So today we leave Panama City and head for the boat. Communication with the Independence has been very poor at best so we were quite surprised how easy it was to find. Drove out of PC, paid a couple of tolls, jumped on the highway and headed towards the Darien. Probably 40 miles out of PC there was a sign pointing towards Carti.
This road has steep climbs that would drop off the backside giving your stomach the weightless feeling like riding a rollercoaster. The problem is hitting them with any speed is difficult to say the least because of potential washouts and sharp corners looming on the other side.
I didn't grab a photo but after diving down around one corner and hammering up a steep curving incline all of a sudden there is a dump truck and a backhoe in the center of the road blocking the entire thing. I'll I could do was slam on the breaks and come within a few feet of the blockade. Then with front and rear brakes locked up it wasn't enough to stop the dizzer loaded down with liquid encouragement......slid down backwards until it got squirrely and dumped the bike. Guy the backhoe just shrugs and smiles.
About 20 miles into this road you meet your first Kuna Indians charging $10 to get into their property plus $5 per vehicle. They know you are headed for a boat to Colombia so your negotiating power is quite slim….actually none at all. Even for being nice.....I let him sit on my bike.
Then you reach a military checkpoint that just looks at your passport. And yells at you for taking a photo of this highly classified super secret building...
About 100 yards passed this there is a gravel road to the right that will take you down to a river.
Here you fork out another $20 for these guys to load your bike and drive you out to the Independence. We showed up just in time to meet Micah who is traveling from LA on his KLR. This process is fairly easy but I can’t imagine doing it with a liter bike or larger.
While he took his bike out we prepared with a heavy coating of bearing grease to the chains and a good lathering of WD-40 on engine and other exposed potential corrosion spots.
Made it to the boat without any hiccups and then Mee-Shell came down to tie the ropes. He looks like one seriously weathered sailor that probably isn’t going to be taking shit from anybody. Most reviews I have seen commented on how questionable the ropes are. My experience; they are slightly worn but these are serious double braided marine ropes with nylon & polyester cores….they are fine. Bikes went up into the vessel without a hitch.
Dropped our gear into the Saloon area and then Michel called for a water taxi to bring us to a Hostel on the island next to the boat. An hour later the owner of the hostel showed up and drove us ashore. Nothing but crystal clear water so when you roll up to the dock you get to see all the interesting artifacts on the bottom (brooms, old engines, beer cans, trash, trash, and more trash). Watch your step because the dock is very questionable (not sturdy). Our accommodations were on the top floor of the green high rise. Not great but really F*cking hot/humid.
On the far right of the island:
The boat driver and owner of the hostel getting down on some of our rum:
Walked around town (probably a 100 meter diameter circle of sand filled with huts with small alleyways for walking and plenty of docks with real dugout canoes). Really a neat little place. The only restaurant didn’t have a menu but served chicken, beef, and “wait just a second, HEY (to the guy on the dock), did you catch any fish, YEP”, and yes we have fish”. Great I’ll take the chicken! The chicken was old and not really edible but the rice was pretty good…and the beer was cheap.
The AssWadDub....because that makes sense:
I man who made an oar while we ate:
Back at the hostel I drank rum and tried to “fall asleep” in the hammock but the heat wouldn't allow. Laid in bed but my pillow packed absolutely full of synthetic cotton and wouldn't compress a bit….I had fits with it all night. And the owner slept right next door to us a snored like a SOB. Perfect, no sleep for the first night on the boat.
Ocean view from our room:
And the incompressible culprit:
And a description of our vessel on the wall:
I'm holding them to this one!