Thursday, December 1, 2011

Boarding the Steel Rat

The morning of our departure, we were to meet 13 other motorcycles at the airport just outside of Panama City. That's a crowd!

There were a few couples, a few individuals, a few groups of friends from all over the world. It was fun to briefly meet them, but then on to the dock in Carti, San Blas. We were all supposed to follow Giorgio, an Italian ex-pat living in Panama since he knew the way, but he took off without much warning, leaving Jill and me, Sara and Malcolm, and Terry to fend for ourselves. A few questions for directions and we caught the group dealing with a police checkpoint. The benefit of getting ditched originally is that we got to ride right through the checkpoint. The road to the north at El Llano was much more interesting and scenic than the PanAmerican.

A Kuna tax was paid to enter their land (US$6 per ppn and US$3 per bike, IIRC). While the map shows all of their territories (including the San Blas islands) as part of Panama, the Kuna tribes are self governing. They managed to pick up a few other taxes from us, but mostly nominal fees. Tourism is a primary source of income for them, and knowing that a group of motorcyclists will not be buying many souvenirs, we didn't feel so bad to chip in a few bucks.

We soon caught site of the ocean.

And our first glimpse of the Stahlratte herself:

After changing clothes, stripping the luggage off the bike, hosing the TA down with WD-40, the nerve-wracking process of loading the motorcycles began. The dock made things easy as the bikes were rolled up next to the boat, lifted by a crane (a line normally used for the main sail), and set on board.

(...and a sigh of relief)

The first afternoon was spent loading the bikes and getting to know some of our traveling friends. We slept right there at the dock to wait for some backpackers the next morning, then on to the San Blas Islands.

(the smallest spoon we could find)

No comments:

Post a Comment