Panama City
A Long Way Down

July 1, 2016

Leaving Panama proved to be a lot of work but not enough to diminish our excitement with arriving in South America.


What happened…


Amanda writes: Today’s overall day was a huge pain in the ass as it relates to the boarding of the plane in Panama City. We’ve been traveling now for almost two years and during that time we’ve taken a few planes. We have never needed to put our bikes in a box. We’ve heard some people talk about some of the larger airlines requiring boxes but we’ve been lucky. Until today where our luck ran out. We were told at check-in that we needed the bikes to be in boxes. We called the airline in advance to ensure that bikes were acceptable in bags and shared that information with the check-in agent. She directed us to her supervisor who then took over the situation. He proceeded to tell us again that they would not be accepted. When we asked why he informed us that the bikes could damage the plane. Really? Andrew and were then wondering if we should be concerned withe the craftsmanship of the plane. So now we’re being told that we’ll get a full refund of our ticket until we can figure out boxes. We tried to tell the guy that doesn’t work for us. The airport is not near downtown Panama City. We just took an expensive taxi ride for 45 minutes to get to the airpot and there is very little around the airport. By the time we’re at this point in the conversation it has been over an hour and the check-in time is quickly closing. We change our approach. We asked him what can we do to get on this plane with our bikes. He said we needed to find boxes. Even though they are an airport he wasn’t prepared to help us try and find any so off Andrew went in search of some kind of cardboard. I was left watching our bikes and bags. He managed to find some cut up pieces of cardboard and then we basically needed to just put cardboard around the bikes and tape them. I asked the check-in counter and the supervisor for tape … nope. Really? You’re an airport with a baggage centre and you don’t have tape? Andrew and I dug in our bags and took out our sacred duct tape and started taping up. We finished wrapping one bike, tracked down the supervisor and asked him if that was acceptable. We got the thumbs up with a glance at his wrist watch and him telling us we had 10 minutes before they closed the check-in counter. So after some sweaty taping and repacking of bags they finally accepted it. What a royal pain in the ass!

So we get off the plane and there is a HUGE line-up for immigration of over 100 people deep. Then at the entrance to the line there is this empty pathway with a Canadian flag on it. We take a closer look at it says Canadian citizens this way. The security guy asks if we’re Canadian and we confirm we are and he points us in that direction. We’re thinking this is awesome, they’re rolling out the red carpet for us. Well there’s a price for the red carpet my friends. 171,000 colones! Apparently it’s a reciprocal agreement with Canada so when a Colombian goes to Canada they have to pay too; thanks Canada! The conversion for us is a couple of hundred dollars and that sucks, but not much we can do. We’ve done VISA research but apparently missed this one because originally we were flying from Panama to Brazil so it wasn’t something we were thinking about. We paid our fee and off we went.

Once in Bogota it was awesome! The ride to our hosts home was absolutely exhilarating. There were so many people, so many cyclists and just a huge buzz about the city. There were bike lanes for almost the entire ride and while they separated us from cars they were incredibly busy. I enjoyed it immensely and then when we met up with our host Mauricio I enjoyed it even more. He was a bit concerned because it had taken us so long to get there but he met us on the street and we walked back to his place as the sun set. His wife had prepared us a lovely authentic Colombian meal and we were able to chat in English with his Son. We had a great visit and after dinner chatted about travels and plans and their beautiful Country.


Today’s Photographs

Panama City
A Long Way Down