Rica. I took one of these forms from the guy, but when he told me it cost $5, I laughed at him and threw it back at him. He looked taken aback and insisted that I needed it, and four other guys holding the same forms agreed. I rudely told them off, and rightly so, for on the Costa Rican side of the border this form was free! Getting across was otherwise hassle free and cost me a total of $3 in fees for paperwork.

    The currency here in Costa Rica is called the 'Colone'. The funny thing about it is that one US dollar is worth 520 Colones. It's kind of odd when someone tells you that a bottle of Coca-Cola costs 300. On the other hand it is kind of neat to see your bank balance jump into the millions overnight!

    After being in Costa Rica no longer than five minutes it began to pour. Being as I have become very used to bicycling in the rain this was no big deal. I unfortunately did not like the fact that I had to climb a huge hill after becoming so adjusted to the flat rolling hills of Nicaragua. To complicate the matter I received the first flat tire of my trip in my front wheel, which was caused by a puncture of some sort. Since there was nothing close by I had no option but to change this flat in the rain, which is never a pleasant thing to do.

    I am currently staying in the town of La Cruz, roughly 20 kilometers from the border. Although the town has a bank, supermarket, as well as a variety of stores, it is really quite a dull place. I intended to make it much further today but unfortunately the bus ride as well as the border crossing ate up quite a bit of my time. No matter, Panama isn't going anywhere. But on the other hand is, my flight is, and I sure as heck intend to be on it when it does!

    Day 105 – The Map That Did Not Lie – 181.40 km
    I woke up bright and early today, managing to make it out of my hotel before 7 o'clock. Quite impressive I must say considering that I am usually quite lazy in the mornings. About 50 meters from my hotel was another hotel which was now abandoned. This place had an absolutely phenomenal view of the surrounding terrain as well as the ocean in the far off distance. While taking a photo a police officer walked up near me, how he saw me I had no idea. I asked him if it was prohibited to enter here, to which he replied no, he was simply making sure I was safe as this is supposedly a dangerous area! I found this kind of odd since this was a neat looking town of no more than 10,000 people.

    The terrain today varied from rolling pastures to quite brutal hills. Either way I managed to make excellent time. I took a side trip into the city of Liberia, which proved to be a total waste of time. Although the landscapes here are absolutely incredible, the towns are terribly dull. They lack any sort of unique character that made towns in other Central American countries so enjoyable. By 1 o'clock in the afternoon I had made it to the town of Canas, 102 kilometers away from what I started.

    Although I could have technically stopped here for the night, there was no way I was going to stop cycling at only 1 o'clock! I decided to push onward even though my map showed that there was no towns of any sort for the next 79 kilometers. On the way out of the city I met a German cyclist who was bicycling all over Costa Rica. He told me that last year he flew out to Kenya to bicycle around there! I was very surprised when he told me that the roads were in great condition and that it was very safe. I would love to bicycle from Cairo to Cape Town one day; perhaps in the future!

    Alas, my map proved to be correct for once. The only things I passed along the way were very small towns and villages, containing perhaps a small store or a few restaurants. Being as Costa Rica is a very touristy place, I figured there had to be some sort of lodging around here, but I proved to be very wrong. I don't understand why these restaurant owners don't have a room or two available for rent. Unfortunately this unexpected extra mileage really killed me. I had counted on the fact that I would be able to find something earlier and thus wasn't too concerned about time. Before I knew it, it was becoming dark. I had to bicycle as fast as my legs could make me go, no easy feat in rain and sharp hills. It was a race against the clock.

    I had no choice to to stay in the first available hotel I could find, as bicycling in the dark here is basically a death wish. Although I once did have a rear tail light, it became one of the many items that have fallen victim to this expedition. I managed to find a place to stay in the small town of Barranca. The anything but luxurious Hotel Frank charges $10 a night for a room equipped with bathroom and television. The television is black and white and does not get reception on any channel, and I'm afraid that if I enter my bathroom some foreign bacteria will eat me alive. Additionally, my room smells kind of funny.

    I have decided tomorrow to deviate off my intended route through the center of the country and instead opted to take a much less traveled route along the coast. The downside to this road is that I will have to endure 40 kilometers of gravel and partially paved road. I should also mention that while in a restaurant today I saw some warning of a tsunami or hurricane for Central America, I couldn't really understand it as the warning flew by so fast. I sure hope I don't get caught in one of those, but if I do, at least I know how to swim!

    Day 106 – The Not So Flat Coast – 129.76 km
    Instead of going through Costa Rica's crazy capitol city of San Jose I opted instead to take a different route. I decided to take a coastal route which isn't exactly classified as a major highway. I figured this would be a more appropriate and interesting route as the name Costa Rica literally translates to rich coast! I thought that today my life would be simple since I would be going to the coast, this turned out to be quite wrong. I didn't think that there would be a ridiculously large hill that I would have to crawl over.

    I was surprised to see a bicycle path next to the main road down here. The last one of these I saw was in Mexico and only lasted a few kilometers. This one wasn't much better, but it was ridable so I can't complain. After what seemed like an eternity of climbing I began to descend to the town of Jaco. The views were of course magnificent, but my legs claim that they weren't worth it! The town of Jaco is a nice beach town backed by mountains. Although a nice place, it is far too touristy for me, I prefer the off the beaten path places.

    Going out of Jaco I thought I would have a heart attack. According to my Lonely Planet book it should have been only 64 kilometers from here to the town of Quespos. The first road sign that I saw told me it was 106 kilometers! To my great relief there was a sign two kilometers later which said 63 kilometers, but then I became once again confused when after ten kilometers there was a sign which said 61 kilometers. I really don't know who measures the road distances out here, but I think they need to find a new job! Along the way there were several bridges which I thought that surely I was going to get killed on. These bridges are wide enough for only one lane of traffic, and the bottom is composed of metal bars laid down horizontally. Things get quite scary when a bunch of these bars are loose, and others are simply missing! To make matters even worse, there really aren't any safety rails and a nice big drop off into a river. Crossing one of these bridges I had to actually get of my bicycle and carry it across a certain section where five bars were missing, which is a hole of nearly a foot wide across the whole bridge! Simply ridiculous I tell you.

    I made it to the town of Quespos, which is located near the famous Manuel Antonio national park. I had heard from several people that this park was very nice, and being so close it would be a shame to miss it. Since it was only seven kilometers from this town to the small village near the park, I opted to head over there in order to have less problems with my bicycle. What a mistake taking that road was. What an absolutely, horrendously brutal road. Although paved and in good condition, we are talking 15 to 20% grades. Just killer, possibly even worse than in British Columbia! After nearly dying I stopped at the top of a hill, where I conveniently managed to find a hostel. It was still three kilometers to the park, but the last thing I wanted to do was bicycle down and have to work my way back up tomorrow! A hostel here cost me $9 for a night, which isn't such a terrible price. A room here would cost me at least $20 if not more as this is a very touristy place. This choice ended up working out for me since this place was very nice and I ended up having a room all to myself!

    The road from the town of Quespos to the park is littered with various hotels, stores, and restaurants. There is one particularly interesting restaurant called “El Avion”. The name says it all, the restaurant consists of a large plane covered by a roof and perched on the edge of a cliff. The plane is actually an American plane which was shot down over Nicaragua while delivering arms, and was thus at the center of one of the largest scandals of the 80s. It is quite possibly one of the coolest restaurants I've ever seen. Inside the plane is a bar, and all around the plane are tables setup for a restaurant. The kitchen is located below and food is sent up using an elevator which is constructed out of another plane's fuselage. On the downside, the prices are simply ludicrous. There is no way I'm going to pay over $6 for a sandwich in Costa Rica.

