I stand under the roof of the old control tower at Tocumen International Airport, now part of the cargo complex, as another COPA, the local airline, B737 roars overhead, looks like the 800 series
for those who are really interested. We have started the process to be reunited with our bikes, and already the information we have on the process to retrieve them is incorrect. This information came from a friend who undertook the same process a week earlier. Nothing stays the same or should be taken for granted when following ours or other people’s instructions.
Anne has disappeared into the distance and out of sight while I remain with our two small bags and a five litre water container now filled with fuel. We had problems getting this filled, due to sensible safety concerns at the petrol stations our taxi driver tried to fill the water container up at. Finally one petrol station provided a loan fuel container which we could the transfer then fuel to our water bottle out of sight. Anne’s fuel tank has so little fuel left after being drained in Medellin that I doubt that the petrol filter is still wet.
As the countries we travel through are closer to our safety conscious western ways, the standards increase and the enforcement of the rules grow. In some countries fuel, or what purports to be fuel, is sold in old soft drink bottles at the side of the road. ‘Caveat emptor’ we take the risk here, as at home risk is regulated away – rules and enforcement encourage the correct behaviour of all, except usually those who it was targeted at in the first place who ignore the rules anyway. I have no doubt that most people who have been impacted by accident or injury as a result of failure of safety rules would disagree with me and, probably if I or a loved one was affected I would think differently. However at this time, I believe we still need to opportunity for adventure and perhaps risk in our lives and should be afforded it, if it only impacts ourselves. Enough rambling from me, yes I am still waiting for Anne to return, what topical subject should I tackle next while I wait?
Anne is back, our bikes were shipped with a different airline, so the initial instructions have changed. I have moved to new location a few hundred meters away. Time to ponder again.
What should be our next subject? Since I am not on Twitter, Facebook or other social media and more importantly do not have internet access at this time, I will need to choose. ‘US Presidential election 2016 campaign’ . Anne is back and has the three stamps and knows where to go for the temporary import permit. I think I will soon be on unwrapping and assembly duty soon. As we have been travelling north and now have less than 10 months before we return to Australia, we are thinking about our future. Since we retired a couple of years ago, we think what next, Chapter two after Chapter one ‘A year in Europe, interrupted by RTW motorcycle trip’. I had idly thought: how about working for a US Presidential Candidate in their campaign? Probably not sensible as they seem to take clever hardworking young Americans, and I suspect that when I get back to Australia, I will have to work to pay for all the fun times we will have had in two and a half years. Yes, by the time we get back in March 2016, we will have been travelling since September 2014, which was not our original plan of 9 months in Europe seeing family and back home. Great how life can unfold. I had no idea when we left Australia that I could end up sitting in an airport car park in Panama.
I hope we do not have to ride the bikes off the loading dock, the meter plus vertical drop will be a challenge for the bikes’ suspension.
No, a back door exists and after donning a safety vest and changing my red warehouse visitors access card for a green airport apron access card, the bikes are then delivered on a metal frame just outside the gates literally, the front wheels are just outside the gates.
We fill motorbikes with fuel and are ready to depart for places unknown, err not quite, the steady flow of petrol from under the seats, where the petrol pump and filter we removed to drain the fuel tanks in Medellin must have not been replaced properly. We push the bikes away from the petrol bowsers for safety reasons and quickly start to syphon fuel from the tanks into spare containers. A downpour of rain makes life a little more problematic, and with no cover to work on the bikes, we decide to stay a night longer and find a dry hotel in town.
A quick internet booking and we are set for a slow ride to town having syphoned enough fuel out of the tanks to stop the leaking.
We remove Anne’s pump first, reseat the pump and gasket, all looks good, refit the locking ring, refill Anne’s tank and the fuel just runs out again. Damm.. We need to go to BMW as this is beyond our basics skills and the gasket is probably damaged . BMW Motorrad is not too far away, and here we meet Arturo, who is very helpful and arranges for their mechanics to look at the motorbikes even though they are busy – they will replace the gaskets. They also confirm we need new front tyres and that my suspicions of a problem regarding the steering are correct. Anne had questioned hers previously but had been told all was ok so put it down to her highly sensitive sense of balance. We will need new steering head bearings but as they are very busy with other bikes, they can’t get to that this week. The tyres will have to be done in San Jose, Costa Rica as none of our size are available in Panama and the steering head bearings will also be done in San Jose under warranty. Arturo has kindly contacted BMW Motorrad in San Jose to confirm availability and prices, very helpful for us.
Panama uses US dollars and we need to get some smaller banknotes and yesterday we used a 100 dollar bill at a supermarket finding that for each 100 dollar bill they need your ID, signature and two staff counter signatures. Interesting that they are so concerned about this – forgeries I presume?
We have the bikes back and are set to go tomorrow.