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     This road DID get steep!

     On the 28th of January, I arrived at the Panamanian border. For 3 hours I stood dripping sweat, jumping through one hoop, then another. Central American borders can be frustrating, this was one of the worst. I was more than a little glad to get back on the bike. As I put more distance between myself and the border, I began to relax. My last Central American border had been crossed. The wind began to cool me down and the sweat began to dissipate. The goal for the day was the town of Boquete, high in the western highlands. What a fantastic place! The surrounding mountains remind me of Colorado. Today I went for a long ride in the hills. Flowers, coffee plantations, farms on steep mountain-sides, etc dominated the terrain. It was one of the most beautiful rides Ive done since I left home. My $15 hotel room overlooks a rushing river- and has a communal deck where guests can sit and share stories of our travels. The food is cheap here, $2 to $4 for a full lunch and a beer. A planned one night stay turned into three. 

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     En route to a coffee plantation...western Panama.

     The ride from Boquete to Panama City took an easy two days. It rained both days, though not heavily. Crossing the Panama Canal was exciting, a landmark on this long trip. Thankfully, the crossing also lacked the usual hassle of a border. From a distance, Panama City reminded me of Hong Kong. Bright high-rise buildings created a skyline unlike any I had seen south of the U.S. border. On the way into the city, however, I passed through the most rugged areas I've seen on this trip. If the bike broke down I had little doubt as to the outcome.  

    

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      The Panama Canal. 4 February, 2006.