    Tomorrow I plan on checking out this famous park in the morning and pushing on forward ever closer to Panama!
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  5. #105
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    Day 107 – The Road That Kills – 98.06 km
    In the morning I woke up bright and early, anxious to check out this park and then get moving. Getting to the park entrance proved to be an adventure in itself! There is a lagoon near by and thus the path to the entrance is blocked by a large pond if you will. In the dry season it ranges from ankle to thigh deep, but in the rainy season it is neck deep or so. To solve this problem there are locals with boats waiting to take you across; supposedly a free service, but a tip is requested. As much as I would have loved to avoid paying and waded across, I decided this problem wasn't the best idea in the world when carrying a camera.

    The park opened at 7 AM, and I say quite proudly that I was the first one through the gates! While waiting to pay at the entrance a huge grasshopper hopped onto my pants. As much as I tried to shape him off, he would not budge! Eventually someone else flicked him off me. No more than five seconds later a lizard came from out of the bushes and snatched him right up! I guess that's what he gets for being too friendly with my pants! Entry to the park was not cheap; for residents it costs $2, whereas for non-residents it costs $7. Inside the park the trails and various walkways are fortunately well marked and I didn't get lost. I must admit that the park is amazingly beautiful. The beaches are simply picturesque, containing white sands and cliffs backed by jungles. It made me feel like I was in an episode of Lost, minus the crashed plane and all the strange happenings and such of course! Reluctantly I left as I knew I had to move on.

    The downside of taking this coastal route was that there was a 44 kilometer section of gravel road that had to be taken. Supposedly the road was all flat, so how bad could it be? As I soon found out, very bad. The gravel roads I road in Canada were nice and flat as there are actually special machines which go across them to flatten them. These unfortunately do not exist here. It took me nearly three hours to cover a mere 30 kilometers. True, the terrain around me may have been flat, but the road was anything but. I felt as if I had ridden over a minefield of speed bumps for two hours. To make matters even worse it was really muddy at times and I would get stuck at times! I couldn't feel my behind, and I was really hurting. As much as I wanted to go faster, I simply couldn't without killing myself or destroying my rims. It is by far the worst road I have ever encountered. Such a road was not meant for a feeble road bicycle such as mine, but rather a full suspension mountain bike.

    While I was suffering and on the brink of death on the road side a man in a pickup truck from Panama pulled up ahead of me and stopped. He got out and asked me if I wanted a ride across this bad section, because it was simply terrible. As much as my mind wanted to say no, my body replied yes. Into the back of the pickup I went! For the next fourteen kilometers the road was just as bad if not even worse than what I had already ridden over. It would have taken me absolutely forever to cover this ground. When across the rough section my rescuers insisted that I join them for lunch, as they know a very good place around here. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere perched on a cliff stood a very fancy restaurant. It offered magnificent views to both the left and right and overall a very pleasant atmosphere. I found out that my driver, who's name is Kirt, is actually an American who lives down in Panama and is likewise a fellow cyclist! This particular restaurant is owned by his friend and supposedly has the best food on this side of Costa Rica. I must say that it's very possible, as the food was incredible. Although I insisted on paying for my portion of the food, my hosts would not permit such a blasphemy and thus treated me to a fine lunch!

    I was offered a ride all the way to their house in Panama, but I knew that I would be burned at the stake and poked with pitchforks such I undertake such a trip. I do however have an invitation to visit these very kind people at their ranch in Panama. In order to make up for my motor vehicle aided portions of this trip, all 38 kilometers worth of them, I have decided to bicycle completely out of my way for 40 kilometers in each direction, well into the mountains of Panama. Since that is more than double the distance I've gotten rides for and in mountainous terrain, I think it balances out!

    Back on the road I pushed on. I actually didn't save any time since lunch turned out to last quite a while! I passed by a beach town called Uvita, which I was thinking of stopping in, but it was simply too close. I opted to push on, which wasn't the greatest idea. I figured since this is an area right near the coast that finding a place to stay won't be a problem even in the middle of nowhere. This proved to be both right ad wrong. Sure, there are many places to stay, but even the crappiest of them them an arm and a leg. When I stopped at a roadside restaurant to ask for a cheap place to stay, they told me that some nearby place has cabins for only $50. Are you guys out of your minds? With darkness approaching I had to find something, and I eventually found a bar which had some rooms located in a separate building behind it. The price was unfortunately very steep at $19, but I had no choice. The next larger town was another 12 kilometers away, and I simply couldn't make it before dark. The last thing I want to do is be bicycling out here at dark. I will admit that the place is nice, but it really isn't anything special; definitely not worth the price. No T.V., hard beds, and cold water. On a positive note I do at least have a bathroom and access to a nice pool.

    Day 108 – Panama! - 138.15 km
    In the morning I pushed onwards toward the frontier. There were several smaller towns along the way, but nothing of interest. I still had some post cards that I had to send, so I had to find a post office. Find a post office I did, but since today was Saturday it closed at noon. The thing that I really don't like about Costa Rica is that they don't have mail boxes into which you can drop a letter, not on the street or even at the post office! I already had stamps on my post cards and just had to drop them off, but I was told I had to wait until Monday to do so! I simply slid the post cards under the door and I sure hope that they make it home.

    Being as I hadn't done an update to my journal in several days I opted to visit an internet cafe. What I was hoping would be a quick visit turned out to take longer than I expected. This place had the absolute slowest internet connection ever, even dial up would be considered fast compared with it! I think it may have been due to the fact that they had a not so quick connection already and were splitting it amongst 20 computers. Needless to say, updating things takes quite a bit longer when it takes a few minutes for a page to load.

    With the world aware that I am still alive I pushed onwards into Panama. The border is an absolutely crazy area filled with countless duty free shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and gringos. I decided this wasn't for me and that I would push on. Crossing the border took me quite a bit longer than expected. It turns out that I had somehow missed the Costa Rican immigration and accidentally smuggled myself into Panama, so I had to go back to get an exit stamp. Back in Panama I went to the immigration window where they gave me a small ticket with which I had to go to another window in order to purchase a tourist card for $5. With my tourist card I had to go to some other window to get a sticker put on it for $1. With all this in hand I had to go back to the first window to get everything stamped.

    It turns out that in order to enter Panama you have to present an exit ticket of some sort, either a bus ticket back to Costa Rica or a flight out of Panama. Fortunately I had my parents book a flight a few days ago, but I did not have time to print off the ticket yet. So I did the next best thing, I busted open my laptop at the immigration desk and showed the officer my e-ticket on my screen. I won't tell you guys when my flight is in order to keep up some suspense! Another requirement for entry is that you show them $500 in cash or travelers checks. Luckily they did not ask me for this, otherwise I would have had to find an ATM somewhere.

    I must say that crossing that border made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. On the outside I was freezing cold as it was pouring like crazy. I had finally made it to Panama after 12,044 kilometers of cycling, 38 kilometers of shameful motor vehicle aided transport, 12 flat tires, 3 broken rims, 3 accidents, a lot of money, and an immense amount of suffering. Even though Panama City is quite a bit further than the anticipated 12,000 kilometer distance of my route, I still intend to make up for my motor vehicle portions of this trip doubly with a strenuous side trip into the mountains which is completely out of my way. For all of you out there who thought that I wouldn't make it here, ha! In your face! Na na na na na! OK, I'm done now.

    The official currency here in Panama is called the 'Balboa'. The Balboa is worth exactly the same amount as the US dollar. In fact, it even looks, feels, smells, and tastes like the US dollar... not that I would know what a US dollar tastes like. Basically, Panama's currency is the US dollar with a different name. The only difference is not in the bills but in the coins. Although they are the same size as US coins, they have their own unique design and say 'The Republic of Panama' on one side of them. These are of course used interchangeably with coins from the United States. It really goes to show you how much of an influence the United States has had in these countries!

