Friday, June 17, 2011

Safely Home

We arrived back in Plymouth on Sunday 12th June having been reunited with Nancy at FedEx offices at Heathrow. Quite an eventful journey which we will update in the near future but at the moment the preparations for Malin and Eunice's wedding tomorrow are taking priority. Thank you everybody who has followed our trip. It's like Groundhog day being back, nothing seems to have changed, but more of that later. xD&J

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Travels without Nancy

We went to Summit Park and saw some animals at the zoo. Macaws, a crocodile with a great set of teeth, The 'Love Lives here' bench that bit Jill and made my tongue go numb when I sucked the bite, tortoises, a jaguar, deer, a tapir, the harpy eagle, the largest breed of eagle in the world that was truly amazing black monkeys, sad monkeys, and toucans, Plus a lot of other animals that we didn't know the names off.
The following day Jill came down with an attack of Montezumas revenge and spent the day on a couch taking things that made her feel better, and being fussed over by Shaun and Lucas. I went off to see Panama Viejo. There isn't a lot left of the original and oldest Spanish settlement in the Americas and what is left has had a road built through it in the '70 so it was difficult to really get a feel of the place. The view from the Cathedral tower was stunning and the oldest bridge is here in the Americas. Lots of restoration has been going on and there is still more to do, but for a 25 cent bus ride it was worth visiting.
Casco Viejo is the historic district of Panama City. So we decided to spend the day walking around it. There is a mixture of beautifully restored colonial buildings, standing cheek by jowl next to the hollow shell of buildings with only the front façade remaining Looking faded, yet retaining the elegance and majesty of a former era, they are just waiting to to display their former splendour and wonderfully shabby chic dwellings
In fact many of these 'shells' are in the process of being restored and one day soon Casco Viejo is going to be a very stylish place to live
I was still feeling a bit feak and weeble and this road sign was just how I felt
On the way back to Panama Passage David decided to get his hair cut at a barber on the side of the road check out the razor blade and cut throat razor (there have been moments on this trip when I wouldn't have trusted myself with that when I was giving him a short back and sides!!) Doesn't he look like a new man.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Goodbye Nancy 2/6/2011

The final stretch of our journey was plotted on the pannier-we've wiggled quite a way since we began our journey on 5th May 2010 in Halifax, Nova Scotia (the only flag we couldn't get hold of was Costa Rica-we'll have to try eBay!) Nancy was packed for the last time before we headed off to meet Julio at Panama Soluciones Logisticas Int who had organised the shipping of Nancy back to the UK by air with FedEx. Paperwork all done we headed for the airport and once through a security check we watched as they made a pallet for transport Nancy on. Nancy was then loaded on,
the petrol was drained out, and the dismantling began. The front wheel mudguard and calliper were removed, along with the screen and mirrors, the rear tyre deflated and everything tied down with bits of string. It then started to rain so Nancy was moved undercover, and everything was placed along side for the rapping process. First rapped in black cling film, and then over wrapped with stronger clear film that held the labels. Looking like a motorbike wrapped in plastic it made it's way to the FedEx. were it was weighed, and finally strapped. Two days later Nancy had touched down in London Heathrow.
Initially we had been quoted £350 by James Cargo to get her out of customs in Heathrow, so we decided to do it ourselves. However on talking to FedEx at Heathrow, they said it was possible to do ourselves, but the bike would have to be transferred to Manchester for that to happen! Otherwise we would have to use an agent to clear customs at Heathrow. FedEx recommended an agent, so we decided to go that route. The agent was very efficient and after a couple of emails, we had completed and emailed the customs form, paid £120 and were assured that Nancy will be ready to pick up and reassemble on Saturday when we arrive back at Heathrow.

So now along side our tent, there is a big hole in our universe the size of Nancy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Panama Canal

The Panama canal has been described as one of the wonders of the world, and it sure is impressive. We went one day to see the Miraflores locks and look at the visitor centre and then on Saturday the 4/6/11 we went on a boat trip up the canal through the locks. I could write lots about how the French started it and lost 22,000 lives before pulling out in the 1880. How the Americans took over the construction in 1903 choosing this root over Nicaragua as the Panamanians were willing to grand the US sovereignty over the canal area if they backed their independence from Columbia where Nicaragua wasn't about to give there country away. But you can find out all about that if you want, I'll just show you some pictures: From the Pacific side you pass under the Puente de las Américas and travel up to the 2 Miraflores locks before entering the Miaflores lake and onto the Pedro Miguel lock before entering the Culebra cut under the new Centennial bridge. Ships are raised a total of 85ft up to the height of the Gatun lake and on the Caribbean side they are lowered the same amount through the Gatun Locks. So now you see them and now you don't. The size of the ships, although not that big by today’s standards, are still very impressive close up. We rafted up alongside a tug boat following a container vessel to get through the locks. the lock gates close, each weighing about 700 tons, and 28million gallons of water are let in in the next 8 minutes to lift you up to the next level.
The large boat are held in place by mules, electric engines that follow the ship holding it central. You leave and the next one is ready to come through. Ships go through the locks one way for 12 hours and then the other way for the next 12, 365 days a year. But without the row boat it wouldn't work as the warps are taken across to the ships by it. They are continually dredging the canal and our guide said they had removed 5 times as much from dredging since the canal opened than was originally dug out to keep the ships floating. We disembarked from the Fantasia del Mar at Gamboa and rather sun burnt travelled back to the city by coach.