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Panama - Panama City, Central America // Surfing To The End Of The American Line

Killvan's Panama. A tale of the beginning of the end on a surfing road trip from Alaska to Panama.


With each border crossing comes a dysfunctional bureaucratic nightmare, and the full stop to Central America for this surf adventure is in Panama, where the entry into the country was as twisted as its exit. It's a brutal affair and makes you feel as though your a simple grocery item with a barcode, riding the conveyer belt onwards to scan. We sat in a punishing truck heavy queue for what felt like days, the equatorial rain squalls kept us inside our vehicle and the boredom of another border-town void outside didn't offer reprieve. It was a gamble this border crossing, it may very well be the end.

But there is no end. Now it's to be understood that the road has none. The surf traveler on the other hand, well, we only have long enough to explain that here in no man's land between Costa Rica and Panama is a surfers crux. The scenario was simple, somehow we have to get a van bought in Los Estados Unidos into Panama, and off our passports to open up free passage into South America.

You see back in the day, one of the biggest car driving socities on Earth brushed up against the Mexican border, creating the perfect opportunity for folks to take a trip into Mex, dump the wheels and come back home to collect some insurance payola. Though with bad apples comes the regulating farmer, and some heavy restrictions for dem' bad apples. Today when entering Mexico with a vehicle registered in the States you'll have your credit card swiped, you'll show your papers and you'll sure as hell be getting jacked buttside if you depart old Mexico without your trusty whip.

"So, we shall just take it right trough Mexico and on to Guatemala, and dump it there" I here you bad apples say.
And they did. And so Guatemala introduced a similar method of control, and like a daisy chain Central America had gradually put in a strategy that closed the door on just another insurance scam. Though for traveling surfers, roaming free with a stamp on your passport for you and your vehicle leads a seeker to blind entrapment. Submitting the wet brained traveling surfer to political rules, restrictions and the worst of them all, responsibility is disastrous. We all know that the Americas are where mature youth experiment with cactus flower and rides from the white line, it's unfair for us handicapped players. 

We bought the ticket, and the ride became complicated. By Panama we'd happily entered and exited countries at will, stamps accumulated in passports and loads of serious looking papers which apparently meant something to someone. The bureaucracy of a Central American border crossing is heinous. Technology would do a way with this arduous primitive ink stamping process. But then again, take away the dysfunction and all you have is something civilised like the drone ways of the north, what most of us are trying to escape down here, right.

We found entry into Panama relatively easy, the border guards fat, lazy and non committed. Accommodation was easily found in a brothel too. Though figuring out how to depart via an airport with the evidence of an imported vehicle, not so easy.

"It's Panama, this place is loose! Let's just rip out the page from your passport with the stamp on it?"
And so it was, we'd be taking on immigration with a clearly numbered passport with a page missing.

As mentioned, the road never ends.

 

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LOCATION OVERVIEW

Location: Panama, Pacifc Ocean.
Optimum: The Southern Hemi winter months supply plenty of south swell for the south facing locations.
Weather: It's the tropics, it's stinking sweaty hot. Wet season and dry season.
Surf Conditions: Beachbreaks, Reef Breaks, Weird Point Breaks. Lots of spots but lots of inconsistency.
Access: Fly into San Jose in Costa Rica and drive down. Or jet into Tocumen Airport Panama City.
Accomodation: Cheap hotels that feel like brothels but they aren't.
Live Free:  3/10.  It's busy, crowded, tight, fickle and with Columbia and the Darian Gap to the south ya locked in.

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