The first thing you notice about Panama are the vast contrasts. As we arrived via San Blas on the Caribbean side, we were surrounded by isolated islands run by local indians, dirt roads and dense jungle. After riding just a mere 70km or so, and upon approaching Panama City, you come across your first McDonalds followed closely by Burger King and KFC. Moving along you´ll ride past a shopping centre which could easily fit straight into any developed western city. After riding past the 15th McDonalds we finally arrive to Casco Viejo, the historical part of town. Casco Viejo, going through a well deserved face lift as the wealthy return after leaving it to the lower class and squatters for the past 20 years or so. Interesting to see a multi million dollar building located right beside a 6 story block full of squatters!
No visit to Panama would be complete without a tour to the Canal. Thanks to Marco, who came on tour with us in Chile /Argentina, we received a VIP tour of the Canal. Bloody amazing to think they completed this huge feat at the beginning of the 1900`s. In the video we have sped up the footage x 4 , in the scene in which they are lifting the boat by raising the water level. This will give you an idea of just how quick the process is.
From Panama city we met up with one of our friends and SAMt customer who kindly invited us to his weekend home in the hills. Great relief to get away from the heat for a while.
After a few relaxing days in Boquete, we headed towards another set of Caribbean islands called Bocas del Toro. Again, the contrasts were vast from the poverty stricken villages spread along the banks of the river which lead us towards the spectacular archipelago lined with world class sailing cruisers and yachts.