Ok, I owe you some explanations. Why do I need to ship my bike to Colombia?

Well, the Panamericana, long of some 50.000 km, all roads together, DOES NOT connect the North and the South of the American continent. There is a little area, called the Darien Gap, only some 100 km long, where there is no road. The Darien Gap is actually the true transition from Central- to South America, and is located at the border between Panama and Colombia. It is a vast swampland and rain forest, inhabited by less than 2000 Indios. These travel either on foot, or by canoe. But they are not the only ones living here. The Darien Gap is also the refuge of the FARC, (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) extreme left-wing rebels, who, since 1964 fight a guerilla war against their government and the US influence in Colombia. They are well known for their kidnappings, the most popular one being the one of Ingrid Betancourt, whom they released only after eight years of captivity. Some estimates claim that the FARC detain some 700 hostages these days. Some of them are political prisoners, but the major part is just detained for ransom. In my opinion, the Darien Gap is much more dangerous for tourists as might be the north of Mexico. “If you’re lucky, they will just kidnap you, otherwise they’ll kill you” my friend Mario, a lawyer from Panama told me.

No, thanks.

Building a road through the gap would be extremely expensive, regardless the huge ecological problems it might raise. Up to now there was no serious project to connect both parts of the Panamericana. There is no way to pass here. No four wheel drive car or motorbike can do it. Until now, maybe a dozen of fearless adventurers managed to cross the gap, but only by walking or by canoe.

So, there is only one way to continue my journey: I have to put my bike on a cargo ship leaving for Colombia. This is not so easy; there are no fixed schedules, maybe 1-2 cargos per month. And these do not accept passengers. This means for me, that only once I have found a vessel to embark my bike, I can look for a transportation possibility for myself. Either I take a bus to Panama, and try to catch a plane, or I try to board a sailing boat, leaving for Colombia. Usually these sailing boats cover the distance in 5 days, while the cargo needs 2 days.

And this is just what I am trying to work out at the moment….

Update:  I found a cargo, and if things work out as they should, I might board my bike tomorrow

Ingrid Betancourt