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On The ROAD HOME: Panama and Costa Rica

 Panama City

Sunday, April 28th, around 3pm we hit the road in Panama. We were feeling great as we headed North up the Pan-American Highway. Once again we were on some nice big freeways. Panama uses the US dollar as well, so it was cool to buy things in Dollar. About 200 kms up the highway we found ourselves lost in panama city. One of the most modern cities we've visited. I would have told you that we were in Florida. We circled around Panama City for a couple hours and finally found the way out of town. Soon after leaving the city we crossed the Panama Canal. That was super awesome! You can see how much work went into it. After Crossing the canal we road east, southeast for what seemed like forever! We headed back Northeast and after hours of riding we made it to the Costa Rica, Panama border. We were pumped to get into Costa Rica to find a nice campsite. As we crossed the border we were informed that customs didn't open until 7 am. Soo.... we found a couple of nice poles and fence posts right in front of the customs office and hung up our hammocks. We wrapped up in our blankets to keep the bugs off us, and at about 3 am the jungle sounds wisped us off to sleep.
The Panama Costa Rica Border
Monday morning we were woken up a little before 5am. There were people lined up at the border fighting to be one of the first people to get into Panama to go to work. We broke camp and jumped in line to get into Costa Rica. Little did we know we were almost two hours early. Finally 7 am rolled around, the office opened, and when our turn to get stamped into Costa Rica came around.... We had to go a mile back to Panama to get our passports stamped there. We had to wait another hour in line there and then we were back to the Costa Rica Customs office. Once again we made it to the front of the line, we were then informed that we needed our yellow fever shot cards or we weren't going into CR. The lady just told us that we were out of luck and that we had to go back to the city, get the shot, wait 6 days, and then we could enter the city. We were super mad. I went back up to the front of the line and asked if I could get a copy of the card faxed or e-mailed to them. They said that was ok so we got to work. I searched around for a pay phone and called my mom collect. "hey mom can you send me my yellow fever shot card. Jim... you don't have your yellow fever shots." Ummm... shoot. So what did do. We made one! I had my mom email me the shot card and we wrote in the yellow fever section. We copied it and I took it back to the CR office. Turns out Panama stamped my passport with the wrong stamp so..., Back to Panama, then back to CR. Finally they stamped me into Costa Rica. Then it took me 2 more hours to get my bike paperwork all finished up and done. Dave and Nian just got on the internet, found some shot cards, changed the names, printed em off and got stamped in like a charm! Around 2 pm we were finally on the road in Costa Rica. What a head ache!
 A Big Statue of Christ as we Climbed the Mountains In Costa Rica

Once in CR we just road HARD! Its a super pretty country but we didn't have time to stop and  see the sights. Next time I Guess!  We road a few hours through some hot jungle, which was amazing. We were headed North along the Pacific Coast. Suddenly, the road veered back to the south west. That took us up into some mountains and through some pineapple farms. We rode through a small rainstorm and stopped for gas a goodies in the small town of Cacao. As we left the town we hit a stretch of nice windy roads. We're having a blast flying up the mountain on awesome paved roads when all the sudden our bikes start running way crappy! :We were at such a high altitude that our bikes were choking for air. Suddenly it started getting chilly and started to drizzle a little. That was strange because just hours before we were all cursing the blasted jungle heat. Nian and Dave stopped to put on their rain gear. I reluctantly stopped and put mine on as well. I was under the impression that it would just drizzle a little and we'd be high and dry soon.

 Getting Our Rain Gear On Just Before the Coldest Rainstorm EVER!!

Little did i know, five minutes up the mountain road, Boom! An Ultra-Freezing rainstorm awaited us! I had on Three shirts, Two jackets, and all the other warm clothing I could possibly squeeze under my rain gear. Twenty minutes up the mountain road my bike was going 20 mph at full throttle and I was FREEZING!!! I would compare this coldness to the time I fell through the Ice. SOOOO COLD!!! The little mountain that I thought we would pass soon turned into one of the highest mountains in Costa Rica! We pinned our bikes, and rode as fast as we could (25mph) until we were out of the mountains. As we headed down the other side the clouds broke a little and we were able to see just how amazing the place was. We all stopped just before San Jose and told each other how cold we were.

Back on the road we were soon in the middle of San Jose. My GPS only had a couple major roads on it so I just kept us going in the general direction and followed the flow of traffic. Miraculously, we made it right through the city, during rush hour, with no problems. We did get put onto a nice toll road that wasn't cheap. So.... We begged  the attendants to let us through! It worked about half the time. haha It got dark and we rode until we were close to the Pacific again. We got some gas, got some wild central American energy drinks, and hit the road. The stretch of road from San Jose to the Nicaragua border was kinda sketchy! Lots of transvestites and truckers. Needless to say we didn't stop except for some roadside police checkpoints. The cops here were super cool. One of them gave me his address and wanted me to come back and buy his beach property.
 Looking for a Place To hang our Hammocks

Around 3 am we arrived at the Nicaraguan border. We were stopped by the border police and told that we needed to wait until 7 am for customs to open.  This campout was a little different than the rest. As we crossed the border the roads were dirt and the whole area was extremely gloomy and unkept. There was a huge parking lot full of trucks and a few people walking around. The wind started blowing and it was looking like it was going to rain. We arranged our hammocks under a little roof next to the customs office. I pushed my bike up under my hammock and tried to get some sleep. I woke up three or  four times throughout the night to keep an eye on some creepy people that kept walking around us. I didn't get much sleep but it sure felt good to lay down for a bit!

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