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Jan 29

The End of a Continent!

The Bridge of the Americas.

Tony poses in front of the Bridge of the Americas

Tony poses in front of the Bridge of the Americas

In the end, it took Tony and I five days to ride the 440km from David to Panama City.  It was a journey that in our minds was a blend of raw perseverance, blissful satisfaction, and triumphant nostalgia, as we were very aware that this was the final push and the end of the road for us in Central America.

 

Las Lajas:  Camp spot 1

Las Lajas: Camp spot 1

The five day trip was far more enjoyable than I had expected and I was continually reminded of all the generosity and kindness that Tony and I have received over the last 13 months on our journey from San Francisco.  We had good camp spots each night (twice on beautiful beaches, once with the police, and once with another gover

nment agency), we had no flat tires, no frustrating bike problems and for two days and one night we had company riding with Robi and Monika from Switzerland who we first met in Costa Rica.  Our last night before Panama City Tony and I rolled up to Playa Santa Clara at sunset and within 15 mins of arriving I was offered a safe place to camp on the beach, a chair to sit in, two huge plates of food and an ice-cold sweaty Panama beer – all for free.  My Karma account be surely be running in the red these days.

Robi and Monika

Robi and Monika

On the 10th of January, 2013 I woke up before sunrise and loaded Tony up for what would be a long day as we were still 120km from Panama City.   It was our last day riding in Central America and as I watched the kilometer markers slowly count down our arrival I was filled with mixed emotions.  Part of me wanted to explode out from within and celebrate the end of the trip as in many ways this was the end of the road for us – it could even be my last day on the road with Tony.  Yet another part of me held back, knowing that my journey with Tony would most likely continue in Colombia for our ¨victory lap¨.  The future was unclear – as it so often is – and would remain so until I came up with a plan to cross the Darien Gap.

coffee

coffee

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Playa Santa Clara, night four

When the Puente de las Americas came into view though, my hesitation pulled a Houdini and all I was left with was an overwhelming sense of pure jubilation.  It didn’t matter if we were going to keep riding after that day, the Bridge of the Americas, a majestic steel truss bridge that arches across the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, is an undeniable benchmark for any traveler who has made a long journey from the North.  At the top of the bridge’s arch, we stopped on the shoulder-less edge of the road to enjoy the view, oblivious to the traffic roaring by us.  In front of me, over a hill, I could make out the skyscrapers and high-rises of Panama City, to my left was the entrance to the Panama Canal and the Miraflores locks, and to my right was the Pacific Ocean and – somewhere out there – Guam and Australia.  Behind me there was no view to enjoy, just a bit of highway and jungly hill.  But that’s not what I saw.  Behind me, I saw over 12,000 km of road stretching out and winding its way through nine countries before arriving at yet another bridge – a not-so-golden one - that Tony and I had stood in front of 13 months earlier.  From where I was standing now, that day seemed a lifetime ago.

Camp spot night two with the police

Camp spot night two with the police

The End of Stage 6

Panama City was the end of the road for us in Central and North America, and therefore the end of Stage 6 of the Tour de Zack y Tony AKA Operation: Enduring Freedom.  Stage 6 had carried us from the border of Honduras through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama lasting 62 days and 1,859 kilometers.  Now that we are in Panama city we will spend the next week investigating our various options for crossing the infamous Darien Gap.  The Darien is the final obstacle standing between us and our long sought goal of South America.  Once we cross it we will be in Colombia for the seventh and final stage of the Tour de Zack y Tony – also aptly know as: Operation: Victory Lap!

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Missed part of Stage 6?  Check out our Summary page!

Also check out our updated The THANK YOU! List  and Bike Buddies Pages!

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment

  1. Monse

    Why say the end of the continent?
    The American continent ranges from Alaska to Patagonia.
    It’s annoying that divide the continent into three, North America, Central and South America
    If we are all the same continent and all are Americans

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