    Today I am staying in the city of La Conception, which is really an uninteresting place. The town has banks, restaurants, and even a small casino, but nothing that is of interest to tourists. I have managed to find a place to stay here for $12, which is a decent price. I wasn't really at liberty to haggle since there wasn't any other places to stay around here!

    Day 109 – There and Back Again - 91 km
    I was expecting today to be a difficult day, but every time I expect anything I always end up getting so much more. Today I underwent a sort of self-punishment for 34 kilometers of motor vehicle aided transport on this trip. I decided to bicycle well into the mountains of Panama, completely off my intended route, to stay with the very kind people who rescued me on that gravel road in Costa Rica.

    The road to the city of David was a piece of cake as it was flat as a pancake. Being as David is Panama's second largest city I opted to deviate and check out the center. I was unfortunately quite disappointed, as there was absolutely nothing of interest there. On the way out of the city I somehow managed to come across a bicycle race. I chatted up with a few of the people there and even ended up getting some free Gatorade. Bonus!

    In the city of David is where I deviated off my path an ventured out into the mountains. Wow, what a brutal road! Although the road is in fairly good condition, it has no shoulder and seems to go endlessly up. A fellow cyclist coming from the other direction spotted me and caught up with me. We ended up chatting for awhile, in Spanish of course. I'm quite surprised as many people have been telling me that my Spanish is quite good. He was shocked to learn that I had four months off from school, as he only gets 15 days! They have two semesters of six months each with 15 days between them, ouch!

    After an eternity of uphill I made it to a turnoff for the town of Caldera. I had read that there were some great hot springs there, and I could not pass this up. Unfortunately, the small town of Caldera is 12 kilometers completely out of my way, even though I'm already going completely out of my way. That means that it is doubly out of my way! The road down was fantastic as it was all downhill and the views were absolutely phenomenal. Things got quite ugly when I finally made it to a turn off for the hot springs. It turns out that the hot springs are 2.5 kilometers off the main road along a dirt and gravel road. How bad could it be? Every single time I say that, things end up being much, much worse.

    As much as I wanted to turn back, there was no way I was going to bicycle 12 kilometers in each direction for nothing. Very reluctantly I pushed onward. This is by far the worst road that I have encountered on my entire trip, and in fact in my entire life. The road is not nice gravel, but rather composed of huge stones. There are climbs and drops which would have been ridiculous even on pavement, but are simply insane on this terrain. Even with a mountain bike this road would be very difficult to cross. As if things couldn't get any worse I had a bad bicycle breakdown. The two screws holding my rear rack for my bags in the back had both snapped and my rack had basically fallen on my tire. Fortunately I had one spare screw, but as it was too short I could only screw it in from the left side where there were no gears.

    Much easier said than done. The screw on the left hand side was totally stripped and screwed in there really good. Being as I was literally in the middle of nowhere, I had no choice. I had to get this screw out. I tried to solve this problem with my pliers, but it was no hope. I did the next best thing. I pulled out my multi tool and busted open the knife/saw combination tool. For the next half hour I hacked away at that screw, trying viciously to get it out, but it just wouldn't budge. A man in a pickup truck drove past me on the way to the hot springs, but it's not like he could really do anything to help me. After much struggle and cursing I finally managed to get that screw out. Since I did not have a screw for the other side, that side is currently being held together by four zip ties arranged in a genius fashion. This bring the total number of zip ties holding my rear rack together to fourteen.

    Although I had wasted nearly an hour fixing this problem I was not dismayed. I pushed on to the hot springs. If I thought this section of the road was bad, I was wrong once again. At one point the road was blocked off by a chain and there was a sign that motor vehicles were not allowed beyond this point. Here I had to avoid getting killed on a ridiculously steep road composed of large rocks and mud. This led down to a flatter area where I had to cross through two streams and a multitude of thigh high mud. I made it to those hot springs looking as if I had been through a war zone.

    Entry to the springs cost me a dollar, which was collect by some strange guy wielding a machete. He told me I would have to leave my bicycle at the entrance, but another dollar solved that problem. Fortunately the hot springs turned out to be really great, otherwise I would have been quite mad for undergoing all that suffering. The area in which these springs were found was beautiful, set amongst lush forest. There were three separate pools of water, all neatly surrounded by stones, with a path heading to and from each. Should the hot water become boring, you can always jump into the nearby river which proved to be quite refreshingly cool.

    I met the man who had driven the pickup truck down here and chatted with him for awhile. I don't know how they did it, but they managed to fit two adults and seven children all inside a pickup with no one in the back. He told me that if I liked he could give me a ride back to the main road, the only downside is that they would be here for roughly an hour and a half. I would have gladly waited here all day and even paid a handsome amount of money just to not have to set foot on that road again. The way to the springs would only be half as bad as the way back as going back up would be all uphill. I would basically have to walk the whole way, and doing so while dragging a loaded bicycle over war zone like terrain is a nightmare.

    Back on the main road I headed into another grueling climb back to the road on which I had turned off. Right before the main road I saw a sign citing that there were lots for sale here being sold by the 'Panamadera' company, which is Kirt's company, the man who rescued me in Costa Rica and with whom I would be staying today. I thought it was pretty neat that he had lots for sale out here in such a beautiful place. I headed up a yet again grueling climb to the town of Boquette. Fifteen kilometers later, and being only a few kilometers from Boquette, I stopped at a pay phone in order to call Kirt. I didn't know exactly where he lived as he had not told me when we met, but told me to call him when I got close to Boquette. It turned out that the sign I had seen fifteen kilometers beforehand was exactly where he lived. I had done fifteen kilometers of brutal climbing for nothing. The way back down was a breeze as my speed averaged at 45 km/h without me really having to do any pedaling.

    I made it back here with no problems as I knew exactly where it was. In fact, this is the third time that I would be passing by here today. The home is really situated in a beautiful area overlooking a canyon and a range of mountains, yet being engulfed amongst forest. For the first time in over a month and a half I was able to take a hot shower here. All the places I had been staying at thus far had water that ranged from freezing cold to kind of warm. After getting all cleaned up I was treated to a great barbecue dinner, in which I of course aided in the preparation of. I would be staying at the guest house tonight, which really isn't that close to the main house. This is no surprised though as the property is over 150 acres! We threw my stuff in the back of the pickup once again and headed on a drive off to the guest house. This place is absolutely great! The guest house is located in the middle of the woods in an absolutely beautiful location. The house itself is equipped with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen as well as living room. Unfortunately there is no power out here and the monstrously huge beast of a battery that was here was drained of power. As he was leaving, Kirt told me to check my bed and the area around me for scorpions as they had been seen here. Yikes!

    Day 110 – A Day in the Clouds – 0.00 km
    In the morning I woke up bright and early, even before the sun was up, as I intended to hike up Panama's highest peak, which is the volcano near the city here. Unfortunately the weather in the morning was terrible, and it looked like it was going to rain all day, which proved to be quite accurate. This would render going up the volcano useless, as the main attraction is the beautiful view from the top, at which you can see both the Pacific and the Caribbean simultaneously.

    Not to be dismayed, I still intended to go hiking and exploring around this beautiful area of Panama. My host here, Kirt, who is an absolutely great guy, offered to give me a ride into town bright and early. Here I stocked up on several supplies and hired a taxi to take me to the trail head. The trail head is quite a ways from town and over ludicrous terrain, thus it was no surprise that a taxi here cost me $5. It's no surprise that the taxis here are 4x4 pickup trucks, otherwise they wouldn't stand a chance! At the trail head I paid a small entry fee and was on my way. When I asked for a map, they couldn't unfortunately provide me with one, but they showed me one that I could take a picture of. This map proved to be terribly inaccurate and quite useless, but it was a nice safety blanket none the less.

