Our three hour tour of the Miraflores Locks and museum at the Panama Canal was made interesting and enjoyable by our guide Tio, a fourth generation Jamaican whose great-grandfather came to work on the construction of the canal.
On Thursday morning (10-28), we took a taxi to the Tocumen Airport in Panama City for our flight on Copa Airlines to Bogota. The 90 minute flight on a Brazilian built Embraer 190 (comparable to a Boeing 737) was on time and uneventful. We kept our shoes on through the security check and were served snacks, a sandwich, and sodas during the one and a half hour flight.
We took a bus to Girag to find our bikes and soon were on our way with a handful of paper work to clear them through customs. The fancy new building gave us hope until we actually got inside where, after being shunted from floor to floor, we finally landed in front an official’s desk. We soon had two people working on our paperwork which took about two hours to complete. We then walked in the rain the several blocks back to Girag. The very nice lady there re-did the whole paper work package for each bike with all of the correct photocopies--we hope!
The bikes were quickly inspected in the waning daylight and after gearing up and riding down the temporary ramp from the loading dock, we were on our way to Hostel La Pinta. We stopped to gas up the bikes and then hired a taxi to lead us to our lodging; we had done this in Panama City and it worked well as it did here.
Jean was fighting a cold/flu and headed right to bed; the rest of us snacked a bit in the lounge and then adjourned to our rooms. We were all fighting colds and the 9000’ altitude was affecting us a bit as well.
After two nights in Bogota, it felt good to get on the bikes and ride again. We ended up in a hostel in Neiva on Saturday night that we figured out (the next morning) was the equivalent to the motor hotels found in Mexico, CAm, and SAm that rent rooms by the hour! I guess the porn channels on the tv should have tipped us off…
The ride to San Agustin was the best of the trip so far. Good roads, spectacular mountain scenery, and a wonderful lunch at a road side restaurant made for a very good day. Halloween is alive and well here and we enjoyed witnessing the hustle and bustle of the evening in downtown San Agustin as we dined on roasted chicken, papas fritas, and Poker cerveza at Super Pollo. Trick-or-treaters accompanied by their parents made the rounds of the shops to collect a piece of candy, and masked motorcyclists let us take their pictures. A parade down the main street about 2100 made for a fun and memorable end to the evening.
This morning we visited an archeological park just a few kilometers from our hotel. Many statues and burial grounds dating back to about 3500 BC make up this park. The area was first excavated by the Spanish in 1758--there was a lot going on down here while our North American homelands were but a thought.