Well I have nearly spent as much time now in Panama as I have in Colombia and I can honestly say I not sad to be going back to Colombia. I have had some great experiences in Panama, like getting stuck in the Jungle on a CRF 450 in Carrowawora, partying in Panama city with Michel, and meeting KJ. But I have also had some horrific experiences in Panama. I have to say, for all the reasons I like Colombians, Panamanians are so different it is hard to believe the countries are connected by land, and only just some 80 odd years ago were in fact the same country!
But let me try and be nice and find the top three things I will miss most about Panama…. They would be;
- The Colombians
- The Colombians
- The Colombians
Following that, it is a huge step to number 4; the nightlife in Panama city. Panama city is something else, at face value a bunch of glitz, but under the surface lies a seething mas of rotten low-lives; from street beggars to the Police, from top Govt officials to big business. The jungle is beautiful, and the San Blas is truly spectacular, but the country has attracted the worst filth from around the world and the it just stinks!
Leaving Panama, true to form, was a nightmare. To begin with, even before we boarded the Metacommet ship on the Atlantic coast to take us to Colombia, it was clear all the horror stories about this particular boat are true. At that point we did not know who the crew was, or even if we had a crew, or when we were leaving, how we would eat, weather conditions etc…
The Atlantic this time of year was horrific, and whist I ultimately made it back to civilisation, horrific does not begin to describe the experience! 8 days on the water, sick most of them, did’t sleep many of them. No shower for nearly 10 days, occasionally there was food and water. The most heartbreaking part of the trip was the fast Launcha from Zapsurro to Turbo. All bikes sustained heavy damage and the boat crew do not give a crap about the hours of smashing they were receiving! You pay a fortune for this heartbreak experience I might add, and to make matters worse, it is happening right under your nose and you can’t do a thing about it as you are hanging onto the smashing/crashing little open fast boat as it hurtles across the swell. the constant spay in your face makes visibility almost zero, and open wind noise makes your screams for sympathy (for you and the bike) inaudible!
Finally after arriving in Turbo Colombia, damage investigation showed I need a new back wheel and hub and complete rear brake. Forks are shot, but I don’t think bent, definitely need new springs, seals and oil. The crash bars are bent, the bash plate is cracked, the radiator is bent, the bike is scratched on virtually every external surface.Heartbreaking! We needed to make immediate repairs to the bikes before we could limp home to Medellin.
But as a welcome back to Colombia, or more importantly Medellin, I have to shout out to the boys at ruta 40, the BMW shop. I have no connection to these guys, apart from a consistent history of incredible service, but these guys again dissolved all my anxiety, and proved again their incredible knowledge on parts, service and repair options, with none of the typical BMW bullshit I have received from every other BMW dealer I have been to in Australia and North America! If you ride a BMW, and you’re in Medellin, you are really missing out to not drop in and say Hi.