Tuesday January 17, 2012, 90 km (56 miles) – Total so far: 442 km (275 miles)
The way to the border was dominated by huge banana plantationes. Incredible how much man power is still involved in the harvest of the fruits. We passed many factories which mainly give a good impression of how hard that work is.Moving the fruits after picking them, packing and loading them – everything handmade.
What is not handmade is the providing the plants with insecticides. When we passed a huge field, a plane was throwing chemicals on the plants and we had our share of it, because the wind was blowing the whole shit towards the street. There were young families walking with their children, old people, everyone got his individuell dosis of protection against insects. Very nice.
Reduces at once your appatite for bananas and makes you think about the nice fruits you buy far away in Europe.
But another adventure was yet to come: the border crossing to Panama. There was only one counter on the Panama side for both: going to Panama and leaving Panama.
We had to wait aproximately for 3 hours in the hot sun. The queue did not move at all. When we finally crossed (we were lucky that we didn`t have to buy a bus ticket for a bus leaving Panama back to Costa Rica as a prove that you won`t stay in Panama)we had to pay 3 USD each entrance fee.
We were controlled by two guys from the local customs who seemed to be quite bored and were happy to let us open all our bags. In fact, they didn`t even take a closer look at our things.What they were looking for will remain their secret.
The road continued more or less flat, but about 25 km before Almirante it started to get hilly and remained like this until we arrived.So the last kms were pretty exhausting. Almirante is a dirty little harbour,with a lot of unemployment and there is no reason to stay there.
We got accomodation in the best hotel in town, the “Alhambra” and it still was a very basic room. We got some food in a restaurant in the harbour, the type of restaurant you would never enter voluntarily, but the food was delicious!