to Volcan

There’s been chat among riders about the Rio Sereno crossing into Panama and how great it is. It’s in the mountains, is tiny, approached on a rocky road and not travelled much. Great for the ride and great for being quiet.

It’s not a very long ride from Jiminez through the border to Volcan but I decide be conservative and set-up for the crossing at Cuidad Neily. If the border takes a couple of hours or more I don’t want to be riding to Volcan in the afternoon downpour. And I want time to enjoy the ride back off the peninsula, which turns out to be a wise choice. Good.

But first, the two day track. The border is the dark grey line that passes through Paso De Canoa
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Reversing the route, great views of the gulf

The road turns paved

And sometimes not

And we’re back in civilization. Through a typical town

Crash in Cuidad Neily

On with the PacSafe for the border

Then up into the mountains! The view back down to Neily

Up through perfect twisties onto a ridge

Lucinda and I love it when you can see the twisties you’ve been riding beside you on a parallel ridge. This is pavement riding at its best

Oh no, here comes the rain

Into the clouds

A reprieve and it gets no worse. When it clears a bit we see high altitude farmland

And beside the road at one point we see this. Take a guess. Yup, you got it the first time: Calystegia sepium, only not sepium, something very close, and blue. If in doubt look at the leaf shape and tendril about dead center. I could only laugh. A horticultural disaster equivalent to smallpox and they have it here, in paradise. Oh well

Then, after a nearly perfect ride, the road turns to a kind of sharp fused rock for a few miles which takes a bit of riding-thought to get just right. Speed as usual seems to work best.

Then the border.
This is a very remote place and the border town is tiny. This is the street you get your photocopies at. It’s steep, wet, the rock loose and generally pretty interesting riding.

The Costa Rica Immigration and Aduana (customs) are in the same building, and super cute, like a postcard. Holy smokes, this is different. Usually Central American borders are laid out specifically to fuck with your head

And just as the picture suggests, we whistle through in about 20 minutes. Incredible. But exiting is easy compared to entry. Next off to Panama Immigration, then Aduana, then Fumigation, then Seguro (insurance), then Aduana again and finally Policia.

So, immigration. He’s gone to lunch. I wait

Then customs. You can see it’s customs, if you’re brilliantly observant by the ‘aduana’ painted on the bottom door sill. I love it that they do this to us gringos

The customs girl was a sweetheart but threw me for a loop by insisting I got insurance first. Shit. I asked where, she said around the corner and sure enough, Seguro. But it was locked up. I waited about a half hour. Small border, no rules, except THE rules.

Then I got into my get-the-job-done mood and put the camera away and was done, all-up, in about 2 1/2 hours. Which is not great, but fine elsewhere. Part of the problem was three sets of photocopies. When Policia asked for another full set at the end, much to my surprise, that was another 30 minutes off into town and back. So Rio Sereno is a cute and interesting crossing but today, not a particularly fast one. At least not for me today

And here’s my first pic of Panama

There’s been some press among long-distance riders recently about the quality of the ride from Rio Sereno to Volcan in the mountains and it’s true. Perfect twisties for miles and miles, through to-die-for country

Then my luck ran out. The skies opened, it turned torrential, visibility dropped to less than 100 feet, I had few nice slides, but eventually arrived at Volcan.

Here’s a section of the track into Volcan. Excuse the GPS error at about the 75% mark
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Goodbye Costa Rica. Next time
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