Lucinda’s big adventure

I’ve been out of town for a week and returned to Panama City Monday evening.

In anticipation of 6 months of infrastructural deprivation I’ve been getting lots done. Like seeing the dentist! I lost a filling. Now this isn’t something you see on every ride report so let’s do the detail. I should have run a video of the drilling for you but didn’t think of it.

Chat first. Where are you from? I’ve been to Toronto! Frio! 

Xrays in seconds

Drill and fill. wiiingwiiiing,veeeez,veeeez,wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing

Professional. The bill? $40. If you took an errant hockey puck in Vancouver, just fly down to Panama City and save time, money and spin.

So, was that interesting? A good thing I don’t post to the big ride sites.

Yesterday morning I went to pick up Lucinda from Panama City BMW. New tires (Heidenaus again, only because I need durability for the next while), oil and filters, potentiometer replacement. The new potentiometer sent down from the LA dealer didn’t fit. So that’s another job for down the road, Medellin I guess. I drove off mildly happily anyway, just to be on the move, and as soon as I was in traffic the oil temperature started climbing big time. Within 10 minutes I had the overheating warning light. Shit. Back I went to the dealer. Lucinda and I were plenty pissed off. They put her on the lift and the whole bike crew came over to check her out.

It only took ten minutes to determine that the service guy had miscounted the quarts of oil and she had one (or more) too many in her. Now how do you do that? It’s nearly impossible: you line up 4 new bottles beside the bike, pour them in and check the oil window in 10 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe you do have to do everything yourself.

So this morning was Lucinda’s big day. She’s going to Bogota! Off we went to Girag. For riders, here’s the track east out of Panama City. It’s at N9 05.14 W79 22.39 if you have GPS
Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 5.04.48 PM

Eddie, who’s always up for this kind of fun, came along in his armed and dangerous truck.

We arrived and Lucinda waited outside, patient but pretty excited. She flying with her new double Rotopax and to compensate about 5 pounds less gear is being mailed back to Vancouver. I always find something I think we can do without. One day, maybe soon, I’ll regret this, but I’m exploring the boundaries of ultra-light, just to see what happens. But we do have the camping stuff being sent back to us in less than a month. Still, that’s light too.

This, in a way, is just like the first half of a regular border crossing, but being a shipper rather than a border official, it’s not a Central American nightmare. So here’s how it went.


First, the usual documents. Passport, import permit, bike title, drivers licence

Amazingly, he didn’t send me miles away to make his photocopies for him. They had a copier. This is the first time this has ever happened. Life is good. But then he disappears. Lunch

There’s a food wagon 100 feet away. For about $3 we get the most delicious lunch I’ve had on the street in this country

We ate in the air-conditioned truck because it’s about 100 degrees out, as usual

Then along comes the coconut milk bike. You get about a pint, scooped out of a plastic barrel for 75 cents. Both the lunch and the drink are expensive on CA terms, but that’s Panama.
P1080467Then we wait for people to return.

I’m told to ride Lucinda around the back of the building before any paperwork is done

Then go through an inspection. At many airports you’re supposed to drain the bike of ALL fluids. This as you can imagine creates problems at the other end. Not here. He asks if the gas tank is empty and I say yes, pretty much. He then goes around the bike, noting damage


I tie on my riding gear. Boots, helmet, pants

Then I leave Lucinda there to get the paperwork complete. But not before seeing two other bikes, wrapped about 30 feet away.

BC plates!  A F800GS and a 650GS. A husband/wife by the looks of things.

Yo soy de Canada!

I’ve just done some research and it appears it’s these guys


Their bikes are here in storage for 5 months while they party their brains out in NYC, I gathered from their blog. I sent them a note saying their bikes look in fine shape.

I get the customs clearance, ask for shipping details and the Girag address in Bogota.

And it’s time to pay up. Cash only, of course

I had a last long look at Lucinda and wished her the best of luck on her first flight ever. She looked a little sad but I think that’s just pre-flight jitters. I told her I loved her and would see her in a few daysP1080496

We both fly Saturday. I’ll see her at Girag Monday morning, deal with customs and ride her away Tuesday.



4 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Tom,

    I never realized it before, but now seeing the front shot of her on the bike lift – Lucinda has a great set of headlights.

  2. Hugh Thomas,

    Hi J.,
    It looks like Lucinda got a a new windscreen too. Strange how well trained mechanics can screw up the easiest tasks. Glad it wasn’t serious. I hope the next leg goes well. Great meeting you. I’ll follow along here. Safe travels. H.

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