We flew into Panama City, loaded our gear into a taxi and set out for our Hotel. Wow, after spending two weeks in Cuba where most of the cars are dated pre 1955 and the buildings eventually fall down and are not replaced; we were in a modern city. The billboards stuck out noticeably but failing to draw us in for a sale. We had now entered our 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 city.
We had a lot of fun with my parents Jo and Bruce but unfortunately 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. We have been in communication 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 set of for the boarder to find a notary (lawyer) to finalise the formalities 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 and were greeted with a big swell. After spending close to two months out of the water and wanting to start our own 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 were soon 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 was a great place to ease us back into surfing, there were waves everyday, there were no crowds and the scenery was of that of a tropical paradise. The beach break always seemed to be breaking and then there are the point breaks of Cuatro Once and Corto Circito not to mention the other breaks in the area which hold there own names.
While in Cambutal, we found someone that could make us a bed for the back of our 4Runner. This involved a bit of ply wood cut in half that could slide on top of each other if we ever needed to lift the back passenger seats up. This 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 just don't have a lot of room to sit up. The next thing we made are mosquito nets for the two rear doors and one for the boot. The two rear doors netting simply 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 in the back of the car with leads connecting to the battery at the front of the car and connected a power inverter.
We said goodbye to Aaron our host, where we were camped and headed for the up and coming secret spot of Playa Morrio. I won't give any hints to where this spot is on here sorry. Rory and Katie slept in our tent and Bron an I slept in our car on our newly made bed. Over the next few nights, we were caught in the middle of the biggest lightening and thunder show we had experienced.
We scored really good 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 isolated 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 main wave and nobody else around.
This was a mission; first we drove to the border, headed down the Peninsula that is shared with Costa Rica. On our way we were caught in a heavy rain and the onset of dark, so we pulled into a hotel in Puerto Armuelles. This 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 supplies 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 were pointed in the direction of the beach, from here we had to drive along the beach across rocks and sand until we found another opening into the jungle onto another road. We kept driving until we found an establishment at the end (Shawn and Shena).
Punta Burica is stunningly gorgeous with great easy long 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 a board 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 really 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