Central America | Panama | Panama City – End of The Road
The Pan-American has run out of road, for all practical purposes anyway. Over the last nine months there have been days where I hoped for its end and now that I am here I have a hundred competing emotions taxing my brain, most of which beg me to get back on my bike and into foreign territory.
It seems like a lifetime Ive spent on these highways. All of the routines Ive developed are so strongly entrenched it feels like I have been on the road since birth. Hours spent in solitude spinning down foreign roadways, speaking in Spanish as a first language, living without commitments calendars and schedules. The mixing of cultures and values and even the climate has become the makeup of my life. I feel like a resident of the earth with the freedoms befitting a person without identity.
Last night I was with friends on the balcony of this 8th floor hostel in downtown Panama discussing an up coming sailing trip to Cartegena Columbia. We were trying to convince each other to go. I was successful, they came very close. I should have waited until I got here to make any forwarding plans but when I found a good deal in the city of David, which required a one week advance booking, I took it. Now I sit here kicking myself in the ass. Columbia is so close and the road continues on from there. And…..lets not forget how much fun can be had on a sailboat in the Caribbean.
Booking my flight back to Canada took a great deal of deliberation and strength. As the competing emotions continue to battle in my cerebral cortex I have to think ahead to my next trip in attempt to gain balance. When I was planning this trip my initial goal was Canada to Brazil in twelve months. The destination later changed to Tierra del Fuego and then I got realistic and decided I would just take it one country at a time. I was quite certain I would get to Panama so in the back of my mind I considered this to be the point at which I would decide on any further plans.
I made it to Panama, and for several reasons decided to end my trip here. The reason with the most weight is time. I am now at the nine-month mark and although South America is a stones throw away Brazil and the ‘Tip’ are much farther down the road than three months worth of cycling will deliver me.
I will do South America but I will do it when I have enough time to explore all of the continent’s countries. This planet offers so many places to cycle I cant imagine returning to the same place twice. I would rather wait and do it right than do it part way.
I have had an amazing adventure since my departure on Sept 03/02. I have covered over 11,000kms and crossed 8 countries. I worked on an organic farm, visited Mayan ruins, studied Spanish and lived with a Guatemalan family. I worked at a animal rehab center taking care of spider monkeys and parrots, Ive gone caving, climbed volcanoes and raced mules on my bicycle. I went diving in the Caribbean and kayaking in mangrove forests. Ive met people from every corner of the world and every walk of life. And in between each of these events I saw a large chunk of the world from the seat of my bicycle.
I feel like a bigger person better equipped to make evaluations and assessments of the world around me. I have gotten to know myself better than ever before, and at the same time blew off some previous limitations. I have improved on my patience, perseverance and resourcefulness. I have spent hours immersed in great thought and hours suspended in no thought at all. Most of all I have spent nine months enjoying and appreciating life without the petty distractions that western society imposes.
I have lived life to its fullest and I will endeavor to stay on this path until my next adventure. Some of the cycling I have done over the last nine months was extremely difficult but staying on this path back in the ‘developed world’ will prove a greater challenge by far.
Here are a few approximated stats I put together;
Total Distance Cycled: 11,211kms
Number of Countries Crossed: 8
Average Daily Coverage: 100kms
Average Speed: 20kms/hr
Fastest Speed: 83.6kms/hr, descending into Antigua GA.
Flat Tires: 28
Spokes Replaced: 108
Tires: 1 set of Shwalbe Marathon XR’s
Cycling Gloves: 4 Pairs
Cycling Shorts: 2 Pair are now as shear as pantyhose
Number of Bike Shops Visited: 24
Number of Bike Shops south of the USA border with 27′
wheel parts: 0
My Wheel Size: 27′
Water Consumed: 1,080 litres
Cerveza Consumed: 36,409 litres
Rice and Beans Consumed: 488 kg’s
Layers of Buttocks Skin Rubbed off: 76
Number of Passing Holas: 19,001
Number of Passing Waves: 33,016
Dog Bites: 1
Other Bites: 1,416,769
Mule Races: 1
Most Challenging Road: Baja California, Mexico
Most Amazing Experience: None of Your Business
Second Most Amazing Experience: Animal Rehab Center
Favorite Part of the Trip: Canada to Panama
Favorite Part of the Trip 2: the People
WHAT ARE YOU DOING SITTING DOWN?