Day 118 – Santa Clara, CR to Boquete, PA

Day 118 – Santa Clara, CR to Boquete, PA      12/17/10      Mileage: 138

This morning I gave the bike a good once over and did some routine maintenance as the hotel had what amounts to a car port. Once I finished and the bike was packed, I set of for the Panama border…country number 10! The GPS maps for here and all of Central America that I downloaded are a mixed bag and not nearly as good as the U.S. of course. Sometimes they’re OK, other times whole towns or regions may be blank….hence why you always need a paper map also. Well, I was well off the beaten track and the GPS was helpful but with only the general direction I needed to go. The paper map was of little help as the road I needed was not on it….so I was left to do a lot of asking the locals.

Hola, do you guys know where the Rio Sereno border crossing is?

Let’s see…is it down this road…nope.

Hola, do you guys know where the Rio Sereno border crossing is?

Nope….

Hola, do you guys know where the Rio Sereno border crossing is?

Nope…

Hola, do you guys know where the Rio Sereno border crossing is?

Nope…

OK, one more try with the GPS…

Nope…

Hola, do you guys know where the Rio Sereno border crossing is?

Not looking good…

Hey wait….what’s this?

Holy crap, this is it!

After numerous wrong turns and many stops to as directions from the Tico’s, I finally found the tiny Rio Sereno border crossing which is down a random unmarked dirt road. I was also glad to see that I was the only overland traveler at border….cool! Once I found the right building, I was processed out of Costa Rica in 5 minutes by a guy who live in Freehold, NJ for 3 years….too funny!

This is the Costa Rica immigration building…

Next it was on to the Panama immigration office which also took all of 10 minutes to process through. Next it was to the Panama aduana to get an import permit for the bike, but alas….the office had just closed. Well, there’s actually only one guy who works there, and he was going to lunch…even though it was only 10:45am.

This is the Panama aduana “building”.

No problem though, I’ll have a bite to eat myself and have a look around. At 12:30 the aduana office door opened I started the process of importing the bike. The gent working in the office was a really nice guy and very helpfull…he even walked me around to the insurance office to show me exactly where to purchase the compulsory insurance.

My new friend at the Panama aduana office…

Done! Time to hit the road…

So once that was done, I was off and running in Panama! The road from Rio Sereno towards Volcan is awesome! Rural, twisty, mountainous, perfect pavement and largely deserted made for some great riding and I’d put it on your list if your down this way.

The route to Boquete that was the most direct turned out to have a bridge that was out. Bollix! Now I had to go all the way down to the Pan American highway to David, and then back north to Boquete…a 60 mile detour. Oh well, I went 100 miles to retrieve my bloody Big Sky t-shirt, so I guess that’s not too bad!

My $20 hotel with HOT running water!

The info center on the way into town found me a nice hotel for $20 with…wait for it…actual real honest to god HOT running water! It had literally been 2 months since I had a real shower with hot and cold running water….I might take two just because I can!

Here is todays route profile below….ups and downs usually mean lefts and rights also….that’s the good stuff!

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