    The particular trail I chose to take is called the 'Quetzal Trail' and is supposedly one of the most beautiful trails in all of Panama. As opposed to going to the summit of the volcano it goes around it, winding back and forth continually over a river until it reaches the other side. The trail was unfortunately very muddy and proved to be quite difficult, especially since I was hiking in my Crocs! I must admit that it is one of the best hikes that I have ever set out on. Viciously tiring, but truly rewarding. It was kind of nice not to see a single soul for over five hours. The views that I was rewarded with were absolutely magnificent and made the 12 kilometer hike well worth it, although sometimes I didn't see much except white clouds! I started off at an elevation of 1000 meters in Bouete and climbed up to nearly 3000 meters on the trail!

    Right as I finished the trail and made it to the ranger station it began to rain. Let me rephrase that, it began to pour. I stopped for a quick lunch, during which the rain slightly died down, and then promptly moved on. The trail merged into a road where I managed to get a ride into town surprisingly easily. The first car I saw that I signaled at pulled over! I of course chatted with the driver in my now somewhat decent Spanish and told him about my trip. I'm actually quite proud of myself as many people have told me that my Spanish is quite good!

    Since I had made it to the town of Cerro Punto quite early I decided to visit another nearby park called 'La Amistad'. To get here likewise required a 4x4 taxi. Finding a taxi in this town proved not to be so easy however! In order to get a taxi one must wait at a specific, designated yet unsigned corner in town at which taxis come to pick up passengers. When? Who knows. I ended up waiting about 10 minutes, which isn't terrible. The road to the park took me awhile for several reasons: my driver drove terribly slow, my driver stopped at a restaurant to grab some food, my driver stopped at some house to drop off a package, and the road to the park was absolutely horrid. $5 and 40 minutes later I was standing by the gate.

    In this park I had intended to see 'La Cascada', which is an impressive 45 meter waterfall. The hike from the ranger station to the waterfall is about two kilometers in each direction, which should take roughly an hour and a half to hike. The problem arose in that the park was closing in forty-five minutes. I asked my taxi driver to wait, since it will take him half an hour to get back to town anyway. I ended up having to run all the way to the waterfall and back. Let's just say that it wasn't easy, especially in my Crocs. The way to the waterfall required climbing over a very large hill, and then coming back down it again to get to the waterfall. Luckily the waterfall was as good as it was made out to be. Truly an impressive sight which I just had to get a great picture of. So without thinking twice I jumped into knee deep ice cold water with camera in hand! The things I do to get good pictures surprise even me sometimes.

    The way back to the ranger station proved to be a little bit more difficult as it had started to rain really, really hard. Running along a terrible path in Crocs is bad enough when dry, but horrendous when wet. I was slipping and sliding quite often, I thought I was going to kill myself! Several near death encounters later I made it back to the ranger station in one piece, and with a few minutes to spare! My taxi driver doubted my ability to make it back in time and thus bailed on me, *******! Luckily for me the park employees were closing up for the day and heading back into town, so I managed to get a ride back in with them.

    The town of Cerro Punto is perhaps twenty kilometers from Boquete as the crow flies, however to get from one town to the other takes three and a half hours by car! There is no road which goes directly between the two cities, and thus it is necessary to backtrack all the way back to the Pan American highway, drive on that for awhile to David, and then proceed back up to Boquete, a distance of 91 kilometers!

    Fortunately the buses here in Panama are great. They can not only take you anywhere you want to go very cheaply, but they also run every 15 minutes or so. It was unfortunately dark when I made it back, but I was not dismayed. I got off at the right intersection, put on my headlamp which I was smart enough to bring, and headed off down to the ranch.

    Back at my temporary base I was once again spoiled with a hot shower, clean clothes, as well as an excellent home cooked meal. It really makes me not want to leave this place, but alas the rest of Panama awaits! After receiving some advice from Kirt about what else to do here in Panama I headed out into the bush in total darkness, armed with only my headlamp. A dirt path which led to the guest house I was staying in, along which I had to climb through two barbed wire fences. I'm not sure if this was what I was supposed to do, but I just couldn't find a way around. Fortunately did not get lost and made it here in one piece. What a day!
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  6. #106
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    Day 111 – Deeper and Deeper Into Panama – 85.96 km
    I was sad to leave the ranch I was staying at in Boquete as I was so spoiled here, but alas the rest of Panama awaits! I bicycled down to the town of David, which proved to be a breeze as it was nearly all down hill. The struggle uphill took me much, much longer than the way down! The city of David is a transportation hub, but alas is not the most exciting city in the world. From the city of David I caught a bus to Santiago, deciding to skip out on the ride along the Interamericana. I would much rather bicycle off on side roads somewhere else as opposed to inhaling exhaust fumes on a busy highway. Unfortunately I had to wait over an hour for a bus as the first bus's cargo hold wasn't large enough for my bicycle.

    The only bus that took this route was a nice coach bus, or so I thought! As I found out, looks can be very deceiving. I got shafted with a seat at the very back of the bus. My seat was broken, being in a constantly reclined position. Additionally, something smelled funny in the area I was sitting, forcing me to keep my window slightly open and thus foiling the luxuries of air conditioning. The road was very bumpy as well, which was amplified by being at the back of the bus. As if things weren't bad enough, when it started raining, it started leaking on me from overhead even though my window was closed!

    After three hours I made it off that bus feeling terribly sick and with a terrible headache. I took some Tylenol and just had to sit down for about forty minutes because I couldn't move, it was terrible. My head felt like it was going to explode. Even though it was raining terribly I decided to bicycle on simply because I couldn't stomach the thought of taking another bus. Bicycling along freeways goes by quickly as the road is flat and in good condition, but it is terribly boring and not pleasant. You don't see anything, especially not the real Panama, which is why I am choosing to bus over these sections and explore more interesting parts of Panama.

    I made it to a cross road for the road to Chitre, which is on a peninsula of Panama. Being as I wouldn't make it to Chitre before dark I ended up hitchhiking. I intended to bicylce all the way here, but the delay in finding a bus as well as the bus ride itself had eaten up more time than anticipated. It took me about 10 minutes to get a ride, at which point I threw my bicycle in the back of a pickup and hopped in. The driver was a young man who lived not far from here and as luck would have it was going to Chitre. I chatted with him in what I must say is by now my quite decent Spanish. He took me not only to the city, but all the way to the center and even helped me to find a hotel! When the first one was full, I told him I could bicycle to find another, but he insisted on taking me!

    The people down here in Panama are so friendly, it's absolutely great! I managed to find a brilliant hotel, not the cheapest place at twenty dollars per night, but it is well worth it. My bed is actually comfortable, and my room shines with an aura of cleanliness. There is hot water, air conditioning, cable TV, and even free wireless internet! I feel as if I am resting in the lap of luxury tonight! Tomorrow I will explore the areas around here and then head off to Panama City, as I need to catch a flight soon!

    Day 112 – Finally Across the Canal – 81.73 km
    Today I made sure to wake up nice and early in order to be able to explore the surrounding towns around Chitre as supposedly this is the 'real Panama. As I was already in the city of Chitre I decided it would be most logical to explore it first. The main point of interest is the main square, which is overlooked on by a cathedral. Some older buildings in town have that pleasant old Spanish colonial style, similar to Granada back in Nicaragua, but for the most part the city is modern.

    I proceeded to bicycle over to the nearby town of Los Santos, which is only three kilometers away. A smaller and more pleasant town, it has much more older buildings and more of that old Spanish colonial look and feel. There is of course present a town square which must be overlooked on by a church. I decided to have breakfast here, so I of course stopped into a local buffet style eatery. After grabbing a seat I told the man behind the counter that I wanted something typical from here, and it didn't matter at all what it was. I started chatting with the man sitting next to me at the counter, who seemed quite impressed at my courageousness of trying new things. We began to chat in a mix of English and Spanish, as I found out that he had worked in the United States for a year over twenty-five years ago. According to them, my Spanish is fairly good!

