Day 42 – Panama City, Panama

Our original plan upon reaching Panama was to head straight for the port of Colon and arrange passage by boat to Cartagena, Columbia.  By all internet accounts Colon is a hive of scum and villainy that makes Mos Eisley seem pleasant by comparison.  They hold the knife right up against your throat when they rob you, and that´s if you´re lucky.  Still, we wanted to find our Millenium Falcon, and make the run by ship to Columbia (preferrably without any aduana entanglements). 

However, we have decided to wuss out and fly directly from Panama City to Bogota.  One reason is that finding a reliable captain and boat is a bit sketchy.  I´ve read stories where backpackers begged to be let off in the San Blas islands (taking the risk of beeing marooned for weeks until the next boat arrives) instead of continuing to endure horrid conditions.  Apparently, there are also pirates lurking in the waters between Panama and Columbia. 

It all sounds like a wonderful adventure, and if we had more time we would certainly do it.  Flying and sailing both cost about the same (about $400 or $500).  But a flight to Bogota takes about 5 hours, whereas the sailing from Colon to Cartegena usually takes about 4 days (with a stop in the San Blas Islands).  It could also take several days or even a week to arrange passage.  Finally, the ride from the colonial city of Cartegena (which is reported to be beautiful and safe) to Bogota would take still more time.  In the end it looks like flying directly to Bogota would save at least 10 days.  Although it´s a real shame to miss out on the boat trip across the Caribbean and the ride south from Cartegena to Bogota, time is a factor for us.  We want to make it Machu Picchu and the Brazilian Amazon
.

Today we rode to the Mariflores Locks of the Panama canal.  We watched a submarine then a huge container ship (the largest that could possibly fit through the canal) pass through.  Apparently that ship paid $250,000 dollars (cash only, in advance) for passage.  There was a line up of such ships waiting to pass.  Now I understand why Panama City looks like Miami.

We have posted pictures from Costa Rica at <A href="http://www.kodakgallery.com.
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