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panamanian farewell

I thought I had cleverly planned my departure to avoid wet season rain but in the end Panama bid me a soggy and unglamourous farewell.

Rain, rain, rain, on the Panamerican highway towards the City.

Panama is in love with The Mall. The ride between Santiago and the City is an uninspiring series of strip malls and unsympathetically developed beaches.

A search for a campsite off the highway leads me to an archeological museum.

The watchman declines to let me camp on the extensive lawns of the archeological site but as I am riding back through the village a man in a pick up, who turns out to be the watchman's brother, waves me down and leads me to the museum administrator's house where I camp in the yard.

I skip Panama City by crossing the Centennial Bridge instead of the Bridge of the Americas and head straight towards Colon in search of a boat to take me to Colombia. Don't be fooled by the sunshine - this photo was taken on an earlier trip to Panama City - I crossed the bridge in torrential rain.

Boats passing under the Centennial Bridge on their way to the Atlantic.

Once over the bridge and on the east of the Canal my task is to find a yacht, cargo boat or motor launch to take me through the San Blas archipelago to Puerto Obaldia, the Panamanian border post on the Atlantic coast. First stop is Portobello, the hub of the sailing boat scene.

Portobello is a small port east of Colon - a seedy waterfront village with a similarly seedy resident cruising community. I don't tarry for long.

The defensive view.

The Spanish fort, built to defend Portobello from Francis Drake and other pirates, is UNESCO listed.

The sailing boats bob tantalisingly in the bay but I have just about given up hope of ever finding a chink through which I might enter the world of sailing. True I could pay the $550 that would get me a berth to Cartagena but I’ve heard too many horror stories of drunk arrogant captains who despise their passengers to bother with it. So I get on my bike and make my way further down the coast to Miramar.

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