We flew into Panama City, loaded our gear into a taxi and set out for our Hotel. After spending two weeks in Cuba, Wow, where most of the cars are dated pre-1955, and the buildings eventually collapse and are not replaced, we were in a modern city. The billboards stuck out noticeably but failing to draw us in for sale. We had now entered the second half of our journey, Central America, here we come.
Jo and Bruce have two nights with us in Panama City to explore before hopping aboard a plane for home; the Panama Canal was top of our priority, finding a vantage point of the city and exploring the old town.
We had a lot of fun with my parents Jo and Bruce, but unfortunately, all great things come to an end and we had to say goodbye to them. There was a strange empty feeling as we sat eating breakfast without them the morning they left.
Our next destination is Panama's second-largest city to the west, called David. This town is where we were to look at a new mode of transport. We have communicated with a German couple Mo and Heike, who are selling their car to us.
We met up with Mo and Heike and decided that the car would be perfect for us. The following day we all travelled for the border to find a notary (lawyer) to finalise the sale for us. This process was a lot easier than the information we had found researching the Internet.
After the dealings at the border and a night in Costa Rica, we crossed the border back into Panama with Mo and Heike and headed for Santa Catalina. We reached Santa Catalina in time for a big swell. After spending close to two months out of the water and wanting to start our adventure with our new car, "Felix," the 4Runner, we set off for Playa Venao.
We didn't grow fond of the wave that carried a large crowd at Playa Venao and soon was on our way to Cambutal with a lovely English couple called Rory and Katie.
We enjoyed Cambutal immensely and camped down there for the next two weeks. This location was a great place to ease us back into surfing. There were waves every day, there were no crowds, and the scenery was of a tropical paradise. The beach break always seemed to be breaking, and then there are the point breaks of Cuatro Once and Corto Circuito, not to mention the other breaks in the area which hold their names.
While in Cambutal, we found someone that could make us a bed for the back of our 4Runner. This construction involved a bit of plywood cut in half that could slide on top of each other if we ever needed to lift the back passenger seats. This design is working well as we can slide our gear underneath the bed, and there is more room to sleep as we are above the wheel arches. We don't have a lot of room to sit up.
The following things we made were mosquito nets for the two rear doors and one for the boot. The two rear doors netting slip over the top of the doors, and the boots netting, we used velcro. Our last step in being comfortable sleeping in the back of Felix is a fan. We installed a second battery at the end of the car with leads connecting to the battery at the front of the car and joined a power inverter.
We said goodbye to Aaron, our host, where we camped and headed for the up and coming secret spot of Playa Morrio. I won't give any hints as to where this spot is on here, sorry. Rory and Katie slept in our tent, and Bron and I slept in our car on our newly made bed. Over the next few nights, we caught the middle of the most extensive lightning and thunder show we had experienced.
We scored perfect waves here at Morrio. At low tide, the beach throws quick and hollow left-hand barrels, while at high tide, big right waves cruise through for an easily rippable face.
We dropped Rory and Katie off in the local town and said goodbye. Bron and I surfed this secret and solitary wave a couple more times on our own before we packed up the campsite and drove off for our next mission to Las Lajas, which ended up being a disappointment, so we left after one night.
A couple of nights later, we found ourselves camping at Punta Burica on Shawn and Shena's property, right in front of the primary wave and nobody else around.
This location was a mission; first, we drove to the border and headed down the peninsula shared with Costa Rica. On our way, we caught a heavy rain and the onset of dark, so we pulled into a hotel in Puerto Armuelles. This opportunity is where we fixed the starter motor that was missing its seals so water could penetrate, causing it to be intermittent.
The following day we stocked up on Puerto Armuelles and ventured down the peninsula to Bella Vista on one of the roughest roads we had driven on since Cuba. Upon arrival at Bella Vista, we pointed in the beach's direction; from here, we had to drive along the coast across rocks and sand until we found another opening into the jungle onto another road. We kept moving until we found an establishment at the end (Shawn and Shena).
Punta Burica is stunningly gorgeous with significant easy extended rights, mangos, coconuts and avocado trees and the best of all, no crowds and isolated. A lot of the surf spots are secret and only accessible by boat. We were lucky to jump aboard a boat a couple of times and check out the surrounding surf spots. This place is paradise and a place that we'll remember. We want to buy land here, but that is another story.
We said goodbye to Shawn and Shena with plans of catching up with them at their property in Costa Rica.
Hasta Luego Panama