Follow the bikers of Going South on their adventures though the Americas.
I felt empty and void of any feelings or emotion in the last three days cycling towards the Panama Canal. I couldn't work out why and it was frustrating. Alex beamed with smiles all the way but I was struggling with it and was subconsciously stalling at every opportunity to delay the end. Part of me could not wait for it all to be over but another part of me was worried about what I would do afterwards.
After many border crossings we had become quite relaxed about getting the camera out to film. Unfortuantely when the Panama Customs officials got sight of the $8000 camera they decided we needed a good searching. Asides an extra hour at the border and having to repack all my gear the inspection proved fairly uneventful and we rode off into our final country of the journey.
Crossing into Panama with less than 500km to go, we could not help but feel like we were nearly there. Even though the thought of 500km on a bike would have been inconceivable to me just 8 months ago, it truly felt like we were on the finishing stretch; one road, one country and less than a week of riding. Just as fate would have it however, Panama had a few surprises in store for us.
With only 700km to go and plenty of time, we decided to take a detour and head to the Osa peninsula in southern Costa Rica. It is reputed to be one of the most pristine areas in the country.
Instead of pedalling directly southeast towards Panama on the Pan American Highway, we took the 'Long Way Round' Southern Costa Rica, through the stunning Osa Penninsula. Unlike Ewen and Charlie however it took us 4 days to do, not 4 hours. There is only one road in and out and then if you are on foot, or bicycle, you can catch a small passenger ferry back to the mainland at Puerto Jimenez. The road was one of our top 3 best cycling experiences of the entire trip. Hardly any cars, just the incredible deafening wildlife of the rainforest for company - Wow those Toucans and Scarlett Macaws were so so amazing. We hit our first tropical down pour of the trip in the rainforest, infact our first rain since the Oregon coast in the States. It was so refreshing as the humidity and strong sun has taken its toll on us. There is a little video here of one of several bridges we had to cross....ignore my dreadful Arnie impression at the start....
We stupidly ignored the sound advice and arrived at the Nica / Costa Rica border at 5pm on Sunday Evening...right behind 3 coach loads of tourists and hundreds of locals returning to Costa Rica to work for the week...We queued into the night for our passports to be stamped and pedalled off into pitch darkness a few hours later. The first sign of light was at a gas station, where we promply set up our tents behind petrol pump number 4..an ideal first nights accomodation in beautiful Costa Rica.
What a contrast... Looking back at our first few blogs up in Alaska and now, 2 weeks and 850 odd km from the end of our trip, I can hardly start to process all that we have seen and experienced.
Saying a sad goodbye to our cycling companions Emy and Nicholas in Leon, Nicaragua we went off in search for Andrew and Jane Longley of Nuevas Esperanzas, a non for profit organisation working to help rural communities in remote parts of Nicaragua to become more self sufficient and sustainable.
Since leaving the Film Crew in Antigua, things have accelerated dramatically, hopping from one country to another in a matter of days instead of weeks.
We continued south from El Salvador into Southern Honduras with Nicholas and Emi. Travelling with them had been such a pleasure in El Salvador that we found excuses for it to continue as long as possible. By now border crossings had become a bit of a routine. Starting with a stop a few kms before the border to film, followed by the hectic bombardments of requests to change money from street exchange vendors, some anxiety at the immigration, followed by a hassle free passport stamping and immense satisfaction of making it into another wonderful country to explore.
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