Reports on my cycle trip around the World (by Ernest Markwood)
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
DOWN TO THE DARIEN
It´s been some time since my last update from Panama City, but don´t be fooled because Leana and I haven´t moved very far since then. On our initial visit to the city, we got a few things done while staying in the “slummy” affordable Santa Ana district. But the Darien jungle province of Panama was still haunting us because of the stretch we had to bypass by boat, and the inaccessable Jungle with the indigenous Embera people was another part of the magnet. So, we left Panama City heading in the wrong direction. After a few days we were in the legendary Darien province, doing a lot of waiting while police at numerous check points struggled with our passports and ensured that we were not drug smugglers (smuggling cocaine TO Columbia?!!). As planned we cycled to the “end of the road” at the town of Yavisa, beyond which lies only jungle. The road was mostly paved, not too busy, and there were some interesting small towns along the way. We also met Singh, an Indian running a pizza place, who previously lived in South Africa for 5 years. After the road ended we had to find alternative means of travel once again, so we took a river boat to La Palma – the isolated capital of the Darien province. It is amazing that there is hardly any tidal variation on the Atlantic/Carribean side of this narrow country, but on the Pacific side the difference is huge. At low tide the stilted buildings of La Palma tower over the shoreline, and way up the Sambu River our ship leaned sideways on the mud when the tide was out. From La Palma we took an open speedboat for about 2 hours along the Gulf of San Miguel and then way upriver to the Embero village of Sambu. After a couple of days there we secured a bunk on the rust bucket boat “Dona Dora” all the way back to Panama City. In the city Leana bought a new tent, and I rejuvenated my old tent with the leftover poles and other parts from her discarded tent. She also had her old camera repaired, so now I gratefully have the use of that camera. However, my bank troubles are not yet sorted out as they can´t help me via e-mail (thanks again to my sister for the continuous finances, and thanks to Leana as well). It was time to do some cycling again, and we left Panama City for the second time in the right direction, crossing the Puente Inter-Americana over the Pacific entrance to the Panama canal. Moving West since then the road has been nice, although sometimes hilly (with one or 2 stretches of the road needing some attention). We met a number of other touring cyclists going the other way (including 2 English guys, and then a German couple – all of them about to finish their trip in Panama city). Now we´re in David, the second largest city in the country. The border of Costa Rica is not far from here, so hopefully the crossing is smooth. Daily distances cycled since my previous report were:- Chepo 73 km; Qbda. Cali 64 km; Torti 38 km; Meteti 76 km; Yavisa 56 km; Meteti 54 km; La Palma 21 km (plus boat); Sambu by boat; return to Panama City by boat (plus 7 km); Capira 56 km; Anton 79 km; Aguadulce 73 km; Santiago 58 km; Los Ruices 63 km; San Felix 61 km; and David 84 km. The total distance which I´ve now cycled on this trip in more than 5 years is 94 035 km.
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 141 941 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za