At six months it was time for Astrid to get a bit of a facelift before we were to hit the road again. Since we had the weekend before going to the mechanic, we took the time to wander where the road would take us and stay where people were kind enough to let us. And at times the kindness extended into meal times as a neighbor brought dinner and breakfast to the van. It was also a time of rehabilitation as my back had given out in Nosara while we were visiting with Myranda and Manu. Brett made up some yoga classes and I quickly enrolled and just as quickly derolled.
Sunday night we settled out front the mechanic shop where we spent the next two nights. At the end of it we walked away with a sealed exhaust leak, new axel seal, fuel+air filters and a solved idling problem.
So after two months of arriving to Costa Rica, we headed south again. Soon enough we were reminded of the border process as we waited for 6 hours to cross into Panama. The hold up being our canine companion, who needed to wait for the vet to come from somewhere, clearly not anywhere near the border. Her inspection, which seemed to be more of a pat down for drugs then infections, lasted a whole 20 seconds and after a hefty fee we were finally done. Considering it was now dark, we stopped in the first place (David) to look for a spot to park. We settled into a hostel, where the atmosphere steamed with travel stories and our tired border selves were soon rejuvenated. With prices more suited for our budget again, we scraped up our leftover satarash and headed to restaurant for a $3.50 fish and chips and $1 beers.
With a restricted time in Panama, as we had to coordinate the Darien Gap crossing, we were limited to a week before heading to the capital. We headed to the Peninsula de Azure and a small surf village of Playa Venao. Twice a week a food truck with fresh fish, fruits and veggies would pull in and we would have a feast. Actually the entire hostel feasted on fish that night (truck # 2 came with fish). I wrestled a 15 kg red snapper, well a quarter of it anyway and it wasn’t really alive I guess, but the scales were the size of quarters. Luckily (for me, not the fish), fish is sill part or my vegetarian diet (sorry fish). So while Brett worked on his surfing figure I worked on my eating figure. I figured I wasn’t strong enough to swim out if he needed rescuing due to a rip current, but potentially I could float out more easily, plop him on my belly and sail back in.
As beach life came to an end we headed to the capital, which was an impressive assortment of grand skyscrapers along with some incredibly decrepit buildings not too far off. Next few days were spent organizing the shipping of the car and ourselves. Finally it was time to stop planning and venture out to see what Panama city had to offer, before we skipped over to a new continent . We had the last dinner with our overlanding companions Daniela and Pascal as we parted ways after meeting up in Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. The following night we picked up my uncle Zarko who was joining in for some van adventures in Panama and Columbia, with a stop in Aruba.