|My total distance from Vancouver, Canada to the Panama Canal.|
Crossing from Costa Rica into Panama with Herbie and Laura.
A pic like this will never capture the heat. It was over 40°C here.
With about 3 weeks to go I knew there was a chance I could come in under the 3000 euro price tag so I made it my mission to try. And it wasn't difficult. Herbie (above) did pay for a couple of beers for me during the last week, but that was about all. If you don't pay often for accommodation, actually travelling by bicycle is really inexpensive. A lot cheaper than living in Dublin for 217 days - that's for sure.
When I set off from Dublin in September 2016 I had a budget of 5000 euros. But within a couple of weeks I knew I wouldn't spend that much so in my head I brought my budget down to 4000 euros. And still I managed to come in way below my revised budget. All the hours spent planning and managing Sony/Guinness budgets must have paid off.
|Cycling along the coastal highway into the city centre.|
Total kms cycled = 8994
Total days = 217
Weeks = 24.5 weeks
Days on the bike = 131
That as a percentage of total days = 60%
Total cost = 2997.56 euros.
Average daily spend = 13.81 euros
Days I went swimming = 34
Punctures = 6 (all in the USA, none since the US/Mexico border)
Nights I paid for accommodation = 71
As a percentage of total nights = 33%
Nights spent in Warm Showers houses = 45
Nights spent camping in fire stations = don't know yet, but I'll work it out
Number of countries visited = 10
Things I lost = 1 quick dry towel, 1 head torch, 1 black sock, a 2L flat pack bottle
Falls off the bike = 2
Most useful apps = Maps.me, Warm Showers, iOverlander
Blog posts including this one = 25
New friends made = loads
Humans of Panama
Mateo from Valencia, Spain but now living in Panama City had no sooner joined the Warm Showers network than he received an email from me asking could I stay. He lives with his wife and 5 year old son in what I can only describe as a matchbox sized apartment. He will be reading this so I hope he doesn't take offence. His apartment is tiny. But what I want to say by mentioning that is that he and his wife were happy to share this space with a smelly, sweaty, stranger. Within half an hour of arriving he had popped out to the corner shop to buy me a cold fresh coconut so I could have some ice cold coconut water. A couple of hours after that he was serving me up a dish of paella valenciana.
|Waking up on my last day in Panama City in Mateo's back garden.|
River swimming in Panama
|I just love to jump off the bike and into a cold river on a hot day.|
|Floating downstream without a care in the world.|
High up in the hills
|Eleven'ses on a motorway in Panama. For mangos of course.|
|And what a petrol station. Decent coffee. Free wifi. |
Free showers. Laundrette. AND some grass to pitch the tent on.
|Never knew petrol station camping could be so pleasant.|
Eye mask very handy when you have a parking lot light overhead.
|Waking on my very last morning. Day 216.|
|10 hours sleep at a noisy, busy, brightly lit petrol station. Great.|
I have to confess that I was totally excited crossing over the Panama Canal. It had been my aim since leaving Vancouver on Sept 21st, 2016. I had no idea what to expect but I thought that it sounded like a cool place to aim for.
It opened in 1914, is 77kms long and takes roughly 8 hours to sail from one side to the other (Pacific/ Atlantic). My mum had told me that her dad Grandad Sweeny, had sailed through it in 1921. An extension, which I didn't have time to see, opened a few years ago. And rumour has it that the Chinese are going to build their very own canal in Nicaragua. We'll watch this space.
|This was the largest container ship I had ever seen.|
|A bunch of looney tunes cycling over the Panama Canal together.|
|The Panama Canal was smaller than I had imagined.|
But this bridge over it was massive.
And so on my very last day in Panama City I headed off on Sherpa to find her a box. The bicycle shops must be absolutely sick of cyclist requesting boxes. Panama acts as a type of funnel for cyclists going up and down the American continents. There are loads of routes through Canada, through the US, through Mexico etc but the more south you ride the skinnier the countries get. So every Alaska to Ushuaia rider comes through the little skinny country of Panama whether he/she is travelling north or south.
It's difficult to get off the Central American landmass and onto South America. You either pay $500 and take a small bouncy boat out onto the San Blas islands which takes 3 days or you fly. It's cheaper to fly but more hassle as you need to find a box, dismantle your bike and pack and unpack it.
|Putting Sherpa in a box in a very fancy bike shop in Panama City.|
|I flew from Panama to Melbourne with Copa airlines. Easy peasy.|
I had planned to hitch a lift with Sherpa on a boat up to Cuba and spend May cycling through Cuba before heading to Europe. But out of the blue I received an email from my sister in Melbourne who asked if I wouldn't mind popping into Melbourne, Australia for May to look after her 4 kids. So here I am in the most liveable city in the world as I type. It's a cool quiet winter's day. Perhaps 15°C outside and I have access to a bed, a kitchen, a fridge, a washing machine and wifi. Oh how quickly you get used to life's little luxuries.