Colombia to Panama by surface transport

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Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby Geeceling » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:53 pm

I started in Medellin, which as you all know, was the highlight of this trip. The ghost of Pablo Escobar is all over the place, almost two decades after the police finally gunned him down on a rooftop. His supposed Robin Hood status there is largely a myth - Paisas are glad he and his bombings and assassinations are gone.

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I hired a driver to shuttle me around to city to show me what he thought was worth seeing. He took me to Escobar's grave, where he looked around, and spat. "When you see a good man, try to imitate him; when you see a bad man, take a look at yourself."

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I rode the Metrocable up and down the hills surrounding the city for spectacular views. The city transit system is impressive. The light rail line runs north and south along the valley floor. There are two Metrocable lines, with lifts up and down the ridges to the shantytowns with incredible views over the city. The lifts are totally integrated with the light rail.

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From La Aurora Station:

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qreepy is inside my head:

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Eventually, I knew I had to leave Medellin, since I wanted plenty of time to get to Panama City. I caught a shared taxi for the eight-hour drive north to Turbo, on the Gulf of Uraba. Medellin was a highland city, and heavily settled by Europeans. Turbo has a very Caribbean vibe, and was probably 90% black. Residents have a very strong, slushy Caribbean accent, with dropped 's' all over their words. The Colombian military has a heavy presence up here, since supposedly the FARC used to be all over this part of Colombia.

The main plaza:

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The docks, from which I left for Capurgana:

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Capurgana, on the border with Panama, is a pleasant little place where not much happens. I did a couple of expensive dives here, hung around for a couple of days, walked across the border to the beach at La Miel, and got ready to take a launch to Puerto Obaldia.

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Puerto Obaldia is a dump. Even worse, it's a bottleneck, where demand for passage on to elsewhere far outstrips supply. I got bumped for the flight out the day I arrived. Then I learned that the last flight out (Aeroperlas cancelled service) was two days hence, and already fully booked. So, it was going to be another launch to somewhere, anywhere else. The Panamanian military has a post here, and keep close tabs on everyone arriving and departing the dock. They seized a launch full of coke while I was there. The town seems to exist for the military post and smuggling.

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The navy post. They were irate with me for snapping a photo of the obviously secret base, and decided to make sure I didn't have a key of coke in my daypack.

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Small Rivers of Shit are dumped into the bay at several points.

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At a checkpoint on a San Blas island, five hours out of Puerto Obaldia. The other passengers were a Costa Rican, and Irishman, and a Colombian. The Colombian gives the best demonstration of how everyone felt at this point, halfway to our destination in Colon province.

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El Porvenir, where we stopped again to check in, was gorgeous. Had I known how bad the coming squall would be, I would've stayed there, and waited for a flight out.

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After leaving El Porvenir, we got squashed by torrential rain and enormous swell. I thought the launch would flip on a few occasions. No photos from that, as my camera was buried deep in my bags, themselves swaddled in layers of garbage bags. We arrived in Miramar at dusk, to find that the rain had washed out the bridge connecting the town to the highway. So, it was another night in muddy Miramar. As luck would have it, we arrived on Feb. 28 - payday. This meant broken bottles, noisy domestic fights, and drunks all over the place. The next morning, I walked across the river to the highway, caught a chicken bus, and four hours later was in Panama City. I am now a professional baseball player in Panama, for Cocle.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby Wellpisser » Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:56 am

fucking tourist
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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby Harry Chorpita » Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:16 pm

Wellpisser wrote:fucking tourist

Pretty much Yeah.

Pablo Escobar FFS!

All the wonders of Medellin and he takes a cab tour of Pablo Escobar sites!

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby Geeceling » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:25 pm

Many of the wonders of Medellin I can't post here.

Hairy, I'm not sure if you realized this, but those "fish" from Rio Medellin that you screwed weren't really fish. The soft texture and brown color should have made that clear to you.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby Harry Chorpita » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:21 am

Sucks to be you Felix-FACT.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby rider5 » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:28 am

Nice pix, thanks for posting.

I read "Killing Pablo" last summer. Interesting book about an interesting time in Colombia. America was partly to blame for creating a thug like Escobar, at least we helped put him six feet under.

That rainy lushness at the border looks nice from a desert dweller's perspective.

That's a seriously ominous looking sky before your boat ride - you certainly must have been desperate to get out of there. I probably would have done the same though. That's also one reason my backpack is a drybag (like rafters use) for those sorts of trips.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby northern_goddess » Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:21 am

I call "Photoshop!.

Especially that last one.

Felix never left Minneapolis... he spent a fun filled week in the local library researching the area, finding pictures and creatively putting together an interesting story and photos.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby northern_goddess » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:38 pm

I was just kidding... jeesh.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby section8 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:58 am

GRATE SPOT.

Would you do it, knowing what you know now?

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby Geeceling » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:21 pm

section8 wrote:GRATE SPOT.

Would you do it, knowing what you know now?


I wouldn't do it again, but doing it the first time was the entire point. Nothing about the trip came as a particular surprise. This has just been a personal obsession for about five years now.

The trip wasn't all that pleasant, especially once I was in Panama. I didn't need to save the extra money that a sailboat out of Cartagena (or even Capurgana - there was a sailboat heading on to Colon with space, arriving two days after I left that town) would have cost. Saving money is the only reason for anyone do the trip. Sailing would be more pleasant, flying from Medellin or Cartagena or Bogota or Barranquilla more efficient.

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Re: Colombia to Panama by surface transport

Postby harry_flashman » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:43 am

Great stuff felix

Should I ever graducate from SE Asia to Latin America I will be lookng towards yourself for some Independant travelling direction
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