    He persuaded me to try "chicha de pina", which is chicha made from pineapple. I have heard absolutely terrible things about chicha in Peru, but none the less I tried it. It simply tasted like lightly spiked pineapple juice. I just hope that it isn't made the same way that chica is made in Peru, which is absolutely revolting. I won't even expand on the topic to spare you the torment of this knowledge! The breakfast was what I would consider more of a lunch, but it was very good. To make matters ever better, the man with whom I was chatting with insisted on paying for my breakfast. I told him it wasn't necessary, but he said it would be his pleasure. He also told me that I am welcome back to Panama anytime!

    Next I rode to the town of Las Tablas, which looked piratically identical to the two towns I had just been in previously. All these towns just seem to blend together! Deciding that I had seen enough I headed back to Chitre. Back in Chitree I headed to the bus station where I managed to catch bus to Panama City with surprisingly relative ease. I paid seven dollars for a three hour bus ride. For part of trip I sat next to nice old lady who really, really liked to talk. This wouldn't be so bad if I could actually understand her! She talked very quickly, and not very loud; this combined with all the rattling on the bus made it nearly impossible for me to comprehend what she was saying. Needless to say I keep nodding my head in affirmation and laughing at the appropriate times, occasionally throwing in a few words from what I did manage to understand. I'm surprised she didn't catch on after twenty minutes, but I just didn't have the heart to tell a nice old lady I couldn't understand her!

    The rest of bus ride was otherwise smooth. Although this was one of those mini-buses, it was much more comfortable than the coach bus I had ridden on previously. I'm glad that I bussed it along this section of road, since the road was terribly dull. The 'Interamericana', or Panamerican highway, through all of Panama is basically a very busy four lane highway. To get an idea of what bicycling on this is, imagine bicycling down your local freeway at rush hour. Needless to say it's not a fun experience. This is not the 'true Panama' as far as I am concerned. At one point about 60 km before Panama City there were some nice views of nearby mountains, but other than that I didn't miss out on anything.

    To make it to Panama City it is necessary to cross over 'The Gateway of the Americas', which is a monster of a bridge which goes over the Panama canal. The view was absolutely magnificent and breathtaking. Finally seeing the canal makes one aware of it's true size; it's enormous! And thus I am in Panama City. It took me quite awhile to get here, but I have made it alive and well! The bus station here is simply ridiculous. It is by far the largest and nicest looking bus station I have seen in my life. There must be space here for at least a hundred buses, and that's without exaggerating! The bus station is very modern and actually reminds me more of an airport terminal rather than a bus station!

    Bicycling out of here was simply hell since the bus station is surrounded by freeways. A six lane freeway and a guy on a bicycle don't mix well. Additionally throw in the fact that people who work at the bus station don't know how to give directions and it makes things difficult. Very fortunately I managed to find a fellow bike rider whom I chased down and kindly explained that I was a little lost. He offered to escort me to the place I wanted to stay at! Granted, following him was not easy as he weaved in and out between cars, but we did get there in record time! The people here in Panama are truly great, most definitely some of the best people I have met on my trip.

    I managed to find an economical yet comfortable hotel in a fairly decent neighborhood. It set me back 60 dollars for six nights, which is a very good price considering my room comes with TV and private bathroom. I won't be here for two of those nights since I am flying to the San Blas islands tomorrow, but I needed a place to stash my bicycle as well as all my belongings. I think it's worth paying for them to be stored away safely in a room rather than in some broom closet!

    As it was afternoon I still had time to see the city a little and thus I headed over to Panama's banking district on foot. This is a monster of a city with crazy traffic. There is a multitude of large skyscrapers here and the city is very modern. There is supposedly also a very nice older area which I will explore in a few days. I don't think my bicycle will see the roads of Panama anymore as it is both dangerous and simply stupid to bicycle in this city, especially if you don't know it well.

    In the evening I was set to met with some fellow cyclists at an English pub down in this safe part of the city. These are the same cyclists who warned me of the danger of robbery in Nicaragua, as they got robbed themselves! We chatted for several hours over an intense football match between Panama and Guatemala. They plan on bicycling all the way down to Argentina, and they fortunately have a lot of time to do it. I wish I could have taken more time to 'stop and smell the roses' on this trip. It took them seven months to get here from San Diego, whereas I did the same section in fifty two days!

    This English pub had of course Guinness posters and signs all over the bar. However, when I tried to order a Guinness they told me they were out! What blasphemy! How does an English pub run out of Guinness? Being as I have to wake up at four in the morning tomorrow i called it a night at only 10 PM. I took a cab back to my hotel which cost me a very fair three dollars considering it is fairly fair and I'm not in the mood to get mugged. Tomorrow instead of biking, I fly!

    Day 113 – The Life of a Beach Bum
    I had to wake up at four in the morning today in order to make it for my flight at the airport. I set two alarms to make sure I didn't sleep in, although waking up at that hour was very difficult. I thought that I would have a problem finding a taxi at this hour, but it proved not to be the case. No more than ten seconds after walking out the door of my hotel a taxi rolled by. A ride to the airport would cost me two dollars, which is a very fair price. At this hour of the day the city looks like a ghost town. Cars on the road are few and far in between, and seldom will you see someone walking the street. I would definitively not want to walk around at this hour!

    I had booked a ticket for my flight by phone and was given a confirmation number. A twenty-five minute flight from Panama to the town of El Porvenir and back cost me 80 dollars, which I think is a good price. Picking up my ticket was a breeze, and all other procedures were likewise simple. I ended up flying on a small plane which held perhaps twenty passengers at most. The views from the plane alone were worth the money I paid for the ticket. As my flight departed at 6 AM, I could see the sun rising from behind the mountains and illuminating the cloud filled valleys. The mountains here are simply gorgeous and the views from the plane were breathtaking. Further on the landscape changed and I could see the number islands that make up the San Blas archipelago.

    Landing was a little unnerving as it seemed as if we were going straight into the water as El Porvenir is a small island with a runway and only several buildings! I had intended to book a hotel ahead of time, but unfortunately the number I called was out of service, thus I decided to just find a hotel here. This proved to be very easy as there were many locals at the airport just waiting around for some new guests. The hotel I am staying it is located on a larger, heavily populated island nearby to which we took a boat. Although the island is small, it somehow is able to sustain four hundred people! My hotel cost me forty dollars per day, which is a fair price considering it includes three meals as well as day trips to nearby islands. All hotels here include meals in their prices as there aren't any restaurants here!

    After breakfast I was grouped with a group of nine travelers from France and we set off for the island. I got along with the whole group well and must say that had to recall some of my French from what seems like ages ago! We traveled by motor boat to an island roughly half an hour away. Think of a deserted island filled with palm trees and white sand beaches, surrounded by crystal clear water, this is exactly what it looked like. Apart from the few huts of families living on the island, there was nothing. Several sailboats were stationed around the island. It was absolutely beautiful.

    There are other smaller islands nearby as well as 'underwater islands' to which it is possible to swim to. The French group of course decided to check these out, and I was not one to say no. Although it took twenty minutes of tough swimming, we made it out to a tiny island containing only six palm trees. We later went further out onto an 'underwater island' seemingly in the middle of the sea! Unfortunately I forgot my sunscreen in Panama City, so I did get a little burned today even though I tried to stay out of the sun. As I write this in the evening, I'm feeling the pain. At least it overshadows the soreness of my thighs after four months of bicycling!

