1 Hour Flight – 7 Hour Wait

All 18 of us were on one flight from Bogota to Panama City. It was on time and delightfully uneventful. Seeing the south entrance to the Panama Canal was exciting. I was surprised by the large collection of sky scrapers in the city.
We breezed through a tram ride and immigration. An air conditioned shuttle bus took our luggage and 4 people to the hotel: Larry, whose bike would be arriving in a few days, Barbel, the only passenger doing the entire Discover Our Earth Expedition, Gabby, Thomas’ girlfriend who would be with us for a couple of weeks, and Coral Wachter, Werner’s wife and Co-Founder of Edelweiss Bike Tours who was with us for a our time in Bogota and Panama City. Those of us picking up our bikes were in for a long, hot day.

First came the air freight terminal. Through the fence, we were pleased to see that our bikes had arrived. After one round of paperwork, we were able to enter and remove the Saran like wrap that had been protecting our bikes during flight. Only 1 ½ hours had elapsed.

Next we went to Customs. One by one, permits for import of our bikes were processed. The Panamanian Customs computer system must date back to the days of punch cards and tube type computers. It was SOOO slow. I think our little HP Netbooks have more power.

We all felt for the woman inputting our bikes’ data. Each time she would try to copy and paste a VIN or Passport number, the computer would lock up and need to be re-booted. The 14 or so digit VIN numbers had to be input in 3 places on each form! Some of the permits were finished in 15 minutes, some took over an hour. Meanwhile, Werner cracked almonds that had fallen from our only place to retreat from the searing sun.

My bike was among the last 5 to be processed. We five stayed at Customs until all could leave. This put us on the road for the 1 hour ride to Panama City just in time for the late afternoon downpour. Oh, the joys of adventure motorcycle travel.

10-Mar Bogota Colombia to Panama City Panama by plane

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