Tag Archives: Darien Gap

The Waiting Game : Panama

There is no road connecting Panama to Colombia, in the 48,000 km of road all the way from Alaska to Patagonia, there is only this 100 km or so of road missing.  So, to get across to South America we had to spend a bunch of time in Panama City arranging for the van to be shipped as cargo to Cartagena.  

Knowing from the experience of others that this week would most likely be expensive and stressful, we chose to book a guest room through airbnb and took the opportunity to enjoy a little downtime in between rushed visits to shipping agents, customs inspections and the port. I think this was a good plan.

In reality, we spent most of the week watching tv and movies in air conditioned comfort.

After a few days, we finally handed over the keys to the port workers and they assured us it would be carefully loaded into a container. We crossed our fingers and hoped that we would see it again, safe and sound in Colombia. Now vanless, we had some time to wander around the old town, and enjoy our last night in Panama.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The new Panama City, from Cinta Costera

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It looks a little different after sundown and with a low tide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Deep fried whole fish with patacones- Mercado de Mariscos (Seafood market)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Street life, Casco Viejo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kids on the balcony

Also, our hosts David, Nicholas and Nahun treated us really well, keeping us well supplied with good company and good food throughout the week. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Bbq


We had the feeling that we were missing out on much of what Panama had to offer.  But that’s sometimes just the way things go.  A quote from one of my favourite John Steinbeck books puts it perfectly:

“This journey has been like a full dinner of many courses, set before a starving man. At first he tries to eat all of everything, but as the meal progresses he finds he must forgo some things to keep his appetite and his taste buds functioning”

This is kind of how we felt in Panama, we’d been moving quickly and were concentrating on the logistics of getting across the gap without really stopping to look around much.  But now, with North and Central America behind us, we’re hungry for South America.