    The very interesting thing about these islands is the people who live here. The Kuna people, although they have been in contact with Europeans nearly since the landing of Columbus, have managed to maintain their culture as well as language all these years. They have their own system of government which functions virtually without interference from the Panamanian government. Additionally, outsiders are prohibited from owning land here. The islands live off of selling coconuts, seafood, as well tourism. It is of course possible to take a picture of the Kuna in their traditional attire, as long as ask and pay a dollar. Several times people asked me if I wanted to take a picture of them! The Kuna specialize in making something called a 'mola', which is a type of tapestry made by overlaying several layers of different colored fabric, then cutting away at certain parts and stitching in a specific way to make a intricate design. To make such a work of art takes anywhere from one to three months, and it's all done by hand! I could of course not resist such intricate artwork and picked up a beautiful mola for myself as well as several more to give as fantastic gifts. This is the true Panama!

    Back at our hotel we were treated to a show of the cultural dances of the Kuna people. The interesting thing about these dances is that they play on pan flutes at the exact same time they are dancing, which I am sure is no easy feat. After the dances we were treated to a lobster feast for dinner, which is actually a typical meal here and nothing special! Seafood is plentiful here and thus the principal meal in these areas. Tomorrow I have another day of being as lazy as lazy can be, then I will return to the hustle and bustle of the crazy city that is Panama City!

    Day 114 – Rain, Rain, Go Away!
    Today it unfortunately rained from the very morning. We were supposed to head out at nine in the morning for a nearby island, but being as it was pouring there was no point in going. In order to pass the time I picked up a book by Margaret Atwood which was laying around in our hotel. I must say that she has quite an interesting literary style. After getting bored of reading I started to chat with a very nice fellow from Germany. We ended up talking for over two hours! We talked about everything from traveling in Costa Rica, to the history of Panama, to politics in the United States, to the presence of a select few bears in Europe.

    We had lunch at about noon, after which time it stopped to rain. We set off to yet another island in order to be able to relax on the beach. On all these other islands it is necessary to pay a fee for using the island, usually one or two dollars. In exchange you are provided with bathroom facilities and showers, as well as use of the island. Today's island was likewise beautiful, a small slice of paradise. A smaller island than yesterday, it was more remote and contained only three small huts. It actually worked in my favor that today was a cloudy day as I was still recovering from yesterdays sunburn, which turned out to be slightly worse than initially anticipated. I found a nice spot under the welcoming shade of a palm tree and dived deep into the depths of the folds of my book.

    Back on the populated island we were staying at we were treated to dinner, which wasn't as exquisite as yesterdays, but was by no means bad. I once again began to talk with the German man and his wife, who are both great people. It's always nice to be able to find some people who you can have a great conversation with. We talked about all the various locations we have traveled in the world, and I told them everything about my trip to Peru, which is a place they plan on visiting in the future. I was treated to some fine Panamanian brew, which naturally turned into two. And thus sitting on the end of a dock overlooking the dark waters night fell. It is so nice to not have to do anything for once!

    Day 115 – Shop Till You Drop, Or Go Broke
    In the morning I had to wake up bright and early to catch a flight back to Panama City. As nice and easy going as the beach life was, it was getting kind of boring. I'm more used to the rush of the city life it seems. The airport at El Porvenir is probably one of the most primitive airports you can imagine. It contains a single air strip in simply terrible condition. There is one building on the island set aside for registration and baggage check, which is all of course done on paper by one man sitting behind a desk. There is no security checks of any kind. You could walk onto that plane with a backpack full of razor blades if you wanted to!

    After several stops on some other small islands to pick up additional passengers we finally made it back to Panama City. I took a taxi back to my hotel, which ended up being very cheap. Buses here in Panama City cost twenty five cents, whereas a taxi for the same route will usually cost you a dollar or two. This is usually worth it simply for convenience sake. Back in my hotel I was fortunate to find all my things still present, and then set off to prepare for a day of exploring.

    I first set off along Central Avenue to a part of the city called 'Casco Antiguo'. Along this avenue there are countless shops selling everything at sometimes ridiculously cheap prices. I saw one store selling three pairs of jeans for a dollar! Granted these are probably the worst quality factory defects from China, but still, that's crazy! Casco Antiguo is the old area of the city. Although some of the buildings here have been restored, much of the area lay in shambles. Not coincidentally, this is also one of the most dangerous parts of the city, even during the day. The area is absolutely beautiful with it's old Spanish feel and all of it's historic buildings.

    After exploring this area of the city I hopped on a bus to 'Panama Viejo'. Panama Viejo is the site of the original Panama City. This city was completely destroyed by pirates, and thus the inhabitants relocated several kilometers over. I was expecting Panama Viejo to be quite simply a pile of rocks, and that's exactly what I got; but what a splendorous and multitudinous pile of rocks it was! I roamed around here for awhile, then once again grabbed a bus back to the center.

    Heading in the opposite direction I sighted a bicycle shop, which I decided to stop into on the way back as I was in need of a bicycle box to place my bicycle in for the plane trip back home. This proved to be no problem at all. The people at the bicycle shop did not charge me anything for the boxes as they were simply glad to be rid of them. Finding a taxi proved to be a little bit tougher. I swear that about forty taxis passed by me before I found one that either wasn't full or actually wanted to take me. One guy stopped and asked where I wanted to go, when I told him the center, he drove off and picked up someone else! Miraculously the boxes managed to fit somehow in a sedan taxi and I dragged them back to my hotel room.

    Panama City is a shoppers paradise. There are countless stores here often with very good prices, thus I took full advantage of this. Needless to say I bought so many things that I could hardly carry them. I think I must have bought enough clothes to last me a year!

    Today I also set out on a quest to find the famous “Panama Hat”. This proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Anyone who knows anything about these hats knows that they are actually not made in Panama, but rather in Ecuador. However, being as they are still called “Panama” hats, I figured my chances of finding one here would be pretty good. Find many hats I did, but only the cheap kind aimed at gringos looking for a simple souvenir. I would not settle for such blasphemy. I had bicycle from Alaska to here, and this would be my 'trophy' of sorts.

    These hats are not just hats, they are a work of art. They are completely hand made and take months upon months of work. Depending on their quality, which is measured by five factors which I won't bore you with, their price can range anywhere from ten dollars to even ten thousand or more! With great difficulty I finally found a small store owned by a man from Ecuador which had some decent hats, but nothing even close to this price range. According to him, any hat that costs more than five hundred dollars is one that is custom made, and thus custom ordered. You order your hat, pay in advance, and wait anywhere from three to six months while it is made for you. Unfortunately I didn't want to wait three months for a hat, nor spend that much money, but I still managed to get a very good hat. The price I will not disclose as you will probably think I'm crazy, but I tell you, this thing is pure class. Then again, I guess it is a little crazy to have bicycled 12,000 kilometers in order to get a hat...
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  7. #107
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    Muttsta,
    Congratulations. That was quite a trip.

  8. #108
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    Day 116 – Damn You Guidebook, Damn You...
    In the morning I woke up bright and early as I intended to catch a train that runs along the Panama canal to the city of Colon, 80 kilometers to the north. I caught a taxi to the train station, but when I got there things seemed strangely deserted. At first I thought that perhaps I was at the wrong train station, but the cause proved to be quite different. My oh so great guidebook conveniently fails to mention that this train run only Monday through Friday, and not on Saturdays or Sundays. Great, thank you guidebook. I still intend to take this train, but I will have to do so tomorrow.

    With my plans for the day shattered to smithereens I had to quickly think up a new plan. I decided to stop by some of the Panama Canal locks in order to see how ships are moved across, or to be more accurate, up and down. I caught a city bus to the Miraflores Locks, which are located 1 2 kilometers away from the city. I absolutely love the public transit here, a bus all that way cost me only 35 cents! I made it to the locks at 8:30, however they opened at 9, thus I had to wait half an hour. There were some other tourists here from France and Spain, with whom I chatted. According to them, my Spanish is fairly good. Since so many different people have told me this, I guess there must be some truth in it!

