After we had boarded the Stahlratte, we were told to get to our bunks and sort out our luggage and then reconvene in 15 minutes on the upper deck for a full briefing before we headed out to sea. You can read about getting to the Stahlratte here. All the cases went into storage areas, and I had a lower bunk and kept my backpack, helmet, clothes bad (including wash bag) and tank bag with my bed. All of our bikes are already under covers when we board.
Panama is a country on the isthmus linking Central and South America. The Panama Canal, a famous feat of human engineering, cuts through its center, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to create an essential shipping route. In the capital, Panama City, modern skyscrapers, casinos and nightclubs contrast with colonial buildings in the Casco Viejo district and the rainforest of Natural Metropolitan Park.
After staying three nights in Panama City and having time to explore this very modern city and the slums nearby, it was finally time to get to Puerto Carti and the Stahlratte to get across the Darien Gap. We headed out of Panama City to Puerto Carti at about 6.30am and was again greeted with the Panama City persistent rain. It took about 45 minutes to get out of the traffic and into the Guna Kala region, which was good, traffic was annoying!
After staying one road soaked night in David, Panama, it was time to get to Panama City, which would be my final major city in Central America. My front tire on my KTM 1290 Super Adventure was now leaking at about 15 PSI per hour, not good and I was also running low on coolant. The roads were pretty much straight highways and the weather was beautiful one moment and pouring with rain the next. I was beginning to think that is all that happens in Panama, is rain!
Just the two nights in Jaco, Costa Rica, saw me swiftly on my way to David, Panama to get to Panama City on the 18th. A riding day that started out just fine, that is, until I reached the Panama border and consistent torrential rain. Traveling just under 200 miles (316 kilometers) a trip which took me all up – over eight hours. Ouch!