After the up and down in Guatemala – geographically as mentally – I was hoping to find back into my beloved flying-feeling I had felt when I was cycling down the West Coast, the Baja California and the beautiful Pacific coast of Mexico. I now reached Balboa, a suburb of Panama City, which for me will be the final station of Central America. And reflecting that part of the trip now I know: The ups and downs didn´t end. I didn’t get the real good feeling, I didn´t get the flow. I will not remember that stretch as a bad time! But I will remember it as a hard time: High mountains to climb in Guatemala, heat in Nicaragua, strong winds from the front in Nicaragua and Panama, the “Gringo-feeling” that continued being just sometimes very friendly and at least half of the time not very welcoming. Then the bed bugs that kept me running until Panama. Plus being on main roads most of the time, accompanied by dirty, noisy, dangerous traffic… Central America is not a part of this world I would recommend to someone to visit with a bicycle. Except from Costa Rica which with its beaches, it´s small and so often naturally shaded roads, it´s clear and clean rivers, it´s environmental consciousness and it´s noticeable friendly and open spirit surprisingly was a cyclist´s paradise!
The rest of the central American countries is maybe difficult on a bike, but definitely worth a trip with a backpack or a mountain bike. Or just a lot of time to meet and chat with the local people. That´s maybe the thing I was missing most as my schedule to reach Rio on time is quite tough. But whenever I dedicated some time to the people here, to ask them about their lives, their conditions and their visions and to also tell them about life in Germany I felt we could transcend the huge gap between our so different lives – the gap between rich and poor, the local and the Gringo. If you have the time and the linguistic ability you will manage to make them understand that just the fact of having a nice bike or equipment is not the proof that you´re super rich and come from the land of milk and honey where it´s raining coins and dollar bills instead of water drops. They maybe will be surprised but happy to know that also in Germany people have to work quite a bit and safe their money if they want to travel the world. And you will feel when they start recognising that you also have a heart and feelings and not just a “thick” wallet. There definitely is a chance to approach each other. It takes time but it was always worth it.
Nevertheless it´s not a place for the bike – in my opinion. When I´m cycling I want to get lost in the beauty of untouched nature. I want to be taken away by it´s magical spirit and it´s overwhelming energy and not by a big truck overtaking me way to close! I want to feel a relaxed atmosphere of people who are well balanced inside and not to be stressed up by busting city life and traffic. And unfortunately from Guatemala to Panama – excepting Costa Rica – I haven´t been offered these conditions. But don´t think it was a lost time or a waste of energy! …Janosh can tell you best:
Balboa, Panamá (Zelt im Hostal Amador)
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