    The Panama Canal is truly an engineering marvel. The amount of work and planning that went into building this monster is simply ridiculous. The canal was to be built by the French, who were driven to bankruptcy due to coincident costs and complications. After many years and more complications the rights were eventually sold to the United States, essentially in exchange for them helping Panama to separate from Colombia. The United States actually operated the canal up until 1999! It stretches 80 kilometers from the Pacific to the Atlantic, containing three sets of locks and an artificial lake. It takes a ship roughly eight hours to get across the canal. Ships pay depending on their weight, but large cargo ships paying around $270,000 to cross! The cheapest toll paid was in 1928, when Richard Halliburton paid 36 cents to swim across the canal.

    There was a very nice visitors center at the docks containing observations decks located over four floors up. There was additionally a neat museum with interesting exhibits about various things related to the canal, ranging from it's construction to it's aquatic life as well as it's future plans. I feel like such a geek going on and on about how much I liked a museum...

    I grabbed a bus back to town and made my way to the 'causeway'. This is simply a road with a nice walkway on it's side which connects three islands located in the bay with the mainland. It's an interesting feeling to walk along a road with miles of water on either side of you! Along this walkway are many restaurants, bars, and of course shops. The prices here are ridiculously expensive, so I decided to pass on shopping in this area. After some time of walking around here I once again jumped on a bus and made my way to Albrook Mall, the largest mall in Central America. The ride cost me twenty-five cents, did I mention that I love the public transportation here?

    This mall is simply a monster, it rivals some of the larger malls that we have in the United States and Canada. Panama City is supposedly a shoppers paradise, which is true to some extent. Great deals can be found on some things, but not on everything. If you are after any brand name clothes, the prices are the exact same as we pay back home. If I want to pay 70 dollars for a Lacoste polo I can do it at home, thanks. Shopping here is actually kind of annoying. Many stores don't let you walk in with shopping bags, and thus you must check them at a booth before you enter the store. This is a free service, and I guess it's nice to not have to carry your bags around, but it's annoying. It also drives me absolutely crazy when I walk into a store and someone starts following me step for strep. They recommend clothes, offer to carry anything that you may pick out, and so on and so forth. It's the most annoying thing ever, just let me shop in peace!

    Today was also post card day. I had to write twenty-five post cards. Needless to say it took me nearly an eternity. I felt as if I were in detention, having to write lines as punishment. Although it wasn't all that bad since every post card is different of course. Although my plans for the day were quite different, things still worked out in the end! But alas, my time in Panama is coming to an end. The end is of course inevitable, but I hate to see it come so soon.
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  9. #109
    Senior Member eliktronik's Avatar
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    Congratulations, man! It's been great following your progress.

  10. #110
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    Day 117 – The Final Countdown
    Today I executed the plan that I had in mind for yesterday, but which I was not able to due to the fault of my guidebook. In the morning I hopped on a train from Panama City on the Pacific to the city of Colon on the Atlantic. The train is unfortunately not cheap, it costs twenty-two dollars and takes a little over an hour, whereas a bus costs two dollars and fifty cents and takes an hour and a half. The train really is worth taking though, at least in one direction! The train runs along the canal, providing great views of both the canal and the thick jungles located so close by. In the front is located a special car with a glass viewing deck, which I of course managed to squeeze myself into! There are many business people who live in Panama City and take the train to Colon daily.

    The city of Colon is a very, very, very dangerous place. My guidebook mentions that even in broad daylight when walking around Colon, it is not only possible but rather likely that you will get robbed at gun point! With the exception of the Darien Gap, this is the most dangerous city in all of Panama. From the train station I grabbed a taxi to the 'Free Trade Zone', which is the second largest duty free area in the world. Where our duty free is one building, this one is covers an area of roughly six by eight large city blocks! Along the way there I also told my driver that I would like to visit the nearby 'San Lorenzo Fort', and he highly recommended that I do that first. Since there is absolutely no public transport that goes there, I would have to take a taxi. He started the haggling game at sixty dollars, but I managed to talk him to twenty-five, the only catch was that he had to first go pick up his girlfriend and drop her off somewhere.

    To make it to this fort, one must cross over the canal, which proved to be a major pain in the butt. There is only one 'real' bridge that crosses over the canal, and that is the large bridge in Panama City. The rest of the bridges that cross the canal are aquatic bridges which fold out when there are no ships crossing through the canal. Unfortunately for all the traffic present, many ships cross the canal, and they do so very slowly in the locks. We ended up waiting nearly forty minutes for two ships to cross through!

    After some rough roads through an abandoned American military base and thick jungles we finally made it to the fort. The fort is perched high above the ocean, offering sweeping views of everything around. The whole thing is in ruins, but it's absolutely great! I love ruins, there is just something that I find so neat about them. After a quick photography session I jumped back in the taxi and we were on our way.

    On the way back we once again had to cross over the canal, and thus once again had to wait. This time we only had to wait fifteen minutes since one boat was passing through, but this is just ridiculous! They are supposed to build a large bridge across the canal on this side as well, but who knows when they will do that! Even though I paid twenty-five dollars for the taxi ride, which is a large sum of money to pay for a taxi here, it actually proved to be a very fair sum. The fort really was in the middle of nowhere, and the total time for the ride was three hours!

    The 'free zone' in Colon is basically a city within a city. In order to enter you have to pass through a checkpoint where you must present our passport. Fortunately they give out free maps, as it is very easy to get lost here. This place is ridiculously huge! You can find anything you want here ranging from brand name clothes and alcohol to construction tools, all tax free of course. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, The prices are fair, but are by no means bargains. The prices are very similar to what you would pay in a regular store, and prices in the brand name stores are just as much as they are back home. Another downside here is that many of the stores sell wholesale only and thus will not sell individual items. This is quite inconvenient if you don't plan on buying fifty pieces of one type of shirt!

    To my surprise, I didn't actually buy anything in the free trade zone. I grabbed a taxi over to the bus terminal, where I found a very nice coach bus that went directly to Panama City for only two dollars and fifty cents. An hour and a half later I was back in familiar Panama City, which I am really starting to like. This is unfortunately my last full day in Panama City. Tomorrow I fly back home, and regretfully my trip finally ends.
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  11. #111
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    Day 118 – And So It Ends
    It's difficult to adjust back to the prices we have back home, especially after spending two months of being used to paying so much less for everything. A taxi to the airport cost me $20, a guy to carry my boxes cost me $2 (there weren't any carts and I can't exactly drag around two boxes and bags by myself), and breakfast cost me $9. Ouch. For us back home these are fair prices, but for here these prices are simply ridiculous. But what can a guy do? Baggage check and security proved to not be much of a problem at all. Surprisingly, I didn't have to pay anything for my bicycle, which is very nice since I paid around $120 in Detroit when flying to Alaska! Past security there were of course a bunch of duty free shops. I found it fairly strange that Lacoste somehow had three stores here, and the area really wasn't that big. Seriously, do you need a Lacoste shop on every corner? What do they think it is, Starbucks?

