After my fun session in the morning I said my goodbyes and jumped in the car and then bumped my way along the supposedly good road out of Pavones. It was better, but was far from great, with most of it an uphill climb on barely flattened rocks. However it eventually got me to actual tarmac and I could stop gritting my teeth over every bump and relax a bit.
From there it was very quick to the Panamanian border although I had the usual stresses in the heat upon arrival. People running in front of the car, chasing me down the road so they could try and ambush me to offer their help, change my money, etc. all of which would be done for a fee. Sooner or later they always get the message but it is an additional stress and gets my back up straight away, when I already don’t have clue where to go, what paperwork is necessary, how much money the crossing will cost, to who I need to speak to, etc. My lack of Spanish doesn’t do me any favours either! Two hours of suffering in the heat with an additional frustration getting across this border, because they all disappeared for an hour to go to lunch, but I am in Panama and hopefully won’t be doing anything like that again on this trip.
I was hoping to stay at the Morro Negrito Surf Camp (www.morronegrito.travel ) which is a bit like Tracey Island, but for surfers. I had contacted them before I left Costa Rica enquiring about a room and what I might do with my car whilst I was on the island and got this response: ‘We have availability and a safe place to keep your car. Please drive to this location: http://goo.gl/maps/4w3fz .‘ Now that seems pretty helpful but if you follow the link it just produces a line on a satellite image, which helps a bit, but is far from a great navigational aid and given they were expecting nearly £100 a night to stay there I thought at the time it was a bit shoddy service. Of course as soon as I cross the border into Panama my mobile phone stops working altogether and I can’t even see the line on the satellite picture or ring him to try and get nearer.
Panama is like the 51st state of the USA so I was able to pull into a KFC and use their free wi-fi which got me as far as again seeing the line on my mobile phone (my laptop is really throwing its dolly out of the pram about connecting to anything now!) I tried to leave that image on my screen, but once off the main road and in the middle of nowhere halfway along a mountain road, I inadvertently pressed the back-up button and it was gone forever.
I will admit there was a wee bit of ranting in the car at this stage, but afterwards I had a look at the map and decided to push on to Santa Catalina where I was going to head for next anyway.