    I found the plane trip to San Jose to be rather interesting. Although the flight lasted only an hour and a half we were served a warm sandwich as well as beverages. The thing that really surprised me was the beverage cart, which was basically a fully stocked bar! Not only so, but all alcoholic drinks were free! Airlines typically charge five dollars a drink, but here you could get anything you liked free of charge. I found this to really be a surprise. In San Jose I transferred planes and flew to Atlanta, but not before a one hour delay due to broken bathrooms. After another connection there to Detroit, I was finally home. I was greeted with open arms and large signs at the airport by my family, and we then drove home. The change you see here coming from Central America is really something. You guys don't even have an idea how lucky you are to

    But alas, I regretfully announce that the end has come. Four months is a long time, but even I am surprised by how fast it has went by. I feel as if it were only yesterday that I was saying my goodbyes in Detroit and heading off on a great adventure to Alaska. The road has been a long one with many ups and just as many downs. My legs have evolved muscles that I didn't even know existed. Was it easy? Anything but. I admit that there were a few times when I thought of giving up, but I convinced myself to push on. If I could go back in time, would I do it again? In a heartbeat! The only thing I would do differently is to definitely find someone crazy enough to come with me. I did try to do so, but I had no luck. Although you meet many people along the way, you end up saying goodbye just as quickly as you said hello.

    And so my dear friends, this is the last time you will hear from me for a while. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about all my adventures and mishaps as much as I enjoyed partaking in them. I have given you a short glimpse into my life, which I always try to keep as interesting as possible! I guarantee you that this is only one big adventure of many more to come. Although I was alone for all this time, I really did not feel alone. You guys were there with me every step, or in this case pedal stroke, of the way. I thank you sincerely for reading along and partaking in this adventure with me

    I would like to extend a great thank you to everyone along the way who helped me out in one of many ways. Some of you gave me food and shelter, which was appreciated more than you knows. Others of you wrote kind words, which were always a pleasure to read and gave me a motivation to push on. Others of you yet made donations to my cause, which to me means a lot as well. If what I did helps even one person, than I believe that I have succeeded as my trip was not in vain. Have you enjoyed reading about all my adventures, please remember that it was no cakewalk, and that it was for a cause. I encourage you sincerely to make a donation no matter how big or small, as every little bit makes a difference. But alas my dear readers, until next time! ¡Adios!

    -

    Here is a list of some statistics as well as other miscellaneous notes that I have kept track of throughout my journey:

    General Statistics
    Total Distance: 12327.02 km
    Total Days: 118
    Cycling Days: 100
    Zero Days: 18
    Average Distance Per Cycling Day: 123.27 km
    Flat Tires: 12 (3 caused by punctures, 9 by problems relating to rim tape)
    Bear Watch: 19 Black Bears, 2 Grizzly Bears

    Lodging Statistics
    Paid to Stay at Campground: 21
    Paid to Stay at Cabin or Cabana: 4
    Paid to Stay at Motel or Hotel: 47
    Paid to Stay at Hostel: 5
    'Stealth' Campings: 25
    Couches or Yards Surfed: 16

    Photo Statistics
    Pictures Taken: 3668
    Pictures Saved: 2188
    Taken/Saved Percentage: 59.65%

    ”Me” Statistics
    Weight: 163 lbs
    Height: 6'
    Blood Pressure: 130/62
    Resting Heart Rate: 70

    Finances
    Money Spent: No comment

    Realizations:
    - Bread is even excellent when crushed and a perfect addition to any meal
    - Pop Tarts are delicious even when crumbled to bits and a perfect snack any time of day
    - No matter how much or how little clothes I am wearing when I go to sleep, I will be cold without socks on
    - Tim Hortons must add something to their beverages to make them so addicting
    - Denatured alcohol isn't hard to find, it just has many different names
    - Hybrid cars may be environmentally friendly, but they are cyclist deadly
    - Where there are mountains, pain and suffering lie close by
    - In the United States roads are built around or through hills, in Mexico they are built straight over them
    - Yes, it is possible to eat a two pound burger
    - Taking a bicycle with cyclocross gearing into the Rockies is not a good idea
    - Steep hills are easier to climb when you ride up them in zigzags
    - Sunglasses serve a dual purpose as a bug reflector
    - It is very unwise to ask for directions in a Chinese restaurant
    - Not all roads in Mexico are shoulderless, but where there is a shoulder it is generally unrideable
    - In Central America cars will honk at you to warn you they are coming, but don't even think twice about slowing down
    - Even boiling hot water is refreshing in the desert
    - If it doesn't relate to food or church, it will most likely be closed on a Sunday in Central America
    - A pillowcase is a good substitute for a towel
    - It is possible to wash one's hair with a bar of soap
    - In Mexico and Central America, a lawnmower consists of a man with a scythe in one hand and a machete in the other
    - In the United States and Canada we really take what we have for granted

    Things I Took For Granted:
    - My car (Biking really makes you realize how damn far things are)
    - Toilet seats (In Mexico and Central America they are a luxury afforded only to better hotels)
    - Hot showers (It was nice to take an icy cold shower after a hot day in the desert, but it gets kind of old after two months)
    - A decent shower head (It´s not enjoyable when your shower might as well be a hose suspended a few feet over your head)
    - Drinkable tap water (And back home we complain our tap water tastes funny, here it kills!)
    - How safe it is back home (I constantly look over my shoulder when walking the streets here and avoid walking at night; I´ve grown used to seeing armed guards on street corners and in stores)
    - A comfortable bed (Oh how I miss thee)
    - A washing machine (I currently wash clothes in my sink in the hotel because I´m not paying $5 for a load of laundry, hand washing is hard!)
    - Finding internet access (In the USA and Canada I could easily find free unsecured WiFi hot spots, here in Central America and Mexico they don´t exist, people are much smarter here)
    - Finding fast internet access (Many a time have I crawled at a snails pace, waiting minutes for pages to load)
    - Company of people (Sure I met people along the way, but it´s not the same. I really wish I could have found someone to come with me to share with me both the ups and downs)
    - Cleanliness (You have no idea how clean it is here compared to Central America and Mexico. At the time I didn't realize this, but when I came back the difference was shocking)
    - Friendly drivers (A driver won't even think twice about stopping for a pedestrian in Central America, he simply honks and keeps driving! Many a time have I had a few close calls)

    Favorite Places:
    Northern British Columbia
    Whistler, British Columbia
    Oregon Coast, United States
    Hearst Castle, California
    The Redwoods, California
    San Francisco, California
    Santa Barbara, California
    San Diego Zoo, California
    Baja California, Mexico
    Mazatlan, Mexico
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
    Guatemala
    Leon, Nicaragua
    Grenada, Nicaragua
    Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
    Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
    Boquete, Panama
    San Blas Archipelago, Panama
    Casco Antiguo of Panama City, Panama


    Casualties:
    - Countless bodily injures
    - Rear taillight (2)
    - Rearview handlebar mirror
    - Rearview helmet mirror
    - Bicycle shorts
    - Rear wheel (2)
    - Cycling gloves
    - Front tire
    - Rear tire (2)
    - Sunglasses (2)
    - Waterbottle holder
    - Handlebar tape (2)
    - Shift cable and housing
    - Cyclometer cable
    - Rear brake pad
    - Handlebar bag mounting mechanism
    - Camera lens filter (2)
    - Bolt which holds rear rack (4)
    - Thing which connects rear rack to frame
    - Laptop hard drive
    - Laptop keyboard
    - iPod nano
    - Right shifter
    - Clipless pedals (2)
    - Heel pads for cycling shoes (2)
    120 Days, 12000 Kilometers, 2 Wheels - Alaska to Panama for Charity - www.CyclingForACause.com

  12. #112
    Support JDRF b_young's Avatar
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    No. It can't be over!!!

    I have really enjoyed your ride. Please feel free to start making up stuff and keep it going. I am glad you made it with minor difficulties and you didn't get robbed, mugged or ran over. That is a trip I would love to make but doubt I will ever get to. It is something to be proud of.

    Take a short rest and let me know when you are ready, I will let you know the next place I want to see through your eyes.

    Thanks
    Brian
    "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift that is why it is called the present." - Kung Fu Panda

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